Best Student Loan Refinancing in 2024. Select Your School to Get Started!
College Ave Highlights
- 0.25% interest rate reduction when you make required payments by automatic debit2
- Borrow up to 100% of your cost of attendance (minimum $1,000)1
Sallie Mae Highlights
- Lowest rates shown include Auto Debit discount.1
- Choose from multiple repayment options, including no payments while in school.1
- Ability to make payments while in school.
- Get a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments1
- Flexible repayment options
- Covers up to 100% of the school’s certified cost of attendance
- No fees for origination, disbursement, prepayment, or late payment
- Fast application and decision-making process
Union Federal Highlights
- Available to international students applying with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien
- Past Due Balance option is now extended to 12 months8
- 0.25% interest rate reduction for customers who elect auto pay6
- Multiple repayment terms and repayment options to choose from7
Custom Choice Highlights
- Multiple repayment terms and repayment options to choose from7
- 0.25% interest rate reduction for customers who elect auto pay5
- Prequalify in minutes4
- For a limited time get 0.50% interest rate reduction on new loans3
What Are the Benefits of Refinancing?
Refinancing all (or several) of your original loans into one new loan will enable you to end up with one monthly payment to one entity. Dealing with one loan servicer is likely to be easier than dealing with several each month.
You may be able to refinance co-signed private student loans. If the new refinance loan doesn’t require a co-signer, then the co-signer is released from their obligation when the original loan is converted into the new one. Note, however, that sometimes a co-signer on a student loan refinance loan might make you eligible for a better rate.
Lower Interest Rate
A key goal for those who refinance their student loans is to end up with an interest rate on the new loan that is lower than the weighted average interest rate of their original loans.
Commonly Asked Questions
No. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to refinance all or just some of your original student loans. Do the analysis suggested in the first question above to determine the weighted average interest rate of your existing student loans. If you have one or more loans that have interest rates lower than the student loan refinance loan, you might decide to keep them out of the refinancing. That way you can continue to take advantage of the lower interest rate, even as you improve the rate on the loans you do refinance.
Sometimes the terms “refinancing” and “consolidation” are used interchangeably in the context of student loans. But there is an important nuance. Student loan “consolidation” is most often used to refer to an option offered by the federal government for “consolidating” (basically, combining and refinancing) your federal student loans into one new loan. Private loans are not eligible for federal student loan consolidation. Federal student loan consolidation will result in a slightly higher interest rate on your combined loans. The new rate is the weighted average rate of the combined loans rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of a percent. You get the benefit of having one loan to manage instead of several, and you may also qualify for even more repayment benefits than the original federal student loans offered.
The term “refinancing” in the context of student loans usually indicates a privately-offered (ie, not from the government) refinancing loan.
Some borrowers “consolidate” their federal loans to maintain their liberal benefits and “refinance” their private student loans. If you have both types of loans, this is an option to consider.
Note: some private lenders – especially ones that have been offering refinancing for a long time – refer to their refinancing product as a “consolidation” loan, just to make it confusing. If the product is offered by a private lender it is not a federal consolidation loan.
Relatively hard. To be eligible to refinance student loans, a borrower has to pass a relatively stringent credit and income test. Many lenders have minimum income requirements. Most lenders are looking for a borrower to have a credit score of at least 680 (there are some exceptions), income of at least $30,000, and a debt-to-income ratio no higher than 30%.
To qualify for the best rates, a borrower’s credit and income situation needs to be considerably stronger than the approximate minimums given here.
The time to refinance varies somewhat on the lender and also depends on the number of student loans to be included in the refinancing. The slowest part of the process is gaining the exact payoff amount from each of the original lenders / loan servicers. Most lenders have developed an efficient process, so on average it takes less than a week from application approval to the origination of the new refinance loan.
Most student loan refinance lenders offer the choice of fixed and variable options. Generally, the variable rate loans will be priced lower than the fixed rate option. The trade off is that you get a lower rate now, but have exposure to rate increases if underlying interest rates increase. Your choice should be based on your personal comfort with risk. If you’re confident that rates are likely to stay low over the time you’ll be in repayment – and if you have a relatively strong level of comfort taking risk – you might opt for the lower variable rate option. On the other hand, if you think rates are likely to rise during the time you’re in repayment – and if you have a low tolerance for risk – you might opt for a fixed rate loan.
Are there any other factors I should consider (besides interest rate) when selecting a lender for refinancing my student loans?
There are several factors that should figure into your choice of lender, even beyond the interest rate offered, including:
- Borrower Benefits – Most lenders offer a rate discount for auto debit of your monthly payments, but some will include things like a further “loyalty discount” when you have a bank account or some other account with the lender.
- Customer Satisfaction – You can research lenders’ Better Business Bureau ratings, as well as independent customer reviews provided by services like Trust Pilot, to get a feel for what it will be like to deal with this lender during your repayment.
- Special Features – Some lenders offer special features on their loan such as the ability to skip one payment each year or the availability of a financial adviser. If all else is pretty much the same, these kinds of features can make a meaningful difference.