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5 Best Banks to Refinance and Consolidate Student Loans

This is how much Americans owe in student loan debt.
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Did you know that over 94,000 people refinanced their student loans last year—saving an average of $18,668? Imagine a life without a student loan payment.

Beat Student Loans is helping to transform the $1.76 trillion dollar student loan debt problem by showing consumers real rates from America’s community lenders. We’re ensuring thousands of borrowers are making educated financing choices and putting themselves in the best position to repay their student loans.

Would You Qualify for Student Loan Refinancing?

Today, more than ever, various private lenders are helping student loan borrowers refinance at lower rates and save thousands of dollars in interest — that is, borrowers with good credit.

Before you decide if student loan refinancing is right for you, you should check to see if you would qualify.

Here are some common eligibility requirements:

Good Credit Score

Each lender will have a different credit score requirement, but typically you'll want to have a credit score of 700 or above.

Have a college degree

You should have graduated with an associates’ degree or higher from a Title IV school.

Employed

Most lenders require that you are employed or have sufficient income from other sources, or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.

Good Repayment history

You'll want to be current on your bills, credit cards, and other loans, including student loans.

*Once you have determined that refinancing your student loans is right for you, we would recommend reviewing your credit report. You can get your credit report for free by using AnnualCreditReport.com or Credit Sesame. If there are any discrepancies on the report, dispute them. This could improve your score and, in turn, improve the terms of the loan.

Eligibility Requirements for Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing refers to the process of paying off one or more existing student loans with a new loan. To be eligible for student loan refinancing, you typically need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Credit Score: Lenders usually require a minimum credit score of 660 or higher to be eligible for student loan refinancing. However, this requirement may vary depending on the lender.

  2. Employment: Most lenders require that you have a stable source of income or be employed full-time. Some lenders may also require that you have a certain amount of income or work experience.

  3. Debt-to-Income Ratio: Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount of debt you have compared to your income. Most lenders require a DTI ratio of 40% or less to be eligible for student loan refinancing.

  4. Loan Eligibility: Not all types of student loans are eligible for refinancing. Some lenders only refinance federal loans, while others may refinance both federal and private loans.

  5. Age of Loan: Your student loan must be in good standing and not in default. Some lenders may also have age requirements for the loan.

  6. Residency: Most student loan refinancing lenders have residency requirements and may only be available to residents of certain states.

It's important to note that these requirements may vary depending on the lender, so be sure to check with multiple lenders to determine your eligibility for student loan refinancing.

Why Should You Refinance Your Student Loan Debt?

It's simple to check your rate and can save you a lot of money

There are a lot of competing student loan companies and that's good for you. That means you can get the best possible interest rate which can save you a lot of money. The average user saves $18,668 when refinancing. You can check your rate for all of the lenders on this page in under 3 minutes.

If you have a high interest rate on your student loans

Fortunately, for many graduates, refinancing can be a great opportunity to help with loan payments. If you have federal or private student loans with an interest rate over 4%, then refinancing them will save you a lot of money. Student loans with 6.8% interest rates mean that you'll need to pay $586 a month in interest alone for every $100,000 you owe. You could also refinance your student loans to a longer term to help lower your monthly payments.

If you don't qualify for public student loan forgiveness

Public student loan forgiveness (PSLF) was created in 2007 in order to encourage graduates to pursue full-time work in public sectors including nonprofits and government organizations. If you are working in one of these fields, and have been consistent with your payments, it's best to weigh your options and see if refinancing or PSLF will save you more money over the life on your student loan.

1. Splash Financial

  • APR Range: 4.47%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–No maximums
  • Loan Terms: 5–25 years

Splash Financial is a student loan marketplace that is specifically designed for individuals seeking to refinance their loans. It operates by working with a limited number of exclusive lenders, some of which you can't apply with through other channels. 

As a result, you have the ability to compare refinancing rates from multiple lenders at once, though the specific lenders in Splash Financial's network are not publicly disclosed.

Using Splash Financial as a middleman to connect you with lenders does not have many drawbacks. However, it should be noted that none of the lenders in its network provide refinancing options to borrowers who have not completed their degree.

Splash Pros/Cons

The Good

  • Very low rates
  • Affordable options for medical professionals
  • May allow spouses to refinance loans together

The Bad

  • Not available if you didn’t complete your degree
  • Loan options may vary
  • May need to join a credit union

2. SoFi

  • APR Range: 4.47%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–No maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–25 years

Private student loan lenders are often criticized for lacking attractive features, especially when compared to federal student loans. 

SoFi, however, is a notable exception, offering a wide range of borrower benefits including unemployment assistance, individualized career coaching, financial planning, exclusive events, access to a lounge at the Los Angeles-based SoFi Stadium, and more.

SoFi is also one of the few lenders that allow graduates to refinance student loans that were taken out for their benefit by their parents, enabling them to assume responsibility for repayment. 

It's important to keep in mind, however, that applying with a co-signer may extend your loan approval timeline by an extra week or two. Once listed on the loan, a co-signer cannot be removed unless the loan is refinanced in the borrower's name only.

SoFi Pros/Cons

The Good

  • SoFi strives to provide exceptional customer service and it shows
  • Unemployment protection up to 1 year
  • Can get the lowest rates without a cosigner

The Bad

  • Must have a good or excellent credit score to get approved
  • If you already have a low-interest rate on your student loans, SoFi may not be able to save you money

Visit SoFi and Find Your Rate in Under 3 Minutes

3. Earnest

  • APR Range: 4.47%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$500,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years

Earnest stands out from other lenders due to two key factors. Firstly, it provides the option to skip a single payment every 12 months, given that all previous payments were made on time.

 

However, this is not a free pass, as the skipped payment is added to the end of your loan and will still accrue interest. Every time you use this option, it reduces the amount of forbearance available to you by one month, with a maximum of 12 months of forbearance available. Despite this, the option to skip a payment can provide added flexibility to your budget when needed.

In addition, Earnest offers a broad array of loan options that surpass other lenders. Unlike other lenders that limit you to a few term length options with five-year intervals, Earnest provides as many as 180 term length options with intervals as short as one month. 

This allows you to find a monthly payment that better fits your budget. To get a rate quote, simply tell Earnest what you can afford for a monthly payment and they will take it from there.

Earnest Pros/Cons

The Good

  • Easy to get approved. Great for people just coming out of school who have little to no credit history
  • Offers unique flexibility, people can set their own monthly payments and change between fixed and variable rates without any fees
  • Earnest has lower than average rates in the industry

The Bad

  • The company is limited in its locations
  • Applicants must be employed or have a written job offer in order to be eligible for student loan refinancing
  • Earnest was only established in 2013

Visit Earnest and Find Your Rate in Under 2 Minutes

4. LendKey

  • APR Range: 4.49%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$500,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years

LendKey serves as a centralized platform to simplify the process of finding a suitable lender.

You apply for loans through LendKey, which matches you with the right banks or credit unions to secure a loan.

It's important to note that LendKey is not a lender and does not underwrite or fund the loan. After you choose a loan, you proceed with the bank or credit union you selected.

A hard credit inquiry will be conducted as part of the application process, which is typical for this type of service. LendKey, which provides its service for free, appeals to borrowers by presenting multiple offers with varying options for comparison.

Loan approval is determined based on factors such as location, degree, type of loan, loan amount, proof of income, and credit score.

The application process for online lending businesses is standard and involves providing your name, address, annual income, school and degree type, and loan amount. After submitting your application, it should only take a few minutes to start receiving offers.

LendKey Pros/Cons

The Good

  • LendKey focuses on customer service
  • The average person saves around $16,657 in student debt refinancing
  • Conveniently offers a 30-day, no-tax or interest return, if customers are not satisfied

The Bad

  • The minimum credit score for acceptance is around 680, and they require a strong credit history
  • Reviews have said the website is not user-friendly, and the process of uploading documents online is confusing

Visit LendKey and Find Your Rate in Under 3 Minutes

Student Loan Refinancing FAQs

Consolidation simply means combining multiple student loans into one loan, but you get different results by consolidating with the federal government vs. consolidating with a private lender. Student loan refinancing is when you apply for a loan under new terms and use that loan to pay off one or more existing student loans.

The biggest benefit of refinancing your student loans is receiving a lower interest rate than your previous student loans carried, which will save you a lot of money over time. 

To get a list of your federal student loans, go to the National Student Loan Data Services website maintained by the U.S. Department of Education.

99% of all federal student loans are listed on the National Student Loan Data Services website. If a particular student loan is not listed there, it is most likely a private student loan.

Set up an automatic direct debit from your checking account to make the monthly payments on your loans. Borrowers with auto-debit are much less likely to miss a payment. Many lenders offer discounts for borrowers who set up auto debit. Federal loans offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction while private student loans often offer a 0.25% or 0.50% interest rate reduction for the remainder of the repayment period. Some lenders will require electronic billing to get the discount.

There are hundreds of companies out there that will help you refinance your student loans, but a select few rank above the rest. The five best, are SoFi, Laurel Road, Commonbond, LendKey, and Earnest. All 5 of these companies offer competitive rates with a variety of term lengths, ranging from 5 years to 20 years.

The actual interest rate you will receive is based upon your credit score, income, savings, degree type, and/or presence of a co-signer. To increase your chances of getting approved and receiving the lowest interest rate, it is recommend applying with a co-signer.

Yes. Student Loan Debt Relief Companies and Student Loan Debt Law Firms are very different.  Student loan companies are often in the news for scamming student loan borrowers.  On the other hand, debt relief attorneys are held to specific ethical and legal standards to act in their clients’ best interest.  If they don’t follow these standards, they will be disbarred.

If you are solicited by a student loan debt company – BEWARE!  This is a red flag and means they probably obtained your information from a list that they bought.  Most of these companies are just out to make a buck and don’t really care about your personal student loan debt struggle.

If you have private and federal loans, SoFi may be your best bet, as they will refinance both loan types together. It is important to apply to several different lenders. Odds are not all of them will offer the same interest rate and terms, so shop around and get the best deal you can find. You can check your rate in under 3 minutes.

  • Make an overall budget for your monthly income and expenses to include your student loan payments.  Make sure you have all payment due dates noted. Use a spreadsheet or an app to help you track where and how you spend your money.
  • Set up automatic payments for your student loans, so you don’t miss any. Some lenders often a small discount on your interest rate if you set this up.
  • Accelerate repayment of high interest student loans first.  You always want to tackle high-interest loans of any kind first.

Recap of the Best Student Loan Companies