Many or all companies we feature compensate us. Compensation and editorial research influence how products appear on a page. Student Loans Student Loan Repayment Best Student Loan Refinance Companies Updated Dec 01, 2023   |   11-min read Written by Amanda Hankel Written by Amanda Hankel Expertise: Writing, editing, digital publishing Amanda Hankel is a managing editor at LendEDU. She has more than seven years of experience covering various finance-related topics and has worked for more than 15 years overall in writing, editing, and publishing. Learn more about Amanda Hankel Reviewed by David Haas, CFP® Reviewed by David Haas, CFP® Expertise: Student loans, college financial planning, retirement planning, divorce, health insurance, life insurance, investment management David Haas, CFP®, advises families, professionals, executives, and business owners on how to build better financial futures. His expertise includes financial planning, investment management, and insurance. David is a board member of the Financial Planning Association of New Jersey. Learn more about David Haas, CFP® Searching for a lender to refinance student loans can feel overwhelming and stressful. Faced with countless options and terms, finding the best match for your needs is no small task. To help, we’ve compiled our top-rated recommendations to help you find the best student loan refinance rates. Compare the best student loan refinancing options The table below lists our recommendations for the best student loan refinancing companies based on meticulous research into rates, repayment terms, unique benefits, and more. Each lender excels in different aspects, so no two companies earn the same best-for designation. For more details on a specific lender, click on the lender’s name to navigate to a more complete review on this page. If you’re ready to proceed with a lender, click “View rates.” The goal is to help you find the best student loan refinance options tailored to your needs. Lender Best for Rates (APR) Our Rating 4.9 Rates (APR) 4.62% – 15.66% Best Online Lender 4.62% – 15.66% 4.9 Best Online Lender View Rates 4.8 Rates (APR) 4.62% – 15.66% Best Marketplace 4.62% – 15.66% 4.8 Best Marketplace View Rates Powered by Credible 4.8 Rates (APR) 4.45% – 16.20% Best Skip a Payment Benefit 4.45% – 16.20% 4.8 Best Skip a Payment Benefit View Rates 4.8 Rates (APR) 4.45% – 16.20% Best Personalized Support 4.45% – 16.20% 4.8 Best Personalized Support View Rates 4.4 Rates (APR) 4.45% – 16.20% Best Hardship Protections 4.45% – 16.20% 4.4 Best Hardship Protections View Rates Powered by Credible 4.2 Rates (APR) 4.45% – 16.20% Best Term Lengths 4.45% – 16.20% 4.2 Best Term Lengths View Rates Powered by Credible Continue reading to learn more about each lender to find one that aligns with your financial goals. SoFi Best online lender 4.9 View Rates Why we picked SoFi SoFi earns our top online lender designation for its no-fee structure and extensive borrower benefits. SoFi offers its borrowers career coaching, a generous referral program, and invitations to member-exclusive networking events. If you lose your job, SoFi allows you to pause payments and its career services team helps you find new opportunities.In addition, borrowers get a 0.125% rate discount on additional SoFi loans, including personal loans and private student loans, in addition to a 0.25% autopay discount. 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. What you should know Variable rates (APR) 5.29% – 9.19% Fixed rates (APR) 4.74% – 8.99% Loan amounts $5,000 – Total outstanding loan balance 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. See our review for more Key takeaways Access to career coaching, networking, and referral benefits. Rate savings of 0.125% on additional SoFi loans and an autopay discount of 0.25%. Unemployment protection and no fees. An associate degree or higher is required to qualify. Refinance federal and private undergraduate and graduate loans, specialized graduate loans, and parent loans. Also offers resident refinancing. Prequalify in minutes. Credible Best marketplace 4.8 View Rates Why we picked Credible 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 up to nine lenders simultaneously. 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. What you should know Rates and terms Will vary by lender. Credible does not underwrite or service loan products. Eligibility requirements These are lender-specific, with options for federal, private, and Parent PLUS loan refinancing. Repayment details Your repayment terms will depend on the options available from the lender you choose. See our review for more Key takeaways Options to refinance federal and private undergraduate and graduate loans, and Parent PLUS loans. Credible’s service is free to use. Prequalify without affecting your credit score. Compare rates and terms from up to nine lenders. Credible’s best rate guarantee promises $200 if you don’t find the best student loan refinancing rate on its site (terms apply). Support from Credible’s customer service team helps you make the best decision. Prequalify in minutes. Earnest Best skip-a-payment benefit 4.8 View Rates Why we picked Earnest 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. What you should know Variable rates (APR) Starting at 5.32% Fixed rates (APR) Starting at 4.96% Loan amounts $5,000 – $500,000 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: 650 (cosigner allowed, but no cosigner release)– 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. See our review for more. Key takeaways Customize your repayment term down to the day from five to 20 years. Qualify without a degree under specific conditions. Skip a payment once a year for repayment flexibility. Refinance federal, private undergraduate and graduate student loans, and parent loans. You cannot transfer parent PLUS loans to the child—refinancing must stay in the original borrower’s name. No cosigner release Prequalify in minutes. ELFI Best personalized support 4.8 View Rates Why we picked ELFI 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. What you should know Variable rates (APR) 5.28% – 9.95% Fixed rates (APR) Starting at 5.08% Loan amounts From $10,000 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. See our review for more. Key takeaways Student loan advisors provide excellent personalized assistance throughout the application process. Refinance federal, private, and parent student loans. Parent PLUS transfer available. Stricter eligibility criteria, including higher credit and income requirements. Must hold a bachelor’s degree to qualify. Cosigners are an option, but no release available. Prequalify in minutes. RISLA Best hardship protections 4.4 View Rates Why we picked RISLA We selected RISLA for its approach to hardship protections designed to assist borrowers during challenging times. What sets RISLA apart is its income-based repayment (IBR) plan.If you face financial hardship, RISLA allows you to adjust your payments based on your income. When you do this, RISLA also adjusts your repayment term to 25 years. If after 25 years of repayment you haven’t repaid your loan in full, RISLA will forgive the loan balance. RISLA’s IBR plan is meant to be temporary for those facing financial hardship, so once you no longer qualify, your payments revert to the standard amount. Still, it is one of the only refinancing lenders to offer federal loan-like benefits for private student loan borrowers.In addition to IBR, RISLA offers protections such as:– Military benefits: Special provisions and support for military members.– Unfortunate incident benefit: Coverage in the event of permanent disability or death.– Payment forbearance: Pause payments during financial hardship.Refinancers can also choose between two refinancing products—in-school or immediate refinancing. For in-school refinancing, payments are deferred though graduation and a six-month grace period. What you should know Fixed rates (APR) 5.74% – 8.24% Variable rates N/A Loan amounts $7,500 per year – $250,000 (depending on degree level and discipline) Eligibility requirements – Student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident– Loans must be for Title IV degree-granting institutions in the U.S. (for-profit schools excluded)– Minimum credit score: Not disclosed– Minimum income: $40,000 Repayment details – For immediate refinancing, choose between five, 10, and 15-year loan terms. Payments start 30 days after disbursement.– One loan term for in-school refinancing: 15 years. Payments start six months after the student leaves school.– Loans qualifying for IBR have 25-year terms. Key takeaways Hardship protections include temporary income-based repayment, military benefits, and an unfortunate incident benefit. Payment forbearance for financial hardship. Refinance while in school and defer payments, or choose immediate refinancing and repayment. High minimum income requirement of $40,000 per year. Available to undergrads, graduate students, and parents. Prequalify in minutes. Nelnet Bank Best term lengths 4.2 View Rates Why we picked Nelnet Nelnet Bank stands out as a leading option for those looking for diverse term lengths, offering six options to borrowers. Many other top-rated lenders provide four or five term options, but Nelnet’s extensive selection empowers borrowers to tailor their repayment to their unique financial situation and long-term goals.Choose between five, seven, 10, 15, 20, and 25-year terms to select a repayment schedule that aligns with your financial objectives while balancing monthly payments and total interest costs. What you should know Variable rates (APR) 7.35% – 14.25% Fixed rates (APR) 5.34% – 10.79% Loan amounts Vary depending on the degree; up to $500,000 Eligibility requirements – Borrower or cosigner must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency– Available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia– Minimum credit score: Mid-600 FICO score– Minimum income: None specified– Bachelor’s degree or higher required– Cosigner release after 24 consecutive on-time payments Repayment details – Choose from six repayment terms—five, seven, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years.– Repayment starts 30 to 45 days after the lender pays off the refinanced loans See our review for more. Key takeaways Six repayment term options from five to 25 years. Refinance options include federal, private, and parent PLUS loans. Cosigner release available after 24 months. Prequalify in minutes. 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. 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: 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.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.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.Submit a full application: Fill out your chosen lender’s application form and provide necessary documentation, such as proof of income and credit history.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.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. 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. 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: Explore how to refinance medical school loans.Learn about refinancing law school loans.Understand the process of refinancing dental school loans. These guides will help you understand the factors that might influence your decision to refinance loans from specialized education programs. Ask the expert David Haas, CFP® What are the most common mistakes people make when refinancing student loans, and how can they be avoided? 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. Can you share insights on the differences between fixed and variable rates in student loan refinancing, and how borrowers can decide the best option for them? 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. While some of the time variable rate loans start out lower than fixed rate loans, that is not always true. With a fixed rate loan you are protected from interest rate increases in the future, but if rates drop, you will have 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 will be going up or down. With so many lenders offering student loan refinancing, how can borrowers ensure that they choose the lender that best aligns with their individual needs and financial goals? Pay careful attention to terms as well as interest rates. What happens if you become temporarily or permanently 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, will you be able to 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.