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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

SELF Refi Student Loans Review

Editor’s note: Before you read our SELF Refi review below, please note that, due to a temporary suspension, SELF Refi is not accepting new applications after February 29, 2024. The program is undergoing important changes and improvements, but the company expects to reopen by the end of 2024.

  • Minnesota residents may refinance up to $150,000 in student-borrowed loans.
  • Competitive low fixed and variable interest rates with repayment terms between 5 and 15 years.
  • Refinance loans are also available for completed postsecondary courses of study.

Launched in January 2016 by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE), the primary goal of the SELF Refi program is to offer Minnesota borrowers long-term savings on their student loan costs. 

According to the Minnesota OHE, SELF Refi is funded by the sale of bonds and patterned after another state agency program called SELF Loan. 

The program is open to borrowers with an undergraduate or graduate degree, postsecondary certificate, diploma, or associate degree. Our SELF Refi review below provides more info on whether the program might be right for you.

Our take on SELF Refi’s refinance student loans

With refinance loans available to undergraduate borrowers, graduate borrowers, and borrowers who’ve completed a postsecondary course, more Minnesota residents can opt for manageable monthly payments and lower interest rates. 

Offering five-, 10-, and 15-year terms with the choice of a fixed or variable annual percentage rate (APR), SELF Refi borrowers with an undergraduate or graduate degree can refinance $10,000 to $150,000. Borrowers who earned lower credentials can refinance $10,000 to $35,000. Eligibility is based on your credit score—and your cosigner’s, if you require one.

Refinance lenders available to applicants from all 50 states may offer similar or better refinancing options. However, for Minnesota residents with modest to low income and minimal non-student-loan debt, SELF Refi may offer a way out of high loan payments. 


Be careful if you’re considering refinancing a federal loan. Refinancing through a private lender, such as SELF Refi, means you also lose your federal loan benefits, including the possibility of loan forgiveness

Rates, terms, and more

SELF Refi’s fees, fixed APRs, and variable APRs are comparable to other private lenders. However, its loan amounts and other features are not as flexible. 

SELF Refi’s maximum is similar to its competitors, but minimum loan amounts by some refinance lenders—including some of our top-rated student loan refinance lenders—are as low as $1,000. And many lenders offer more flexible term lengths.

Forbearance is available through the program, but attractive benefits other lenders may offer, such as deferment or grace periods, are not.

Fixed rates (APR)6.00%7.00%
Variable rates (APR)7.90%9.15% 
Rate discountsNne
Loan amounts$10,000 – $150,000
Repayment terms5, 10, or 15 years
Repayment assistanceTwo 4-month forbearances over the life of the loan
Cosigner releaseAfter 48 consecutive on-time payments (and must meet eligibility requirements)
Unique featuresNo minimum income requirement

Who’s eligible to refinance student loans with SELF Refi? 

Parent PLUS Loans are not eligible through the program—only loans where you were the student borrowing the funds are considered.

In addition to being a Minnesota resident, SELF Refi lists several other criteria. 

Eligibility requirementDetails
CitizenshipU.S. citizen or permanent resident, or cosigner (excluding Colorado & Maine residents) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
State of residenceMinnesota
Employment statusSame employer for last 60 days or have spouse as cosigner 
Graduation statusCertificate, degree, or diploma
Minimum credit score700 
Minimum incomeNone
Maximum debt-to-income ratio (DTI)45%

SELF doesn’t disclose the number of its refinance loans that are cosigned, but you can qualify with a minimum 650 FICO score and a cosigner who meets credit score and income requirements:

  1. (For spouses) A minimum 700 FICO score.
    • You and your spouse’s combined DTI ratio—your monthly payment obligations divided by monthly income—cannot exceed 60%.
  2. A minimum 700 FICO score and a DTI ratio not exceeding 60%.
  3. Or a minimum 650 FICO score and a DTI ratio not exceeding 50%.

Always be sure you and your cosigner understand the agreement a cosigner commits to. A cosigner must make payments to your loan if you do not.


SELF will let you release your cosigner if you meet certain requirements, including 24 consecutive on-time monthly payments. 

How do you repay SELF Refi refinanced student loans?

Applying to SELF Refi requires creating your account on the Minnesota OHE website.

Once set up, sign in to provide your contact and identification information. The application includes six steps to complete:

  1. Loan amount
  2. Income and employment status
  3. Housing
  4. School
  5. References
  6. Authorization

After you submit the application, loan details, and documents, if you are approved and agree to accept the loan, Firstmark Services, the loan servicer, will send direct payment to your current lenders. Payments start immediately after your original loan balance is paid off. 

To begin making payments on your SELF Refi loan, you must sign into your account—or register to create an account with Firstmark Services, if you haven’t already.

According to the program’s FAQ, SELF Refi will decide the repayment term and fixed or variable APR options you can choose from based on your DTI. The program does not specify the DTI borrowers can’t exceed to select from any of the options.

Here is an example provided by SELF Refi of how repaying a $10,000 loan at different interest rates and term lengths might affect your overall cost:

Loan termLoan amountFixed interest rateTotal paid
5 years$10,0006.00%$11,606.21
10 years $10,0006.50%$13,635.24
15 years$10,0007.00%$16,192.17
Loan termLoan amountVariable interest rateTotal paid
5 years$10,0007.90%$12,146.04
10 years $10,0008.65%$14,988.18
15 years$10,0009.15%$18,435.63

As you can see, a variable rate has the potential to cost more over the long term if rates rise. Of course, the payoff to a borrower willing to take a variable rate is that if they fall, so will your rate and monthly payment.

Be sure to use SELF Refi’s Repayment Calculator to determine what refinancing your current loans would look like.

Pros and cons of SELF Refi refinance student loans 

Based on our SELF Refi review, the program offers borrowers several benefits as well as drawbacks.


  • Postsecondary courses are also eligible for refinancing.

  • No prepayment penalty.

  • Undergraduates and graduates can refinance up to $150,000.

  • Fixed and variable APRs are competitive with federal loan rates.

  • The program is funded with bond sales, not public funds.

  • Cosigner release is available.

  • No minimum income requirement.


  • Misleading statements about repayment terms borrowers can choose.

  • It’s unclear how interest rates are determined.

  • No grace period or deferment.

  • A high minimum loan amount.

  • Forbearance resets borrowers’ consecutive on-time payments.

How could SELF Refi improve?

Self could do the following to offer borrowers a better experience:

  • Broaden repayment term options.
  • Allow borrowers to choose their repayment terms.
  • Explain borrower repayment and interest rate decisions.
  • Remove misleading information.
  • Decrease the minimum loan amount.
  • Explain eligibility requirements for cosigner releases.

Check out our reviews of several other lenders or read about three others below, if you’re looking for more options beyond our SELF Refi review.

To refinance federal loans, first consider the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. It may offer features and benefits private lenders don’t offer. 

To refinance a small or sizeable loan, SoFi refinance loans offer:

  • Loans from $5,000 to total outstanding balance
  • No fees
  • Repayment terms of five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Parent PLUS refinance loans

Similar to SoFi, Earnest offers five repayment terms and a wide loan amount range. Important features include:

  • Loans from $1,000 to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • 0.25% discount for autopay
  • Skip one payment each year (optional)
  • No fees

As you decide on the lender that’s right for you, remember: A rushed decision could cost you. Always practice patience, and compare as many lenders as you need to along the way.