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If you’ve refinanced your student loans already, you may assume you can’t do so again. But that isn’t accurate. You can refinance your student loans as often as you’d like, as long as you qualify.
Refinancing student loans multiple times can effectively ensure you get the lowest rate available based on your creditworthiness. You may also refinance student loans more than once to lower your monthly payment or change your loan term.
Whether it makes sense to refinance student loans repeatedly can depend on the interest savings and what you might pay in fees. You can check out our Best Places to Refinance Student Loans Guide to compare your options. Meanwhile, here’s a closer look at how refinancing student debt more than once works.
In this guide:
- How often can you refinance student loans?
- How refinancing your student loans multiple times works
- Are there any extra costs or fees to refinance multiple times?
- Do I have to use the same lender if I refinance more than once?
- Benefits of refinancing multiple times
- Downsides of refinancing more than once
- How to know when you should refinance your student loans again
How often can you refinance student loans?
There are no restrictions on how often you can refinance student loans. For example, you may refinance student loans multiple times in the same year.
However, just because you can refinance student loans regularly doesn’t make it a good idea in every situation.
How many times can you refinance student loans?
There is no cap on the number of times you can refinance student loans. You can refinance student debt once or continuously until you repay the loans.
However, you’ll need to be able to qualify for refinancing each time to replace your loans with a new one.
How many times can you refinance student loans with the same company?
Refinancing student loans doesn’t always mean shopping around for a new lender, as your current lender may permit you to refinance multiple times.
Lenders prefer you keep your student debt where it is so they can continue collecting interest. Refinancing your loans with the same company could be the most straightforward option if you can get favorable loan terms.
How refinancing your student loans multiple times works
If you’ve already refinanced your student loans once, doing it again isn’t that different. The process looks like this:
- Calculate the amount of debt you need to refinance.
- Compare refinance loan terms at your current lender vs. other lenders.
- Apply for student loan refinancing with the lender you choose.
- Accept the loan terms, and begin making payments to the new loan.
You would repeat this cycle if you’re refinancing your loans more than once. But it’s crucial to understand your goals or reasons for refinancing multiple times.
Refinancing student loans multiple times could save money on interest if you qualify for a lower rate each time. You may also be able to reduce your monthly payment to ease the strain on your budget. Evaluating current student loan interest rates can help you decide the right time to refinance.
Here’s an example of how refinancing student loans multiple times might work. Assume you owe $30,000 at 10%, repayable over a 10-year term. Here’s how your monthly and interest payments might change with regular refinancing.
|If you…||You’d pay…|
|Do not refinance and maintain your original loan terms||$396.45/month and $17,574.27 in interest|
|Refinance to an 8-year loan at 8% after 2 years (assuming a new balance of $26,127)||$369.35/month and $9,330.51 in interest|
|Refinance for a second time 4 years later to a 4-year loan at 6% (assuming a new balance of $15,129)||$355.31/month and $1,925.64 in interest|
You’d pay $14,297 in interest charges by refinancing twice during the loan term, versus the $17,574 you’d pay without refinancing. That savings of $3,277 could add up to even more if you refinance more frequently.
Remember: If you’re refinancing student loans for the first time, turning federal loans into private loans has several consequences. Since your refinance loan will be private, you’ll lose access to income-driven repayment plans, most student loan forgiveness programs, and financial hardship protections.
Refinancing your student loans will also likely have a minimal impact on your credit score. It may temporarily reduce your score by several points if the lender performs a hard credit check. Plus, if you get a new loan, it’ll reduce your average age of credit.
Are there any extra costs or fees to refinance multiple times?
Applying for new student loans may entail paying certain fees, including origination or application fees. Origination fees cover the lender’s loan cost and may range from 1% to 6% of the loan amount. Application fees are often in the $25 to $50 range.
But refinancing student loans often doesn’t require paying these fees. Several lenders and lending marketplaces charge no upfront fees for student loan refinance, including:
Many of these lenders charge little to no fees on the back end. For example, you may pay no prepayment penalty if you decide to pay off your loans early. Lenders may also offer interest rate discounts when you enroll in autopay.
Do I have to use the same lender if I refinance more than once?
You’re not required to use the same lender if you refinance more than once. Switching to a different lender could make sense if you can secure a lower rate or get more favorable loan terms.
However, refinancing with your current lender might make sense if one or all of the following apply:
- You can get the same or a better rate than with other lenders.
- You don’t want to lose out on other benefits the lender offers, such as autopay discounts.
- You’d rather avoid the hassle of switching if it means agreeing to a new payment due date or having to reenroll in automatic payments
Comparing student loan refinance terms and rates, starting with what’s available at your current lender, can help you decide whether a move might be worth it.
Benefits of refinancing student loans multiple times
The benefits you’ll get from refinancing student loans multiple times will vary depending upon your situation, current loan terms, and goals for refinancing.
The primary benefits associated with refinancing a loan more than once include the following:
Save on interest costs
If interest rates have fallen since the last time you refinanced your loan, or if you have a better credit score, refinancing could allow you to get a lower rate.
A slight rate decrease can save a lot of money, especially if you have a high balance. This is the main reason borrowers choose to refinance.
As we mentioned in the previous example, refinancing after two years, then again after four years, would result in a total savings of over $3,200. Your savings could be even more significant if you refinance more often to take advantage of declining rates. Refinancing to a shorter loan term could also save on interest, though it might increase monthly payments.
Earnest offers among the lowest student loan refinance rates and is our top-rated lender overall. We recommend checking it out first if you want to lower your rate.
Switch interest type
Refinancing could also allow you to switch from a variable interest rate to a fixed rate or vice versa.
Fixed rates stay the same over the life of the loan, meaning your monthly payments and total costs will be predictable. Variable rates, which often start lower than fixed rates, rise or fall according to a financial index, so your total loan cost and payments may vary by month.
If you’re worried about uncertainty with variable rates, or you think rates might rise, refinancing to a fixed rate could be wise.
Switching from a fixed to a low variable rate could make sense if you’re near the end of your loan term. You could trim down the total interest paid without worrying about future rate increases.
Switch loan terms
Refinancing also allows you to change other terms, including your repayment plan. For example:
- You could shorten your loan term. If you’d like to pay off your loans faster, refinancing to a shorter term can help you do that. You might see your payments increase, but if they’re still affordable for your budget, you could eliminate your debt sooner while saving money on interest.
- You can lower the monthly payment. Refinancing student loans could shrink your payments if you get a large enough rate decrease. Lower payments can free up more money, which you can apply to your other financial goals.
- You could get better benefits on your new loan. A new loan may offer more options for forbearance, free career counseling, or an autopay discount that your current loan doesn’t offer. The benefits vary from lender to lender.
Switch loan servicers
Refinancing student loans could allow you to move on to a new loan servicer if you’re unhappy with your current one.
For example, you might be looking for a loan servicer that offers:
- Better customer service
- More attractive rate discounts for autopay
- Extra benefits, such as cash rewards for good grades
- Cosigner release, if you obtained your original loans with a cosigner
- Access to a user-friendly website or mobile app
You might also refinance your student loans with a lender that offers a broader range of financial products and services. For instance, you might want to move them to the same bank where you keep your checking and savings accounts for simplicity’s sake.
Just be sure to check reviews and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Complaint Database to ensure the new servicer has a good reputation before moving. You can also visit the Better Business Bureau and consumer review sites such as Trustpilot to see what others say about the loan servicer.
Consolidate your student loans
You can consolidate multiple federal and private student loans when refinancing. This simplifies repayment because you’ll just have one payment each month.
Reminder: Combining federal and private student loans will cost you certain protections and benefits only available with federal loans. If you’re hoping to qualify for student loan forgiveness, for example, you may want to leave your federal loans where they are.
Release a cosigner
If you have a cosigner on your loans, you may be able to release them from their shared responsibility when refinancing. This may help them become eligible for other types of loans and means they’re no longer affected if you miss payments.
Sometimes, your current lender will allow for a cosigner release after you make a certain number of payments. But if your lender doesn’t, or you don’t want to wait, refinancing could be the answer.
ELFI is one lender that allows you to release your cosigner and transfer Parent PLUS Loans from your parent to yourself. These options can release your parent or guardian from responsibility for the loan they took out or cosigned on your behalf.
Downsides of refinancing more than once
Refinancing student loans multiple times offers clear advantages.
However, weighing the potential downsides before making a financial decision is important.
You may have to pay fees during the refinancing process
It’s uncommon, but certain lenders may charge prepayment penalties to pay off student debt. A prepayment penalty may be a flat fee or a percentage of the loan balance. This fee allows the lender to recoup some of the lost interest charges when you pay off a loan early.
Your new lender may charge application fees or origination fees. But as we mentioned above, plenty of lenders offer student loan refinancing without fees.
Refinancing with fees may not make financial sense unless you can lower your rate enough to compensate for them.
If you refinance federal loans, you will lose certain benefits
If you’re planning to refinance federal student loans, it’s essential to know what you’re giving up. Once you refinance, you’ll no longer have access to:
If you depend on these or think you might someday, it’s often in your best interest not to refinance your federal student loans.
Reduced credit score
When you apply for student loan refinancing, a hard inquiry can appear on your credit report. This will stay on your credit history for two years and slightly reduce your credit score. That’s something to keep in mind if you’re working on building up your credit score.
One way to minimize the impact of refinancing is to shop among lenders that offer rate estimates without a hard inquiry. You can get multiple rate quotes without affecting your credit score to make a more informed decision about which lender to use.
Opening a new account by refinancing will also reduce your score because a newer account means your average credit age is lower. A longer average age of credit is better because it shows you’ve been responsible in paying your debt.
It could cost you in the long term
Refinancing often makes sense only if you can get a loan that will cost you less in the long run.
If you extend your repayment term when refinancing, you could also pay more—even if your interest rate is lower. The longer it takes to pay off your loan, the more interest you pay, and the higher your total loan costs may be.
Consider your situation before applying for a loan with a longer repayment term than you have now. You may not want to lock yourself in to higher costs and a longer timeline to become debt-free.
How to know when you should refinance your student loans again
The right time to refinance student loans depends on your situation.
You may be a good candidate for student loan refinancing if you:
- Have private student loans only or don’t want to roll federal loans into private loans
- Could qualify for a lower interest rate or better repayment terms
- Want to move from a variable rate to a fixed rate (or vice versa)
- Are eligible for the lowest rates, based on your credit history
- Could save money by refinancing
A student loan refinance calculator can help you estimate your savings from replacing your current loans with a new one. You can also use it to run through scenarios to see how much you might be able to save if you refinance multiple times over the life of the loan.
Author: Rebecca Lake