Updated June 09, 2020

5 Best Banks to Refinance Your Student Loans in 2020

Student Loans

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If you have student loans, you may have heard how you can refinance your loans with a new lender to potentially lower your payment and save thousands of dollars on interest.

It’s a great idea, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

So to help our readers, we looked at all the major student loan refinancing companies to come up with the ones that give borrowers the best rates and terms.

Variable APR Terms Eligible Degrees Eligible Loan Types Sign Up

1.99% – 6.43%

5 to 20

Undergrad and Graduate

Private and Federal

1.85% to 6.13%

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Undergrad and Graduate

Private and Federal

3.89% to 9.24%

5 to 20

Undergrad and Graduate

Private and Federal

2.31% to 7.36%

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Undergrad and Graduate

Private and Federal

1.99% to 7.06%

5 to 25

Undergrad and Graduate

Private and Federal

SoFi: Good for Getting Loans Refinanced Fast

  • SoFi: Good for a Quick Refi
    • Basics: With live online customer support available seven days a week, SoFi is there to help you process your loan application quickly. The online application only takes a few minutes to complete, and you can easily upload screenshots and documents online to complete the process.
    • Pros: SoFi's refinancing process is quick, which is great if you want to save money as quickly as possible. Also, you can refinance Parent PLUS loans with SoFi, allowing you to release your parents from their obligation to your educational debt.
    • Cons: There is no option for cosigner release, so you will need to refinance your loan again if you want to remove a cosigner from their obligation to your student debt.
    • Variable APR

      2.31% to 7.36%

    • Terms

      5, 7, 10, 15, 20

    • Eligible Degrees

      Undergrad and Graduate

Earnest: Good for Flexible Loans and Repayment

  • Earnest: Good for Flexibility
    • Basics: Paying off student loan debt can be arduous. Earnest tries to make it a bit easier by offering flexible loan terms and monthly payments. By refinancing your student loans through Earnest, you’ll have access to unique loan origination features. For instance, rather than setting a handful of loan terms, Earnest uses your desired monthly payment to calculate a unique loan term for you. This means if your budget allows for a $350 monthly payment, you could wind up with a loan term of five years and seven months — something you won’t find with other lenders.
    • Pros: In addition to the “choose your own term” option, you can a payment every 12 months without penalty, if expenses ever pile up or you hit a rough patch. You can also push your payment due date back up to seven days as needed, and you can set up automatic biweekly payments to save money on interest.
    • Cons: Earnest doesn’t allow for cosigners. Additionally, you’re limited to 12 months of forbearance, compared to the two years often allowed by other lenders. Also, if your parents took out PLUS loans for your education, you cannot assume responsibility for them by refinancing with Earnest into your name.
    • Variable APR

      2.39% – 6.43%

    • Terms

      5 to 20

    • Eligible Degrees

      Undergrad and Graduate

College Ave: Good for Confident Borrowers

  • College Ave: Good for Confident Borrowers
    • Basics: At College Ave, you only need a minimum credit score of 650 to qualify for a student loan refinance. While this score (or higher) won’t guarantee approval — there are many other factors involved — it’s nice to know that a low score won’t disqualify you.
    • Pros: You can build the refi loan that best suits you, with terms between five and 20 years long. College Ave’s online loan calculator lets you see exactly how much you’ll pay and what will save you the most in the end. As long as you have an income of at least $65,000 and a credit score of 650 or higher (with no bankruptcies or accounts in collections), you may be eligible for a loan.
    • Cons: College Ave has no formal forbearance policy. If you encounter a financial hardship and need help avoiding a loan default, you can request forbearance, and it will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Also, only the parent borrower can refinance Parent PLUS loans with College Ave. To release your parents from PLUS loans they took out for your education, you’ll need a different lender.
    • Variable APR

      3.89% - 9.24%

    • Terms

      5 to 20

    • Eligible Degrees

      Undergrad and Graduate

CommonBond: Good for Big Balances

  • CommonBond: Good for Large Balances
    • Basics: With CommonBond, you can refinance as much as $500,000 in student loan debt, allowing you to save money and time on your repayment, no matter the balance.
    • Pros: If you ever encounter a financial hardship, CommonBond offers a generous, 24-month forbearance policy. Italso offers a 10-year hybrid loan option, which is designed to optimize your repayment. The first five years come with a fixed interest rate, and the last five years (after your balance has dropped significantly) have a variable rate.
    • Cons: CommonBond only offers five loan terms: five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years. While this might be more than enough for some borrowers, you may need additional options to find the loan that works for you.
    • Variable APR

      1.85% to 6.13%

    • Terms

      5, 7, 10, 15, 20

    • Eligible Degrees

      Undergrad and Graduate

Laurel Road: Good for Cosigners

  • Laurel Road: Good for Cosigners
    • Basics: With many lenders, releasing a cosigner from your debt would require refinancing into yet another loan. Laurel Road, however, offers cosigner release after 36 consecutive on-time payments, as long as your credit score is enough to qualify you on your own.
    • Pros: Laurel Road has no maximum limit for student loan refinancing, and the minimum is only $5,000.
    • Cons: While there is no maximum, Laurel Road will break your debt into two loans if you refinance more than $300,000. This could have an additional impact on your credit score.
    • Variable APR

      1.99% to 6.65%

    • Terms

      5, 7, 10, 15, 20

    • Eligible Degrees

      Undergrad and Graduate

Student Loan Refinance: The Ultimate Guide

Whether you’re applying for your first loans or have been making payments for the last decade, you probably realize just overwhelming (and expensive) student loan debt can be. Luckily, there are ways to make that balance just a bit more manageable, getting you out of debt faster — and for less money — than you may think.

Even if you’ve never seriously considered refinancing your student loans, you may still be familiar with the concept. And refinancing is, at its foundation, a very basic process: you’ll simply take out a brand new loan to replace one or more of your existing student loans. Easy peasy!

By why exactly would you want to refinance your educational debt in the first place? Are the benefits significant enough to warrant your effort, and how would you even get the ball rolling on a refinance if you wanted to?

To answer these questions — and many more — we created the following comprehensive guide. It covers everything you need to know about refinancing student loans, whether you owe $4,000 or $400,000. Along the way, you’ll learn how and why to refinance, ways to save money and time, and even get an idea of the lenders that are best suited to your situation.

With that said, let’s get started on everything there is to know about student loan refinancing.

Student Loan Refinancing Basics

What Is Refinancing?

Refinancing means you simply take out a new loan as a replacement for an existing loan or loans. Your new refinance loan will be used to pay off the old account(s), and future monthly payments will be directed toward the new lender until the debt is repaid.

While refinancing can sound a lot like borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, it’s actually a useful financial strategy. The new loan could get you a lower interest rate, lower monthly payment, and more favorable loan terms.

And yes, there are a few restrictions, but a refinance loan can be beneficial whether you have one educational loan or twenty to your name.

With a student loan refi, you will be taking out an entirely new debt, which may or may not be with an entirely new lender. You will have a new payment schedule, new payoff date, and even a new interest rate (if done right).

Why You Should Refinance Your Student Loans

When paying for your education with student loans, you are likely to accumulate a number of accounts. Each year you’re in school, you might receive a mix of federal and private student loans. Some parents may even borrow for their children in the form of PLUS or other parent loans.

After leaving school, you may find that repaying and dealing with those loans is far from easy. They can cost you interest over time, and juggling different payment amounts and due dates can be confusing.

With a student loan refinance, or “refi,” your new loan is the only payment you need to worry about each month. You’ll have one due date, one payment, and one balance to track over time.

With refinancing, you can find the loan that works best for you, versus simply accepting whatever terms you were given back when you were in school. This means you can use the refi loan to:

  • Drop your interest rate: A lower rate means paying less in interest over the course of your repayment. If your credit has improved since borrowing (very likely if you were a young adult at loan origination), you’ll probably qualify for lower rates. Plus, you can also snag a reduced APR if you add a co-signer — such as a spouse — or even if the economy has simply shifted and federal rates are lower.
  • Shorten your loan term: This will get you out of debt faster.
  • Lower monthly payments: If you need to improve your cash flow situation, a refi can help you reduce monthly payments while still whittling away at your balance. This can be done by reducing your APR, lengthening your loan term, or both. This is a great option if you’re struggling with an unsustainable monthly payment or trying to pay off other debt.
  • Remove a borrower: If you took out your student loans along with a parent or other cosigner, you can also use a refinance loan to remove them from their obligation to the debt. Even if your cosigner never planned to actually contribute toward your student loans, removing them as a cosigner can have a significant effect on their credit and peace of mind.

Your Original Student Loans Probably Stink

It feels like ages ago that I took out my first student loan, intended to cover the delta between my freshman undergrad expenses and what was covered by an academic scholarship. At the time, a student loan wasn’t even up for debate: my parents couldn’t afford to pay the difference out of pocket, and Sallie Mae was more than happy to send over a check on my behalf.

Honestly, the process was probably a little too easy for 18-year-old me, and I didn’t exactly care to read the fine print. Besides, it felt like my only option, so I quickly signed the dotted line and excitedly went to buy textbooks.

Rinse and repeat that process a few more times, and I found myself rounding the corner toward graduation. Unfortunately, with graduation came my first student loan payment, due on what was now tens of thousands of educational debt.

I had a “big girl” job lined up, but I don’t think I was quite ready for the sticker shock of my student loans. Many of them boasted APRs in the teens, they had been accruing deferred interest for years, and it looked like I would be paying about $900 a month toward that debt for eternity.

Unfortunately, it took me seven years to wise up and refinance that student loan debt. There were a number of reasons I finally took the leap, though, and my only regret was waiting so long to do it.

Downsides to Refinancing Your Student Loans

Before refinancing, consider the negatives to refinancing your student loan debt.

Federal student loans offer safety nets such as loan forbearance and deferment. If you are struggling to make your full monthly payments at any time, you could call on these options to avoid default.

You will also lose access to the income-driven repayment (IDR) and student loan forgiveness options that come along with federal student loans.

When you refinance into a private student refinance loan, however, you often lose these options. Some lenders offer forbearance or deferment, but many do not have formal policies, so it’s tough to know whether you’d be approved.

While these options might not matter to some borrowers, you may find that having them available is important enough to warrant not refinancing your federal student loan debt.

Should I Refinance My Student Loans?

Without knowing exactly what your finances look like and the loans you are carrying, I can’t tell you whether a refi is the right move. What I can tell you, though, is that student loan refinance makes sense for many, many borrowers… and odds are, it’s at least worth your time to crunch the numbers.

For example: you walk away from college with only $15,000 in federal student loan debt, and plan to go into a field that allows you to take advantage of the government’s loan forgiveness program. In this case, you should steer clear of refinancing… it won’t be beneficial enough.

The same goes if you managed to lock in great interest rates when taking out those loans, and can’t do much to lower your weighted average rate. While a refi would still give you the opportunity to adjust your monthly payment, it might not be worth the hassle if you aren’t actually saving interest in the end.

But let’s say, hypothetically, that you are a young personal finance writer with $52,000 in student loan debt to her name. You have a mix of federal and private loans. The strong majority of them are private, though, with interest rates ranging from 7.5 to almost 15 percent.

You’re paying $900+ a month toward these loans and fully expect to be paying them off for, well, what seems like the rest of your life.

In this case, I would say that student loan refinancing is an excellent decision. By doing so, you could potentially cut your monthly payments down by hundreds of dollars, trim years off of your repayment schedule (say, almost 14 of them), and save yourself a ton (like $19,000 worth) in interest.

Of course, this is all totally hypothetical. (But also, ask me more about my own refi sometime. Best. Decision. Ever.)

Student loan refinancing is not a one-size-fits-all process. You’ll need to spend some time crunching numbers, determining what you need from lenders, and planning for the future. Then you can decide the path that’s right for you and your educational debt.

How to Refinance Student Loans

Today, there are more options for student loan refis than ever before. By choosing the right one, you can ensure that you get the lowest interest rate possible, while also simplifying your repayment and even customizing your monthly payment.

You might have great luck by starting your search with a loan aggregator. These platforms allow you to see offers and rates for a number of different lenders all at once, without having to apply through each bank individually.

Your student loan servicer might offer their own refinancing program, which could also be a great place to start. For instance, many of my own loans were eventually sold to Navient. While I did shop around for rates in a few places, the best choice for my debt wound up being NaviRefi. Interestingly enough, both companies are owned by the same bank.

You should also be sure to take advantage of FICO’s rate shopping period when the time comes to refinance. This allows you to apply for loans — and see offered interest rates — from various lenders in order to find the one that’s best for you. Instead of each application counting as a hard inquiry, FICO’s formula will group them all together as one.

Your rate shopping window can range from 14-30 days, depending on the FICO formula your lendors choose. By applying with all potential lenders in the same 1-2 week period, you’ll spare your credit some damage.

Where to Start

If you have federal student loans, your situation is more complex. Check out our article here to learn more about refinancing and decide whether it’s the right choice for you.

However, if your educational debt is largely comprised of private loans, or if you don’t anticipate needing the benefits that come along with any of your federal loans, you may have decided that student loan refinance is a great idea.

Ready to begin shopping around for the best rates and loan options? We’ve developed the following list of top refinance companies to make the process easier for you. These lenders offer competitive rates and flexible repayment options, enabling you to refinance your educational debt in the easiest — and most affordable — way possible.

Refinancing your student loan debt is a fairly simple process. Plus, any effort you put into your refi could help you save money, get out of debt faster, and create a repayment plan for your budget.

Here is a look at the steps you’ll take to refinance your student loans.

1. Shop Around for Rates

For almost every borrower, the most important factor in refinancing is the interest rate. This rate will impact your monthly payment and dictate how much interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan.

On a $20,000, 10-year student loan refinance, for example, the difference between a 5.5% interest rate and a 4.5% rate is $1,173.09. Those are significant savings for only one percentage point difference.

Shop around with several lenders to find the lowest interest rate available for your loan. You can also use aggregator platforms, such as Credible, to compare multiple lenders at once.

If you’re still working with your original student loan lenders, you’ll likely save more than one percentage point in interest. My private student loans had interest rates ranging from 9% to 15.4% when I began making payments.

By refinancing, I locked in a rate of 4.3% for all of my debt. This wound up saving me nearly $40,000 over the life of my repayment, as well as getting me out of debt much sooner.

2. Compare Terms With Your Budget and Timeline

How much can you allocate to student loan payments each month? When do you want to be out of debt for good?

These questions can help you determine which loan terms are right for you. Refinance lenders will let you see exactly how much you’ll pay in interest, when you’ll make that final payment, and how much your monthly contribution will be long before you finalize your loan. This allows you to tailor your refi to your needs.

If your needs change down the line, you can consider refinancing again to adjust your terms, interest rate, or monthly payment.

3. Get Prequalified

Applying for a new refinance loan almost always involves a hard inquiry on your credit report. This can drop your credit score slightly and will also stay on your report for a full two years, so it’s important to limit them where you can.

Most lenders allow you to get prequalified, for your refinance loan before you formally apply. Pre-qualifications are essentially tentative loan offers that don’t show up on your credit report.

Lenders will use soft credit inquiries to determine whether they’re likely to offer you a loan and at what rate. You can use this information to compare lenders and cross off the ones that aren’t ideal for you.

This process is not foolproof; interest rates aren’t guaranteed, and you can sometimes be denied for the loan when you formally apply, due to things like your income and debt. However, it does give you an idea of the rates, loan terms, and lenders available to you.

4. Choose Which Loans to Refinance

You can refinance as much or as little of your student loan debt as you would like. This gives you the flexibility to customize your debt repayment with terms that best match your needs.

For instance, you may want to refinance your private student loans to snag a lower interest rate but keep the benefits offered by your federal student loans. In that case, you would simply refinance the private debt and continue paying the federal loan debt as usual.

You may also have some loans that offer interest rates a refi loan can’t beat. If this is the case, you can refinance the higher-interest debt into one loan, but leave the lower-rate debt alone.

In my case, my parents offered to pay off my Parent PLUS loans after college, and I was left responsible for the remaining federal and private loans. I refinanced my debt but left out the loans they offered to repay, and saved myself a ton of money.

5. Apply for a Refinance Loan

Each lender has its own requirements and loan application process. Typically, though, applying will look something like this:

  • Shop around for rates by getting prequalified.
  • Find the loan that best meets your needs.
  • Apply for that loan through the lender.
  • Provide required documentation, including pay stubs or W-2s, existing loan payoff quotes or statements, proof of graduation, and tax returns.
  • Get approved for your new loan.
  • Wait for your new lender to pay off your refinanced loans.
  • Begin making payments to your new lender as scheduled.

You may need to provide additional documentation, such as bank statements or a copy of your ID, and the underwriting process could last anywhere from 15 minutes to multiple weeks.

Typically, to qualify for a refinance loan, you’ll need:

  • A healthy credit score. The exact definition of this varies among lenders; some won’t approve borrowers with less than a 700 credit score while others may accept 650 and above.
  • Proof of stable income. Some lenders may have limits regarding your debt-to-income ratio.
  • A cosigner, if you have trouble qualifying for a loan on your own — either due to your income, credit score, debt ratio, or work history. Or, simply wait six months or so, and try applying again once your situation has improved.

When to Refinance Student Loans

There is no magical time frame for when it’s right to refinance your student loans. Instead, you’ll want to look at your own personal situation and decide when it makes the most sense.

Refinancing is a good idea if:

  • You just recently graduated
  • Federal interest rates have dropped by 1% or more
  • Your credit score has notably improved
  • You have someone willing to cosign on your loan

Note that the best refinance loans are only available to borrowers with stable income, excellent credit, and often, a solid repayment history to-date. Not quite there yet? Wait a year or two and then revisit the refi conversation.

If you plan to refinance to improve your cash flow and/or lower monthly payments, just be sure to start the process before you find yourself in hot water. If you wait until you’re already struggling to make payments, you may limit the options available to you.

Also, keep in mind that you can always refinance again down the line, even if you’ve already done it before. If your situation or federal interest rates change for the better, it’s worth taking another look.

How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?

Theoretically, you can refinance your student loan debt as many times as you’d like. (That’s assuming you don’t have a loan with a prepayment penalty, at least.)

And without origination fees, a student loan refinance doesn’t cost you anything but time and energy — and a temporary dip in your credit score. So, why not get the best possible loan you can?

If you’re able to continue snagging better repayment terms and/or lower interest rates, there’s really no reason not to refi as often as possible. Just keep in mind that there’s only so low your interest rate can go!

Can You Refinance Student Loan Debt More Than Once?

You can refinance as many times as you’d like.

Keep a few things in mind when deciding whether a second, third, or 15th refi is a good idea:

Refinancing will impact your credit score in two ways: by lowering your average age of accounts and by adding a hard inquiry to your credit report. Both of these will have a short-term effect.

Only refinance if it’ll save you money. You may refinance once when rates are low, and then be unable to get anything better when you want to refinance again.

If you’re struggling to make monthly payments, a refinance might be the best option — even if that means a slightly higher rate. Rather than default on your debt or even accrue late fees, you could refinance to get the monthly payment you need.

It often pays to shop around when thinking about a refi, especially for subsequent refinances. Use a loan aggregator, to get prequalified quotes from several lenders.

Which Loans You Can (and Can’t) Refinance

There are many loans available to students today; some are offered by the federal government while others are private. This distinction is important, as each loan type has limitations on repayment and refinancing.

Federal loans — which include Stafford, Perkins, and PLUS loans — bring with them a number of benefits for borrowers. These include income-based repayment, loan forgiveness, and hardship or forbearance programs. If you go into certain career fields, need to lower your monthly payments, or have an emergency situation, you have options available to you with federal student loans.

Private loans, however, do not offer the same benefits. You are typically unable to defer or adjust the repayment of private student loans, even in cases of hardship. If you need lower monthly payments, a refi is typically your only route. You also won’t have a chance at debt forgiveness with private loans.

Because of this, you’ll want to think twice before refinancing federal loans, as this will require switching the debt to a private loan. In the process, you will forever lose the benefits that came with your federal loans.

So, can you refinance student loans if you have both federal and private debt? The answer is an easy yes, regardless of your mix of accounts. You will simply need to utilize a private refi that covers all of your loans. And of course, keep in mind that you’ll lose those federal loan protections we already mentioned.

Refinancing vs Consolidation

You might be wondering about student loan consolidation, especially when we are talking about combining all of your loan debt into one refi loan. The terms almost seem interchangeable, though there are some notable differences.

The government’s Direct Consolidation Loan is available for all of your federal loans, and gives you a way to consolidate (combine) them all into one lump loan. This simplifies your monthly payments into one, gives you less to track, and also opens up a few additional loan benefits such as special repayment plans.

However, this program is only available for federal student loans; you cannot use it for any private student debt. If you have both federal and private loans — or only private loans — you will need to utilize a private refinance loan. This will effectively combine (consolidate) your debt into one account, though this is not the same as the federal consolidation loan program.

It’s also important to note that the federal loan consolidation program typically doesn’t do anything to lower either your interest rate or your monthly payments. Instead, its primary purpose is to simplify the management of your loans.

How Much Does It Cost to Refinance?

When taking out any type of loan, you may come across a few fees. One of these, an origination fee, is charged at the beginning of your loan and covers the cost of processing your application and disbursing funds.

Luckily, however, it is incredibly rare for a refinance lender to charge an origination fee. In fact, I can’t think of a single company that charges one, so you shouldn’t go with a lender that does.

Unlike refinancing an auto loan or mortgage, you will almost never encounter fees for refinancing your student loans. In fact, a lender charging upfront costs is one of the biggest red flags of a refinance loan scam.

This is great news for graduates who are trying to save money and pay off their educational debt as quickly as possible.

If done correctly, your refi will only save you money, either in lowered interest rates, shorter repayment length, or a lower monthly payment. Or, if you’re lucky, all three.

But while the refinance itself won’t cost you, there are a few fees you could encounter elsewhere… so keep an eye out! These may include early repayment fees, if you try to pay off your loan balance early, or late fees for missed payments.

Look for These Refi Lender Features

Each student loan lender is a little bit different from the next. Some are known for lending to those with poor credit, while others specialize in the most competitive rates. Some have high-tech platform features, while others are as basic as the come.

Depending on why you’re refinancing and how you plan to pay back your student loan debt, there are a few key things you may want to look for in your search.

Flexible Payment Options

A few lenders will set your monthly payment for you, require auto-pay, and never give you a say in the matter. This isn’t a bad thing, but it might not be right for you.

Instead, you may want to look for a lender that allows more flexible repayment. This could include features like:

  • Adjustable due dates.
  • Automated bi-weekly payments.
  • Customized terms.s Some lenders let you choose terms like 12 years and four months, because it gives you the monthly payment you want.

Forbearance Policies

If you were to lose your job, go through a divorce, or encounter some other financial hardship that makes it difficult to make your full monthly payment, forbearance could keep you from defaulting on your student loans.

You’ll lose out on forbearance options from the U.S. Department of Education if you refinance federal student loans. However, some private lenders also offer formal forbearance policies, which may give you added peace of mind.

Penalty-Free Prepayment

Most student loan refinance lenders allow you to make additional payments toward your principal balance, or entirely pay off your debt ahead of schedule, without penalty. Look for lenders that offer penalty-free prepayment if this is your plan.

Will Refinancing Student Loans Affect Your Credit?

The process of refinancing your student loan debt will impact your credit report — and thus, your credit score — both positively and negatively. However, the negative impact is relatively minor and short-term.

In the beginning, you will see a negative impact due to both your lender’s hard inquiry (when they check your credit) and the reduced age of your accounts. As time goes on and you responsibly manage your debt, though, the impact should be positive.

Competitive student loan refinancing options are typically only available to borrowers with excellent credit. It makes sense, then, that these borrowers are concerned about what a refi loan will do to their credit score moving forward.

Initially, you may find that a student loan refinance can have a negative impact on your credit. However, this is typically short-lived, and you’ll find that a refi is actually the best long-term option for your credit.

Inquiries
Average Age of Accounts
Payment History
Overall Debt/Debt-to-Income
Short-
Term
You’ll see a small drop in your credit score as your new lender conducts a hard pull on your credit.A new account will lower your credit score initially, as your average age of accounts drops.You will retain your positive repayment history from your original student loans, until they fall off your report after seven years.There will be no change initially, as your overall debt owed will remain the same (only the account will change).
Long-
Term
This inquiry appears on your credit report for 2 years, and is only factored into your score for 12 months.Over time, however, that new account will age and begin to actually build your credit score even higher.While the original loans will eventually age out, you will have established a positive repayment history with your refi loan, making this a wash.Over time, a refi can help your debt ratio by allowing you to pay off the balance owed even faster. However, if you opt for a refi loan that extends your repayment term, this may not help with your DTI.
 

For most borrowers, a student loan refinance will have a temporary, negative impact on their credit report and score. Over a short period of time, though, this will begin to bounce back. With the right refi loan, your credit will be in a much better situation over time than it would have been with your original loan(s).

Pros and Cons of Refinancing

With all of this said, student loan refinancing isn’t for everyone. Whether or not a refi is the right choice for you depends on your own financial situation, future plans, and even the specific loans you already hold.

It’s important to look at the benefits and the downsides before you even begin rate shopping for loans.

Pros of Student Loan Refinancing

Of course, a student loan refi is a great idea for many borrowers. Benefits include:

  • Lowering interest rates, saving you money in interest over time
  • Adjusting monthly payments, which can improve your cash flow
  • Combining multiple loans into one single, easy-to-track account/monthly payment
  • Removing co-signers from original loans, freeing up their credit and obligation to your debt
  • Adding co-borrowers, which often opens the door to even lower interest rates

If any of these is important to you (or your wallet), it might be worth looking into a refi loan for your educational debt.

Cons of Student Loan Refinancing

…of course, they aren’t for everyone. For many borrowers, a private student loan refinance could be more trouble than it’s worth. In some cases, it may even cost you money.

You might not want to go through with a student loan refinance if you:

  • Plan to utilize federal loan benefits, such as debt forgiveness and income-based repayment
  • Don’t have excellent credit or proof of stable income, which you’ll need in order to qualify
  • You can’t afford the impact to your credit score, even if it’s temporary (i.e.: if you’re planning to apply for a new mortgage soon, etc.)
  • Are almost finished paying off your loans
  • Have loans with a weighted average interest rate that’s already pretty low
  • Don’t have a secure, stable income

Everyone’s situation is different, so it’s important to take a look at your financial needs, existing loans, and future plans. This will help you determine whether a student loan refi is really the right move for you.

Find the Right Repayment Options for You

These are a few of our favorite refinance lenders, but shop around before making a final decision to ensure the refinance loan you choose is the perfect one for your student loan debt.

When refinancing your student loan debt, you have so many options : endless lenders, a slew of loan repayment terms, and so many features that can make your educational debt payoff easier and cheaper.

Finding the right lender depends on what is most important to you. For some borrowers, the priority is getting the lowest interest rate possible to save the most money over the course of the repayment. For others, it’s finding a manageable monthly payment. And for others still, finding a lender that offers features like flexible due dates, penalty-free prepayment, and cosigner release is imperative.

Regardless of your priorities, you can probably find a lender with what you need. Refinancing your student loans could trim time and interest off of your balance, and simplify your repayment in the process.

Stephanie Colestock

Stephanie Colestock is a personal finance expert and writer who enjoys teaching people how to be financially independent and confident about their money choices, regardless of obstacles in their path (such as the crippling student loan debt she once held). Stephanie graduated from Baylor University, and is currently working toward her CFP certification. Her work can be seen on sites such as Forbes, Dough Roller, and Johnny Jet, among many others.

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