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Refinance Student Loans

When preparing for college, one of the first things most students do is fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with the U.S. Department of Education. This gives you access to financial aid, including grants (essentially free money for college), federal work-study, and federal student loan programs.

As a general rule, federal student loans are better than private student loans when it comes to financing the portion of your college education not covered by grants, scholarships, or savings.

This is because federal student loans are backed by the federal government, have some of the most minimal eligibility requirements, and offer some of the best rates and repayment plan options. In addition, federal student loans generally do not require a co-signer.

That said, there are limits to how much you can borrow in federal student loans. If you reach that limit and still need funding to cover the cost of education, private student loans can help you out. This page aims to provide you with everything you need to know about private student loans.

Lender Range of APRs Repayment
Lengths
Minimum Credit Score
Splash Financial See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.89% - 6.15% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.54% - 6.25% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5, 7, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

Commonbond See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.99% - 6.84% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.83% - 6.74% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

College Ave See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
3.24% - 8.49% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
3.34% - 8.49% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5-20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

Discover Student Loans See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.99% - 5.74%* VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.99% - 6.74%* FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

10 or 20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

SoFi See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.99% - 6.59% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.49% - 6.94% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

Lend Key See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.99% - 8.55% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.95% - 8.77% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

Earnest See Loan Fact Sheet

VARIABLE-rate APRs
1.88% - 5.64% VARIABLE-rate APRs
FIXED-rate APRs
2.44% - 5.79% FIXED-rate APRs

Repayment Length:

5-20 years

Minimum Credit Score:

Not disclosed

The Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing your student loans can come with many benefits. We’ve briefly mentioned a few above, but you can find a more detailed list here.

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Lower Interest Rates

If done wisely, refinancing can lower your interest rates, which not only can lower your monthly payment but also lower the total cost of the loan over the life of the loan. Be careful, however. If you refinance with a longer repayment term, this can negate the net effect of a lower interest rate. It’s a good idea to do the math and determine the total repayment amount for each new loan option.

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Reduced Monthly Payments

Depending on which lender you choose, you may have the option for more flexible repayment terms when you refinance your student loans. If you choose a longer repayment term, for instance, this could help you lower your monthly payment.

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Better Repayment Terms

When you refinance, your repayment terms can also change for the better. Depending on your financial situation, you might find longer repayment terms better because they lower your monthly payment, or you might find shorter terms better because you can pay off the loan more quickly and with less interest. (Note that lenders generally don’t charge prepayment penalties, so paying off loans sooner is usually an option, regardless of your current repayment plan.)

Different lenders also have different policies about missed payments, forbearance, and deferment. Always make sure you know what they are to determine if the differences are in your favor.

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Student Loan Consolidation

Refinancing is an opportunity for consolidating. When you refinance through a new lender, your existing loans are paid off, and you just have a single loan from your new lender and one monthly payment. Consolidating doesn’t necessarily result in lower monthly payments, but it can simplify repayment significantly. Note that moving to a federal Direct Consolidation Loan is free for your federal student loans.

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Free Your Co-Signer

95% of private student loans require a co-signer, but many of these private student loan lenders will also offer a “co-signer release” after a certain number of on-time payments (and a stringent credit and income test to determine the borrower’s eligibility). While not all lenders will offer a co-signer release, one way to free the co-signer on your original student loan debt from any responsibility is by refinancing and taking out the new loan in your name only.

A Note About Federal Student Loans

As you consider your refinancing options, what decisions you make may depend on whether you have federal student loans, private student loans, or both. When it comes to federal education loans, there is a wide variety of repayment options – many more than you will likely find with any private lender – including several income-based repayment plans.

Because of this, it’s often in your best interest to work with your federal loan servicer to adjust payment options as needed if you’re having difficulty making payments or to arrange forbearance or deferment. It’s also possible to consolidate your federal loans with your federal loan servicer so that you only have one student loan payment each month and a fixed interest rate (the weighted average of all current rates rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent).

The federal student loan program also has options for loan forgiveness, such as its Public Service Loan Forgiveness program or the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. In extenuating circumstances, like COVID-19, student loans may also be frozen, requiring zero payment. If any forgiveness option applies to you, it’s definitely in your best interest not to refinance your federal loans with a private lender.

While going from federal student loans to a private lender when refinancing can limit your repayment options and limit access to loan forgiveness programs, if the lowest rates are coming from a private lender, it may still be a financially sound decision to refinance federal student loans with a private lender.

However, note that while federal loans can be refinanced with private lenders, private loans can’t be consolidated with a federal loan. So, when it comes to refinancing your private student loans, your goal is to find the best private lender – whether it’s a bank, credit union, or online lender – with the best rates and terms.

What You Need to Do to Refinance Student Loans

Here, we break down everything you need to know about student loan refinancing, including how to do your research and find the right loan, the application process and what it takes to get approved, and how to repay the new loan.

Research
Research

Research

Before choosing a lender, you need to do your research and compare prospective lenders. Keep in mind, as mentioned, that refinancing federal student loans comes with different considerations.

The following are some things to explore for each lender you’re considering:

  • How interest rates compare
  • Whether variable- or fixed-rate loans are available
  • What the loan minimums and loan limits are
  • If there are any origination fees
  • If discounts are offered for making automatic payments
  • Repayment plan options and repayment terms
  • How the lender determines creditworthiness
  • Whether there are any special offerings or borrower benefits, like an annual skipped payment, access to a financial adviser, or a loyalty discount for borrowers who need to open a new account

List your top choices and carefully weigh the pros and cons of each. Note that some lenders will allow you to prequalify with a soft credit check, after which you’ll be able to see what rates you have qualified for. This can help you decide between your final choices.

Apply
Apply

Apply

Once you’ve done your research and chosen a lender, it’s time to apply and complete the loan application. If you are new to using credit cards or your credit report score is less than desirable, you will want to enlist a co-signer to improve your possible loan rates or odds of qualifying.

While loan applications vary, you will typically be required to provide your personal information, and they will look at your credit report, other debt, and income history. You can often complete these applications online.

Note that the decisioning process usually happens fast, and many private lenders respond quickly to loan applications. Still, it’s a good idea to complete the process at least a few weeks before you hope to be on a new payment plan. Always keep paying on your existing loans until the new loan is complete.

Repay
Repay

Repay

Once you accept the new loan, the new lender will pay off your existing loans and begin sending you monthly bills for repayment. Make sure you keep up with on-time payments so that you can avoid late fees and credit problems down the road.

Ask if autopay is an option. Autopay makes it easy to submit payments on time, and it usually comes with a slight interest rate discount. You should also consider making extra payments to pay the loan off early, if possible, since doing so will save you money in the long run.

If you find that you’re unhappy with your new loan terms – or if prevailing interest rates go lower – it’s possible to refinance again.

Individual Student Loan Refinance Provider Fact Sheet

As mentioned, it’s important to do your research. CollegeFinance.com aims to make that easier for borrowers in repayment by doing the legwork for you. Below are individual fact sheets for each provider.

Splash Financial

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.89% - 6.15%

Fixed APR: 2.54% - 6.25%

  • Low rates from top lenders and credit unions
  • No fees
  • Check your rates without affecting your credit score
  • Easy online application

N/A

N/A

Splash Financial offers refinancing for federal, private, and Parent PLUS loans that were taken out for undergraduate or graduate school. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Splash Financial offers loans in all 50 states through a network of partner lenders, which enables them to offer the best possible rates. Application may require you to become a member of a credit union, but they also allow spouses to refinance their loans together. There is no maximum loan amount, but the minimum loan amount is $5,000. Application is free and there are no origination fees.

Commonbond

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.99% - 6.84%

Fixed APR: 2.83% - 6.74%

  • No hidden fees. Ever
  • The only lender with a Social Mission – you book a loan, we help build a school
  • Award-winning Care Team that actually answers your calls, texts & emails
  • Best-in-class protections

N/A

N/A

Recently named the Most Innovative Company in Education by Fast Company, Commonbond offers the ability to quickly check your rates without impact on your credit score. Their loans come with up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan, and no application or origination fees. Moreover, Commonbond will cover the cost of a child’s education in the developing world when you take out a loan with them. Both undergraduate and graduate private and federal student loans may be consolidated, and borrowers have access to individualized financial advice.

Disclosures
College Ave

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 3.24% - 8.49%

Fixed APR: 3.34% - 8.49%

  • Check your rate in 1 minute
  • Choice of how long you take to repay the loan – 5 through 20 year terms
  • Maximum loan amount of $300,000
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction when you make required payments by automatic debit

N/A

N/A

Delaware-based College Avenue entered into the student lending business in 2014 and offers refinancing loans to both student and parent borrowers for federal and private loans in all 50 states. You can find out what loan rate you qualify for in just one minute with no impact on your credit score, and this company prioritizes making the application process as stress-free as possible. Flexible terms allow you to repay loans of $5,000 and up over a period of between 5 and 20 years with no application or origination fees.

Disclosures
Discover Student Loans

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.99% - 5.74%*

Fixed APR: 2.99% - 6.74%*

  • Zero application or origination fees
  • No cosigner required
  • FDIC insured

N/A

N/A

A name in the financial sector for over a century, Discover Bank began offering private student loans in 2010. Loan consolidation and refinancing is offered for 10 or 20 year terms only, which makes this choice less flexible than some other options. However, there are no origination or application fees, and they offer consolidation loans as small as $5,000 and up to the full cost of your education. Both private and federal student loans may be consolidated and refinanced. Application can be done online in just 15 minutes or less, with 30-45 day processing time.

Disclosures
SoFi

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.99% - 6.59%

Fixed APR: 2.49% - 6.94%

  • Easy online application!
  • No origination fees, late fees, and no insufficient fund fees. Period
  • Flexible repayment options to help you find the right loan for you
  • 0.25% discount when you set up autopay*

N/A

N/A

SoFi offers refinance and consolidation for private and federal undergraduate and graduate loans. In addition to a pretty common 0.25 percent autopay discount, they offer an additional 0.125 percent off your rate if you are a SoFi customer with an eligible account. Additional perks include free career coaching and financial advice, and the ability to check your rate in just 2 minutes without affecting your credit score. In fact, they will give you $10 of “SoFi Money” just for checking your rate, and an additional $350 if you refinance with them. Special refinancing options for medical professionals and residents as well as Law and MBA students are also available.

Disclosures
Lend Key

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.99% - 8.55%

Fixed APR: 2.95% - 8.77%

  • 2-Minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Network of 300+ community lenders means higher chances for approval and lower rates
  • Available for private and federal, undergraduate and grad school student loans
  • 0.25% Interest Rate Reduction with automatic payments
  • One of the largest unemployment protection offers in the market; up to 18 months
  • Cosigner release available after 12 monthly payments

N/A

N/A

LendKey matches borrowers with one of 13,000+ community financial institutions in order to create transparent, low-cost borrowing options. Check your rates without impacting your credit score quickly and easily on LendKey’s online platform, and choose repayment terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. Minimum loan amounts are $5,000, except in Arizona ($10,001), Connecticut ($15,001), and Massachusetts ($6,000), with loan maximums of $125,000 for undergraduate degrees, $175,000 for graduate degrees, and $300,000 for select medical degrees. Application is free, there are no origination fees, and both federal and private loans may be refinanced and consolidated.

Earnest

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Variable APR: 1.88% - 5.64%

Fixed APR: 2.44% - 5.79%

  • Lower rates based on your future potential and full financial profile, not just your FICO score
  • Flexible terms that let you pick your exact monthly payment or switch between fixed and variable rates
  • Lifetime service provided in-house. Unlike other lenders, we will never pass you off to third-party servicers
  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or loan disbursement
  • Two-minute rate check with no obligation or impact to your credit score

N/A

N/A

Founded in 2013, Earnest offers refinancing for federal and private graduate and undergraduate student loans. Earnest offers a feature in which borrowers may skip one payment every 12 months without penalty, though all skipped payments count towards a lifetime forbearance limit of 12 months. You can quickly check your rate online without impacting your credit score. Earnest also claims a 5 star rating on Trustpilot as well as an A+ Better Business Bureau grade. They offer some of the most flexible repayment options, including allowing monthly or biweekly payments, the ability to change your payment date anytime, and repayment terms ranging from 5 years to 15 years. Earnest loans are not available in Nevada.

Refinancing Student Loan FAQs

Check below for answers if you still have questions about refinancing your student loans.

The best time to refinance your student loans is when you’re in a strong financial position and interest rates are low. After working for a few years, you’ll have had time to build your credit history and show consistency with repayment. This makes you attractive to prospective lenders.

There can be. If you refinance at a higher interest rate or for longer repayment terms, the refinance can end up costing you more money in the long run. If you have federal student loans and refinance them with a private lender, you may miss out on the flexibility and loan forgiveness options available.

In general, you don’t pay any additional money upfront. In fact, you might even get to skip a payment if the timeline works out.

Which lender is best can vary based on your financial situation, goals, and amount of debt. Check out our list of the top student loan refinance lenders above to learn more.

Refinance Your Student Loans Today

If you’re ready to refinance your student loans, let CollegeFinance.com help you with the research and provide you with everything you need to know about paying off student debt. Click the links in the lender fact sheet to learn more about each refinance option.

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