How to Get or Refinance Georgia Student Loans

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If you’re headed to college in the Peach State, you might need Georgia student loans to cover costs. In fact, the majority of Georgia students graduate with loans — 57% according to The Institute for College Access & Success.

And if you already have Georgia student loans, you may be looking for ways to make repayment easier or cheaper.

Here’s a guide to how to get Georgia student loans and how to refinance them (along with other options):

Getting Georgia student loans

Before you apply for Georgia student loans, exhaust your options for scholarships and grants, which are sources of college funds you don’t have to repay. For example, these resources for finding Georgia scholarships can help you start your search.

GAfutures also provides information on sources of financing for school, including scholarships, grants and student loans. GAfutures is run by the Georgia Student Finance Commission (GSFC), a state agency that was originally created to provide loans. It now also administers scholarships and grants funded by the state and by the state lottery and offers free financial aid counseling.

Of course, you might not be able to cover your cost of attendance with grants and scholarships alone. In that case, you have some choices, including loans through GSFC that may be cancelable through service work. Here are the main types of loans available…

Federal student loan options

If you need to borrow money after obtaining scholarships and grants, federal student loans usually are your best bet. These loans provide competitive interest rates and can be easy to qualify for. Federal loans also allow you to choose affordable and flexible repayment options. Plus, they provide borrower protections you may not get with private loans.

Your options for federal loans include:

  • Direct subsidized loans: For undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need, these loans typically are one of the best options because the government covers interest charges while you’re in school, during your grace period and during deferment.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans: While interest isn’t subsidized on these loans, qualifying is easy for both undergraduate and graduate students. There’s no requirement to demonstrate financial need.
  • Direct PLUS loans: Both parents and graduate students can obtain PLUS loans. Unlike with direct loans, however, your credit matters in determining your eligibility. PLUS loans aren’t always a better deal than private loans, so comparison shopping is important.

To obtain federal student loans, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Georgia student loans

The Georgia Student Finance Commission administers the Student Access Loan (SAL) program. This program offers fixed-rate loans at 1.00% interest to eligible undergraduate students who need help funding their education.

Students can obtain financing to attend a private postsecondary institution or a school within the University System of Georgia or Technical College System of Georgia.

The loan application and eligibility requirements are available online. Students must submit the FAFSA before being considered for loans through SAL. The minimum annual loan amount is $500 and the maximum is $8,000 for students within the University System of Georgia or attending a private university. For technical college students, the minimum is $300 and the maximum is $3,000 per year.

If you work as a teacher in a STEM field or in public service after graduation, you might be eligible for loan cancellation. Students who attend a technical college in Georgia and graduate with a 3.5 GPA or higher might also be eligible for loan discharge.

Engineering students at Mercer University might also qualify for the Scholarship for Engineering Education (SEE) program. This scholarship works like a forgivable loan of $3,500 per academic year for up to $17,500. Students must then work as engineers in Georgia to get forgiveness for $3,500 per year. If they fail to meet the service requirements, they’ll have to pay the award back with interest within a six-year period.

Private student loans

Some students need to fill a funding gap left by grants, scholarships and state and federal student loans. Private student loans may be a good option, and they’re available through banks, credit unions and online lenders. Loan terms vary among private lenders, so make sure you shop around.

Consider the interest rates, repayment terms and borrower protections offered by lenders. Keep in mind that private loans won’t qualify for federal borrower protections or income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. You’ll also need good credit or a cosigner with good credit to qualify for private loans.

Refinancing or consolidating Georgia student loans

Graduates who leave school with Georgia student loans may be interested in making repayment easier. The first step is to see if you qualify for student loan forgiveness. This can be tough to get, however, so it’s also worth considering student loan consolidation and refinancing as possible options.

Loan consolidation through the federal government allows you to combine multiple federal loans, including direct loans, into one loan. A direct consolidation loan makes repayment simpler because you’ll have only one loan to repay instead of several. It also can give you access to additional IDR plans and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

A direct consolidation loan won’t reduce your interest rate, however. Your new rate will be the weighted average of the rates on your consolidated loans.

Refinancing isn’t offered by the federal government. Instead, you’ll need to work with a private lender to refinance your student loans. When you refinance, you take out a new loan with different terms to repay your existing education debt. Students should shop carefully to find a lender offering your best rates and terms.

While refinancing can save you money, refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal protections and plans. It’s also important to weigh the pros and cons of refinancing before you trade your federal debt for a private loan, and to consider whether you’re better off with income-driven repayment instead.

Some final thoughts on Georgia student loans

Choosing the right Georgia student loan is important because you don’t want to be burdened with unaffordable debt after graduation. You should, however, prioritize applying for grants and scholarships before turning to student loans.

In many cases, federal student loans are preferable to private debt, thanks to borrower protections and flexible repayment plans offered by the government. But since they come with borrowing limits, you might need to look to private sources for additional funding.

If you do, compare loan terms carefully so you get the most affordable loan. It may take time to do the research, but it’s worth it to make a smart investment in your future.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.99% – 5.64%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.89% – 6.77%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

1.99% – 5.41%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit CommonBond

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 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% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate 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 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


2 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 September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. 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. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 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 September 10, 2020.


5 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 0.16% effective August 10, 2020.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.