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Student Loans Student Loan Repayment

How to Refinance Student Loans Without a Degree

Refinancing student loans can be a wise financial move, offering the potential for lower interest rates or more manageable monthly payments. But for those without a degree, it may seem out of reach. Many private lenders mandate graduation as a prerequisite to refinancing.

However, through diligent research, we’ve uncovered five lenders that will refinance student loans without a degree. These options open doors for borrowers in various situations.

Keep reading to explore these lenders’ eligibility requirements and gain insights into how to refinance student loans without a degree. It could be the key to a more manageable financial future.

What lenders will refinance student loans without a degree?

If you’re looking to refinance student loans without a degree, the five options below are private lenders. You can refinance private and federal loans together into one private loan with these lenders.

In lieu of private student loan refinancing, Federal Direct Consolidation loans are available for borrowers with federal loans who have graduated, left school, or dropped below half-time enrollment. The loans you consolidate must be in repayment or in a grace period.

Consider the following before refinancing federal loans with a private lender:

  • Loss of federal protections: Refinancing with a private lender means you’ll lose federal benefits, including income-driven repayment plans and potential loan forgiveness.
  • Interest rates: Compare the current interest rates between federal and private options. Private loans may offer lower rates, but if they aren’t fixed-rate options, it could lead to rate increases.
  • Repayment terms: Private lenders might offer different repayment terms, which can affect your monthly payments and the total interest you pay over the loan’s life.
  • Credit requirements: Private lenders often have stricter credit requirements. Ensure your credit score and financial situation align with the lender’s criteria to avoid potential issues during the application process—or secure a creditworthy cosigner for your refinance.

We recommend considering the lenders in the table below for private student loans you want to refinance without a degree:

EarnestCitizens BankMEFAPNC
Editorial rating (out of 5)4.3
Refinance amountsStarting at $5,000 Starting at $10,000Starting at $10,000$10,000 – $25,000
Eligibility requirements for nongraduatesSee detailsSee detailsSee detailsSee details

Keep reading for more about each lender.


Best skip-a-payment benefit

  • 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
  • Unique benefits: Flexible repayment

Earnest‘s refinancing solutions are characterized by flexible repayment options. Tailoring your repayment terms to match your financial capability sets the online lender apart from many in the industry. 

Terms range from five to 20 years, allowing alignment with your budget and long-term goals.

The customized monthly payment and the ability to adjust your term down to the day provide control over the loan. Earnest’s repayment assistance programs, including deferment during unemployment or hardship and forbearance, stand out.

  • Rates (APR): Starting at 4.96%
  • Rate discounts: 0.25% autopay
  • Loan amounts: Starting at $5,000 (Higher minimums apply for residents of California and New Mexico—$10,000 and $10,001, respectively)
  • Repayment terms: 5 – 20 years
  • Repayment assistance: Deferment for unemployment or economic hardship and full-time military service; Up to one year of forbearance
  • Fees: None
  • Unique eligibility requirements: Not eligible in Nevada; Minimum credit score of 650; No history of bankruptcy; Student loan accounts must be in good standing; Must be current on rent or mortgage payments

Citizens Bank

Solid loyalty discounts

  • Editorial rating: 4.1 out of 5
  • Requirement for refinancing without a degree: At least 12 qualifying payments on your original student loan after leaving school
  • Unique benefits: No upfront fees, opportunity for loyalty and autopay discounts

Citizens Bank stands out with its no application, origination, or disbursement fees, making it an attractive choice. Repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years allow borrowers to find a suitable plan, and the available 0.25% loyalty and autopay discounts further enhance the appeal.

What sets Citizens Bank apart is refinancing options for loans in the student’s name and the parent’s name. The possibility to release your cosigner after 36 consecutive on-time payments is a feature not all lenders offer.

  • 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
  • Repayment assistance: None disclosed
  • Fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Unique eligibility requirements: Gross annual income of $12,000 (borrower and cosigner combined)


A mission-driven option with fixed rates

  • Editorial rating: 4.1 out of 5
  • Requirement for refinancing: No degree required; Debt must have funded attendance at an eligible not-for-profit, degree-granting institution
  • Unique features: Only fixed rates

MEFA, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, has a mission-driven approach to 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
  • Repayment assistance: None disclosed
  • Fees: None
  • Unique eligibility requirements: No history of default or delinquencies on education debt; No bankruptcy or foreclosure in the last 60 months; Must be the borrower on all loans being refinanced; At least 6 on-time payments in the most recent 6 months on all loans you are refinancing


A big bank with specific criteria

  • Editorial rating: 3.8 out of 5
  • Requirement for refinancing: Graduation not required; must be out of school and making payments on the loans to refinance
  • Unique features: Higher rates and lower loan amounts for nongraduates; Cosigner release after 48 months

PNC Bank, one of the largest banks in the U.S., provides a range of services, including student loan refinancing. It doesn’t require graduation for refinancing, but it has specific stipulations, such as not being in school when applying and the requirement to be paying on the loans you wish to refinance.

Borrowers without degrees face higher interest rates and lower available refinance amounts at PNC. This makes it essential to evaluate the loan’s long-term impact on your finances. The option for cosigner release after 48 consecutive on-time payments is another consideration.

  • Rates (APR): 8.99%16.74%
  • Rate discounts: 0.50% autopay
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 – $25,000
  • Repayment terms: 10 or 15 years
  • Repayment assistance: None disclosed
  • Fees: None
  • Unique eligibility requirements: Good credit history required; At least two years of continuous income from employment; Must have been repaying loans for at least 24 months

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.