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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

The best student loan refinance companies offer low rates and have a proven history of supporting borrowers during repayment. We selected our top picks based on meticulous research into rates, repayment terms, unique benefits, borrower experience, and more.

In this comparison table, check out our ratings and best-for designations for each lender.

Company
Best for…
Rating (0-5)
Best online lender
4.9
Best for comparison shopping
4.8
Best skip a payment benefit
4.8
Best personalized support
4.8

Reviews of the 4 best student loan refinance companies

Continue reading to learn more about each lender and find one that aligns with your financial goals.

  • Best online lender: SoFi
  • Best for comparison shopping: Credible
  • Best skip a payment benefit: Earnest
  • Best personalized support: ELFI

SoFi

Best Online Lender

4.9 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why SoFi is one of the best

SoFi earns our top online lender designation for its no-fee structure and extensive borrower benefits.

SoFi offers its borrowers financial planning advice, a generous referral program, and invitations to member-exclusive networking events.

In addition, borrowers get a 0.25% discount when enrolled in automatic payments.

Refinance private or federal loans, undergraduate and graduate student loans, and specialized loans such as Parent PLUS, MBA, law, and medical school loans with SoFi. It also offers refinancing for medical residents.

  • Refinance your total outstanding loan balance
  • Checking your rates doesn’t affect your credit
Fixed APR5.24% – 9.99% w/ autopay
Variable APR6.24% – 9.99% w/ autopay
Loan Amounts$5,000 – 100% of outstanding balance
Repayment Terms5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Eligibility requirements
  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Lends to all 50 states + District of Columbia
  • Credit score of at least 650 (or apply with a cosigner with at least that credit score)
  • No minimum income requirement, but you must have free cash available after monthly expenses
  • Proof of employment or job offer starting within 90 days
  • Associate degree or higher from a Title IV accredited school
Repayment details
  • Choose between five, seven, 10, 15, or 20-year repayment terms.
  • SoFi sends funds to current loan servicers after signing final documents and a three-day rescission period. First payment to SoFi is due 30 to 45 days after paying off previous loans.

Credible

Best for Comparison Shopping

4.8 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why Credible is one of the best

Credible offers a unique marketplace approach to student loan refinancing. You can prequalify with multiple lenders within just two minutes on its site using only a soft credit check, so your credit score remains unaffected.

If you prequalify, it provides personalized rate quotes from multiple lenders. Its tool lets you compare each lender’s rates and terms in one place, connecting you to the lender of your choice for the full application process.

  • Compare prequalified rates from multiple lenders
  • Requesting your rates on Credible is free
Rates (APR)4.75%14.52%
Loan AmountsVaries by lender
Repayment TermsVaries by lender
Eligible requirements

Eligibility requirements vary by lender in Credible’s partner network.

Repayment details

Your repayment terms will depend on the options available from the lender you choose.

Earnest

Best Skip-a-Payment Benefit

4.8 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why Earnest is one of the best

Earnest demonstrates flexibility and customization in student loan refinancing. It’s the only private lender to allow one skipped payment per year.

When choosing a loan term between five and 20 years, you can adjust it down to the day to find the perfect monthly payment. Earnest also enables you to sign up for automatic biweekly payments to pay off your loan faster.

Finally, Earnest will match a lower rate if you find one else where and include a $100 bonus.

  • Customize your repayment term
  • Skip a payment once per year, if needed
Rates (APR)5.19% to 9.74%
Loan Amounts$5,000 – $500,000
Repayment Terms5 – 20 years
Eligibility requirements
  • U.S. citizen or holder of a 10-year Permanent Resident Card
  • Lends to District of Columbia and 49 states (except Nevada)
  • If you don’t have a degree, you must have been out of school for more than six years, have a credit score of 700 or above, and the school you attended cannot be for-profit 
  • Minimum credit score: 665 (without cosigners) & 650 (with cosigners)
  • Minimum income: Not stated, but steady employment is required
Repayment details
  • Term options range from five to 20 years, with the flexibility to choose and customize your plan when you sign your loan documents.
  • Option to skip one payment per year without penalty.

ELFI

Best Personalized Support

4.8 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why ELFI is one of the best

ELFI is a top student loan refinancing choice for those seeking guidance throughout the process.

Each applicant is assigned a dedicated student loan advisor who walks you through the application process and answers any questions. Customer reviews praise the ease of application and support from ELFI’s student loan advisors.

ELFI also allows for the transfer of parent PLUS loans to a child if the child applies for student loan refinance.

  • Refinance your total outstanding balance
  • Assigned a student loan advisor
Rates (APR)5.28% – 8.99%
Loan Amounts$10,000 – 100% of outstanding balance
Repayment Terms5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Eligibility requirements
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident without conditions
  • Lending across all 50 states and Puerto Rico
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher required
  • Minimum credit score: 680 and at least 36 months of credit history
  • Minimum income: $35,000
  • Cosigner allowed, but no cosigner release
Repayment details
  • Term options for student loan refinancing include five, seven, 10, 15, and 20 years
  • Term options for parent loan refinancing include five, seven and 10 years.
  • Repayment begins once ELFI pays off the original loans, which is typically 30 – 45 days after you sign your loan documents.

How to choose a student loan refinance lender

Choosing a student loan refinance lender can be multifaceted. The lowest interest rate might be the main attraction, but it’s not the only factor to consider.

Taking the time to compare other essential elements ensures a well-rounded decision. Here’s what to pay attention to:

  • Prequalification availability: Look for lenders that allow you to check interest rates through a soft credit pull. Unlike a hard pull, this won’t affect your credit score. 
  • Rate discounts: A standard 0.25% interest rate discount for automatic payments might seem trivial, but it can make a significant difference in reducing the interest you pay over the loan’s life. Explore additional discounts, such as the one SoFi offers for having a bank account with the lender.
  • Repayment terms: The length of your repayment term affects your monthly payments and overall savings. Shorter terms mean higher monthly payments but more savings, while longer terms lead to lower monthly payments but less savings. Choose a lender that offers a term aligning with your budget.
  • Repayment assistance options: If unforeseen circumstances arise, some lenders may allow you to pause payments. This could be due to going back to school, military deployment, medical residency, or financial hardship. But remember, interest will still accrue, increasing the total loan cost.
  • Fees: Always check for hidden costs. Most lenders don’t charge fees for refinancing, but it’s wise to ensure that there are no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.
  • Cosigner policies: A creditworthy cosigner may help you qualify for a loan or lower interest rates if your credit score or income is lower. If applying with a cosigner, look for a lender that offers cosigner release, allowing you to remove the cosigner after a certain number of on-time payments.
  • Ability to transfer Parent PLUS loans to a child: Some lenders allow refinancing of Parent PLUS Loans into the child’s name. If you’re interested in this option, ensure the lender offers this feature, but be mindful you stand to lose federal student loan benefits such as income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness.

The decision to refinance a student loan is significant. Carefully weighing these elements ensures a choice tailored to your unique financial situation and long-term objectives.

Advice from the expert

David Haas

CFP®

Pay careful attention to terms as well as interest rates. What happens if you become disabled or die while you still have the loan? Will the loan be discharged? What happens if you lose your job or have a drop in income? If your loan is cosigned, can you remove the cosigners with a history of good payments? Check complaints against the lenders on the Better Business Bureau and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau websites.

How to qualify for the best student loan refinancing rates

When looking to refinance student loans, the primary objective is often to secure the lowest interest rate. The lower the rate, the more you save. It’s essential to compare lenders’ advertised interest rates, but the following actions can help you qualify for the best rates possible:

  • Improve your credit score: Your credit score is paramount in determining your refinance rate. Enhance it by paying bills on time, reducing credit card balances, rectifying errors on your credit report, and avoiding new credit inquiries. A score of 700 or above can lead to better interest rates. 
  • Reduce your debt-to-income ratio: This ratio is the proportion of your monthly income that goes toward debt. A lower debt-to-income ratio (usually under 40%) can lead to better loan terms. Focus on paying down debt or boosting your income through side jobs or promotions.
  • Take advantage of discounts: Many lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate discount for automatic payments. Some even have additional discounts for banking with them. Though small, these discounts can lead to substantial savings over your loan’s life. Make sure to explore all possible discounts with your lender.
  • Choose a shorter repayment term: Shorter repayment terms often come with lower rates. But be sure you can afford the higher monthly payment that comes with a shorter term. A five-year instead of a 10-year term, for instance, may lead to substantial interest savings.
  • Add a creditworthy cosigner: If you struggle to qualify for an attractive rate, consider adding a creditworthy cosigner. A cosigner with good credit can help you obtain a more favorable loan term and lower interest rate.

Understanding these strategies can pave the way toward competitive interest rates and desirable loan terms. Keep comparing multiple lenders, and consider professional financial guidance to align with your unique situation.

How does student loan refinancing work?

Refinancing your student loans is a multifaceted process. Selecting a lender is not a mere first step but a core part of the refinancing journey. It sets the tone for everything that follows. Here’s how the entire refinancing process unfolds:

An image showing the steps involved in the student loan refinance process
  1. Assess your financial situation: Understand your current loans and financial goals to determine whether refinancing is right for you. Be very careful about refinancing federal student loans because you lose access to the various benefits that those loans have.
  2. Prequalify with various lenders: Using a soft credit pull, prequalify with multiple lenders to explore possible rates without hurting your credit score. This helps you compare different options.
  3. Select the right lender: Based on your prequalification results and other elements, such as repayment terms and features, choose the lender that best meets your needs.
  4. Submit a full application: Fill out your chosen lender’s application form and provide necessary documentation, such as proof of income and credit history.
  5. Receive approval and refinance: Once approved, your selected lender will pay off your loans and create a new one with the agreed-upon terms. This completes the refinancing.
  6. Set up your repayment plan: Establish your repayment plan with your new lender, considering any discounts or special features that may apply.

By prequalifying and researching the right lender, you tailor your refinancing experience to your unique situation. This can set the stage for saving a significant amount over the life of your loan.

>> Read More: What is student loan refinancing?

Is it a good idea to refinance a student loan?

Refinancing student loans can be a wise financial move for some, but it’s not suitable for everyone. The decision to refinance depends on various factors, such as the type of loans you have, your financial stability, and your long-term goals. 

Here’s a guide to help you determine whether refinancing might be right for you:

  • Do you have federal or private loans? Refinancing federal loans into private ones means giving up protections including income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs. If these are important to you now or possibly in the future, refinancing may not be the best option. For federal loans, consider federal loan consolidation.
  • Do you have stable income? Private lenders often require stable income for refinancing. If you have fluctuating or uncertain income, especially if you have federal loans, refinancing might not be in your best interest due to the loss of federal protections.
  • Do you qualify for a lower rate? Refinancing can make sense if it leads to a lower interest rate, saving you money over the life of the loan. If not, an alternative, such as a federal loan consolidation, might be more fitting.
  • Are you struggling to juggle multiple student loan payments? Refinancing can consolidate multiple loans into one, simplifying your payment process. If this is appealing, refinancing could be a beneficial solution.
  • Are your loans mostly paid off? If you’re close to paying off your loans, refinancing might not offer significant benefits and could even extend your repayment term.
  • Do you plan to pursue loan forgiveness? If you’re aiming for federal loan forgiveness programs, refinancing to a private loan will eliminate this option in most cases.
  • Consider other loan options. A loan which has a real asset, such as your home or another property as collateral will usually be available at a lower rate than a student loan. Consider if a home equity loan might make more sense than refinancing with a new student loan.

To make an informed decision, assess your situation, consider the above factors, and use our student loan refinancing calculator to crunch the numbers and see how much you could save.

Advice from the expert

David Haas

CFP®

Fixed-rate loans are fixed for the entire term of the loan. With a variable rate, the interest rate will vary with changes in prevailing interest rates over the term of the loan. Some variable-rate loans start out lower than fixed-rate loans, but that isn’t always true. A fixed-rate loan protects you from rate increases in the future. But if rates drop, you’ll need to refinance your loan to get a lower rate. Deciding which one is best has to do with prevailing short-term and long-term interest rates and whether you think rates are going up or down.

FAQ

Does eligibility for student loan refinancing differ from in-school student loans? 

Yes, eligibility for refinancing can differ from your original student loans. Refinancing with private lenders typically requires a strong credit score, stable income, and a good debt-to-income ratio, making it stricter than federal student loan requirements. 

Even compared to private student loans, refinance lenders may have more specific criteria, reflecting their focus on lending to borrowers who have demonstrated the ability to manage debt.

What does refinancing cost? 

Refinancing itself usually doesn’t have a direct cost. Most lenders don’t charge application, origination, or prepayment fees. However, be mindful of potential changes in terms and interest rates, as they can affect the overall loan cost.

Can you refinance multiple times? 

Yes, you can refinance multiple times if it makes financial sense for you. Always compare current rates and terms with what you can qualify for to ensure refinancing aligns with your financial goals.

Can you transfer Parent PLUS loans? 

Yes, some lenders allow Parent PLUS loans to be transferred to the child through refinancing. It’s essential to verify the lender offers this option and to understand the implications of transferring the loan responsibility and the loss of federal loan protections

How should you choose between fixed vs. variable rates? 

Fixed rates remain constant over the loan’s life, offering stability. Variable rates can fluctuate with prevailing interest rates, and can sometimes rise or fall dramatically Your choice depends on your risk tolerance and financial situation.

Should I refinance or consolidate? 

Refinancing can lead to a new private loan with different terms. Consolidation, especially with federal loans, combines your loans without  changing rates. Your decision depends on your goals and current loan types and interest rates.

Will my student loans be forgiven if I refinanced? 

Refinancing federal loans with a private lender eliminates access to federal forgiveness programs. If you’re pursuing forgiveness, it’s essential to weigh this before refinancing.

When is the best time to refinance? 

The best time to refinance is when it aligns with your financial goals, such as securing a lower interest rate or consolidating loans for easier management. Stable employment is also a factor. Monitoring interest rates and your financial situation will guide this decision.

Can I refinance specialized student loans, such as those for medical or law school?

Yes, refinancing specialized student loans, including those for medical, law, or dental school, is possible with many lenders. Each type of specialized loan may come with unique considerations, so it’s important to review the terms carefully. For more detailed information:

These guides will help you understand the factors that might influence your decision to refinance loans from specialized education programs.

Advice from the expert

David Haas

CFP®

The most common mistake people make when refinancing student loans is to refinance federal student loans just to consolidate the loans to get a single payment. Federal student loans come with superior income-driven repayment plans and possibilities for loan forgiveness that private student loans do not have. A Direct Consolidation Loan can take care of consolidating multiple federal student loans into a single one without losing access to these features. Only refinance federal student loans if you are 100% sure you will not need those features in the future.

How we selected the best student loan refinance lenders

Since 2015, LendEDU has evaluated student loan companies to help readers find the best options for refinancing student loans. Our latest analysis reviewed 696 data points from 24 lenders and financial institutions, with 29 data points collected from each. This information is gathered from company websites, online applications, public disclosures, customer reviews, and direct communication with company representatives.

These data points are organized into broader categories, which our editorial team weights and scores based on their relative importance to readers. These star ratings help us determine which companies are best for different situations. We don’t believe two companies can be the best for the same purpose, so we only show each best-for designation once.

Higher star ratings are ultimately awarded to companies that create an excellent borrower experience and help borrowers receive lower rates or more manageable payments. This includes offering online eligibility checks, cost transparency, competitive interest rates with no fees, and unique benefits that support borrowers throughout repayment.

List of student loan companies we evaluated

Recap of the best student loan refinancing companies

Company
Best for…
Rating (0-5)
Best online lender
4.9
Best for comparison shopping
4.8
Best skip a payment benefit
4.8
Best personalized support
4.8