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Student Loans

Banks to Refinance Student Loans

Refinancing student loans can help you secure a lower interest rate and better repayment terms. But to take advantage of the perks of refinancing, finding the best lender is essential. Different lenders have different rates, fees, and term lengths. 

Banks are often an excellent option for refinancing student loans, especially because you can often take advantage of additional perks like relationship discounts and personalized customer service. It’s a win-win for your student loan balance and bank account. Here are the best banks to consider for a student loan refinance. 

6 banks to refinance student loans

Refinancing student loans with a bank can positively impact your monthly budget and loan balance. But it’s essential to find the right lender, which is challenging since only some banks refinance student loans. The top banks for student loan refinance offer low rates, accessible loan options, and excellent customer service. 

As you determine the best fit for refinancing your student loans, consider your finances, credit score, loan balance, and the interest rate on your existing student loan. Minimum payment and length of term are also important. 

The following banks refinance student loans and earn some of the highest LendEDU editorial ratings. 

BankRates (APR)Terms
Credible4.75%14.52%5 – 20 years
SoFi5.24% – 9.99% fixed or 6.24%9.99% variable with autopay5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Citizens Bank6.99%10.99% fixed or 7.29%12.44% variable5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Earnest5.19%9.74% fixed or 5.72%9.74% variable with autopay5 to 20 years
ELFI5.48%8.94% fixed or 5.28%8.99% variable5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Nelnet Bank7.12%11.19% fixed or 7.62%14.52% variable5, 7, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years

Credible: Best online marketplace

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders
  • Quick online application
  • No costs or credit score impact

Credible isn’t a bank. Instead, it’s an online marketplace partnered with banks and online lenders so borrowers can fill out an application and see real offers. If you receive an offer from a bank, you can proceed with that offer directly with that bank. 

Some banks it partners with include Citizens Bank, Nelnet Bank, and LendKey, which partners with community banks.

SoFi: Best online bank

LendEDU rating: 4.9 out of 5

  • Competitive interest rates
  • Unique member benefits
  • Excellent digital experience

SoFi is an online bank that offers competitive terms for borrowers with good to excellent credit. To support its members, it offers access to financial advice, unemployment protection, and more so that unexpected financial hardship can lead to modified payments and assistance with attempts to find a new job. 

SoFi has helped borrowers refinance over $41 billion in student loans.

Citizens Bank

LendEDU rating: 4.1 out of 5

  • Additional savings for those banking with Citizens
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Citizens Bank is a solid option for those looking to refinance with a bank. Still, it falls short of offering any unique benefits outside of its 0.25% loyalty rate discount for those who currently bank with Citizens. 

Borrowers can choose a repayment term between 5 to 20 years and combine federal and private student loans.

Earnest: Best skip-a-payment benefit

LendEDU rating: 4.8/5

  • Skip one payment every 12 months
  • No fees
  • Not available in every state

Earnest stands out with its unique approval process. The lender does not require borrowers to undergo a hard credit check to view rates and terms. 

Plus, Earnest considers an applicant’s earning potential and financial accounts during the underwriting process. That might make it a great pick for borrowers with advanced degrees, large student debt, and non-qualified account balances. 

The bank also provides additional flexibility for borrowers by allowing one skipped payment every 12 months. Your account must be in good standing to qualify. It’s a nice perk that offers peace of mind. However, refinancing isn’t available in every state, so it’s not an option for every borrower. 

In addition, if you decide to skip a payment, remember you will likely pay additional interest throughout the loan due to not paying the principal down more quickly.

ELFI: Best personalized support 

LendEDU rating: 4.8 of 5

  • Borrowers assigned a Student Loan Advisor
  • Parents can transfer Parent PLUS loans to students
  • Earn $400 for referrals 

ELFI understands that the student loan refinancing process is intimidating. To help demystify the process, the bank assigns each borrower a Student Loan Advisor. The advisor can help guide you through the application process, answer questions and ensure it’s the right fit. It’s a valuable benefit that allows ELFI to stand out. 

Borrowers can also refinance Parent PLUS loans and transfer the balance to the student, another unique feature of ELFI. Similarly, you can refinance Parent PLUS and private loans into one loan to simplify the repayment process or secure a lower rate. Once you refinance with the company, you can earn up to $400 for referring other borrowers.

Nelnet Bank: Best term lengths 

LendEDU rating: 4.2 out of 5

  • Repayment terms range from 5 to 25 years
  • Check rates without a soft credit pull
  • International students can apply with cosigner

Nelnet is a solid option if you’re interested in a longer repayment term. While many lenders offer terms up to 20 years, Nelnet extends the timeline to 25 years. 

The extended repayment term makes it a solid option for borrowers who want a low monthly payment. Longer repayment terms usually lead to higher interest amounts, but it might be worth the tradeoff. 

Rates are competitive. Plus, you can check rates and terms with a soft credit pull. The loans are also accessible to various students, including international students who apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Nelnet offers hardship assistance programs, which you can access if you ever struggle to make payments throughout the repayment term. 

Pros and cons of student loan refinance with banks

Different types of lenders refinance student loans: online-only banks, traditional banks, credit unions and online lenders. 

Traditional and online-only banks offer unique benefits compared to the other types of lenders. However, there are potential drawbacks as well. Here’s what to consider when choosing a bank for your student loan refinance.

Pros

  • Easier to qualify as a member

    Some banks have less stringent eligibility requirements for members, which might make it easier to qualify. 

  • Unique perks and more discounts

    Banks often provide special perks like skipping a payment, hardship assistance, referral bonuses and career counseling. You might get rate discounts as well.  

  • Robust customer service team

    Banks often have strong customer support, including phone, chat and email access. 

Cons

  • Different types of banks

    Your experience might differ depending on whether you work with an online-only, regional, or national bank, making it difficult to determine if it’s the right fit. 

  • Traditional banks might have higher rates

    Some traditional banks have higher rates than online lenders, including online-only banks, due to higher overhead costs. 

  • Application process might differ

    Depending on the bank, you might have to apply in person, which is a dealbreaker for some borrowers. 

  • Banks only offer private loans

    If you refinance a federal loan with a bank, you lose federal benefits such as access to income-driven repayment programs, repayment deferment, and student loan forgiveness.

You must know what type of existing loan you have before deciding to refinance with a bank. Refinancing a federal student loan to a private loan could be costly.

Kyle Ryan

CFP®

Refinancing student loans with national banks vs. regional banks 

Working with a bank to refinance student loans often makes sense, but it’s a good idea to understand the type of bank you’re working with. Even though many banks work with borrowers in every state, there are differences between national and regional banks. Here’s the difference. 

  • Regional bank: These banks only have locations in one or more regions within the country. You might be able to work with the bank if you live in a different region, but not always. 
  • National bank: Banks with locations in nearly every state are usually national banks. These banks have bigger total assets and work with customers across the country. 

If you’re unsure which type of bank makes the most sense, consider these questions. 

  • Do you already have an account open? National banks often provide more competitive interest rates and less stringent qualification requirements for existing members.
  • Are you concerned about qualifying? Regional banks might have more flexibility with underwriting.
  • Is there a location nearby? Regional banks might require an in-person application and provide strong customer support at local branches. 
  • Do you have a strong credit history? National banks typically offer competitive rates and terms for borrowers with excellent credit.

Ask the expert

Kyle Ryan

CFP®

Competitive rates are always the rule of thumb for choosing a lender. Depending on your financial situation, one lender may be more favorable than another due to unique programs you can take advantage of (such as skipping a payment or having a longer term). Typically, these programs come with some sort of cost—hidden or transparent.

How to refinance student loans with a bank 

Here’s how to apply with a bank to refinance your student loans. 

  1. Prepare the documents: Ensure you have proof of identification and income. If you have a cosigner, they need the same documents. 
  2. Complete the application: Most lenders allow you to complete the application online. Some lenders approve applications instantly, but others take up to three business days. 
  3. Understand the fine print: Read the offer from the lender, including term length, interest rate, and fees. Ask questions if you have any. 
  4. Finalize the loan: Sign the final documents, and the lender will disburse the funds, which usually appear in your account within a few business days.