Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders

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Here Are The Ascent's Picks for the Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders

Provider Rates & Terms Great For Get Started
Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.49 - 8.36%

Variable Rates: 2.06 - 8.93%

Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 & 20 years

Great For:
  • Low rates
  • No fees
  • Flexible term options
Get Started: Check Rate
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing

Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.5 - 7.02%

Variable Rates: 3.23 - 6.65%

Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years

Great For:
  • Low rates
  • Term choices
  • Forbearance option
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score

Earnest Student Loans Refinancing

Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.5 - 7.89%

Variable Rates: 2.49 - 7.23%

Terms: 5-20 years

Great For:
  • Low rates
  • Discounts
  • Flexible loan terms
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score
Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.39 - 9.99%

Variable Rates: 2.8 - 9.72%

Terms: 5, 7, 8, 10, 15, and 20 years

Great For:
  • Best rate guarantee
Get Started: Check Rate
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score
Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.89 - 8.07%

Variable Rates: 2.55 - 7.12%

Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years

Great For:
  • Low rates
  • Forbearance options
Get Started: Check Rate
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score
Rates & Terms:

Fixed Rates: 3.48 - 7.94%

Variable Rates: 2.14 - 7.71%

Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years

Great For:
  • Low rates
  • Flexible term options
  • Discounts
Get Started: Check Rate
  • Checking rates won't impact your credit score


Lendkey Student Loan Refinancing

This lending platform provides you with loan refinancing options from a variety of smaller lenders, including both banks and credit unions, giving you plenty to choose from. See our full review of Lendkey student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.49 - 8.36%
  • Variable Rates: 2.06 - 8.93%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000-$125,000 for undergraduate; Up to $175,000 for graduate; Up to $300,000 for medical, dental, and veterinary
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: Yes
  • Graduation discount: No
  • Loyalty discount: No
  • Fees: $0 origination
  • Deferred interest: No
  • Forbearance: Yes
  • Cosigner: Yes, after 12 months


Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing

A standout for large loan refinancing, this lender has no limit on how much you can refinance. It also offers flexible term options and a discount on your interest rate for setting up autopay. See our full review of Laurel Road student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.5 - 7.02%
  • Variable Rates: 3.23 - 6.65%
  • Loan amounts: No maximum refinancing loan size
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: None
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: Yes, up to 12 months over life of the loan
  • Cosigner: Yes
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Earnest Student Loan Refinancing

Responsible financial habits, such as building your savings and contributing to retirement accounts, can help you get approved for refinancing through Earnest. See our full review of Earnest student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.5 - 7.89%
  • Variable Rates: 2.49 - 7.23%
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 - $500,000
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: None
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: Unemployment
  • Cosigner: Yes


Credible Student Loan Refinancing

Offering a marketplace of lenders that don't charge application or origination fees, this lending platform lets you save on fees and evaluate a variety of options. See our full review of Credible student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.39 - 9.99%
  • Variable Rates: 2.8 - 9.72%
  • Loan amounts: Varies by lender
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: Yes, varies by lender
  • Graduation discount: Yes, varies by lender
  • Loyalty discount: Yes, varies by lender
  • Fees: $0 origination, varies by lender
  • Deferred interest: Yes, varies by lender
  • Forbearance: Yes, varies by lender
  • Cosigner: Yes, varies by lender


CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing

Terms ranging from five to 20 years and the option for a lengthy forbearance allow you to pay off your loan on a schedule that's convenient for you. See our full review of CommonBond student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.89 - 8.07%
  • Variable Rates: 2.55 - 7.12%
  • Loan amounts: $500,000
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: None
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: Yes, up to 24 months over life of the loan
  • Cosigner: Yes


SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

Borrowers who have high incomes and excellent credit can score some of the lowest possible interest rates through SoFi. See our full review of SoFi student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.48 - 7.94%
  • Variable Rates: 2.14 - 7.71%
  • Loan amounts: None
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: 0.125%
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: No
  • Cosigner: Yes


College Ave Student Loan Refinancing

For those who need low monthly payments to start, College Ave gives you the option of interest-only payments for the first two years. See our full review of College Ave student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.24 - 7.99%
  • Variable Rates: 2.49 - 7.24%
  • Loan amounts: Up to $150,000 for graduates of undergraduate or graduate programs
  • Soft inquiry: Yes
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: None
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: No
  • Cosigner: Yes


Wells Fargo Student Loan Refinancing

Some of the best interest rate discounts are available through Wells Fargo, as you can get 0.50% off if you or your loan cosigner have a checking account with the bank and 0.25% off for enrolling in autopay. See our full review of Wells Fargo student loan refinancing here.

  • Fixed Rates: 3.99 - 9.99%
  • Variable Rates: 3.75 - 9.74%
  • Loan amounts: Up to $250,000 aggregate amount being refinanced
  • Soft inquiry: No
  • Funding: Undergraduate and Graduate
  • Autopay discount: 0.25%
  • Graduation discount: None
  • Loyalty discount: 0.25%-0.5%
  • Fees: None
  • Deferred interest: None
  • Forbearance: No
  • Cosigner: Yes
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Considering student loans are among the largest loans you'll borrow in your life, it's imperative that you get the best terms for your financial situation. If you've never looked into refinancing your student loans, then there's a good chance you're missing an opportunity to save.

There's quite a bit of competition among student loan lenders, so you can often find excellent refinancing deals if you're willing to shop around. To help you out with that, we've compared dozens of student loan refinance lenders to pick out the very best.

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How we picked the winners

We looked at several different factors to choose the best student loan refinance lenders. Here are the most important:

Interest rates: The biggest potential advantage of refinancing your student loans is getting a lower interest rate, as any reduction there can save you a substantial amount of money. For that reason, the interest rates a lender offers were our first consideration in making this list.

We also accounted for any interest rate discounts that lenders had available, as many offered these.

Diverse loan terms: Some refinancers will be in a position to pay off their new student loan as quickly as possible, while others will be looking for a longer loan term so they don't need to pay as much per month. We looked for lenders that offered loan terms of varying lengths to fit everyone's needs.

Forbearance/missed payment flexibility: It helped a lender's cause if they offered forbearance for borrowers who needed to put their loan payments on hold. With lenders that offered this, we looked at what was required for a borrower to get forbearance and how long of a forbearance period was offered.

Borrower requirements: Since not every applicant will have a high income and credit score, lenders scored points with us if they had flexible borrower requirements and/or allowed borrowers to apply with a cosigner.

No unnecessary fees: We gave precedence to lenders that didn't tack on extra fees, such as application and origination fees, that jack up the cost of refinancing.

Transparency and instant loan quotes: No one wants unpleasant surprises when they refinance their student loans, so transparency about loan terms and fees is essential to make our list. We also looked for lenders offering instant loan quotes with only a soft credit pull.

How student loan refinancing works

Student loan refinancing is a simple process. Here's how it works:

  • You borrow a new student loan with the loan terms you want, ideally getting a lower interest rate in the process.
  • You pay off your old loans with the new loan.
  • You start making payments on your new loan.

You would usually refinance so that you could get a lower interest rate than what you're currently paying. Another one of the reasons to refinance your student loans is when your monthly payments are too high. In that case, you could borrow a new loan with a longer term, which would have lower monthly payments.

You should only get a longer loan term when absolutely necessary, though, because you'll end up paying more interest when you stretch out the term of your loan.

Student loan consolidation vs. refinancing

A common source of confusion in the world of student loans is the difference between consolidation and refinancing. Even though student loan consolidation and refinancing have their similarities, they're not the same thing.

Student loan consolidation -- Consolidation is technically when you pay off multiple student loans with one new loan, allowing you to go from several monthly loan payments to just one.

In practice, student loan consolidation typically refers to consolidating federal student loans. The Department of Education offers consolidation with most types of student loans, but this usually also extends the term of your loan and results in you paying more interest.

Student loan refinancing -- Refinancing refers to paying off one or more student loans with a new one so that you can get different loan terms, such as a better interest rate or a lower monthly payment amount.

Since the Department of Education doesn't offer refinancing, the only way to do this is through private lenders. You can refinance federal or private loans, but you would lose some potential benefits if you refinanced federal student loans, as you'd no longer be eligible for income-based repayment plans or loan forgiveness.

When you should refinance your student loans

Whenever you can get a lower interest rate than what you're currently paying, it's smart to refinance your private student loans. With federal student loans, you'll need to carefully consider whether refinancing is worth losing the benefits that come with those types of loans.

Here are some of the most common situations when you should look into refinancing your student loans:

You've improved your credit -- Since your credit is one of the factors that lenders weigh most heavily during a loan application, you could qualify for much better terms with a higher credit score.

You have variable-rate student loans -- Although variable-rate student loans usually start off with lower interest rates, they're risky, because your interest rate could go up. If your student loans have variable rates, you may want to refinance with a fixed-rate student loan to lock in one rate.

You've been following good financial habits -- Student loan refinance lenders look at more than just your credit score. They look at your payment history, and some will even take into consideration other good financial habits, such as saving for retirement. Even if your credit score hasn't shot up yet, you could still qualify for a lower interest rate with certain lenders.

You're making more money -- Income is another important factor that lenders look at, so higher income will give you a better shot at approval on refinancing your student loan. And if your income has increased significantly, you may even want to refinance your student loan to get a shorter term. Lenders generally offer lower interest rates for shorter terms, plus you'll save more on interest by paying off your loan sooner.

How often should you refinance your student loans?

At most, you should look into refinancing your student loans on a yearly basis, but every two to three years also works. A good time to consider refinancing is when your financial situation has improved or when interest rates have dropped.

Although you can theoretically refinance student loans as often as you want, the terms you qualify for will almost never change significantly from month to month. Let's say you've already refinanced six months ago. In that span of time, it's doubtful that your credit score or income changed much, so you probably won't qualify for a lower interest rate.

Refinancing is a great way to get the best deal on your student loans, but trying to do it too often will just be a waste of your time.

What to look for in a refinancing lender

If you've decided now is the time to refinance your student loans, then you'll need to know what features to look for in a refinancing lender.

Borrower requirements -- Every lender has its own unique minimum requirements for borrowers. As you look for refinancing lenders, you'll need to check that you meet their requirements, especially in regards to your credit score and income.

Interest rates -- The lower the interest rate you can get through a lender, the less you'll pay on your student loan. In addition to the interest rates that a lender offers, you should also pay attention to whether those are fixed or variable rates. Fixed rates are the safer option, but variable rates may work out well for you if you plan to pay off your refinanced loan quickly, because they typically are lower to start.

Don't forget to account for any discounts that lenders offer as well. Some lenders offer an interest rate discount of 0.25% for something as simple as setting up autopay.

Term options -- When you start shopping for refinancing lenders, you should have a solid idea of the term you want for your new student loan. Your three basic options are:

  • Keep the same term length by getting a new loan as long as the time you had remaining on your original student loans. You'll likely save moderately on both interest and your monthly payment.
  • Shorten your loan term. Your monthly payments will increase, but you'll save the most on interest this way.
  • Lengthen your loan term. Your monthly payments will decrease, but you'll pay more total interest.

Every refinance lender is different with the terms that they offer, so you'll need to find one that offers the term length you want.

No fees -- Since the whole point of student loan refinancing is to save money, it's important to avoid all those extra fees that private lenders can tack on, such as application fees and origination fees. Fortunately, the best student loan lenders don't charge unnecessary fees.

Forbearance -- Everybody hopes that they'll be able to make all their loan payments, but that may be impossible if you suffer a loss of income. That's where being able to forbear your student loan makes a huge difference, as this option allows you to postpone your payments for a period of time without defaulting.

How to refinance your student loans

Now that you know all the ins and outs of refinancing your student loans, here's how you can do it:

  1. Compare your options with different lenders.

Shopping around is the key to getting the best possible interest rate when you refinance your loan. By pulling up offers from a variety of lenders, you can know for sure who's offering the lowest rate.

The good news here is that it's easier than ever to compare your options. By filling out some of your basic information on a lender's site, you can see if you qualify for a loan with them and check what kind of terms they'll give you. This only requires a soft credit check, so it won't affect your credit score.

  1. Select the lender and terms you want.

Once you've checked all the best lender options, you can pick the one you want. From that lender's site, you can decide on the length of your new loan's term and whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate.

  1. Apply for the loan.

The application process itself won't be too lengthy, but you will need to have some documentation ready. Standard information lenders will want when you apply includes:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your billing address
  • Your phone number
  • Income verification, such as paystubs, tax returns, or banking statements
  • Statements for your student loans

When you submit your application, the lender will run a hard credit check on you. This affects your credit score, but only a small amount.

  1. Use the new loan to pay off your previous student loans.

Continue making payments on all your student loans, as a missed payment could still result in fees and other consequences.

Once your new loan is approved and funded, use it to pay off the balances on all your other student loans. After that, you've finished refinancing your student loans, and you'll only need to make payments on your one new loan going forward.

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