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Student Loans

Earnest Student Loans Review

Updated Dec 28, 2022   |   9 mins read

Key points:

  • Earnest is our #1 highest-rated student loan refinance lender.
  • Earnest also offers student loans to pay for college. Undergrads, grad students, and parents can all borrow from Earnest.
  • Earnest also offers loans specifically for med school, business school, and law school students.

Earnest, a subsidiary of Navient, offers private student loans at competitive rates, as well as student loan refinancing and Parent PLUS refinancing at interest rates that could be lower than what you’re currently paying.

The company stands out in the private student loan space because it offers a variety of loan repayment options, it uses a broader method of evaluating a borrower’s eligibility beyond just credit scores, and borrowers can manage their account via the company’s mobile app.

Before you start the loan application process, let’s take a closer look at Earnest to see if it’s a good fit for you.

In this review:

What Types of Loans Does Earnest Offer?

Earnest offers both undergraduate and graduate loans, with or without a cosigner. This includes loans tailored specifically for students pursuing a medical degree, their MBA, or a law degree.

The lender also offers student loan refinancing for all of the above, as well as for Parent PLUS loan borrowers.

Undergrad LoanGraduate LoanRefinancing
Loan amounts$1,000+$1,000+$5,000$500,000
Fixed APRs4.39%12.78%4.39%10.99%3.21% – 6.67%
Variable APRs1.78%11.44%1.78%9.89%3.21% – 6.67%
AutoPay discount0.25%0.25%0.25%
Grace period9 months9 monthsN/A
View ratesView ratesView rates

Want to learn more about a specific product? Click an option below to jump to that section.

Earnest Undergraduate Student Loans

at Earnest’s secure website
Editorial Rating

Editorial Rating

What we like:

Nine month grace period

Fixed APR5.09%12.68%
Variable APR3.99%11.58%
Loan Terms5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Loan Amounts$1,000$300,000
See how Earnest’s student loan product stacks up with other options

Earnest has long been known as a student loan refinancing lender but has now expanded into offering private student loans as well. Their goal is to provide more flexibility and better user experience for borrowers who need to supplement federal student loans to fully fund their education.

Earnest offers private loans with attractive terms and is willing to look beyond credit scores alone, making it a great choice for students who may not have an established credit history.

Despite these benefits, you should only consider private student loans—from Earnest or any other lender—if you have already exhausted all of your federal student aid options.

Private student loans tend to have higher interest rates than federal loans and less flexibility in repayment options, such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness.



  • Choice of loan terms
  • Grace period of 9 months after graduation
  • Skip one payment annually once you begin repayment
  • No fees for loan origination, loan disbursement, or late payments
  • Check your loan eligibility for a loan without a hard credit check
  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • A quick application process that looks beyond your credit score


  • Limitations on deferred payments (not available in FL, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, or WA)
  • Minimum loan amounts in certain states mean you might have to borrow more than you need
  • Eligibility is limited to students attending or enrolled to attend a four-year Title IV institution

Earnest Graduate Private Student Loans

Earnest Logo
on Earnest’s website
Editorial Rating

Editorial Rating

What we like:

Nine month grace period

Fixed Rates (APR)4.39%10.99%
Variable Rates (APR)1.78%9.89%
Repayment Terms5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Loan Amounts$1,000100% of school-certified cost of attendance
See how Earnest’s graduate student loans stack up to other options.

Earnest’s graduate student loans share most of the same benefits as their undergraduate private student loans. However, these loans are tailored for students pursuing advanced degrees.

In addition to a basic graduate student loan designed for general graduate school studies, Earnest also offers three specialized graduate loan programs:

  • Business School Loans
  • Law School Loans
  • Medical School Loans


  • Grace period of 9 months after graduation
  • No fees of any kind
  • Skip one payment per year once repayment has started
  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • Loans built specifically for students pursuing an MBA, med school, or a law degree
  • Option to make interest-only payments while in school
  • Option to make fixed $25 payments while in school
  • Option to make principal & interest payments while in school


  • Variable rates are not available in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, or TX
  • Deferred payment not available in FL, MD, MI, ND, NY, OH, PA, or WA

Earnest Student Loan Refinancing

at Earnest’s secure website
Editorial Rating

Editorial Rating

What we like:

Large term length range

Fixed APR3.36% – 7.82%
Variable APR2.41% – 6.99%
Loan Terms5 – 20 years
Loan Amounts$5,000$500,000
See how Earnest’s student loan refinancing product stacks up with other options

Refinancing student loans with Earnest can help lower your interest rates and allow you to customize your loan terms to better fit your financial situation.

This is possible if your credit score, debt, or income have improved since you first took out your loans.

>> Read More: Earnest vs. SoFi for Student Loan Refinancing


  • Earnest doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment fees, and it also allows borrowers to schedule additional payments when extra money becomes available. This can help you pay down the student loan debt faster, which ultimately reduces the cost of borrowing over the life of your loan(s).
  • For those facing financial trouble, Earnest also has policies in place to allow borrowers to apply for temporary deferment or forbearance. The company has received favorable feedback on consumer review websites (such as Trustpilot) about its customer service.
  • Finally, Earnest allows its borrowers to skip one payment a year after they have made on-time payments for six months. Keep in mind, however, that skipping payment will result in higher minimum monthly payments and will also extend your payoff date accordingly.


  • For instance, Earnest doesn’t accept cosigners for refinancing loans, so borrowers who have limited credit histories or who don’t meet other financial requirements might have a harder time getting approved.
  • Refinance loans from Earnest aren’t available in Kentucky or Nevada.

Earnest Parent PLUS Refinancing

Earnest Logo
on Earnest’s website
Editorial Rating

Editorial Rating

What we like:

Skip one payment per year

Fixed Rates (APR)3.21%6.67%
Variable Rates (APR)3.21%6.67%
Repayment TermsNot disclosed
Loan Amounts$5,000+
See how Earnest’s parent refinancing product compares to other loans.

Parent PLUS loans are federal loans taken out by parents to help pay for their children’s education. They have higher interest rates than other federal loan options. Currently, 3.5 million Parent PLUS loan borrowers owe $83.7 billion in student loan debt.

The only income-driven repayment plan these loans are eligible for is Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), and they are also not eligible for loan forgiveness.

Fortunately, more lenders are beginning to offer Parent PLUS refinancing — including Earnest. Earnest’s Parent PLUS refinancing loans come with variable rates starting at 2.49% APR with autopay and fixed rates starting at 3.50% APR with autopay.

Earnest offers the same flexible repayment options and service to Parent PLUS borrowers as it does to student borrowers.

>> Read More: Should you refinance federal student loans?

General Eligibility Requirements

If you live in an eligible state, you can apply for a private student loan or a refinance loan if you meet the following requirements:

  • You’re over the age of 18.
  • You’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien (or have a cosigner who meets these criteria).
  • You have debt from a Title IV accredited college or are attending an eligible school.
  • You have either graduated, are in your final semester of college, or have an incomplete bachelor’s or associate’s degree (for refinancing); you are attending or are enrolled to attend a four-year Title IV institution (for private student loans).
  • You must be currently employed in order to refinance.
  • You need to borrow at least $1,000 for a private student loan; if you’re refinancing, the loan amount is over $5,000.

Note that Earnest loans are not available in Kentucky or Nevada.

For refinance loans, Earnest also favors applicants who have enough in savings to cover at least two months’ worth of expenses, are current on their rent or mortgage payments, and do not carry high amounts of credit card or personal loan debt, among other factors.

Alternatives to Using Earnest

Earnest student loans have several noteworthy features, but it’s still a good idea to weigh all your options before deciding on a lender. Earnest has many competitors and alternatives, so you may want to consider comparing quotes from multiple loan providers before making a decision.

For a direct comparison, check out our comparisons of Earnest vs. SoFi, Earnest vs. Discover, or Earnest vs. College Ave. Or, you can check out our guide to private student loans to see more options.

Splash and Citizens Bank also offer low-interest refinancing options. You can also check out our Refinance Student Loans guide to explore additional options.

>> Read More: List of student loan companies

Bottom Line: Is Earnest Right for You?

Earnest has quickly emerged as a leader in the student loan refinancing industry and is on pace to become competitive in the private student loan field. To learn more about Earnest’s approach to student loan refinancing, check out our exclusive interview with the company’s CEO Susan Ehrlich.

If you’re interested in private student loans, Earnest is a lender worth considering. If you already have federal or private student loans with high interest rates, you might be able to save a decent amount of money by refinancing with Earnest.

Just remember to always compare quotes from a few top lenders before signing any contracts. This makes sure you’ll find the best rates and terms for your situation.

How We Rated Earnest Student Loans

LendEDU gave Earnest’s in-school student loans a 4.8/5. Its refinance student loan scored a perfect 5/5. LendEDU rates our private student loan partners based on the weighted average of multiple data points. You can read more about our methodology here.

Recap of Earnest Student Loans

Rates (APR)Loan Amounts
Undergraduate Loan1.78%12.78%$1,000+
Graduate Loan1.78%10.99%$1,000+
Student Refinance3.21% – 6.67%$5,000+
Parent PLUS Refinance3.21%6.67%$5,000+