Refinance Student Loans: Compare the Top 10 Lenders

If you have taken out a student loan to go to school, you may owe a sizable amount of money. And, it’s likely that the interest rate on this loan may be locked in at a higher percentage than is available to you now. What can you do to take advantage of the new, lower […]

BY The GoodCall.com Team

Refinance Student Loans: Compare the Top 10 Lenders

If you have taken out a student loan to go to school, you may owe a sizable amount of money. And, it’s likely that the interest rate on this loan may be locked in at a higher percentage than is available to you now. What can you do to take advantage of the new, lower interest rates? Refinance. It’s simple to refinance student loans as there are many companies willing to help you with it.

You should consider refinancing when your interest rate is higher than what is available for your current situation, as a higher interest rate will cost you more money over the course of the loan. You might also look into refinancing if you want to lower your monthly payments or if you want to shorten or lengthen the amount of time left on your loan. 

One of the first things you should do is find out how your interest rates and payment plans compare to what else is available. Let’s take a look at some of the best student loan refinance lenders and what they are offering.

Best student loan refinancing lenders

While there are a large number of companies offering to refinance student loans, some are services that connect customers with lenders. Below are ten reputable lenders and, for the most part, available across the United States.

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Compare top student loan refinancing lenders

Earnest

Earnest comes in strong on their interest rates, landing as second lowest for both fixed and variable interest rates. Offering highly flexible payment schedules lets them score high for usability as well. With in-house servicing rather than a separate loan servicing company, Earnest can offer borrowers the ability to change their payment date, increase their payment amount, or even skip a payment once a year. 

SoFi

Offering competitive rates for both fixed and variable interest loans, SoFi falls near the middle of the pack for savings. With fast online applications and a seven day a week customer support center, SoFi makes refinancing easy. They even offer free career coaching and financial advice. 

ElFi

Education Loan Finance (ELFi) boasts the lowest fixed rate on our table, while their variable rate is the third-highest. With 30 years of experience in student loans and student loan refinancing, ElFi’s management team provides stability and expertise. Their customer service will help you with the process and you can secure your refinancing options in just a few minutes.

Citizens Bank

Competitive rates for both fixed and variable interest loans from a traditional bank makes Citizens Bank a conservative choice. And as a traditional bank, you may have other accounts with them, some of which may qualify for an additional 0.25% interest rate reduction on your refinanced student loan.  

Commonbond

With the lowest variable rate and a fixed rate also at the low end of the spectrum, Commonbond is a good choice to find the least expensive refinance option.  And Commonbond offers a hybrid refinance rate where the borrower has a fixed interest rate for the first five years and a variable rate for the last five years. They also partner with Pencils of Promise to assist with children’s education in the developing world when originating or refinancing student loans.

PHEAA

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) provides the PA Forward Refinance Loan to residents of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. They also service loans across the U.S. as FedLoan Servicing and American Education Services (AES). In addition to the limitations by state of residence, they also do not offer variable interest loans and their fixed interest rates are somewhat high compared to the other lenders in our table.

Discover

The advertised rates for Discover refinanced student loans are higher than any other listed in our table, with the variable rate much higher. But this major corporation, well-known for its credit cards, may appeal to their current customers. One negative aspect might be their lack of cosigner release options, requiring cosigners to remain for the life of the loan. Refinancing does not require a cosigner, although borrowers may be offered lower interest rates if they have a cosigner with good credit. As with most other lenders, Discover charges no additional fees for application or origination. They also service their loans in-house.

PenFed Credit Union

As the only Credit Union on our list, PenFed offers competitive fixed rates but has the second-highest variable rate listed. While their FAQ specifically states they “do not advertise for deferments or forbearance,” they also state they will work with individuals on a case by case basis. They service their own loans, eliminating the need to deal with both a lender and loan servicer. PenFed refinances student loans from $7,500 up to $300,000 with five, eight, twelve and fifteen-year payment plans.

Laurel Road

With a very low variable APR and a competitive fixed APR, Laurel Road offers fast rate-checking without a credit check registering on your credit score. Recently purchased by KeyBank, they now have the financial stability and backing of a traditional bank and offer mortgages and personal loans as well as refinancing student loans. They even offer a referral bonus of up to $400 when referring friends who refinance with Laurel Road. 

Advantage Education Loan

Advantage Education Loan is owned by the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC) and originated by the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA), both of which are state-based, not-for-profit, governmental agencies. While originally founded in Kentucky, they offer refinancing services to all U.S. citizens and noncitizens with proof of residency cards. While having only fixed-rate loans at a marginally higher minimum rate, they attach no fees, so their APR and interest rates are the same and as a not-for-profit, interest earned is put back into the business, not distributed to investors.

Frequently asked questions about refinancing student loans

1.    How do I refinance my student loans?

Contact a lender and see if you qualify and what your new interest rate might be. Check what loans that lender will refinance and follow their process, which will vary from lender to lender.

2.    What do I need in order to qualify?

Each lender will have their own qualifications which may include

  • Income
  • Credit rating
  • Amount of loans
  • Type of loan
  • Cosigners
  • Diploma
  • And more

3.    What will refinancing cost me?

Most lenders researched had no fees associated with refinancing. Unless the lender has origination or application fees, there is no additional cost.

4.    What credit score do I need to refinance student loans?

Each lender has their own requirement for credit score. Some list a minimum of 670 or 680, but others state they have no minimum required.

5.    Why should I refinance student loans?

You should refinance if you want to lower your interest rates, lower your payments, pay off your loan faster, or consolidate more than one loan into a single payment. In some cases, you can achieve more than one of these goals with a refinance.

6.    When should I refinance my student loans?

That depends on your situation. If you are earning more money and have a better credit score than when you took out your loan, it’s likely you can get a better interest rate and afford a higher monthly amount. This means you pay off your loan faster and have less interest over the course of the loan. Investigate other factors like tax deductions, fees and special benefits before refinancing.

While refinancing your student loans may seem like a daunting task, there are many benefits to be gained. Reduced interest, a shorter loan payment plan, or reduced monthly payments can be arranged with careful research. While the best student loan refinancing may not be the same for everyone, comparing interest rates and other factors may help you find that perfect fit. So take a look, the sooner you act, the sooner you could be saving money!