Best 9 Student Loan Refinance Lenders for 2024

Student loan refinance exchanges your existing college loans for a new loan with a lower interest rate. The idea is to repay your loan faster.

You can refinance your student loan, either federal or private, through a private lender, such as a bank, credit union, or online lender. 

Refinancing your loans will combine them into a single loan with a monthly payment. Your credit score will determine your interest rate, so you should receive a meager rate if it is higher than when you applied.

In some cases, you can refinance federal PLUS loans taken out by your parents to assist you in paying for college, relieving them of payment responsibility.

If you intend to use federal loan forgiveness programs, you may not want to refinance your federal loans. 

You will be ineligible for any forgiveness programs if you refinance your federal student loans. Refinancing is the best way to reduce your payments if you are not eligible for loan forgiveness. 

This article lists some of the best student loans refinance lenders and other helpful information on refinancing.

Read Also: College Loans Beginner’s Guide: Understanding Your Options

Advantages of Student Loan Refinance 

Student Loan Refinance
  • You can get a lower monthly payment, allowing you to save money for other expenses.
  • Lowering your monthly payment reduces your debt-to-income ratio, making qualifying for a mortgage or other large purchases easier.
  • You can pay off your loan more quickly, saving money on interest.

When to Consider Refinancing 

  • If you have a stable income 
  • If you have private student loans with high-interest rate 
  • If you desperately need to be out of debt 

Top Student Loan Refinance Lenders

Here are some of the best student loan refinance companies available:

1. Earnest LLC

Earnest offers loans from $5,000 to $500,000. They have features, such as automatic payments and options to choose any repayment period from 5 and 20 years. 

They also provide the option to skip one monthly bill each year on their hardship repayment plan beyond the standard 12-month leniency period.

However, borrowers cannot apply with a cosigner, so you must meet the credit requirements. Also, they must have completed a degree at an eligible non-profit school with a credit score of at least 650.

In addition, borrowers must meet requirements, such as having at least two months’ worth of expenses saved, an on-time payment history, and no bankruptcies.

Pro 

  • They offer several payment options.
  • No extra fees for late repayment.
  • They accept borrowers with an associate’s degree.

Cons

  • There is no cosigner release policy.
  • Your financial situation may limit your options.

2. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is a non-profit organization that refinances loans.

It has no cosigner release policy and charges late fees. However, loan amounts range from $7,500 to $250,000, depending on the degree received.

They have an excellent income-based repayment program, which limits payments to 15% of income for 25 years if borrowers cannot make payments. They also have a 24-month leniency period. 

In addition, the loan requires no college degree but a minimum credit score of 680 and a minimum income of $40,000.

Pros

  • There is an income-based repayment plan available.
  • There is no need for a degree.
  • Estimated interest rates are available without undergoing a serious credit check.

Cons

  • There is no cosigner release available.

3. Discover

Discover is a student loan refinance lender that provides hardship repayment options for borrowers. They offer loans from $5,000 to the total amount owed on student loans, subject to credit approval.

However, they require no college degree, but borrowers must have at most $150,000 in total student loan debt, although exceptions exist.

Also, borrowers who always repay on time can request a three-month payment suspension or a lower interest rate.

Pros 

  • There are no late fees.
  • There is no need for a degree.
  • There are numerous hardship repayment options.

Cons

  • There are only two loan terms available.
  • There is no cosigner release available.

4. SoFi

SoFi allows customers with associate degrees to refinance their student loans, meaning a broader range of applicants can apply. It’s also one of the lenders that don’t have a maximum refinance amount.

However, SoFi’s rates are higher than other lenders, and it does not provide cosigner release. But, borrowers can receive a 0.125% interest rate discount on other SoFi products, such as personal loans and career coaching.

Requirements include a bachelor’s or associate’s degree and a minimum credit score of 650. 

Pros 

  • Estimated interest rates are available without undergoing a hard credit check.
  • Borrowers with an associate’s degree can refinance.
  • SoFi member benefits, such as career coaching.

Cons 

  • There is no cosigner release available.
  • Late fees are charged.

5. Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)

MEFA is a non-profit, state-based organization that provides student loan refinancing to customers nationwide. 

It does not need borrowers to have a degree which is good news for those that did not graduate. There are also no late fees.

They have no limits on loan amounts, but each applicant must have a high FICO score and an income of $24,000.

Read Also:  College Ave Student Loans: 10 Things To Consider Before You Apply

Pros 

  • There are no late fees.
  • Borrowers without a degree can refinance.

Cons 

  • The shortest loan term is seven years.
  • There is no cosigner release available.

6. PNC Bank

PNC Bank offers a 0.50% discount to borrowers who make monthly payments automatically from their bank account. 

They also do not require refinance borrowers to have a degree or a credit score, but you must have made at least two years’ payments on your previous student loans. 

You must also provide an earnings history for two years. Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $75,000

Pros 

  • Automatic payments qualify for a 0.50% interest rate reduction.
  • There is no need for a degree.
  • Cosigner release is available. 

Cons 

  • They only give interest rates with a hard inquiry.

7. Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank does not require borrowers to have completed high school to refinance. It also allows cosigners to be released after 36 loan payments.

However, the bank customers will get an interest rate discount of up to 0.50%. They require no college degree to access loans.

But borrowers with a high school diploma or an associate’s degree must demonstrate that they have made 12 on-time payments since leaving school to refinance.

In addition, the borrower and cosigner must have a combined income of $24,000. Loan amounts range from $10,000 to $300,000 for those with bachelor’s degrees or less or $500,000 for those with graduate degrees.

Pros 

  • There is no need to undergo a hard credit check to obtain an interest rate estimate.
  • Existing Citizens Bank customers get many perks.

Cons

  • There is no stated leniency limit.
  • The maximum loan term is more than 15 years.
  • Cosigner release is available but only after 36 on-time payments.

8. Laurel Road

Laurel Road is an online-only lender that provides loans to borrowers pursuing bachelor’s degrees in health professions. 

Borrowers can also refinance federal PLUS loans taken out by their parents. Loan amounts available are from $5,000 minimum and have no limit except for associate’s degree graduates, who can refinance up to $50,000. 

Pros 

  • Borrowers with an associate’s degree in specific fields can refinance.
  • Some borrowers may be able to refinance during their final semester of college.
  • Estimated interest rates are available without undergoing a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Late fees are charged.
  • If borrowers return to school, there is no option for deferment.
  • The maximum loan term is more than 15 years.

9. Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) 

PenFed is notable for its low-interest rates and flexibility. Also, graduates can refinance their parent federal loans. In addition, spouses can merge their separate student loans into a single loan. 

However, you’ll need to join PenFed Credit Union to refinance; Loan amounts range from $7,500 to $300,000. 

A bachelor’s degree is required for eligibility. If you refinance under $150,000, you must have a credit score of 700 and an income of $42,000. 

Otherwise, you must use a cosigner with a credit score of $25,000 to  $449,999 if your credit score is between 670 and 724.

Pros 

  • Estimated interest rates are available without undergoing a hard credit check.
  • Separate student loans for spouses can be combined into a single loan.

Cons

  • After a relatively short period, a cosigner release is available.
  • If borrowers return to school, there is no option for deferment.
  • Late fees are charged.

How To Refinance Your Student Loans

Here is how to start your loan refinancing journey:

1. Consider your options 

Shop around with various lenders and examine their rates. You can do this by entering some of your personal information on the lenders’ website.

They will conduct a preliminary credit check to see if you qualify and display your desired loan’s estimated fixed and variable interest rates.  

2. Check to see if refinancing is right for you

Ensure the rates are something you can bear and that the conditions are not too bothersome. 

3. Fill out an application

Submit a formal application once you decide which lender to work with. This is a more detailed form. Upload the necessary documents. Documentation will be mostly about your income,  

After that, the lender will run a credit check to confirm your details. You will be given a summary of the final loan terms if approved. 

Read the terms and conditions and all documents carefully and thoroughly. If everything looks good, sign the paperwork to receive your loan. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get an approval. 

Read Also: Best Student Loans

Final Thoughts

Refinancing aims to save money on interest; hence you must use a lender who offers you the lowest interest rate. 

Variable rates are usually lower than fixed rates but may increase in the future, so choose a variable rate only if you wish to pay off your loan quickly. 

Some refinance lenders offer borrowers with difficulty making payments more than the standard 12 months of leniency throughout the loan term and additional loan modification options.

However, refinancing is usually best for people with good incomes and jobs. But if you have to refinance, use a lender with a more generous leniency policy and options to pause payments or reduce your repayments.

Also, if you choose to use a cosigner, look for a lender with a release policy so you can take on the total repayment obligation whenever possible. 

If you fall behind on payments, this will shield your cosigner’s credit from bearing the loan.

So with this information, you can get started in refinancing your loans.

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