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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

How to Refinance Student Loans Without a Degree

Refinancing student loans can lower interest rates and make monthly payments more manageable. While many lenders require that borrowers have graduated to be eligible for refinancing, we’ve found four lenders that refinance student loans without a degree.

Review these lenders’ eligibility requirements and terms below.

What lenders will refinance student loans without a degree?

The four lenders below can refinance private and federal student loans for borrowers without a degree.

LendersOur ratingLoan amounts
Earnest4.3$5,000 – $500,000
Citizens Bank4.1$10,000 – $750,000
PNC3.8$10,000 – $25,000

Keep reading for more about each lender.


  • Editorial rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Refinancing without a degree requires: More than six years out of school, a credit score of 700 or above, and the school attended cannot be for-profit

Earnest offers refinancing solutions with flexible repayment options. Borrowers can choose a term length from five to 20 years to ensure monthly payments align with their budget. Earnest’s repayment assistance programs stand out, including deferment during unemployment or hardship and forbearance options.

  • Rates (APR): Starting at 4.96%
  • Rate discounts: 0.25% autopay
  • Loan amounts: Starting at $5,000
  • Repayment terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Fees: None

Citizens Bank

  • Editorial rating: 4.1 out of 5
  • Refinancing without a degree requires: At least 12 qualifying payments on your original student loan after leaving school

Citizens Bank stands out with no application, origination, or disbursement fees. Repayment terms range from five to 20 years. Existing Citizens Bank members are eligible for a 0.25% rate discount.

  • Rates (APR): 6.80% – 12.02%
  • Rate discounts: 0.25% loyalty discount, 0.25% autopay discount
  • Loan amounts: Starting at $10,000
  • Repayment terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
  • Fees: Late payment fees


  • Editorial rating: 4.1 out of 5
  • Refinancing without a degree requires: Debt must have funded attendance at an eligible not-for-profit, degree-granting institution

MEFA, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, is mission-driven in helping students and families nationwide access higher education. Founded in 1982, MEFA offers a variety of financing solutions, including private education loans, college savings plans, and refinancing options.

One distinguishing aspect of MEFA is that it only offers fixed rates. While this may limit flexibility, it provides a stable monthly payment. However, MEFA’s transparency on cosigner policies, repayment assistance, and other details is not as clear as other lenders.

  • Rates (APR): 5.75%8.50%
  • Rate discounts: None disclosed
  • Loan amounts: Starting at $10,000
  • Repayment terms: 7, 10, or 15 years
  • Fees: Late payment fees


  • Editorial rating: 3.8 out of 5
  • Refinancing requirements without a degree: Must be out of school and making payments to refinance

PNC Bank, one of the largest banks in the U.S., provides various services, including student loan refinancing. Although refinancing doesn’t require graduation, it has specific stipulations, such as not being in school when applying and having already started to repay the loans you wish to refinance.

  • Rates (APR): 8.99%16.74%
  • Rate discounts: 0.50% autopay
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 – $25,000
  • Repayment terms: 10 or 15 years
  • Fees: Late payment fees

How to refinance student loans without a degree

Refinancing student loans without a degree can open doors to better interest rates and payment terms. If you’re considering this path, follow these steps to make the process smooth:

  1. Assess your financial situation: Understand your current loan details, including interest rates, loan amounts, whether your loans are private or federal, and your credit score.
  2. Prequalify with several lenders: Many lenders offer prequalification that doesn’t hurt your credit score. Prequalify with several that specialize in nongraduates to see your potential rates.
  3. Compare offers: Review interest rates, repayment terms, and potential discounts from each lender.
  4. Choose the best offer: Select the lender that provides the best terms for your needs.
  5. Complete the application: Submit all required documents and complete the application with your chosen lender.
  6. Wait for approval: Lenders may take time to review your application. Stay in communication and respond to any additional information requests.
  7. Finalize the loan: Once approved, sign the loan agreement, and the lender will pay off your old loans.

Ask the expert

Erin Kinkade


When you’re refinancing student loans, be sure to gather your income and expense documentation and create a budget if you don’t already have one to calculate what payments you can afford. Then, begin comparing and contrasting lenders. Also, consider removing a cosigner if you have one or adding a cosigner for more favorable refinance rates.

What comes next after I apply?

After applying, you’ll wait for approval, which can take a few days to a few weeks. During this time, continue making payments on your current loans and be ready to respond to any inquiries from the lender.

How long does refinancing take?

The entire refinancing process can vary, but it often takes two to three weeks. This time frame includes prequalification, application review, approval, and the final payoff of your old loans. Factors such as required documentation and lender responsiveness can affect the timeline.


It’s crucial to continue paying on your loans until the refinancing process is complete. Failing to do so could lower your credit score and have a negative impact on your credit report.

By following this guide, you can navigate the refinancing process and take control of your financial future even without a degree. Always consult with a financial professional to ensure this path aligns with your overall financial goals.

Should you refinance your student loans? Our expert weighs in

Erin Kinkade


I would ask the following questions: What are the borrower’s goals with refinancing? (For example, do they want to save money on the overall cost, lower their monthly payments, or remove a cosigner?) Which type of loans do they have—federal or private? If they have federal loans, do they need the benefits they provide? If so, they shouldn’t refinance into a private loan. What changes in income and cash flow have they experienced, and do they anticipate more? What fits their budget? Finally, I’d urge them to consider the interest rate environment. (If overall rates are down, this might be a more appealing time to refinance than a high-rate environment.) The most critical factors are any changes in income and expenses as well as their overall cash flow.

Alternatives to refinancing student loans

Refinancing might not be the best solution for everyone without a degree due to the limited number of lenders. Other ways to manage student loans may better align with your financial goals and circumstances.

Direct Consolidation Loan

Direct loan consolidation allows you to combine multiple federal student loans into one loan with a single loan servicer, and you don’t need a degree to be eligible. This option simplifies repayment and may give you access to alternative repayment plans. Here’s what you should know:

  • Interest rate: The weighted average of the interest rates of the loans being consolidated, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth percent.
  • Repayment plans: Access to income-driven repayment plans, extended repayment, and other federal loan benefits.
  • No fees: Consolidation through the federal government is free.
  • Considerations: You can’t consolidate private student loans through this method.

Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans

If your federal student loan payments are high compared to your income, an IDR plan may be an excellent solution for those trying to refinance without a degree. These plans include:

Key features:

  • Monthly payments: Calculated based on your income and family size.
  • Loan forgiveness: After making payments for 20 to 25 years, the remaining balance might be forgiven.
  • Eligibility: Must have eligible federal student loans; no degree required.

Explore forgiveness or deferment options

Other alternatives include seeking loan forgiveness through programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), or considering deferment or forbearance if facing financial hardship. These options may be accessible even if you didn’t graduate.

Key details:

  • Loan forgiveness: Specific programs might forgive part or all your loan balance if you meet eligibility criteria.
  • Deferment: Postpone payments; interest may still accrue.
  • Forbearance: Temporarily reduction or halt payments; interest will accrue.

Private lender repayment options

If you have private student loans, speak with your lender about potential repayment options tailored to your situation. Certain private lenders may offer:

  • Flexible repayment plans: Adjustments to payment amount or term.
  • Forbearance options: Short-term relief if you are facing financial difficulties.

Understanding and exploring these alternatives can help you find the right path for managing your student loans. It’s wise to consult with a financial professional to assess which option best suits your unique needs and goals.


Can I refinance student loans without a degree?

Yes, you can refinance student loans without a degree. Many lenders require a degree to refinance, but some offer options for those without one, including the five lenders we covered above. 

Refinancing without a degree may be available if you meet other criteria, such as a solid credit history and a stable income. It’s essential to shop around and consult with various lenders to understand the specific eligibility requirements and find a suitable refinancing option.

What are the basic requirements to refinance a student loan without a degree?

Most private lenders require a credit check, employment verification, or proof of income, as well as a history of on-time payments on the loans you want to refinance.

Can I consolidate federal student loans without having graduated?

Yes, Direct Consolidation is possible without a degree. You must meet specific criteria to do so.

How does refinancing without a degree affect interest rates?

Some lenders may offer competitive rates, while others might charge more. It’s essential to shop around.

What are the potential drawbacks of refinancing without a degree?

You might lose federal protections, and some lenders might impose stricter terms.

Is a cosigner necessary for refinancing without a degree?

Some lenders may require a cosigner, but others might not, depending on your credit score and financial situation.

How will refinancing without a degree affect my credit score?

As with any refinancing, you may see a dip in your credit score, but responsible repayment can improve it over time.