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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

Top Lenders to Refinance Law School Loans

Refinancing is a strategy where you replace a loan with a new one that has different terms. Law school graduates finish school with $160,000 of debt, on average, so refinancing may offer a way to secure lower interest rates or more manageable monthly payments to repay that debt.

Understanding when to refinance law school loans is crucial. For those considering law school loan consolidation, refinancing can offer a way to reduce costs over the life of the loan. It can be an essential part of managing law school debt.

Compare the best law school loan refinance options

Click the lender’s name in the table below to jump right to our review of its law school loan refinance program.

LenderBest forRates (APR)Our rating (out of 5)
SoFiBest online lender4.24% – 9.99%4.9View rates
CredibleBest marketplace4.40%14.25%4.8View rates
EarnestBest skip-a-payment benefitStarting at 4.96%4.8View rates
ELFIBest personalized supportStarting at 5.08% 4.8View rates
RISLABest hardship protections5.79%8.24% 4.4View rates
Nelnet BankBest term lengths5.34%14.00% 4.2View rates

The best law school loan refinance options

When it comes to refinancing law school loans, the market offers a variety of options. In our research, we’ve identified six lenders that provide the best refinance loans for law graduates. 

We’ve got you covered whether you’re looking for the best online lender or other benefits. Let’s dive into the details of each option:

SoFi

Best online lender

  • Editorial rating: 4.9
  • Excellent career services
  • Specialized law school refinance program

SoFi stands out as the top-rated online lender for refinancing law school loans. It designed its comprehensive law school refinance program to fit the unique needs of law graduates. With competitive interest rates ranging from 4.99% to 9.99% APR, SoFi’s terms can suit various financial situations.

What sets SoFi apart is its commitment to more than just lending. You can prequalify without a hard credit score hit, and SoFi members can score a 0.125% rate discount on additional loans. 

Unemployment protection, career coaching, and exclusive member events are added benefits that make SoFi an appealing choice for many law graduates.

Terms:

  • Rates: 4.99% – 9.99% APR
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – Total outstanding loan balance
  • Term lengths: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

Credible

Best marketplace

  • Editorial rating: 4.8
  • Compare rates from up to nine lenders with one application

Credible is our top choice for a marketplace offering refinancing options for law school loans. As a platform that allows comparison across various lenders, including Brazos, Citizens Bank, ELFI, and more, Credible provides flexible loan amounts, term lengths, and interest rates.

What makes Credible a standout option is its user-friendly experience. You can compare rates from up to nine lenders with just one application, and checking your rates won’t affect your credit score. Plus, there’s no cost to use the service, making it a valuable tool for those looking to explore different refinancing options.

Terms:

  • Rates: 4.40%14.25% APR
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – Total outstanding loan balance (depends on which lender you choose)
  • Term lengths: 5 – 20 years (depends on lender)

Earnest

Best skip-a-payment benefit

  • Editorial rating: 4.8
  • Rate-match guarantee with a $100 bonus
  • Sign up for biweekly automatic payments, and adjust your term down to the preferred day

Earnest stands out among lenders for refinancing law school loans with its unique skip-a-payment benefit. This feature, allowing you to skip one payment each year, offers a valuable perk for those with varying monthly expenses.

With interest rates starting at 4.96% APR and term lengths ranging from five to 20 years, Earnest also provides an array of choices to suit individual needs. The option to sign up for biweekly automatic payments, the absence of fees, and a rate-match guarantee with a $100 bonus further enhance its appeal. 

Further, Earnest’s standout ability to adjust your term down to the day to get your ideal monthly payment showcases its commitment to personalized lending solutions.

Terms:

  • Rates: Starting at 4.96% APR
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – Total outstanding loan balance
  • Term lengths: 5 – 20 years

ELFI

Best personalized support

  • Editorial rating: 4.8
  • Assigns applicants a Student Loan Advisor to assist throughout the process
  • $400 referral program

ELFI (Education Loan Finance) is notable for its focus on personalized support in refinancing law school loans. Each applicant is assigned a Student Loan Advisor to assist throughout the refinancing process. This one-on-one support ensures that borrowers have guidance tailored to their unique needs.

With loan amounts starting at $10,000 and term lengths ranging from five to 20 years, ELFI offers options that cater to various financial situations. Rates starting at 5.08% APR and no upfront fees make ELFI an attractive choice for many borrowers.

Additional benefits, such as a $400 referral program and the ability for parents to transfer Parent PLUS loans to the student, reflect ELFI’s commitment to delivering value and flexibility.

Terms:

  • Rates: Starting at 5.08% APR
  • Loan amounts: Starting at $10,000
  • Term lengths: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

RISLA

Powered by Credible

Best hardship protections

  • Editorial rating: 4.4
  • Income-based repayment plan for short-term assistance, military benefits, unfortunate incident benefit, and payment forbearance
  • Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is a nonprofit agency offering extensive student services

RISLA (Rhode Island Student Loan Authority) distinguishes itself with robust hardship protections, making it an ideal choice for those seeking safety nets in refinancing law school loans. 

With features including an income-based repayment plan, military benefits, and unfortunate incident benefits, RISLA aims to support borrowers during difficult times. It also charges no fees to borrowers.

RISLA also offers in-school refinance options with deferred repayment. As a nonprofit agency, it provides college planning services, low-cost student loans, scholarships, and more, making it a comprehensive resource for students and families.

Terms:

  • Rates: 5.79%8.24% APR
  • Loan amounts: $7,500 – $250,000
  • Term lengths: 5, 10, or 15 years

Nelnet Bank

Powered by Credible

Best term lengths

  • Editorial rating: 4.2
  • Most term lengths to choose from of any individual lender
  • Nelnet offers deferment options if needed, backed by over 40 years of experience in educational finances

Nelnet Bank leads the way in term lengths when it comes to refinancing law school loans. With options ranging from five to 20 years, it provides the most term-length choices of any individual lender, catering to various financial needs and preferences for those refinancing federal and private loans.

Beyond its flexible terms, Nelnet offers loan amounts from $1,000 to $175,000 at rates between 5.34% and 14.25%. The 0.25% autopay rate reduction and no upfront fees contribute to the attractiveness of its offerings.

The handy mobile app and customer support through phone, email, and chat demonstrate Nelnet’s dedication to accessibility and customer service.

Terms:

  • Rates: 5.34%14.25%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $175,000
  • Term lengths: 5 – 20 years

Understand which law school loans to refinance

You can categorize law school loans into two main types: federal and private. Be sure you know which type you have before deciding to refinance.


Tip

If you’re unsure whether you have federal or private student loans (or both), you can check your original loan documents, consult the Federal Student Aid website, which will list your federal loans, review your credit report, contact your lender or loan servicer’s customer service team to ask, or check your school records.


Here are several important distinctions:

FeatureFederal student loansPrivate student loans
Interest ratesFixed, often lowerVariable or fixed, may be higher
Credit check requirementGenerally not requiredOften required
Repayment optionsFlexible, income-driven plansTypically less flexible
Loan forgiveness programsAvailable with some plansRarely offered
Grace period 6 months post-graduation, leaving school, or dropping below half-time enrollmentVaries by lender
Deferment and forbearanceGenerally availableMore limited
Subsidized interest optionAvailable for some loansNot typically available
Cosigner requirementRareFrequent

When you’re exploring options to refinance law school loans, it’s vital to understand your loans’ interest rates, repayment options, and grace periods. Private lenders provide refinancing options, and the options differ by lender.

If you have federal law school loans and want to retain federal benefits, a Direct Consolidation Loan might be a wise choice instead of refinancing with a private lender. 

Here’s a quick look at the differences:

Direct Consolidation LoanPrivate student loan refinance
Eligible loansFederal student loans onlyFederal and private student loans
Interest ratesWeighted average of current ratesOften depend on credit, income, and more
Repayment optionsVarious federal repayment plansDepend on lender’s terms
Loan forgiveness programsMay retain eligibility for programsLose federal benefits
FeesNoneVary by lender
Effect on credit scoreGenerally no impactHard inquiry may affect credit score
Ability to consolidate with spouseNot allowedSome lenders may allow

If consolidating law school loans with a private lender makes the most sense in your situation, understanding the terms is crucial to make an informed decision.

Ask the expert

Erin Kinkade

CFP®

To align your law school student loan refinance with your long-term financial goals, create and prepare a current budget; project your cash flow for several years to determine what you can afford; set a realistic goal for paying off the loans; make adjustments along the way; and hire a professional if you need assistance.

How to choose a lender for law school loan refinance

Choosing the right lender for refinancing law school loans is a critical step in optimizing your financial situation. Start by getting quotes from several lenders to understand the various offers available. Compare interest rates, terms, fees, and special benefits that might align with your unique needs.

How does a marketplace (such as Credible) differ from the other lenders on the list?

A marketplace can be a terrific option if you want to explore quotes from several lenders at once.

As you can see in the image below, you’ll get a list of quotes from Credible’s partner lenders. You can sort the quotes based on the factor that’s most important to you, such as APR or monthly payments.

You can choose to filter the quotes so you only see the ones most relevant to you—and just click “Select Lender” from Credible’s page if you want to proceed with a quote.

Source: Credible

Special considerations for law school grads

  • Higher earning potential: Lawyers often have higher salaries compared to other professions. This income boost can be a positive factor for lenders that helps you secure lower interest rates.
  • Bar exam and job search: If you’re studying for the bar or looking for a job, you’ll want to check whether the lender offers deferment or grace periods.
  • Loan forgiveness programs: Law school grads often work in public service jobs initially, making them eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Refinancing federal loans means giving up this opportunity.
  • Variable vs. fixed rates: Given that lawyers can command higher salaries as they gain experience, they might be more comfortable opting for variable rates, which start lower but can increase over time.
  • Cosigners: Due to the high cost of law school, the loan amounts are often substantial. If you’re a recent grad with a limited credit history, you might need a cosigner to qualify for the lowest rates.

Once you’ve evaluated the options, choose the offer that best suits your financial goals, and apply with that lender. It requires diligence, but the potential savings and tailored loan structure can be well worth the effort and ensure you don’t miss out on benefits that could serve you better in the long run. 

For a more detailed guide on this process, be sure to check out our comprehensive article on how to refinance student loans, which provides step-by-step instructions and tips.

Alternatives to refinancing law school loans

Refinancing isn’t the only option for managing law school loans. Several alternatives can provide relief, flexibility, or other benefits, depending on your situation. Here’s a look at four alternatives:

Income-driven repayment plans

Available for federal loans, income-driven repayment plans base your monthly payments on your income and family size. These plans can offer a more manageable repayment schedule for those with variable or lower incomes.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)

PSLF is a program for federal loan borrowers who work in qualifying public service jobs, such as a public defender, government attorney, or working for nonprofit legal services. Under this program, the government will forgive the remaining balance of your loans after you make 120 qualifying monthly payments.

Consolidation

Consolidating law school loans is a way to combine multiple federal loans into one, simplifying the repayment process. While it doesn’t lower your interest rate, it can provide a more streamlined approach to managing your federal loans. Private loans are not eligible for this option.

Loan repayment assistance programs

Various loan repayment assistance programs, often provided by states, employers, or other organizations, offer financial support in repaying law school loans. These programs can apply to both federal and private loans, depending on the assistance the organization offers.

Each of these alternatives comes with its own set of considerations and may be more or less suitable depending on your individual circumstances. Taking the time to explore all options can help you find the approach that best supports your financial journey.

Law school loan refinance FAQ

Can I refinance while I’m still in law school?

Yes, certain lenders, including RISLA, offer in-school refinance options, allowing you to refinance while attending law school. It’s essential to review the terms and consult with a financial professional to determine whether this option is suitable for your situation.

Should I refinance during or after law school?

You might be able to refinance during or after law school, depending on the lender and your financial needs. Refinancing during school may offer immediate benefits, but refinancing after graduation might align with long-term goals. 

Assess your individual financial situation and consult with a financial professional to ensure you make the best decision.

Can I refinance federal and private law school loans?

Yes, you can refinance federal and private law school loans. Remember: If you refinance federal loans with a private lender, you’ll lose federal benefits, such as income-driven repayment plans and PSLF.

How do I know whether I’m eligible to refinance my law school loans?

Eligibility for refinancing depends on various factors such as credit score, income, and the lender’s specific criteria. Consult with potential lenders or a financial professional and review eligibility requirements for clarity on whether you qualify.

Can I still benefit from federal loan protections if I refinance?

Refinancing federal loans with a private lender means losing federal protections. Consider the trade-offs between potential savings through refinancing and the benefits of federal protections such as income-driven repayment and PSLF. A Direct Consolidation Loan is a way to combine all your federal loans into one but keep federal protections.

How does refinancing affect my loan term and monthly payment?

Refinancing can change your loan term and monthly payment depending on the new interest rate and selected term length. A shorter term may lead to higher monthly payments but less interest over time, and a longer term may reduce monthly payments but increase total interest paid.

Can I refinance more than once, and what’s the benefit of doing so?

Yes, you can refinance more than once. Refinancing again might allow you to take advantage of lower interest rates, better terms, or improved financial circumstances. Reviewing your loans and the market can help you identify opportunities for further refinancing.

How can refinancing law school loans affect my credit score?

Refinancing may result in a temporary dip in your credit score due to the credit inquiry. However, consistent on-time payments on the new loan can drive up your credit over time. Understanding how refinancing fits into your broader financial plan can help you navigate potential credit impacts.