As a Student Loan Hero reader, you might have noticed that we often recommend specific lenders and products.
We want to provide you with real, specific solutions for any financial challenges that come your way. This includes finding and sharing what we think are the best financial tools out there.
But how do we choose which products and services to highlight? Well, here at Student Loan Hero, we put our users and their interests first. That’s why we choose to partner with companies with the same focus.
Our partners’ missions align with ours: helping you manage and be free of your student loans while improving your financial health. We only feature lenders and products that we’re confident can benefit our users.
Here are key insights into how we choose partners and products we think are worth sharing with you.
How Student Loan Hero makes money
Sharing awesome financial tools is actually our business model – in other words, it’s how Student Loan Hero makes money. We highlight these products in a few places throughout our site, such as:
- The Student Loan Hero Marketplace
- Roundups of top lenders
- Lender comparison tables (like the one at the end of this article)
- Reviews of products or lenders
First, we vet the partners we work with to highlight the best loans, investment tools, and other personal finance products. We make sure to include all the information you need to make the right choice for your situation (even if that means you don’t apply).
We make it easy to find and compare top loans and money tools, and then you get to decide if you want to use them. Some of the lenders and products we recommend pay us a referral fee if a person signs up for a service they found through our site.
We see this as an all-around win. For you, this means finding great products and making well-informed choices – with less legwork.
Meanwhile, we get to generate enough revenue to keep the lights on while offering high-quality information, tools, and resources to you – 100 percent free.
How Student Loan Hero vets our partners
Helping you make the best choices for your financial situation is our number one priority. When vetting our partners, we take our responsibility to find and share the best products very seriously.
We respect our users’ trust because the partners we choose to work with will reflect on us – for better or worse. At every step of a relationship with a potential partner, we work for you – our users – to ensure it’s a good fit for you.
Our vetting process mimics how a potential customer would shop for a specific product or financial service. That’s because the customer experience is central to our vetting process. We want to make sure that we only work with lenders and companies that offer a great experience, start to finish.
In fact, many Student Loan Hero team members are customers of our partners, themselves.
Student Loan Hero CEO Andy Josuweit refinanced several of his student loans with Earnest. Another team member, Mackenzie Kreitler, worked with CommonBond to refinance her parent’s student loans into her own name. Many Student Loan Hero employees use the investing services, credit cards, and other products highlighted on our site.
Here are the steps we go through to vet lenders and companies as we consider partnering with them.
1. Identify potential partners
Student Loan Hero starts by understanding what our users are looking for and what kind of services they want.
Then, we look at the top banks, lenders, and service providers in a given product space. We identify the financial tools we think can best help our customers achieve their money goals.
2. Understand the company
Next, we start digging deep. We talk to potential partners to understand their company, brand, and products. We review any publicly available company information or securitization data, then work to understand the stage this business is at.
Companies with established brands and services are a good fit for us – they usually have the capability and willingness to work with the customers we might send their way. The best student loan refinancing companies that we highlight, such as SoFi and CommonBond, are prime examples. We make sure all these lenders have the bandwidth and capital available to quickly process applications and fund approved loans.
3. Compare and vet the product
The Student Loan Hero team closely reviews the product the company offers. Potential partners must offer products that can benefit you – which means reasonable rates, low fees, and a positive customer experience.
Transparency is also huge. We think customers deserve to have all the details upfront so they can make an informed choice.
4. Test the customer experience
As part of vetting our lenders, Student Loan Hero actually goes through the process to apply for and get a loan or other product.
We test the customer experience to make sure it’s friendly and focused on getting you the best outcome – not just bolstering the company’s bottom line. It’s also important that the process is easy, straightforward, and fast – features we know are important to our users.
5. Select our partners
Student Loan Hero only secures partnerships once we’re confident that the company and product are customer-centered.
We then share this product when and where it makes sense for our users. We also highlight product features and details important to you (good or bad), equipping you with what you need to know to decide if this product is right for you.
6. Measure partnership success
The vetting process doesn’t end once we’ve struck up a partnership. Student Loan Hero continually collects and analyzes data about how useful our customers find certain products.
We also stay on top of any developments or changes with our partners to ensure our recommendations are always based on the most up-to-date information.
We work with partners that will work for you
Student Loan Hero believes in doing the right thing, even if that means passing on a partnership or a potential income stream. We place a far higher value on the relationships we’ve built with customers than any revenue we could earn from partners.
We have an unwavering respect for you, your financial journey, and your goals. That’s why we strive to work with other companies that share our respect for you and desire to help you build a sound financial future.
The bottom line when it comes to vetting our partners: We try to understand the product and picture a real person using it.
Is there a real need customers have that this product can meet? Does this company offer real value with a positive experience? Student Loan Hero’s vetting process is in place so that the answer, in regards to our partners, will always be “yes.”
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 9 lenders of 2021!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.88% – 6.15%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.85%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 6.59%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.88% – 5.64%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 5.25%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|2.13% – 5.25%8||Undergrad & Graduate|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of June 1, 2021.
2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.
Interest Rate Disclosure
Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.48% APR to 5.79% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.88% APR to 5.64% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 2.04% and 5.8% to the one month LIBOR. Earnest rate ranges are current as of 6/8/2021, and are subject to change based on market conditions.
Auto Pay Discount Disclosure
You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.
Student Loan Refinancing Loan Cost Examples
These examples provide estimates based on payments beginning immediately upon loan disbursement. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 5.89% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,042.39. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 20-year term (240 monthly payments of $72) and a 6.04% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $17,249.77. Your actual repayment terms may vary.Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest. com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.
One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
Fixed rates from 2.49% APR to 6.94% APR (with autopay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.59% APR (with autopay). All variable rates are based on the 1-month LIBOR and may increase after consummation if LIBOR increases; see more at SoFi.com/legal/#1. If approved for a loan your rate will depend on a variety of factors such as your credit profile, your application and your selected loan terms. Your rate will be within the ranges of rates listed above. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license #6054612; NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). Additional terms and conditions apply; see SoFi.com/eligibility for details. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
6 Important Disclosures for Navient.
7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 04/07/2021 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.89%-4.78% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.13%-5.25% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.