Student Loan Consolidation & Refinancing Lenders for 2018

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Updated: 3/28/2018

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Looking to refinance student loans? Want to consolidate student loans?

Today, 7 out of 10 graduates are graduating with some form of student loan debt. With an average balance of $28,000, student debt is a big part of the average college graduate's life.

At LendEDU, we help borrowers compare the top student loan companies in one place. We put together this guide to help you get information on all of the best student loan refinance lenders so you don't have to jump around to multiple websites. Once you read through, you'll know how to refinance and consolidate student loans.

Below we've ranked the leading student loan refinancing and consolidation companies. It's free to apply, and the process usually takes about 15 minutes. You might be able to save $20,000 or more.

Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates

Filter available loan options based on your current loan type, degree obtained, and current loan amount.

3.25%-7.13%1

Fixed APR

2.89%-7.38%1

Variable APR

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon SoFi's secure website
Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum No Max
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income No Minimum
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Available in all 50 states

What We Like

  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • Unemployment protection is available for up to 12 months
  • Access to member perks including exclusive events, SoFi wealth advisors, and career planning
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.25%-7.13%

Fixed APR

2.89%-7.38%

Variable APR

5 - 20

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon Earnest's secure website
Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum No Max
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income No Minimum
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Not available in AL, DE, KY, MS, NV, or RI

What We Like

  • Save money on interest by opting into bi-weekly payments
  • Customize your monthly payment with Earnest's precision pricing feature
  • Increase your monthly payment at anytime to pay off your debt faster
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.25%-7.13%

Fixed APR

2.89%-7.38%

Variable APR

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon LendKey's secure website
Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum $300,000
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income $24,000
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Not available in ME, ND, NV, RI, or WV

What We Like

  • Great rates from a community of 320+ banks and credit unions
  • Cosigner release available after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Unemployment protection allows you to pause payment for up to 18 months
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See LendKey Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.25%-7.13%

Fixed APR

2.89%-7.38%

Variable APR

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon ElFi's secure website
Loan Minimum $15,000
Loan Maximum No Max
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income $35,000
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Available in all 50 states

What We Like

  • $100 bonus for completing required paperwork within 30 days of application
  • Forbearance is available for up to 12 months
  • Earn rewards when you refer a friend who refinances their student loans
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See ElFi Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.35%-8.24%2

Fixed APR

3.11%-8.46%2

Variable APR

5, 10, 15, 202

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon Citizens Bank's secure website
Loan Minimum $10,000
Loan Maximum $350,000
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income $24,000
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Available in all 50 states

What We Like

  • Refinance your student loans even if you haven't graduated
  • Forbearance is available for up to 12 months
  • Cosigner release is available after 36 months of on-time, consecutive, payments
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.50%-7.28%

Fixed APR

3.23%-7.01%

Variable APR

5, 8, 12, 15

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon Splash Financial's secure website
Loan Minimum $7,500
Loan Maximum $150,000
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income $42,000
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Available in all 50 states

What We Like

  • Refinance and consolidate your student loans with your spouse
  • Cosigner release available after 12 months of on-time, consecutive, payments
  • Forbearance is available on a case-by-case basis
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

3.14%-7.25%

Fixed APR

2.72%-7.27%

Variable APR

5, 7, 10, 15, 202

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon CommonBond's secure website
Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum $500,000
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income No Min
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Not available in LA, ME, RI, or NV

What We Like

  • Students can refinance parent PLUS loans in their name
  • Forbearance is available for up to 24 months
  • Cosigner release is available after 36 months of on-time, consecutive, payments
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

3.15%-7.25%1

Fixed APR

2.72%-7.27%1

Variable APR

10 or 20

Terms (Years)
Check Rateon Discover's secure website
Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum $150,000
Eligible Degrees Undergraduate & Graduate
Eligible Loans Private & Federal
Min. Annual Income No Min
Min. Credit Score Good or Excellent
State Restrictions Available in all 50 states

What We Like

  • 0.25% interest rate break when enrolled in AutoPay for their student loans
  • U.S. based student loan specialists are available 24 hours a day
  • No required fees

Additional Information

See Discover Student Loan Refinancing Review and Important Disclosures

Top 7 Companies for Student Loan Refinancing: In-Depth Reviews

You might know the basics of refinancing and consolidating student loans, and what each lender offers in general, but you need to know so much more before choosing a lender. There are benefits and drawbacks to what each student loan consolidation and refinancing lender offers, and it is important to be aware of all of them. Read on to get the information you need before you decide.

​Before you start an application, most lenders require a minimum FICO credit score of 660, 40 percent maximum monthly debt-to-income, and $24,000 in yearly gross income. If you meet those requirements, you're likely a great applicant for student loan refinancing and consolidation.

Each lender has its own specific underwriting criteria, so you may have a better chance of approval by certain lenders. Our detailed lender reviews give more information about lender approval.

Here are LendEDU's top picks for the best student loan consolidation and refinancing companies:

  • SoFi
  • Earnest
  • LendKey
  • Education Loan Finance
  • Citizens Bank
  • CommonBond
  • Discover Student Loans

1. SoFi

SoFi

LendEDU Rating (4.56 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • Rates as low as 2.89% APR for variable rates
  • Rates as low as 3.25% APR for fixed rates
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 year repayment terms
  • No application fees, origination fees, or pre-payment fees
  • Unemployment protection is available
  • Easy application process
Show More
Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to SoFi’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.25% - 7.13%1

Variable APR

2.89% - 7.38%1

Loan Terms

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Fixed rates from 3.250% APR to 7.125% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.540% APR to 7.380% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.540% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 1.88% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

Show Disclaimer

Additional Details About SoFi

About SoFi

Today, there are a number of new private consolidation companies looking to help borrowers improve their financial health. SoFi, aka Social Finance, has quickly positioned itself as one of the best student loan refinance lenders on the market.

SoFi was founded by a group of Stanford business students who wanted to help their peers escape from student debt with lower interest rates. The program launched at Stanford in 2011 and has quickly grown. Today, SoFi now helps student debt borrowers to refinance student loans nationwide.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13%1
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38%1
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 – No Max
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

Borrowers can select the loans they would like to refinance with SoFi, who will pay them off and issue new loans with new terms.

SoFi offers borrowers a number of great options for both variable and fixed interest rate loans. The fixed rates range from 3.25% to 7.13%. The variable rates range from 2.54% to 7.38% and are tied to the LIBOR rate. Variable rates are capped at 8.95% to 9.95% APR.

SoFi offers an interest rate discount of 0.25% if you sign up for autopay. Signing up for autopay is easy and SoFi's customer service support staff can help you through the process if you run into any trouble.

Lastly, borrowers can select from 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year repayment plans.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Career guidance
  • Exclusive events for SoFi members
  • Access to SoFi wealth advisors
  • 0.125% interest rate discount on other loans for being a SoFi member

Origination fees are fees charged to borrowers for taking out a loan and are usually added to the principal balance. These extra costs are usually added to the principal balance. Fortunately, SoFi doesn't charge origination fees when you refinance student loans through them.

​SoFi also has zero prepayment penalties. At any time, you can pay off your debt early. Whether you want to pay $100 extra each month or are using a year-end bonus to make an extra payment, you won't be charged any fees for paying early.

SoFi has a proprietary approach to underwriting, considering a number of alternative factors including alma mater, professional success, and income.

SoFi also focuses on offering solid customer service.

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To Consider

SoFi is looking for well educated professionals with good income. As with most other lenders that refinance student loans, it requires applicants to have good credit and a strong repayment history. SoFi primarily focuses on prime and super-prime borrowers, with an average borrower FICO score of 780 and income of approximately $150,000. The SoFi student loan refinance and consolidation program is a great option for people who want:

  • Low interest rate options
  • Term length options
  • Great customer service
  • Quick application process

Bottom Line

If you have strong credit and a higher income, SoFi might be the right fit for you. Here's a rundown of what's offered:

  • Refinance & consolidate both federal & private student loans
  • Must have completed an eligible undergraduate or graduate degree program
  • ​Undergraduate & graduate student loans are both eligible
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • 2.89% APR to 7.38% APR (with AutoPay) variable rates, capped at 8.95% to 9.95% APR
  • 3.25% APR to 7.13% APR (with AutoPay) fixed rates
  • AutoPay discount
  • Strong credit score, salary, and debt-to-income requirements
  • Zero prepayment penalties
  • Zero origination fees
  • Unemployment protection – payments are temporarily suspended
  • Career support for SoFi members
  • Entrepreneur program

2. Earnest

Earnest

LendEDU Rating (4.52 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • 5 - 20 year repayment terms
  • Variable rates as low as 2.57% APR
  • Fixed rates as low as 3.25% APR
  • Data-driven customer evaluation helps you get qualified
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or pre-payment fees
Show More
Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to Earnest’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.25% - 7.13%

Variable APR

2.89% - 7.38%

Loan Terms

5 to 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Offered terms are subject to change. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.

Show Disclaimer

Additional Details About Earnest

About Earnest

Earnest ranks as one of the best student loan refinance and consolidation lenders.  Since the company's founding in 2013, it has expanded to over 160 employees. Located in San Francisco, Earnest offers personal loans and student loan refinancing.

Earnest stands out from most of the other companies mentioned on this page by using different types of data to determine eligibility and plans for applicants who wish to refinance student loans. This data helps determine how likely individuals are to pay back their debt and the best options for all parties involved. If you have student loans, consider giving Earnest a look.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13%
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38%
  • 5 to 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 – No Max
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

Earnest offers some of the lowest interest rates on the market. Variable rates, which vary as the LIBOR changes, range from 2.57% to 6.75%. Fixed rates, on the other hand, stay the same throughout the life of the loan, and range from 3.25% to 8.00%. All of these rates include a 0.25% discount for enrolling in autopay.

These are extremely low rates and give the potential for loads of savings. In fact, the average Earnest customer saves $21,810 through refinancing.

One of the most notable benefits that Earnest offers is the option to choose a repayment length of anywhere between 5 and 20 years. 

Borrowers can also refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans through Earnest.

If you choose Earnest and are approved after applying, the company will send a payment to your old provider to pay off your old loans. You will then be issued a new one with a lower interest rate and/or different repayment term. The company also charges no application, origination, or prepayment fees.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Unique application process
  • Earnest will be loan servicer
  • Temporarily defer payments for up to 3 years
  • Skip one monthly payment each year
  • Switch between a variable and fixed interest rates every 6 months

Earnest many benefits to help borrowers out including the standard benefits that most lenders offer including an autopay discount, no fees, and great customer service.

Besides those, Earnest's application process is truly unique. The company uses thousands of data points to see if you are qualified and if you will be successful in repayment.

Possibly the best benefit of choosing Earnest is that customers have the option to temporarily defer payments in the case of financial hardship, such as in the case of job loss. In addition, borrowers who want to return to school can defer payments for up to 3 years. Earnest also lets customers skip one payment a year after they have made on-time payments for 6 months, as long as they make up the missed payments with subsequent payments. They also allow users to switch between a variable and fixed rate once every 6 months after 6 months of on-time payments. ​

Lastly, borrowers can choose to make bi-weekly payments so less interest accrues, saving them significant amounts of money. 

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To Consider

Because Earnest uses many different factors to determine eligibility, there is more likely to be something on your application that causes you to be rejected. In addition, the application process is more extensive and takes a longer time due to the variety of data points that are analyzed.

Bottom Line

​Earnest's student loan refinance and consolidation program is perfect for people who want:

  • To save money with a lower interest rate
  • A flexible repayment plan
  • ​A servicer that treats each customer as an individual
  • Eligibility to be based off more than credit score

LendEDU gives Earnest our stamp of approval. Read on to see if you might be eligible:

  • ​​Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student debt
  • Have completed school or are in the final semester of degree
  • Have at least $5,000 in student debt
  • Variable rates as low as 2.57% APR with AutoPay
  • Fixed rates as low as 3.25% APR with AutoPay
  • Data-driven eligibility requirements
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Unique deferment options including job loss protection
  • Options to switch between variable and fixed interest rates
  • Bi-weekly payments

3. LendKey

LendKey

LendEDU Rating (4.4 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Great rates from a community of banks and credit unions
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • Variable rates as low as 2.56% APR
  • Fixed rates as low as 3.15% APR
  • Zero application, origination, or pre-payment fees
Show More
Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to LendKey’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.25% - 7.13%

Variable APR

2.89% - 7.38%

Loan Terms

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Offered terms are subject to change. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.

Show Disclaimer

Additional Details About LendKey

About LendKey

Another great choice for borrowers is LendKey. This unique company brings local credit unions to the table to help borrowers refinance their student loans. The result is great customer service and interest rate options for those looking to save.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13%
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38%
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 – $125k (Undergraduate Degree), $250k (Graduate Degree), $300k, (Medical Degree)
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

LendKey is more than just a single company. LendKey is a collection of over 320 not-for-profit credit unions and community banks from across the U.S. The participating lenders work together to compete against major lenders. There are also no geographical requirements.

LendKey currently offers variable rates ranging from 2.56% to . Fixed rates start range from 3.15% to . All of these ratest include a 0.25% discount for using autopay.

LendKey offers term lengths of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years. There is no penalty for paying off debt early and borrowers can have up to 4 years of interest-only payments.

LendKey charges no origination fees, which can help borrowers save money. Moreover, cosigner release is an option after 12 months.

LendKey requires borrowers to have a decent credit score, an average debt-to-income ratio, and a yearly income of over $24,000. It has higher approval ratings - and many of our users were approved at LendKey because the company evaluates each borrower on a case-by-case basis.

The first part of the application should only take a few minutes to complete. If approved, applicants are expected to join the local credit union that will provide the financing. Credit unions usually require a small deposit for membership. In most cases borrowers will need to deposit $1 to $20 to gain access to the credit union. A $5 deposit is a small price to pay for great customer service and low interest rates.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Cosigner release after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Work with a credit union

LendKey offers borrowers a personal experience. Borrowers will receive a friendly credit union experience as compared to the typical treatment from a big bank. Credit unions operate for their members (you!) and only the members. The company doesn't have any shareholders or investors. All earnings are redistributed back to the members so you can be sure that every lender on the LendKey platform has your back.

Like most lenders, LendKey has zero origination fees. This saves you money and makes it easier to compare the savings of refinanced loans against the borrower's current loans.

LendKey also has zero prepayment penalties. For people working to pay off their student debt early, zero prepayment penalties can be an important benefit.

Another great benefit of LendKey is cosigner release. This means cosigners can be released from the debt after 12 months of on-time payments. This is a big deal. Not many lenders offer cosigner release, and this one-year release is one of the shortest offerings on the market.

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To Consider

LendKey aims to connect you with lenders that are a good fit for you but ultimately you will need to read the fine print on the approved offers to make sure the agreement is best for you.

Bottom Line

​The LendKey refinancing and debt consolidation program could be a good fit for people who want:

  • Cosigner release after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Low interest rates
  • A personal approach to borrowing
  • Great customer service
  • A credit union experience

​More details:

  • Must have completed an eligible undergraduate or graduate degree program
  • Undergraduate and graduate student loans are eligible
  • Consolidate student loans together (both federal & private)
  • Variable rates as low as 3.15% APR (with AutoPay)
  • Fixed rates as low as 2.56% APR (with AutoPay)
  • Interest-only repayment option
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Medium credit score, salary, and debt-to-income requirements
  • Not-for-profit lenders
  • Excellent customer service
  • Cosigner release available if the primary borrower is eligible even without a cosigner

4. ELFI - Education Loan Finance

ELFI

LendEDU Rating (4.44 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • Variable rates as low as 2.69% APR
  • Fixed rates as low as 3.09% APR
  • $100 Fast Track Bonus for completing paperwork in 30 days
  • Zero application, origination, or pre-payment fees
Show More
Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to ELFI’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.09% - 6.69%

Variable APR

2.69% - 6.01%

Loan Terms

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Offered terms are subject to change. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.

Show Disclaimer

Additional Details About ELFI

About ELFI

In 2015, SouthEast Bank of Tennessee launched its student loan refinancing and consolidation program to borrowers through ELFI, or Education Loan Finance.

Although the ELFI program is a relative newcomer to the refinancing scene, its management has over 30 years of experience in the student lending industry.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13%
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38%
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $15,000 – No Max
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

ELFI offers competitive interest rates to both recent graduates as well as parents with Parent PLUS and private student loans who are approved.

ELFI offers variable interest rates ranging from 2.69% to 6.01%. Alternatively, approved borrowers may opt for a fixed interest rate ranging from 3.09% to 6.69%. ELFI offers low rates even without the autopay discount that many lenders offer.

The minimum amount to refinance is $15,000 while the maximum is based on the borrower's qualifications.

ELFI offers repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years for recent graduates. Those with high income may opt for a shorter repayment term, saving them money over time. Those who want lower monthly payments, on the other hand, can choose a longer repayment term.

For parents, ELFI offers repayment terms of 5, 7, and 10 years.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Cosigner release after 12 months of on-time payments
  • If you accept your offer within 30 days of approval, receive a $100 cash bonus
  • Postpone payments for up to 12 months if facing financial hardship

​Aside from helping borrowers lower their interest rates and make their repayment more manageable, ELFI offers some enticing benefits.

First off, ELFI offers cosigner release of existing education loans to approved borrowers who qualify for refinancing based on their own credit and financial profiles. This removes cosigners from the original loans, relieving them of future payment responsibilities and potentially helping them improve their credit.

Another great benefit of ELFI is its Fast Track Bonus. If approved borrowers accept their offers from ELFI and submit all the required paperwork within 30 days of the initial application date, they can receive $100. This can be a great way to earn some extra money to put toward your debt.

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To Consider

​Though ELFI displays some of the lowest rates in the industry, it does not necessarily mean you will receive a lower rate with them as compared to other lenders. Each lender has a different eligibility criteria and underwriting process so your offered rates (if approved) may be higher than those from other lenders.

Bottom Line

ELFI is a student loan refinancing lender with low interest rates and a variety of repayment terms. To see if you are approved for refinancing with ELFI, you can apply on the company’s website. More details to remember:

  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student debt
  • Must have an eligible degree from an approved post-secondary institution
  • Variable rates ranging from 2.69% - 6.01% APR
  • ​Fixed rates ranging from 3.09% - 6.69% APR
  • Repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years
  • Refinancing of Parent PLUS loans available in 5, 7, and 10 year terms
  • $100 bonus for completing required paperwork within 30 days of application
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees

5. Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank

LendEDU Rating (4.34 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Online application takes 10 minutes to complete
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • Rates as low as 2.88% APR for variable rates2
  • Rates as low as 3.50% APR for fixed rates2
  • 5, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or pre-payment fees
  • Must have at least $10,000 in student loan debt to refinance
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Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to Citizens Bank’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.50% - 8.34%2

Variable APR

2.88% - 7.98%2

Loan Terms

5, 10, 15 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of May 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.90%. Variable interest rates range from 2.90%-8.00% (2.90%-8.00% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower's loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.34% (3.50% - 8.34% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan

The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

Click for rate and repayment information

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Additional Details About Citizens Bank

About Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is one of the more well-known companies that refinances student loans. As the 13th largest retail bank with over $130 billion in assets and 1,200 branches, Citizens Bank offers many options and benefits for borrowers looking to save money on student debt. They aim to make it easy to refinance and consolidate student loans.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13% APR2
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38% APR2
  • 5, 10, 15 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $10,000 – $90K (Undergraduate), $350k (Graduate)
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

Citizens Bank offers a variety of attractive options, including variable and fixed interest rates. Variable rates range from 2.90% to 7.38%. Fixed rates range from 3.25% to 7.13%.

Citizens Bank also offers repayment plans of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. Also, the minimum amount to refinance is $10,000. 

As with other lenders, Citizens Bank charges no application, origination, or prepayment fees, and borrowers can save 0.25% on their interest if they sign up for autopay. ​

On average, Citizens Bank customers save $1,584 per year.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Additional 0.25% interest rate reduction for having Citizens Bank account

As mentioned above, there are no fees associated with refinancing and consolidating through Citizens Bank. This means that you can apply for free and, if approved, you will not be charged for accepting the company's offer. You will also not be penalized for making extra payments.

You can apply on the company's website in about 15 minutes. The process if fairly straightforward and easy. Once you apply, Citizens Bank will run an initial credit check to determine if you're eligible. ​If you meet the initial requirements, you will be asked to upload certain documents that the underwriting team will use to determine if you actually qualify. 

One of the greatest things about Citizens Bank is its 24/7 customer service to help you at any point along the process, whether you are just applying to refinance student loans or already have a loan.

Citizens Bank also offers great resources to help borrowers manage their debt. On the Student Services section of the website, there is an Education Refinance Loan Calculator, a College Savings Goal Calculator, and even a calendar to track payments. ​

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To Consider

Though Citizens Bank offers competitive rates, some other companies have lower minimum rates. This, however, does not mean that you will automatically receive a lower rate elsewhere. Each lender has its own eligibility criteria and you may actually receive your lowest rate at Citizens Bank.

Bottom Line

​The Citizens Bank student loan consolidation and refinance program is one of the best options for people who want:

  • A wide variety of term length options
  • A lower interest rate
  • Unparalleled customer service
  • A quick and easy application process

​Here at LendEDU, Citizens Bank ranks among the top lenders, but here's more information to help you determine if it's the right choice for you:

  • ​Refinance & consolidate both federal & private student debt
  • Must no longer be in school
  • 5, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment plans
  • 2.88% APR (with AutoPay) for variable interest rates2
  • 3.50% APR (with AutoPay) for fixed interest rates2
  • Must have a strong credit score, secure job, low debt-to-income
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • 24/7 customer service

6. CommonBond

CommonBond

LendEDU Rating (4.32 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Refinance and consolidate up to $500,000 in private and federal student loans
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • Rates as low as 2.88% APR for variable rates
  • Rates as low as 3.50% APR for fixed rates
  • Rates as low as 3.80% APR for hybrid rates
  • Member protections including unemployment protection
  • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees
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Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to CommonBond’s secure website where you can check your rate before you apply without hurting your credit score

Fixed APR

3.50% - 8.34%

Variable APR

2.88% - 7.98%

Loan Terms

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Offered terms are subject to change. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.

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Additional Details About CommonBond

About CommonBond

In 2012, a few students from the University of Pennsylvania found themselves with overwhelming student debt and sought to help borrowers like themselves by starting CommonBond.

Today, CommonBond has raised over $100 million in funding with the goal of making student debt more affordable through refinancing and consolidation. The company now serves over 700 graduate programs across the U.S.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13% APR
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38% APR
  • Hybrid APR: 4.13% - 6.26% APR
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 - $500k
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

CommonBond allows borrowers to consolidate and refinance both federal and private student loans.

Common Bond variable interest rates range from 2.54% APR to 7.38% APR. Fixed rates range from 3.25% APR to 7.13% APR.

The company offers borrowers an array of options to consider including 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms.

Like most lenders, CommonBond does not charge an origination fee and there is no prepayment penalty for paying off your debt early.

At this time borrowers can apply to consolidate up to $500,000 in student debt.

CommonBond works with anyone with a minimum of a 4-year undergraduate degree from over 2,100 schools nationwide, as well as those with grad school debt. In addition, they work with parents who took out PLUS loans for their children's education.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up Auto-Pay
  • Temporary postpone payments if facing financial hardship
  • Only lender to offer hybrid interest rate
  • Cosigner release after 36 months of on-time payments

CommonBond offers competitive student loan refinance and consolidation interest rates. Without origination fees and prepayment penalties, it is easy for borrowers to compare CommonBond alongside their current loans.

Additionally, CommonBond has a smooth and easy application process. After creating an account and entering some basic background information, as well as information about your student loans, you will be able to see if you qualify.

CommonBond also offers high-quality customer service. The company prides itself on helping it borrowers navigate the refinance market and beyond. The company even has a program to help borrowers who lose their jobs to find a new one.

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To Consider

In general, CommonBond looks for applicants with very strong income. To be approved by CommonBond you must have good credit, a well-paying job, and be able to afford your monthly payments.

Bottom Line

​The CommonBond student loan refinance and consolidation program is a great option to consider for people who want to:

  • Lower their monthly payments
  • Lock in low interest rates
  • Choose from a variety of term lengths
  • Consolidate student loans together (both federal & private)

​CommonBond ranks among the best student loan refinance leaders. But here are other factors to help you consider if it's the right choice for you:

  • ​Refinancing & consolidation for private & federal debt
  • Must have a bachelor's degree from any of the over 2,100 schools within the CommonBond school network
  • 2.72%7.27% APR variable rate (with AutoPay)
  • 3.14%7.25% APR fixed rate (with AutoPay)
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • 0.25% interest rate discount with AutoPay from a checking account
  • Moderate credit score, salary, debt-to-income and other criteria
  • Unemployment protection – payments can be paused temporarily
  • Access to CommonBond Community, including networking events and other perks

7. Discover Student Loans Consolidation

Discover Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.56 / 5.0)

About Our Ratings
  • Refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans
  • Variable rates between 4.74% - 7.99% APR1
  • Fixed rates between 5.24% - 8.24% APR1
  • Lowest listed APRs include a 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments2
  • 10 and 20 year repayment terms
  • No fees required
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Check Rate

Clicking the button above will take you to Discover’s secure website where you can check your rate. Checking your rate may impact your credit score

Fixed APR

3.25% - 7.13%1

Variable APR

2.89% - 7.38%1

Loan Terms

10 or 20

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

1. Get a variable interest rate from 4.74% APR to 7.99% APR (3-Month LIBOR + 2.49% to 3-Month LIBOR + 5.74%) for either a 10-year or 20-year repayment term. Or lock in a fixed interest rate from 5.24% APR to 8.24% APR for a 10-year repayment term or from 5.49% APR to 8.24% APR for a 20-year repayment term. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.25% as of April 1, 2018. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. The lowest listed APRs include a 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments. Visit Discover Student Loans for more information, including up-to-date interest rates and APRs.

2. View Terms and Conditions

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Additional Details About Discover Student Loans

About Discover Student Loans

With the cost of going to college increasing, many students are taking out both federal and private student loans in order to help fund their degrees. When they graduate and start working, they might find that they’re paying more than they need to for their student loans and look at refinance and consolidation options.

Discover Student Loans offers consolidation loans that are made by Discover Bank and are an affordable option to help refinance the loans that you took out to pay for your undergraduate or graduate education. It is one of the largest providers of private student loans in the U.S. and it offers a variety of banking and lending products that feature great service and benefits.

The Basics

  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13%1
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38%1
  • 10 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 – $150k
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Required Fees

Discover Student Loans offers consolidation loans that allow you to refinance both private and federal student loans – although you will lose many of the protections that you have on your federal loans if you refinance them into a private loan.

Discover Student Loans approves consolidation loans based on creditworthiness and consumers have the option to apply on their own or with a cosigner. By applying with a creditworthy cosigner, you might receive a lower interest rate. A cosigner is usually a family member or close friend who agrees to guarantee that the loan will be repaid.

Recent grads may consider requesting help from their previous cosigner when refinancing their loans. Unlike some other lenders that offer cosigner release, which allows you to remove a cosigner from the loan after a certain number of on-time payments, Discover does not. That means the cosigner is liable for the debt for the life of the loan.

Discover Student Loans offers both fixed rate and variable rate consolidation loans. Variable rates are tied to LIBOR rate. The interest rates on their student loan consolidation options are between 3.25% APR - 7.13%APR (3-Month LIBOR + 2.49% to 3-Month LIBOR + 5.74%)1 on variable rate loans and between 5.24% - 8.24% and 5.49% - 8.24% APR1 on fixed rate loans with a 10-year and 20-year repayment term, respectively.

Depending on your credit score and income or that of your cosigner, consolidating your loans with Discover could allow you to save a significant amount of money. You'll likely save money on interest if you choose the shorter repayment term.

The application process is relatively easy, and it can take from 30 to 45 days to process the loan.

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The Benefits

  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • U.S. based student loan specialists available 24 hours a day
  • No required fees

Discover Student Loans has no required fees. That means you will not be required to pay any fees, including application, origination, or late fees. There are also no prepayment penalties or early repayment penalties if you want to pay off your student debt early or if you want to add a little extra to your payment every month.

Like many other student loan lenders, Discover gives borrowers a 0.25% interest rate break when enrolled in AutoPay for their student loans. The lowest listed APRs shown above include a 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments.2

Discover Student Loans' online application is straightforward and only takes about 15 minutes to complete. Meanwhile, Discover Student Loans offers great customer service. The company's student loan specialists are based in the U.S. and are available 24 hours a day to help with your application or answer questions you have about your Discover loan.

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To Consider

To consolidate your student loans with Discover, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a U.S.-based address and have no more than $150,000 in total student loan debt, unless you studied in a specific field that has higher average debt. That means that Discover consolidation loans might not be an option for some international students or for those with significant amounts of debt.

Depending on your individual circumstance, Discover’s rates may be higher than some of the other companies mentioned above. The amount that you’ll pay will depend on your particular financial situation, and you might end up paying more if you take out a Discover consolidation loan. For that reason, it’s critical that you shop around before deciding where to consolidate your student loan.

Discover does not offer things like career services and job placement help or other benefits that some other lenders on this list offer.

Before you consider Discover or any company to consolidate your student loans, compare not just interest rates but also the company's reputation and customer service.

Bottom Line

Discover Student Loans is a top-rated lender. But here are several factors to consider to see if it's the right choice for you:

  • Refinances and issues private student loans
  • 10 or 20 year repayment terms on consolidation loans
  • Variable rate loans between 4.74% and 7.99%APR1
  • Fixed rate loans between 5.24% and 8.24%APR1
  • 0.25% AutoPay discount included in lowest listed APRs2
  • Strong credit score and salary or a cosigner may be needed
  • Zero prepayment penalty
  • No fees required
  • Great customer service

More Information About Student Loan Refinancing

We know the student loan refinancing process can seem complicated. That's why we put together the following information to help borrowers better understand the process.

Student Loan Refinancing & Consolidation FAQ

Yes. You can refinance federal student loans, but only through a private lender. Be aware that you would be changing your federal student loan into a private loan and would lose the protections and benefits of federal student loans as a result.

Yes. You can consolidate federal student loans either directly through the Department of Education or through refinancing with a private lender. However, if you consolidate federal student loans through a private lender, you will lose the protections of the loans, such as loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment options.

Yes. You can consolidate private student loans through refinancing with private lenders.

Refinancing is offered through private banks and lenders.

In refinancing, once a loan has been approved, the new lender pays off the old student loans and issues a new loan with new terms. The borrower then is responsible for paying back the loan to the new lender.

Refinancing typically saves borrowers money through obtaining a lower interest rate. A lower interest rate will result in the borrower paying less money in interest over the life of the loan.

Refinancing is free. Apply for refinancing directly through the lender, after comparing rates and other information via LendEDU. You will never be charged any application or origination fees.

Eligibility requirements for a student loan refinancing vary by lender, but typically require a credit score of at least the mid-600s. The average credit score for an approved refinance application is 757. At LendEDU, we have seen people be approved with a credit score as low as 560. On average, 43 percent of applicants for student loan refinancing are approved.

Yes. When you refinance your student loan, you are consolidating it simultaneously. You can choose which loans you would like to refinance, and therefore, consolidate together.

No. Federal student loans can only be refinanced through private lenders.

Yes. Federal student loans can only be refinanced through private lenders. Borrowers should be aware that by refinancing federal student loans, they will lose the benefits of federal loans, such as student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans.

Yes. With a private lender, you can consolidate private and federal student loans into a single loan. However, when you consolidate private and federal student loans, you lose the protections of federal student loans, such as loan forgiveness programs.

Yes. You can refinance your student loans multiple times. Before doing so, carefully consider whether it makes financial sense to refinance the loan another time. You should only do this if you can receive a lower interest rate or want to consolidate another loan with your already refinanced loan.

Deciding to consolidate student loans depends on a number of factors. For federal student loans, consolidation will not save you money, but it may make it easier for you to pay off your student loans because you will have just one payment to make each month. For private student loans, consolidation generally means refinancing, which requires an examination of the interest rates of each loan and whether you can obtain a more favorable interest rate through refinancing.

The option of deferring or postponing payments depends on the individual lender. Citizens Bank, SoFi, iHelp and CommonBond all offer forbearance in the case of hardship. Other lenders, such as College Ave Student Loans and Purefy, offer forbearance on a case-by-case basis. Be sure to ask your lender about its policies for hardship forbearance or if you go back to school.

If you were rejected from refinancing, it was likely due to a poor credit score. Take time to rebuild your credit history. Pay off debt, and focus on making regular, on-time payments for you bills. If possible, take out a small loan, and pay it off on time so that you can show that you are creditworthy. Alternatively, you can ask a family member or trusted friend to cosign your loan application in order to qualify.

Most lenders will not permit you to refinance your student loans if you did not graduate. However, some lenders may allow you to refinance; compare different options above to find a lender that may permit you to refinance.

Generally, lenders will not approve your refinance if your school was not accredited. However, some lenders will. Check above for different options for lenders that may approve you for a refinancing loan.

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How to Decide if Refinancing is Right for You

When you first hear about student loan refinancing, it may seem like a no-brainer. Saving money on interest? More fitting repayment term? What’s not to like?

While there are certainly benefits to refinancing, there are some things to consider to decide if it is the right move for you. In this section, we'll go over the benefits of refinancing, the downsides, and one alternative to consider.

Benefits of Refinancing

Lower Interest Rate

When you apply for refinancing, you'll be able to see if you qualify for an interest rate that is lower than what you currently have. If you do, then you may be able to save a lot of money depending on the repayment term you select. When you have a lower interest rate, less money will be charged on your principal balance each month. This is especially beneficial if you have student loans with high interest rates.

New Repayment Term and Monthly Payment

As mentioned above, when you refinance student loans, you will have the option to choose a new repayment term. Lenders typically offer term lengths anywhere from five to 20 years. This means you can choose from the following:

  • Reduce your current repayment term - increasing your monthly payment but saving you more money as compared to longer terms
  • Extend your repayment term - lowering your monthly payment but possibly increasing the cost of your loan due to interest as compared to shorter terms
  • Keep your repayment term the same - keeping your monthly payment about the same and likely saving you money if you receive a lower interest rate as compared to current loans
New Servicer

If you don’t like your current servicer, you will most likely receive a new one when you refinance, though this doesn’t mean that your new servicer will be better. When you think about which lender you want to refinance with, you may want to see which servicer your new lender works with and check out some customer reviews.

Release a Cosigner From Your Loans

If you have a private student loan with a cosigner, you may be able to remove your cosigner from your loan when you refinance. This will release them from their shared responsibility to repay the debt and will free up some credit for them if they want to do something like apply for a new auto loan or mortgage.

Downsides of Refinancing

The main downside of refinancing is that your federal student loan(s) will turn into a private student loan. This means that you will lose access to federal benefits, protections, and repayment plans, including the following:

Losing Access to Income Driven-Repayment Plans

There are a group of federal repayment plans that limit monthly payments to the borrower’s income. This can be helpful if borrowers are struggling financially and want to reduce their monthly payments. This will usually end up costing them more over the life of the loan, however.

Losing Eligibility for Student Loan Forgiveness

Loan forgiveness is not an option for most people, but if you work in certain jobs in the public sector or in certain low-income areas as a nurse or teacher, you may be able to qualify for student loan forgiveness after a specified number of on-time monthly payments. However, if you refinance student loans that would otherwise be eligible for forgiveness, you'd lose that option. So first carefully consider whether the benefits of refinancing outweigh losing your eligibility for loan forgiveness.

Possibly Lose Student Loan Discharge Benefits

Federal student borrowers’ loans will be discharged if they die. This means that parents and other relatives will not be responsible for repayment. This may not be the case with some student loan refinance lenders. If a lender does not offer this benefit, then your parents or other family members might be on the hook for your loans if anything were to happen to you.

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An Alternative to Refinancing: Federal Direct Consolidation Loan

Are you trying to figure out how to consolidate student loans with the government, not with a private lender? Then you've come to the right place. Read on to learn more about federal consolidation.

You can, in fact, consolidate federal student loans without a new private lender. The Department of Education allows you to consolidate federal student loans through the Direct Consolidation Loan program for free. It does not, however, allow you to refinance student debt.

When you take out a Direct Consolidation Loan, you replace multiple federal student loans with one, requiring only one payment per month. To qualify, you must have one or more federal loans (Direct or FFEL) that are in repayment or in a grace period.

In addition, some existing consolidation loans can be re-consolidated if you include an additional Direct or FFEL loan, although you may be able to re-consolidate an FFEL loan without including other loans.

How to Consolidate Student Loans Through the Government

You can apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan after you leave school, drop below half-time enrollment, or graduate. However, you cannot consolidate defaulted loans unless you first make arrangements with the current servicer, or you agree to repay the consolidated loan under one of the income-driven plans.

The Federal Student Loan website allows you to apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan electronically or with paper forms. You can apply online by first choosing the existing loans, then picking one of the many repayment plans. You then sign the application after you review all the terms and conditions. The servicer will arrange to pay off your existing debt and set up your consolidated repayments.

Normally, repayment of a Direct Consolidation Loan commences within 60 days of disbursement. If your existing debt is still in its grace period, you may be able to delay repayment until your grace-period end date. Your repayment period will be 10 to 30 years, depending on several factors.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  1. Simplifies and centralizes your repayment schedule
  2. Offers the opportunity to reduce your monthly payments
  3. Offers the opportunity to adopt an income-driven repayment plan
  4. May convert variable rates to fixed rates

Cons:

  1. May increase the number of payments and interest paid
  2. Does not include private and parent student loans
  3. You may lose certain existing benefits
  4. Interest rate is not lowered
  5. Does not save money like refinancing and consolidating through a private lender
Differences Between Federal Consolidation and Private Consolidation/Refinancing
Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
May Receive Lower Interest Rate No Yes
May Save Money No Yes
Keep Federal Benefits Yes No
Federal Loans Eligible Yes Yes
Private Loans Eligible No Yes

Please note: Your ability to receive a lower interest rate or save money varies depending upon your starting interest rate, starting terms, and other factors.

If you have student loans, you might have heard about consolidation or refinancing as a method to combine many loans into one, potentially reducing your interest rate or monthly payment. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they actually have different goals and are utilized for different reasons.

Consolidation is generally used to combine many loans into one. It can be used for federal student debt through federal consolidation, or private and/or federal student loans through private refinancing and consolidation. When you refinance student loans, including both private and/or federal student loans, you are effectively consolidating them because you will be combining all of them into one new loan.

Refinancing and consolidating with a private lender results in an entirely new interest rate, which is often lower than the original rate or rates. This is typically the goal of refinancing: to obtain a lower interest rate based on your credit score, income, history of on-time payments, and other factors.

With federal consolidation, the rate for your new loan that you receive is based on a weighted average of your old loans’ rates, rather than an entirely new interest rate. With consolidation, you can typically extend your repayment schedule to up to 30 years. Refinancing payment terms are generally anywhere from five to 25 years.

How to Choose Which Is Right for You

Deciding whether to consolidate or refinance your student debt depends on your specific situation. If you currently have high interest rates or a variable rate loan, you may want to consider refinancing your student loans. However, if you depend on income-based repayment plans or intend to apply for forgiveness through the federal government, then refinancing may not be a smart choice for you. If you are considering refinancing or consolidating your student loans, carefully review the terms of your loans. Take advantage of online refinance calculators to determine whether you would save money with a lower interest rate, and be sure to comparison shop for the best rates.

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Student Loan RefinancingEligibility Requirements

There are many things that lenders consider when deciding if you are a good candidate for refinancing. The following are the requirements that lenders typically consider, but certain lenders may have other requirements as well.

Eligible Loans

Typically, lenders will refinance both federal and private student loans from undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Some lenders may have specific criteria for which schools and degrees are eligible, however. A common requirement we have seen is that the borrower must have graduated from a Title IV school.

Credit History

In order to be approved for refinancing, you have to have a good to excellent credit score. This is because your credit score shows how much of a risk you are to the lender. Typically, you will need at least a 660-credit score, though we have seen applicants get approved with lower scores and rejected with higher scores.

Repayment History

Though this goes hand-in-hand with credit score, you will also need to have a solid repayment history on your current student loans. Student loan refinance lenders don’t like to see a track record of missed payments as this means you are more likely to miss payments on the loan they are giving you.

Annual Income

Some lenders may also look at your annual income to gauge if you will be able to afford the monthly payments on your new loan. If you have too low or inconsistent income, you may be rejected.

U.S. Citizenship

Most lenders require that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to be approved for refinancing.

State Requirements

Some lenders may only accept applicants from certain states. Make sure that the lender you are considering accepts applicants from your state before going through with the full application.

How Cosigners Affect Refinancing

Benefits of Using a Creditworthy Cosigner:
  • More likely to be approved
  • Receive a lower interest rate
  • Have someone to motivate you to stay on top of loans
  • Cosigner may be discharged after certain number of on-time payments
Risks of Using a Cosigner:
  • Credit of primary borrower and cosigner will both be affected if payments are missed
  • Cosigner's retirement could be delayed
  • Cosigner will be required to make payments if primary borrower does not

When it comes to paying for college, many borrowers are turning to private student loans to close the gap between savings, student aid, scholarships, grants, and federal student loans. In many cases, lenders require borrowers under the age of 25 to have a cosigner in order to be approved.

The cosigner requirement enables many students to borrow money for college or graduate school who otherwise would not qualify for student loans on their own, but it can be a significant burden for family members or friends who serve as cosigners. Like new private student loans, borrowers looking to refinance can benefit by adding a cosigner.

Who Can Cosign?

A cosigner is a person who assumes equal responsibility for a student loan. If the primary borrower either does not repay the loan or goes into default, the cosigner becomes responsible for the loan. In some cases, the entire amount of the student loan may be due immediately if the primary borrower goes into default. Otherwise, the cosigner may be required to take over the monthly payments on behalf of the borrower.

With that being said, borrowers should choose a parent, guardian, or other close family member or friend who is willing to accept joint responsibility with you for your loan. The only thing to keep in mind when choosing a cosigner is that they must have a good credit score in order for them to help you out.

Why Use a Cosigner?

The rationale behind cosigners is that in most situations, the primary borrower is young, and probably will not have much credit history. Private student lenders and student loan refinance lenders cannot evaluate their credit risk because the borrowers may not have a track record of paying bills on time, or for borrowing money and repaying it.

There is no way for lenders to know if these applicants are a good credit risk. For this reason, they are reluctant to lend large sums of money or refinance large sums of money without a guarantee that someone will be responsible in the event that the primary borrower will be unable to pay the debt.

A cosigner with a credit history and a higher credit score can help a borrower be approved for student loan refinancing and consolidation, and help them obtain a lower interest rate. This is because the lender knows that if the primary borrower is unwilling or unable to pay back the student loan, the cosigner will be required to assume the payments.

What Are the Risks of Cosigning?

Of course, there are drawbacks to being a cosigner for a refinanced student loan. If something happens to the primary borrower — including death, disability, unemployment, or simple financial irresponsibility — then the cosigner will be required to pay back the loan.

As a cosigner you will be required to pay back to loan if the primary borrower fails to do so, regardless of the reason for his or her failure. Late payments or missed payments can also negatively impact your credit score.

Can Cosigners Ever Be Released From the Loans?

There is a method by which cosigners can be let off the hook after certain conditions are met. Once a student has graduated from college or graduate school and has started making regular, on-time payments, the cosigner may be able to obtain a release when refinancing. Most lenders have a program that permits borrowers to reapply for refinancing under their own names only, releasing the cosigners from responsibility. Check with your lender to determine if there is a cosigner release program through refinancing, and what the terms of the program are.

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Student Loan Refinancing and Consolidation Application Process

If you have decided to refinance your student loans, congratulations on taking control of your financial future! For many borrowers, refinancing is a tool that can save substantial money, both in monthly payments and over the life of a loan. Here are the general steps to the student loan refinancing application process:

  1. Do your research to see if refinancing is for you
  2. Compare options using LendEDU's comparison tool for free (optional)
  3. Choose a lender to apply to
  4. Fill out basic background and education information
  5. Upload the required documents
  6. See if you are pre-qualified
  7. Wait for full approval/denial from lender

When you apply for a student loan refinancing, it is like applying for a new loan. The bank or lender will look at your credit score, income, the amount of savings you have, your educational background, and the number of on-time payments that you have made so far with your student loans.

Generally, your credit score must be no lower than the mid-600s (660 or higher) to qualify, or you may need a cosigner. Each lender will have different specific requirements, such whether or not you can still be in school when you apply, the maximum and minimum balance that you can have in order to refinance, and the number of on-time payments you must make before you can apply to refinance your loan.

To start the process, you should gather information about your student debt. If you do not have a copy of your student loan documents, you can get them in one of two ways. For federal student loans, you can view them directly online at the Federal Student Aid portal or the National Student Loan Data System. You will need to log in using the PIN that you used to apply for student aid.

Private student loans can be found via your credit report. You are entitled to a free annual copy of your credit report, which can be obtained from one of the major credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Once you have determined which loan companies hold your loans, you can get a copy of your loan documents directly from those companies.

Once you have all of the information about your student loans, carefully consider your refinancing options. LendEDU allows borrowers to compare a number of lenders, providing information such as rates, whether the rates are variable or fixed, terms, loan types, and ranking. This level of transparency empowers borrowers to make the best possible decision when it comes to refinancing their student debt. Rates for these loans range from as low as 2.39% to 12%.

If you decide to apply for a loan through a bank or other lender, the lender will review your application and if you are approved, will decide your interest rate based on the factors discussed above. Your new servicing company will then pay off all of your old student loans, and you will receive statements from the new lender each month. Instead of receiving multiple statements and paying multiple bills, you will have one payment each month.

With LendEDU’s simple online comparison tool, refinancing federal and private student loans is a simple, straightforward process that can help save you money.

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How Refinancing Interest Rates Work

Student loan refinance rates can be as low as 2.39%. Refinancing to lower rates can save some borrowers upwards of $20,000 over the life of their loan. Also, you can consolidate multiple student loans into one when refinancing.

Over the last couple of years, student loan refinancing and consolidation has become a hot topic in the United States. As it sounds, refinancing allows undergraduate and graduate borrowers to refinance student debt at a potentially lower interest rate.

That being said, not all student loans are created equal. Interest rates usually vary by loan type, rate type, and creditworthiness. If you find yourself paying 4% to 10% in interest each year, you are paying too much.

Refinancing can be a smart choice as a way to lower your interest rate or to change your interest rate from variable to fixed. But in order to understand whether or not refinancing is a good option, you first need to understand the basics of how student loan refinance rates work.

Current Student Loan Refinancing Interest Rates

Fixed Rates

3.09% - 8.34%

Variable Rates

3.09% - 8.34%

How Interest Rates Work in General

Interest rates are the amount that a lender charges a borrower for the use of money, typically expressed as a percentage of the total amount borrowed. For example, if you borrowed $10,000, and the interest rate was 10%, then you would pay $1,000 to the lender for the use of that money. Typically, interest rates are charged on a yearly basis, which is known as an annual percentage rate, or APR. Over the life of a loan, interest rates can represent a substantial amount of money. In the $10,000 example above, in a five-year term, the total interest paid would be $2,748.23 — or nearly one-third of the total amount of money borrowed.

Student Loan Refinancing Interest Rate Information

Student loan refinance rates can be either variable or fixed. A fixed rate means that the interest rate is set when you sign the documents and will remain the same throughout the life of the loan. Federal student loan interest rates are set each year based on the financial market. Rates will vary based on the loan type but will not depend on your credit score. All federal student loans issued after 2006 have fixed interest rates. In contrast, private student loans with fixed interest rates are based on the credit score of the primary borrower and/or the cosigner. When you refinance and consolidate your student loans with a private lender, you can typically choose a fixed or variable interest rate.

Variable interest rates will change based on the prime rate or the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Variable interest rates often start out lower than fixed interest rates, but they can be risky because they can rise. If you are considering obtaining a variable rate loan, review the terms, including whether there is a cap on the interest rate. You should also pay off the loan as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of a sharp rise in the interest rate.

How to Qualify for Lower Interest Rates

If you would like to qualify for a lower interest rate for your refinanced loans, there are a number of ways to do so. First, consider a shorter loan repayment term. The less time you take to repay your student debt, the lower your interest rate will typically be.

Second, you can spend some time building your credit score. The higher your credit rating, the lower your interest rate will be — and the more money you will ultimately save. Building your credit can take time, but it can be as simple as making regular, on-time payments with your bills, never charging more than you can afford to pay back, or taking out a small loan and paying it off in a timely manner.

Third, consider using a cosigner to lower your interest rate. A family member or close friend with an established credit history can sign the loan with you. You will retain primary responsibility, but their signature will help you get a lower rate. After a period of time, you may be able to apply for the loan under your name to release the cosigner.

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Companies That Don't Offer Refinancing & Consolidation

Students and graduates have student loans from a vast array of banks and lenders across the United States. These lenders each have specific programs, loan terms and conditions, and may not offer the same opportunities when it comes to consolidating or refinancing private student loans. Here are five major lenders that do not offer refinancing — along with what you can do if you have loans from these companies and want to refinance your loans.

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae Corporation is a consumer banking company that was originally set up in 1973 to provide federal educational loans. Once the government started directly lending all federal student loans, Sallie Mae shifted to the private student loan space. It ultimately put most of its loan servicing operation into a separate entity known as Navient Corporation, which is the largest servicer of federal student loans. Navient is a collector on behalf of the Department of Education. Sallie Mae offers a variety of private student loans, including K-12 loans, undergraduate loans, career and technical school loans, graduate and professional school loans, and bar study and residency loans. Sallie Mae does not offer refinancing options for its borrowers, however.

PNC

PNC Financial Services Group, Inc., is a financial institution based in Pittsburgh that offers a number of private student loan options for undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, PNC offers specialized loans for health and medical professionals, including loans for residency interviews and relocation expenses. Like Sallie Mae, PNC does not offer refinancing and consolidation for student loan borrowers.

Citibank

Citibank is the consumer division of Citigroup. It previously offered student loans as part of its overall financial services, but no longer participates in the student loan business. However, it still services outstanding student loans. Citibank does not offer refinancing of its student loans, though you could refinance and consolidate old Citibank student loans through one of the lenders listed at the top of this page.

Chase

JPMorgan Chase, or Chase, is a banking and financial services group headquartered in New York City. Like Citibank, Chase no longer offers private student loans. Currently, American Education Services (AES) services Chase private student loans, while ACS Education Services (ACS) handles Chase federal student loans. Chase does not offer refinancing or consolidation of its student loans.

Great Lakes

Great Lakes is a nonprofit federal student loan servicer based in Wisconsin. It manages federal student loans on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. This company does not offer loans itself, but services loans offered by the federal government. Because Great Lakes only handles federal student loans, and not private loans, refinancing is not an option with this loan servicer. However, consolidation may be possible through the Department of Education. In addition, you could discuss other repayment options with Great Lakes, such as income-based repayment, forbearance or loan forgiveness.

These banks are just five examples of companies that do not offer refinancing as an option for their borrowers. However, just because your loan servicing company does not offer refinancing does not mean that you are barred from refinancing your student loans.

Refinancing allows you the opportunity to choose your own lender from a variety of options. When you compare banks via LendEDU’s online comparison tool, you can review lenders’ interest rates, loan length, ranking and a number of other terms to determine which refinancing loan will best fit your needs.

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Refinancing Parent PLUS Loans

Parents of dependent undergraduate students can receive a federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan if parent and child both meet the general eligibility requirements. The obligation to repay the loan rests solely with the parent, and the Department of Education doesn’t permit the direct transfer from parent to child. However, there is a work-around: the child can apply to a participating private bank or company to refinance in the child’s name.

Several student loan refinancing companies, including SoFi, Laurel Road (A Division of Darien Rowayton Bank), and CommonBond offer this option to children whose parents took out a Direct Parent PLUS Loan. Generally, the child must have graduated with at least a bachelor’s degree and be professionally employed.

Each student loan refinance company evaluates the child’s application using its own criteria, but generally, the lenders want to be sure that the child can repay the loan. Typically, this requires the child to provide information about financial history, career experience, the school attended, the kind of degree received, and current income and expenses.

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State of Student Loan Refinancing Report 2018

In 2017, we presented our first ever State of Student Loan Refinancing Report. We realized that there wasn’t good public data for consumers on the private student loan refinancing process so we decided to use our own data to shed some light on the industry. In 2018, we presented our second ever State of Student Loan Refinancing Report to see what had changed from the year before.

Here at LendEDU, we work with all of the major student loan refinancing companies such as SoFi, Citizens Bank, College Ave, Earnest, LendKey, and CommonBond. Over the last year we collected industry data on over 30,000 applicants. We used this data to help consumers better understand the student loan refinancing process - including average credit score of an approved applicant, approval rate, average repayment terms after refinancing, and more.

Besides the key findings shown immediately after this, you can see the full results and the methodology of our study by clicking the dropdown menu below.

Key Findings

Full Results & Methodology

1. What is the average FICO credit score of someone approved for refinancing?

We found that the average approved refinance applicant had a FICO credit score of 764.

2. What proportion of refinance applicants are denied for student loan refinancing?

We found that 58.07 percent of applicants were denied for student loan refinancing, while 41.93 percent of applicants were approved.

3. What is the average interest rate received after refinancing student loan debt?

We found that the average refinanced student loan had an interest rate of 5.56 percent, including ACH AutoPay discounts.

4. What proportion of approved applicants refinance after being approved?

We found that 42.78 percent of approved refinance applicants ended up completing the process.

5. What is the average amount of student loan debt refinanced?

We found that the average amount refinanced was $66,453.

6. What is the average term length of a refinanced student loan?

We found that the average term length was 11.73 years after refinancing.

7. How long does the refinancing process take after being approved?

We found that it took an average of 34.33 days from the point when an applicant was approved to the point when the loan was funded.

8. What proportion of refinanced student loans are cosigned?

We found that 33.21 percent of refinanced loans were cosigned.

9. What is the difference in the interest rate between a cosigned loan vs. a non-cosigned loan?

We found that, on average, cosigned loans had interest rates that were 0.54 percent lower than non-cosigned refinance loans.

10. What are the most popular states for student loan refinancing applicants?

We found that California, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts were the most popular states for student loan refinancing.

Methodology

For this study, LendEDU analyzed over 32,000 student loan refinance applications from 2017. The applicant data was collected from our lender partners, SoFi, Citizens Bank, College Ave, Earnest, LendKey, CommonBond, Laurel Road, and ELFI.

We believe that the ​eight aforementioned companies make up the majority of the student loan refinancing market. The application data was weighted based on the proportion of applicants. All of the applicants were sent to the eight lending companies from the LendEDU website.

Each lender provides slightly different reporting and data. Some lenders did not provide certain data fields. Due to privacy concerns, we are unable to provide applicant weighting or confirm lending specific data. ​

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Other Student Loan Refinance Companies

First Republic Student Loans

First Republic is a bank that offers student loan refinancing at very low rates. Founded in 1985, First Republic has branches in a number of different cities in California, plus Portland, Boston, Greenwich, and New York. Its goal in offering low rates on student loan refinancing is, in part, to attract young borrowers as bank customers for life.

The Basics

First Republic has fixed rates that start at just 1.95% and go as high as 2.95% APR. That’s considerably lower than many other popular online or offline lenders. How much you will qualify for will depend on your personal financial and credit situation.

In addition, there are no loan fees related to refinancing student loans from First Republic. You don’t pay anything for origination, prepayment or annual fees.

It offers a number of different flexible term lengths. You can refinance your student loans for 5, 7, 10, or 15 years.

In order to refinance using First Republic, you need to have between $40,000 and $300,000 in student debt. You also need to have a strong credit score and a consistent record of work. Having substantial savings also helps you qualify.

To apply for a First Republic refinance loan, you can use its estimator tool to get a quick idea of your rate so that you can understand which term option will be best for you. After that, a banker will reach out to you and talk about your student loan refinancing options. Then you complete a quick online application and send verification documents. After that, they help set up your account and you get your loan.

The Benefits

The fact that it offers low, fixed interest rates can be incredibly beneficial to borrowers. While many lenders offer very low variable interest rates, those rates could potentially go up if interest rates increase. But fixed-rate loans stay the same over the life of your loan and therefore lock in your savings.

One unique benefit with First Republic loans is that it gives you back the interest that you paid on your loan up to 2 percent of the original balance of the loan if you pay off your loan in full in four years. That means that if you’re planning on repaying your loan aggressively, you could end up paying little to no interest over the life of your loan.

Other benefits include the term length options and the fact that you work closely with a real person to take out your loan.

To Consider

While First Republic offers great benefits and rates on student loan refinancing products, there are a number of conditions borrowers must meet, and there is a high bar when it comes to approving borrowers.

In order to qualify for the low rates, you must open a bank account with First Republic Bank. You need a minimum of $500 to put in your account and your loan payment must come automatically from that account. If you have under $3,500 in your account, you will be charged a monthly fee of $25. That might be a problem for certain borrowers who don’t have that amount available to keep in your account throughout the month. That would lead to an additional $300 annual cost to qualify for a lower interest rate on your loans.

In addition, in order to qualify, applicants have to be located near a brank location. There are branches in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Portland, Boston, Palm Beach, Greenwich and New York City.

There are high credit score, income, and savings requirements that would likely exclude many borrowers. There is a high student loan maximum of $300,000, but the minimum student loan balance is also quite high. You have to refinance at least $40,000 with them – which is much higher than with other lenders.

Bottom Line

First Republic offers great benefits to those who can qualify for their student loans. Unfortunately, qualifying for their student loans can be quite difficult, and many borrowers might not fit the criteria. But if you have excellent credit, a great job, substantial savings, and you live near one of their branches, refinancing with First Republic could save you a significant amount of money.

More details:

  • No Loan Fees
  • Fixed Interest Rates: 1.95% – 2.95% APR
  • ​Payment terms ranging from 5 to 15 years
  • Loan Amounts: $40,000 - $300,000

Purefy Student Loans

Purefy offers student loan refinance options to help borrowers save on their student loan payments. It has been around since 2014, with a mission to be a simple and innovative student loan refinance company. Purefy does not make the loans, but it works with two credit union partners: PenFed and Citizens.

The Basics

With Purefy, you can borrow between $7,500 and $150,000 if your loan is underwritten by PenFed. If your loan is underwritten by Citizens, you can borrow between $10,000 and $90,000 if you have an undergrad degree, up to $225,000 if you have a graduate degree or MBA, and up to $300,000 if you have an MD, DDS, law, veterinary, or pharmacy degree.

Term lengths can be 5, 8, 12, or 15 years – which allows you to choose a loan term length that is right for you. It provides fixed- and variable-rate loans. The fixed-rate APR ranges between 3.50% and 7.28%, while the variable-rate APR is between 3.15% and 6.93%.

The amount that you will pay depends on your credit and finances. With variable rate loans, the amount you pay can go up over the life of your loan, but it's capped at 9% on 5-year and 8-year loans and at 10% on 12-year and 15-year loans.

One of the benefits of Purefy is that it has no prepayment fees, origination fees, or application fees. That means that you can repay your student loan more quickly if you want to save money on interest without penalties.

To qualify, you have to have a degree or, if you dropped out before getting the degree, you have to have at least 12 months of on-time payments on your current loans. You also have to be earning at least $24,000 per year and meet credit requirements.

A cosigner may be used to help you qualify or get a lower interest rate. For example, if your credit score is between 620 and 699, you might need a cosigner on your loan. You can apply for cosigner release after either 12 or 36 consecutive on-time payments, depending on which credit union underwrites your loan.

To start the process with Purefy, you have to answer five questions on a short online application. Then you can review rates and see what your new monthly payment would be. Finally, you select the loan option that works best for you, apply online, and upload your documents. After that, you sign the loan documents online and your loan will be disbursed.

The Benefits

There are a number of great benefits to taking out a Purefy loan. You can borrow up to $300,000, which is a considerable amount. Having no fees also helps reduce your cost of borrowing.

The interest rates start quite low, which means that you can potentially save a significant amount of money on your loan by refinancing with them. Another key benefit is that you can get your cosigner released after as little as 12 on-time payments, something which is pretty rare.

To Consider

Because you’re refinancing your loan with a credit union, you’ll have to apply for membership before you’ll be approved and can take out the loan. That adds a little extra work to the process. In addition, you might be able to save a little more if you refinance directly with a credit union rather than through a company like Purefy.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, Purefy can be a great solution for student loan refinance. It offers great rates, flexible term lengths, and no fees. However, if you don’t have excellent credit or a cosigner, then you might have to look elsewhere.

  • Fixed Interest Rates: 3.50% – 7.28% APR
  • Variable Interest Rates: 3.15% - 6.93% APR
  • Loan Amounts: $7,500 - $300,000

EDvestinU Student Loans

EDvestinU is a private student loan refinance program that is run by a nonprofit called New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation, which is part of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation and was established in 1962 by the banking community.

Its mission is to help students nationwide go to college and pay off their student loans in an affordable manner. It offers low rates, and the proceeds of the loans are invested into borrower incentives that reduce the cost of borrowing, scholarship programs, and educational programs to encourage New Hampshire students to aspire to attend college.

The Basics

EDvestinU offers competitive student loan refinance options that allow you to borrow between $7,500 and $200,000. It offers both fixed and variable interest rates. Variable-rate APRs start between 3.310% and 6.910%. Fixed-rate loan APRs vary between 4.29% and 7.89%. How much you will pay will depend on your personal financial and credit situation.

It offers flexible repayment terms with term lengths of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. It also doesn't charge prepayment fees, origination fees, or any other fees. There's a minimum income requirement of $30,000 if you’re refinancing under $100,000, and a $50,000 income requirement if you’re refinancing more than $100,000.

There's a cosigner release option after 36 on-time payments, so long as the borrower’s FICO score is above 699 and their income is over $30,000. You must also have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or less.

In order to apply for an EDvestinU refinance loan, you have to fill out a quick online student loan refinance application. You’ll need information about your employer and income, your lender and servicer name, and two personal references. You’ll also need to send copies of verification documents. How long the process will take depends on how many loans you’re looking to consolidate and how quickly you can get them the verification documents.

The Benefits

EDvestinU offers great low rates on your student loan refinancing. While there are other lenders who might have slightly lower rates, EDvestinU has flexible options like the ability to choose from a variety of term lengths and to choose a variable- or fixed-rate loan. You’ll also be able to release your cosigner if you require one.

In addition, the income levels for qualifying for a loan are comparatively low. Finally, the fact that all the profits from the student loan refinancing go to encourage other students to go to college is a great plus; you can feel like you’re helping someone else every time you make a student loan payment.

To Consider

While EDvestinU offers relatively low interest rates, how much you’ll pay does depend on your personal and credit situation. If you don’t have great credit and you don’t have a cosigner to sign on your behalf, you might not qualify for a loan from them. Although they do offer cosigner release, there are companies that offer cosigner release with fewer conditions and after fewer on-time payments. Also, while their student loan refinancing process is relatively quick, it is not as quick as some other lenders that allow you to refinance in just a few days.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, EDvestinU offers several great features for student loan refinancing. And you’ll be able to feel like you’re doing good by giving your business to an organization that uses your money to help others. While you might be able to get a slightly lower rate elsewhere, the number of options and the fact that there are no fees associated with your loans from EDvestinU are huge bonuses.

  • Fixed Interest Rates: 4.29% – 7.89% APR
  • Variable Interest Rates: 3.31% - 6.91% APR
  • Loan Amounts: $7,500 - $200,000

Education Success Loans

Finding the best student loan consolidation company can be tough. Each lender has its own set of criteria, interest rates, and term lengths. Moreover, each lender brings something unique for borrowers. Cosigner requirements, credit score minimums, and customer service can vary at each lender. At LendEDU we work with only the top student debt financing and student loan consolidation companies.

One company working to help borrowers is Education Success Loans. Read below to learn more about how to refinance student loans and how to consolidate student loans with this lender.

The Basics

The lowest interest rate that Education Success Loans currently offers is 4.99% APR at a mixed rate. A mixed interest rate starts at fixed, then adjusts to variable later on. Mixed rates are great for borrowers who want to lock in low interest rates today and believe that interest rates will stay low in the future. The highest interest rate offered is 7.99% APR.

Today, Education Success Loans allows borrowers to refinance and consolidate both federal and private student debt.

If you are a borrower stuck paying high interest rates on old federal and private student debt, Education Success Loans is a great option. The company charges no origination fees, which can help borrowers save money from the beginning.

As far as credit criteria goes, Education Success Loans requires borrowers to have a good credit score and an average debt-to-income. The company has a higher rate of approvals, so you might consider applying even if you may think you are not qualified. Many borrowers have told us that Education Success Loans approved them even with only decent credit. The lender works with each borrower on a case-by-case basis to determine eligibility and approval. Education Success Loans offers a term length of 25 years.

There is no penalty for paying off your debt early, and borrowers can pay as much as they would like each month on top of their minimum monthly payment. The company offers an interest rate discount of 25 basis points (0.25%) if you sign up for AutoPay. AutoPay is easy to set up and convenient for borrowers.

The Benefits

Education Success Loans offers borrowers three great options to refinance and consolidate student loans. Out of all the student loan refinance and student loan consolidation lenders on the market, Education Success Loans is one of the only lenders to offer 25-year term lengths. If you want to lower your monthly payment, you can bet that a 25-year term will do the trick. By spreading your repayment out of 25 years, you can pay much less each month - although it can add to the overall cost of the loan.

Education Success Loans has zero origination fees, which saves you from paying what would be an added cost on the principal of the loan. It also has zero prepayment fees. So if you're concerned about extending your loan out to 25 years, you can choose to pay it off early without penalty.

To Consider

The biggest disadvantage of Education Success is that it has only one 25-year term length available for borrowers. But, you can choose to pay back your funds without a prepayment penalty if you would like. The other disadvantage is that Education Success only offers mixed interest rates. This could be an issue for some borrowers looking to lock in low interest rates today. If you are worried that interest rates will rise in the short term, you should select an option with a fixed interest rate.

Bottom Line

The Education Success college debt refinancing and consolidation program is a great option for people who want:

  • To lower their monthly payments
  • Zero prepayment penalties
  • A longer 25 year term length
  • Consolidate federal and private college debt
  • Want a personalized customer service experience

Education Success is one of the top lenders for student loan refinancing and consolidation. Here are more details to help you determine if it's the right choice for you:

  • Private student loan consolidation for private and federal student debt
  • 25 year repayment term
  • 1-Year Fixed 4.99% APR then variable rate for the remaining term
  • 5-Year Fixed 5.99% APR then variable rate for the remaining term
  • 10-Year Fixed 7.99% APR then variable rate for the remaining term
  • AutoPay: 0.25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments via ACH
  • No origination fees
  • ​Must have graduated at least 30 months prior to application date
  • ​Have a minimum of $5,000 ($15,001 if in Kentucky) in student debt
  • ​Supply acceptable proof of income of at least $24,000 annually
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and continue to be a permanent resident of DC or any state in the continental United States other than AZ, IA, IL or WI

iHelp Student Loans

iHelp Student Loans is a smaller student loan organization working to help graduates best manage their debt. iHelp recently launched a student loan consolidation service with its lender partners. iHelp matches student debt borrowers with smaller and community banks. Community banks, like credit unions, usually focus in on one particular geographical area. Community banks are eager to help customers manage their student obligations. With iHelp’s undergraduate Loan Consolidation program, more community banks can get into the undergraduate loan market.

Community banks are known to offer some great interest rates and even better customer service. Keep reading below to figure out how to consolidate student loans and how to refinance student loans with iHelp.

The Basics

iHelp offers competitive student debt refinancing and consolidation rates and terms to prospective borrowers. The company has two different rates depending on if you apply with or without a cosigner. If you apply with a cosigner, rates start at 6.00%, or 6.22% APR. If you apply without a cosigner, your starting rate could be 7.00%, or 7.21% APR. All of iHelp’s consolidation rates are fixed rates. Your monthly payment and total cost will not change with iHelp’s student loan consolidation program.

iHelp does charge its borrowers a supplemental fee at the time of disbursement. iHelp charges 2 percent on top of the balance as a fee for processing the new student loan. However, most other lenders these days do not charge disbursement fees.

iHelp only allows borrowers from certain schools to apply to its program to consolidate student debt, but the approved school list is fairly large. The participating schools are in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

The reason that iHelp only allows certain schools is that the community bank partners tend to only focus on certain geographical regions.

In order to qualify you must be creditworthy. According to iHelp’s website, creditworthy means:

  • Has not had open collections or charge offs in the past 2 years
  • Does not have bankruptcies, foreclosures, or repossessions during the past 5 years
  • Has not defaulted on a federal or private undergraduate loan
  • Meets the minimum credit score
  • Has at least 2 years of credit history
  • The borrower or cosigner must have an annual income of $24,000 or greater for the past 2 years to qualify for the iHELP Consolidation Fixed Rate Program
  • Does not exceed the debt-to-income threshold of 45%

Also, additional credit criteria may apply. iHelp's consolidation loan is administered by the Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC) and sponsored by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA). Loans are funded by an iHELP originating lender.

The Benefits

iHelp offers a number of benefits to its student loan consolidation customers.

Our favorite benefit offered by iHelp is its cosigner release benefit. Having a creditworthy cosigner can really help you get approved for the iHelp consolidation program. After 24 month, you have the ability to release your cosigner from the loan. You must have made all 24 monthly payments on time to do this. You must also meet iHelp’s credit requirements in order to qualify for cosigner release. Even so, cosigner release is an awesome benefit to offer.

If you refinance with iHelp, you will have the choice of three different repayment options. Of course, you can just choose the standard repayment, but there are a other options to consider. iHelp offers interest-only payments for 24 months. This is a great option for borrowers looking to temporarily lower their monthly payment. iHelp also offers graduated repayment. This option allows borrowers to make interest-only payments for a set period of time and then gradually, over time, the payment amount increases until the borrower is making the full principal and interest payments.

iHelp even offers forbearance options to borrowers. If you fall into a financial rut, iHelp can help you delay your monthly payments with forbearance.

To Consider

iHelp’s student loan consolidation interest rates tend to be a little high. If you are a highly qualified candidate, you can probably get a lower interest rate from another student loan refinance lender.

Moreover, the supplemental fee charge by iHelp is expensive, at 2 percent of the balance. You need to factor in the costs of this fee when considering iHelp’s interest rates. The APR rate will include the supplemental fee.

Bottom Line

The iHelp Student Loan Consolidation program can be a good option for some borrowers who:

  • Want to consolidate college debt
  • Are interested in cosigner release
  • Want interest-only payment plans
  • Want a community bank lender

At LendEDU, we give iHelp a stamp of approval. You can check out its website for more information and to get started. Here are more details to help you figure out if this is the right choice for you.

  • Rates start at 6.00%, or 6.22% APR
  • 15 year term length
  • Only fixed rate options
  • Cosigner release is available after 24 months
  • Interest-only payments are available for 24 months
  • Graduated payments available
  • Community bank lenders
  • School must be on its accepted school list

Laurel Road

Based out of Darien, Connecticut, Laurel Road (A Division of Darien Rowayton Bank, or DRB), is known for its low rates and narrow interest rate ranges. The company offers its customers a number of term lengths with variable and fixed interest rate options. Borrowers may refinance and consolidate both federal and private student loans together into a new private loan.

The Basics
  • Fixed APR: 3.25% - 7.13% APR
  • Variable APR: 2.89% - 7.38% APR
  • 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 Years
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 - No Max
  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Eligible Loan Types: Federal and Private
  • Fees: No Fees

Laurel Road offers variable interest rates ranging from 2.89% to 7.38% APR. Alternatively, if you prefer a fixed rate, you can expect to land somewhere between 3.25% and 7.13% APR. These rates include an interest rate discount of 0.25% for signing up for autopay.

Laurel Road offers term lengths of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years. Also, there is no penalty for paying off your loan early.

Laurel Road evaluates each applicant on an individual basis, which might help some applicants who might not qualify through a more traditional underwriting process. Borrowers must have an excellent credit profile and good income to qualify. However, applying with a cosigner can improve your chances of getting approved.

Laurel Road's application is straightforward and easy to complete. Additionally, it doesn't take long and you can find out if you are eligible relatively quickly.

The Benefits
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction for setting up AutoPay
  • Economic hardship support
  • Loan balance discharge if borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled

Laurel Road offers borrowers 10 options to refinance and consolidate student loans - the most compared to the other student loan refinance and consolidation lenders on the market. This can help borrowers find an option that meets their financial objectives.

Laurel Road has zero origination fees and no prepayment penalties. For borrowers who are trying to pay off their debt quickly, the latter feature is especially important.

To Consider

In general, Laurel Road looks for applicants with good credit, very strong income, and low debt-to-income ratios. Having a cosigner can greatly improve your chances of being approved.

Bottom Line

​The Laurel Road student loan refinance and consolidation program could be a great option for people who want to:

  • Lower their monthly payment
  • Lock in low interest rates
  • Choose from a variety of term lengths
  • Consolidate federal and private student debt

​Laurel Road is one of the best student loan refinancing lenders. But consider these points to see if it's the right choice for you:

  • Refinancing and consolidation for graduate and undergraduate, private and federal college debt
  • Must have achieved a bachelor's or graduate degree
  • PLUS loans have become a popular option for parents with college students. Laurel Road allows parents of degree holders to get lower interest rates on PLUS loans after the child is working and has received their degree. The parent can choose to apply in their name, or their child's name.
  • 3.14% – 7.25% APR fixed rate (with AutoPay)
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year repayment terms
  • Moderate credit score, salary, and debt-to-income requirements
  • No origination fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction with automatic payments via ACH. The automatic payments are a free service for borrowers.