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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

Should You Refinance Student Loans With a Cosigner?

Updated Jun 19, 2023   |   9-min read

It’s possible to refinance student loans with a cosigner, but whether it’s the right choice depends on how it affects you and your cosigner.

Here’s how to determine whether refinancing your student loans with a cosigner is the best choice for both parties involved.

In this guide:

How does a cosigner affect your ability to refinance?

A cosigner is often a trusted friend or relative who agrees to sign as an additional loan borrower. This means your cosigner is responsible for repaying your student loan balance if you stop making payments. 

If you’re concerned about getting approved for a student loan refinance, a cosigner might help in the following ways. 

  • Better loan terms: If your cosigner has a higher credit score than you, they may be able to help you secure better loan terms—such as a lower interest rate or fewer fees—than you might get on your own. 
  • Stronger application: If you don’t have a long credit history, but your cosigner does, they might be able to vouch for you with the loan. Your lender will consider your and your cosigner’s credit history when deciding. 
  • Meet the requirements: Lenders have specific requirements for loans. These can range from income amounts to age. If you don’t meet the requirements, a cosigner might help. 

What are risks to a cosigner on a student loan refinance?

You and your potential cosigner should consider the following risks before you make a decision:

  • Harm to credit score: How you handle your student loan affects your cosigner. Missed payments can harm their credit score as well as your own. 
  • Responsibility to pay: Your cosigner is responsible for the loan balance, and the loan contributes to their overall debt balance. So if payments are past due, the lender can try to collect the money from you and your cosigner. 
  • Ability to borrow in the future: Your loan is considered the debt of your cosigner as much as it is your own. That means your loan is considered when your cosigner applies for a new auto loan or mortgage. If your loan raises your cosigner’s debt ratio too high, it might affect their future plans.
  • It’s difficult to back out: A cosigner may be able to relinquish responsibility for the loan through cosigner release, but requires a high credit rating and sufficient on-time payment history. The lender and borrower must agree to the release, and some companies don’t offer the option.

Companies that allow you to refinance student loans with a cosigner

The following companies allow you to refinance student loans with a cosigner. It’s always a good idea to shop around and ensure you get the best terms available.

College Ave

  • Refinance with a variable or fixed rate
  • No application or origination fees
  • Choose from 11 repayment terms

College Ave makes it easy to understand your refinance options and whether it’s in your best interest to do so. It offers flexible loan options, but the cosigner release length is longer than most.

  • Rates (APR): 4.44% – 8.99%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $150,000 ($300,000 for certain medical degrees)
  • Repayment terms: 5 – 15 years
  • Cosigner release: Available after half the original payment term


  • You’ll be assigned a single Student Loan Advisor
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Prequalify and see personalized savings with no impact on your credit

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) is an established lending platform with a management team that boasts over 30 years of experience. The application process is straightforward, and decisions are quick.

  • Rates (APR): 3.52% – 7.64%
  • Loan amounts: $10,000+
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Cosigner release: Not available, but you can refinance again to remove the cosigner


  • SoFi members gain access to career coaching, financial advice, and more
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

SoFi is an easy-to-use online lender that allows you to refinance student loans with a cosigner. The cosigner release option is shorter than most.

  • Rates (APR): 4.49% – 8.99%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000+
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Cosigner release: Available after 24 months of full principal and interest payments

Laurel Road

  • Extra rate discounts if you open a Laurel Road Linked CheckingSM account
  • No application or origination fees
  • Check your rate without impacting your credit

Laurel Road offers competitive refinancing terms for student loans and doesn’t have a maximum loan amount. This can be beneficial for professions that require extensive schooling.

  • Rates (APR): 3.74% – 6.55%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000+
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Cosigner release: Available after 36 on-time payments


  • Offers payment assistance programs
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

U-fi from Nelnet Bank is a reputable student loan refinance option. It has competitive interest rates and the backing of one of the nation’s largest loan providers, Nelnet Bank.

  • Rates (APR): 4.49%13.25%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000$500,000
  • Repayment terms: 5 – 25 years
  • Cosigner release: Available after 24 consecutive on-time payments

When refinancing student loans with a cosigner makes sense

When you refinance your student loans with a cosigner, you can benefit as a primary borrower. 

Here are several scenarios where it might make sense to use a cosigner.

If you need to increase your chances of approval

Refinance applications are more likely to be approved when you have a qualified cosigner than when you apply on your own—especially if you’re just out of college, don’t have good credit, or don’t have a high income.

If you already applied but are looking for better terms

Because a qualified cosigner reduces the riskiness of the loan, lenders are often more willing to offer loans with favorable terms and low rates when you have a cosigner.

If you don’t qualify to refinance on your own

If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, many lenders require you to have financial backing from someone who lives in the U.S. to obtain a loan. In this scenario, it might be helpful to have a U.S. citizen cosigner.

If you have a family member who wants to help

To reap the benefits of a cosigner, find someone with good credit and a solid income who is willing to help. It’s common for student loan borrowers to ask a parent, grandparent, or other older relative to take on this responsibility. 

When refinancing student loans with a cosigner doesn’t make sense

Scenarios where it might not make sense to have a cosigner include the following.

If you can’t find a suitable cosigner

Many people are unwilling to be cosigners because of the impact cosigning could have on their finances. And even if someone is willing, they may not be eligible to be a cosigner, or their cosigning may not help you much.

If you don’t want to mix money and relationships

Mixing family and money can create problems. Asking relatives to serve as cosigners could be a tense conversation, and there may be hard feelings if they say no. 

But if they say yes, you could damage their credit if you miss payments, which could also harm your relationship with them.

If you can’t commit to paying on time

Since the cosigner is legally responsible for repaying your debt, your financial actions can affect them. Nonpayment could ruin the cosigner’s credit, and they could get stuck with the bill. 

Even if you pay, the additional debt on the cosigner’s credit could affect their ability to qualify for other loans because your debt raises their debt-to-income ratio (debt relative to income).

What to do before you refinance student loans with a cosigner

Once you decide refinancing your student loan with a cosigner is the right decision, you’re ready to take the following steps. 

Discuss the risks with a cosigner

It’s essential you both understand what cosigning entails.

Discuss the questions below with your cosigner:

  • Do they know the loan will appear on their credit report and contribute to their overall debt balance? Do they understand the ramifications for future loans for the cosigner?
  • Are they comfortable being responsible for the loan balance if you fail to pay?
  • Do you and your cosigner have a good relationship and an open line of communication? If you might miss a payment, can you discuss it together and make a plan?
  • Is autopay an option? If so, this might help you avoid missed or late payments and give your cosigner additional peace of mind.
  • Does your cosigner understand the length of time they are committing to be a cosigner? Some loans will allow the cosigner to be removed after a history of on-time payments and if your credit rating is high enough. Others will not allow a cosigner to be removed.
  • Have you explored all your loan options without a cosigner, and are the loan terms with a cosigner sufficiently better that it’s worth the effort?

To answer the final question, it’s wise to use our student loan refinance calculator to figure out how much money you can save.

If your potential cosigner is unsure after this conversation, they could consider being a guarantor instead. Guarantors serve a similar role as cosigners but are only responsible for repayment if the primary borrower is in danger of defaulting on the loan. On the other hand, a cosigner is responsible for the loan from day 1. 

Find out what interest rate you qualify for with a cosigner

Determining the best interest rate requires effort, but it could save you thousands.

Here’s how to find the interest rate you qualify for with a cosigner. 

  1. Review the interest rates, application requirements, loan terms, and maximum amounts to determine which loan providers are a good fit. 
  2. Narrow your list of lenders to three or four loan providers.
  3. Fill out an application for each loan provider. The initial application will not affect your credit score as long as the lender treats it as a “soft” credit pull. (All the lenders mentioned above do a “soft” pull when you apply.)
  4. Invite your cosigner to apply as well. Most applications have a section on the application for your cosigner’s name and email address. They will get a separate application to complete.
  5. Compare interest rates and loan terms from different lenders. One very important term is the lender’s requirement for removing the cosigner. This feature could allow the cosigner to be removed from the loan after a history of on-time payments.
  6. Talk with your cosigner, and choose the lender with the best terms.