Student Loan Refinancing for Engineers: Benefits and Alternatives

 September 30, 2021
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Refinance Student Loan rates starting at 1.74% APR

1.74% to 8.70% 1
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

1.74% to 7.99% 2
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

4.44% to 8.09% 3
VARIABLE APR

Visit Lender

  • Variable APR

If you’re problem-solving your engineering student loan debt, there’s a key variable you must not overlook. Whether you’re a veteran engineer or just starting out, your income and career outlook make you a great candidate for student loan refinancing.

Through refinancing, you could save money by lowering your interest rate, or maybe reduce your monthly payment to make it more manageable.

Here’s what to know about the advantages of student loan refinancing for engineers — plus three possible alternatives.

Access to student loan refinancing for engineers

Engineering graduates in the Class of 2021 were expected to command an average starting salary of $71,088 per year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Plus, the median annual salary for engineers of all experience levels last checked in at $83,160 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Engineering field Median annual salary in 2020
Aerospace $118,610
Agricultural $84,410
Biomedical $92,620
Chemical $108,540
Civil $88,570
Electrical $103,390
Environmental $92,120
Geological $93,800
Industrial $88,950
Mechanical $90,160
Nuclear $116,140
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

That kind of salary could help you qualify for student loan refinancing. Some lenders require you to earn a minimum income or sport a minimum credit score — LendKey, for example, mandates that you reel in at least $24,000 per year and have a credit score of no less than 680. And to unlock the lowest rates advertised by refinancing lenders, you’ll need to have even stronger financials or apply with a cosigner who does.

Lenders also look for refinancing applicants with a steady job and strong career prospects. Reputable lender Earnest, for example, considers career trajectory when quoting interest rates. Here, too, your profession makes you much more likely to get approved.

But even if you can qualify to refinance your student loans, should you?

How engineers could benefit from student loan refinancing

Among its chief benefits, refinancing allows you to consolidate your existing federal and private student loans (unlike federal direct consolidation loans) and can get you a lower interest rate.

Perhaps you’re considering refinancing to slow down your repayment rather than quicken it. Through refinancing, you could lower your monthly dues if you’re willing to stretch your repayment term at the cost of additional interest.

Repayment goal Lower interest rate Longer monthly payment
Run the numbers

Say you have $40,000 worth of loans on a 10-year repayment plan tagged with an average rate of 7.00%.

If you refinanced the lot into one new loan with a 5.00% rate, you could save nearly $5,000 in interest over the next decade, according to our student loan refinancing calculator.

Refinancing that $40,000 in loans from a 10-year term to a 20-year span, while also lowering the interest rate like in the first example, would shrink your monthly payment from $464 to $264.

In exchange for that $200 of monthly savings, you’d shell out an extra $7,624 of interest by the time your debt is dead. That could be an acceptable trade-off if you crave breathing room in your short-term budget.

Aside from the dollars and cents of refinancing, there are other upsides, including:

  • Making one payment to one lender, simplifying your repayment
  • Choosing a lender that offers innovative student loan solutions and perks, such as interest rate discounts
  • Gaining access to variable rates, a wider variety of loan terms and other forms of flexibility

Alternatives to student loan refinancing for engineers

A higher salary might make you a viable candidate for student loan refinancing, but that doesn’t mean refinancing is always wise for your situation. By refinancing with a private lender, for instance, you would irreversibly yield protections that are exclusive to federal loans, such as the ability to alter your repayment plan.

If you’re unsure about refinancing your loans, consider these three alternatives as well:

1. Income-driven repayment
2. Federal student loan forgiveness for engineers
3. Federal and private student loan repayment assistance for engineers

1. Income-driven repayment

If you have federal student loans, then they’re probably eligible for income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. IDR allows you to tie your monthly payment to a percentage of your income. It could be an attractive option if you’re a young engineer who’s not yet earning a seasoned engineer’s salary.

The federal government offers four types of IDR plans. For example, there’s the income-based repayment (IBR) plan, under which your monthly payments would halt at 10% of your discretionary income. Note, however, that your payment amount might vary as your financial circumstances change, and to maintain eligibility for any IDR plan, you’re required to update your salary and other information each year.

2. Federal student loan forgiveness for engineers

One benefit of switching to an IDR plan is that you could receive forgiveness of your remaining federal student loan debt after 20 to 25 years of payments.

Here are three popular paths to debt forgiveness for engineers with federal student loans:

  1. Loan Forgiveness for Service in Areas of National Need: Working engineers could receive up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness over five years of service, thanks to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
  2. Public Service Loan Forgiveness: Working for a nonprofit, a government agency or another eligible employer could zero your debt after 10 years of payments.
  3. Teacher Loan Forgiveness: Making the switch to the front of the classroom could net up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness — but only after serving five consecutive years in a low-income school or other eligible agency.

If you’re interested, check out all student loan forgiveness programs. Remember, though, these options are just for federal debt — private student loans won’t qualify.

3. Federal and private student loan repayment assistance for engineers

The next best thing after loan forgiveness is loan repayment assistance. Although it won’t completely wipe out your debt, it could help you reach the finish line faster.

Look high and low for student loan repayment assistance programs, as they don’t all come from the same source. Here are four places to find a program near you:

  1. Employer: Many companies are offering 401(k)-style student loan payment assistance.
  2. Armed services: Military student loan forgiveness is typically awarded in exchange for service.
  3. State: Programs for state residents are widespread and varied, often depending on your profession.
  4. Private: You also have a lot of possibilities here. The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation’s Wavemaker Fellowship and Maine’s Harold Alfond Foundation are among assistance options for in-state engineers.

Keep in mind that refinancing and receiving loan repayment assistance aren’t always mutually exclusive. You could refinance and still receive matching payments from your employer or a gift from a private foundation.

Student loan refinancing for engineers may or may not be right for you

Earning a good-to-great income could help you qualify for student loan refinancing and achieve your goal, whether that’s to lower your rate or your monthly payments. But before choosing this route, ensure it’s right for you as a borrower, not just as an engineer.

Refinancing with a private lender can save you a bundle if your current interest rate is above what’s available on the market. On the other hand, you’ll forfeit many alternatives, such as being able to switch your repayment plan or seeking forgiveness or assistance that’s specific to federal loans.

For a full review of your options, see our guide to repaying engineering student loans.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 9 lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.74% – 8.70%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.74% – 7.99%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

4.44% – 8.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

1.74% – 7.99%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 5.90%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

1.74% – 7.99%6Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit NaviRefi

2.05% – 5.25%7Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

1.86% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

N/A8Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit PenFed

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 May 4, 2022.


2 Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

Student Loan Refinance Interest Rate Disclosure Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Let us know if you have any questions and feel free to reach out directly to our team.


3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

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 Apr 22, 2021 and may increase after consummation.


4 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

Fixed rates range from 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.


5 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.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

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.
 


6 Important Disclosures for Navient.

Navient Disclosures

You can choose between fixed and variable rates. Fixed interest rates are 2.99% – 8.24% APR (2.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Starting variable interest rates are 1.99% APR to 8.24% APR (1.74% – 7.99% APR with Auto Pay discount). Variable rates are based on an index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) plus a margin. Variable rates are reset monthly based on the fluctuation of the index. We do not currently offer variable rate loans in AK, CO, CT, HI, IL, KY, MA, MN, MS, NH, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, and VA.


7 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

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 5/17/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 2.05% APR – 5.25% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.49% APR – 7.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.


8 Important Disclosures for PenFed.

PenFed Disclosures

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 8 years/96 monthly payments, 12 years/144 monthly payments or 15 years/180 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 5.43% APR. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed APR: Fixed rates will not change during the term. This rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan. 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.