Earnest Student Loan Refinance Review

Our Rating: B- (Compare)

Refinancing student loans with Earnest may benefit borrowers who don’t necessarily have high credit scores but are otherwise in good financial standing. A subsidiary of Navient, Earnest uses an algorithmic model to approve borrower rates and terms.

Loan Limits $5,000 – $500,000
Fixed Rates 3.74%* – 8.74%
Variable Rates 2.49% – 8.24% (11.95% Cap†)
Terms 60 – 240 months
Min. Credit Score 650
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*Lowest rates always include the 0.25% interest reduction for enrolling in auto-pay.
The highest variable rate cap is for loans with terms exceeding 15 years. The rate cap for 11- to 15-year loans is 9.95%, while loan terms of 10 years or less are capped at 8.95%.

Skip to: Rates & Fees | Eligibility Requirements | Repayment Options | Consumer Reviews & Complaints | FAQ

Loan Refinancing Options
Private student loans
Private parent loans (in parent’s name only)
Federal student loans
Federal Parent PLUS loans (in parent’s name only)

Earnest Refinance Rates & Fees

Earnest Operations LLC offers fixed rates are between 3.74% and 8.74%. Variable rates start between 2.49% and 8.24%. Note that lowest rates always include a 0.25% interest rate reduction for enrollment in automatic payments.

In 2022, Earnest has raised its lowest available fixed rate for new loans 53.3% (from 2.44% APR) while its highest available fixed rate is up 44.7% (from 6.04% APR). The lowest variable rate is 32.4% higher (from 1.88% APR) than it was at the end of last year, and the highest variable rate is up 39.9% (from 5.89% APR).

Refinance Loan Rates
Term Fixed Rate Variable Rate
60 – 240 Months 3.74% – 8.74% 2.49% – 8.24%

Additional information about Earnest refinance rates:

  • Checking your rate with Earnest will not affect your credit score. They will conduct a soft, not hard, credit inquiry (learn the difference).
  • Earnest does offer a discount for setting up auto-pay: 0.25% interest rate reduction.
  • Variable rates are based on the 30-day SOFR (2.28% as of this writing) as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. Previously, variable rates were based on the 1-month LIBOR.
  • Variable rates are capped at 11.95% for loans with terms exceeding 15 years. The rate cap for 11- to 15-year loans is 9.95%, while loan terms of 10 years or less are capped at 8.95%.
  • Variable rates are unavailable in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.
  • Applicants may set their term limit for any period between 5 and 20 years down to the month.

Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

Based on advertised rates, use the calculator below to determine what your new monthly payment and potential savings may be if you refinance with Earnest.

Additional Fees

Beyond interest rates, there are a number of fees a refinance lender may charge up-front or during the loan servicing period. Below is a list of these fees that Earnest does or does not charge.

Fee Type Amount Charged
Application Fee Undisclosed
Loan Origination Fee None
Disbursement Fee Undisclosed
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Payment Fee None
Returned Payment Fee Up to $8
Collection Fee Undisclosed
  1. Application fee – fee to apply for rates & approval.
  2. Loan origination fee – fee to create the new loan.
  3. Disbursement fee – fee for distributing funds to lenders to pay off loans that have been refinanced.
  4. Prepayment penalty – fee for making extra payments to reduce a refinance loan balance or pay it off early.
  5. Late payment fee – fee for making a late payment.
  6. Returned payment fee – fee for failed payments due to insufficient funds, also known as a “bounced check”.
  7. Collection fee – fee for collection activity on a defaulted debt.

Current Promotions & Offers

Earnest offers a 0.25% interest rate reduction with enrollment in automatic payments.

Borrowers who refinance their student loans with Earnest in 2021 receive a $500 bonus when they apply through an Earnest partner.

Through Earnest’s referral program, referring and referred borrowers always receive a $200 bonus each for every new referral who refinances their student loans with Earnest.

Earnest Refinance Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for refinancing with Earnest, all borrowers must meet the criteria below.

  • Citizenship Requirement: U.S. citizenship or permanent residence.
  • Income Requirement: income required, no minimum specified.
  • Credit Score Requirement: 650 minimum FICO score.
  • Graduation Requirement: associate’s degree or higher -OR- a completed degree by the end of the current semester -OR- student loans in repayment while enrolled less than half-time.
  • Location Requirement: District of Columbia or one of 48 U.S. states (excluding Kentucky and Nevada).

Additional restrictions apply for specific individuals and loans.

  • Earnest stipulates that borrowers must be current on rent or mortgage payments.
  • Refinancing requires no history of bankruptcy or accounts recently in collection.
  • Earnest discloses the following factors for financial approval:
    • Enough savings to cover at least two months of normal expenses, including housing.
    • Increasing bank account balances.
    • No large amounts of non-student, non-mortgage debt (e.g. credit cards, personal loans).
    • History of history of making payments on time.
    • No history of regular charges for late, overdraft, or insufficient funds fees.

Earnest Student Loan Repayment Options

Lenders vary greatly on the benefits and options provided to borrowers during the loan servicing period. Additionally, benefits may only be available on a case-by-case basis. Earnest offers some relief options.

Deferment & Forbearance

Earnest does have some options for deferring payments. Note that refinance loans in deferment always continue to accrue interest.

See Earnest’s conditions for deferment and forbearance below.

Condition Coverage
Returning to grad school (more than half-time) Deferment, up to 36 months
Disability rehabilitation Unspecified
Active military duty Deferment, duration of active duty plus 180 days after demobilization
Involuntary unemployment Forbearance, up to 12 months
Economic hardship Forbearance, up to 12 months
Natural Disaster Unspecified
Temporary Hardship Forbearance, up to 12 months

Additional Options

Earnest may offer other opportunities for relief or contract modification.

  • Unpaid maternity/paternity leave is considered a temporary hardship for the purposes of forbearance.
  • Borrowers may apply to skip one payment every 12 months.
  • Death / disability discharge is available in the unfortunate circumstance that a borrower passes away or suffers total permanent disability.
  • Co-signer release is unavailable.

Earnest Reviews, Complaints & Lawsuits

Beyond our own findings, our team also collected the most genuinely insightful customer experiences we could find, including any instances of legal action against the company in which the details became public.

Earnest Online Reviews

Below are 3 samples of Earnest customer reviews we found on public forums, included here for their value as unedited, uncensored, and unsolicited user experiences. Note that these reviews are unverified, may include inaccuracies, and may provide outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.).


“About one year ago I refinanced multiple student loans with Earnest and got a consolidated loan at a rate over 35% lower than the average of my prior loans. I’ve made aggressive payments towards the loan monthly, and have been nothing but happy and satisfied with my choice to use the company.

Other than the website, nothing else has changed in my opinion since Navient came along. Earnest maintains its own brand. Customer service is exactly the same – responsive and quick.”RPG_are_my_initials on reddit, 9/22/2019


“I have Earnest, who cares if their customer service is not as excellent as it used to be? Get the best rate, set auto-pay, forget it. I haven’t had any issue before or after the Navient takeover.”Dreamgiver on White Coat Investor, 6/14/2019


“I used Earnest a year ago to refinance. I chose variable instead of fixed, but had smaller loans. Earnest at the time offered the chance to change from variable to fixed at any time during repayment. The process was a breeze, and an Earnest employee sent me a text with his personal contact info in case I had any questions. I’ve seen the rate tick up from low 2’s to mid/upper 2’s (about .5% total, in line with short term rate rises). I was and am still very satisfied with them.”tanstaafl on Bogleheads.org, 4/26/2017


More (unfiltered) customer reviews of Earnest are available at TrustPilot.com (4.7 out of 5). Earnest has a profile on ConsumerAffairs.com with zero (0) customer reviews.

Earnest Consumer Complaints

As consumer finance companies, student loan refinancing lenders fall under the jurisdiction of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency. As part of its mission, the CFPB allows consumers to log official complaints. These complaints are publicly available on the CFPB official website.

Since August 7, 2015, consumers have submitted 100 complaints about Earnest, Inc. to the CFPB for an average of one (1) complaint every 25 days and 20 hours, which is more than twice as fast as the average daily complaint rate among reviewed lenders. Among the 67 complaints that include narratives, 20 (29.9%) specifically reference student loan refinancing.

In 2022, Earnest’s consumer complaint rate is 4.46% lower (as of this writing) than it is in an average year. Consumers file an average of 14.1 complaints about Earnest each year, which is equivalent to one (1) complaint for every $3.726 million of estimated corporate revenue or roughly two (2) complaints for every 17 employees.

The allegations made in these complaints are unverified, are not necessarily representative of all consumers’ experiences with Earnest, and may contain outdated information (about rates, bonus offers, etc.). Note that a lender with a large customer base is likely to have a higher number of complaints when compared with smaller lenders.

Line Graph: Earnest Consumer Complaints, Public Complaints Filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, not necessarily related to student loan refinancing, from 2015 (2), 2016 (6), 2017 (11), 2018 (16), 2019 (19), 2020 (15), and 2021 (22)

Below we’ve included 3 of the most recent complaints (as of this writing) in which the consumer consented to share their details.


Complaint 5161886
1/28/2022
District of Columbia

“I applied to refinance my law school student loans. During the application process, I was asked if I was a lawful permanent resident ( ” LPR ” ) or U.S. citizen, but the application did not specify that the company discriminates between types of LPRs. As an XXXX who has applied to remove conditions, I made the appropriate selection, submitted my application, and the company pulled my credit. However, I was denied for the sole reason that I am not a U.S. citizen or 10 year permanent resident. I believe this constitutes alienage discrimination in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1981 ; discrimination, in violation of the California Unruh Civil Rights Act 51, et seq. ; and obtaining consumer reports without a permissible purpose, in violation of the Fair Credit and Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq. ( ” FCRA ” ).”


Complaint 4887018
11/8/2021
Washington

“My lender is Earnest.com. My regular monthly statement should have been released on or about the XXXX ( XX/XX/XXXX should have been the most recent ). They have not sent it. I waited a few days and called in and they said it was a known issue, still no statement. A few days later I received an email from them saying to log in and review my statement, still nothing, so I called in the next day. They promised they were fixing the issue and the statement would be out by the end of the week ( XX/XX/XXXX ) – XXXX XXXX came and went still nothing. They don’t have customer services on the weekends so today- Monday Morning – I called in and they now say they have no ETA on when the statement will be available. I have a quote from another lender to refinance this student loan. It includes a {$500.00} incentive and a lower rate. All they are waiting for is a statement from my current lender Earnest and I can not get it. Whatever their problem is, this is not a reasonable amount of time to wait for my monthly statement.”


Complaint 4821261
10/18/2021
Georgia

“I requested that my new student loan lender, Earnest, apply the extra {$50.00} a month my employer pays on my behalf towards my principal balance, and I was told that the only way that could be done is if my employer sends it on the same date my payment is processed. I cant control my employer sending this payment. The lender stated the following : Yes, it is legal. This is actually a very normal policy for most lending companies. The accrued interest on the loan needs to be paid first before the principal can be paid down.”


For a full list of complaints made against Earnest in the CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database, click here.

Earnest Lawsuits

Earnest LLC and its sister company NaviRefi have not been implicated in ongoing lawsuits against their parent company, Navient Corporation, alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.[1][2][3]

Note that while this information is updated regularly, ongoing legal action is subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most common questions consumers have about student loan refinancing with Earnest.

  • Is Earnest good for refinancing student loans?
    Earnest’s student refinance loans may benefit student borrowers who don’t necessarily have high credit scores but are otherwise in good financial standing.
  • Does Earnest have a minimum credit score requirement?
    With a completed degree, 650 is the minimum credit score required to qualify for student loan refinancing. Borrowers who did not complete the program they paid for using the student loans to be refinanced must have a credit score of at least 700 to qualify.
  • Are Earnest loans federal?
    Earnest loans are not federal. Earnest has no affiliation with the federal government or the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Does Earnest charge a prepayment penalty?
    There are no penalties for early payments or for repaying a loan in full before its term is over.
  • Does checking your rates with Earnest hurt your credit score?
    For their prequalification process, Earnest performs a soft credit check, which will not hurt your credit score. If you proceed with an application, however, Earnest will perform a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Is Earnest a bank?
    Earnest is not a bank nor is it affiliated with any bank. Earnest was founded as a fintech company and now operates as its own brand under the Navient Corporation.
  • Can I refinance an Earnest loan?
    You can refinance an Earnest student loan or a student loan from another private lender. There is no limit to the number of times a borrower may refinance with Earnest. Note, however, that every new line of credit requires a hard credit check that may affect your FICO score.
  • Can I refinance just some of my loans with Earnest?
    Yes, you can refinance some, all, or just one of your qualifying student loans with Earnest. You may choose to refinance your private loans only or refinance private and federal loans together.
  • Can I refinance loans that have already been refinanced?
    Yes, you can refinance loans as many times as you want with Earnest. Note that each time you refinance, you will have to submit a new application; every application requires a hard credit check that may affect your credit score.
  • Can my spouse and I refinance our loans together with Earnest?
    No, Earnest only refinances loans from the borrower’s own education.
  • How long does it take to refinance with Earnest?
    Earnest does not disclose an average timeline for refinancing.
  • Who services Earnest refinance loans?
    Earnest does not sell its loans to other financial institutions or servicers.
  • Does Earnest offer a grace period?
    No, Earnest does not offer a grace period.
  • How often do variable rates change?
    Earnest’s variable rates change no more than once per month based on the 30-day SOFR as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month.
  • Can I get any special rates or discounts with Earnest?
    Earnest offers a standard 0.25% rate reduction to borrowers who set up auto-pay.
  • What happens if I file for bankruptcy?
    If you file for bankruptcy, you may still be required to repay your Earnest student refinance loan.
  • Does Earnest partner with any major student refinance lender marketplaces?
    Earnest partners with Purefy as part of its multilender marketplace. Credible and SuperMoney also list Earnest as featured lenders.

Compare Student Loan Refinance Reviews

Lender Rating
RISLA A+
Brazos A
CommonBond A
Credible A
Advantage A-
ELFI A-
Laurel Road A-
Mpower Financing A-
Splash Financial A-
Purefy B+
UW Credit Union B+
LendKey B+
College Ave B
PenFed B
SoFi B
Earnest B-
EDvestinU B-
INvestEd B-
MEFA B-
Sparrow B-
Yrefy B-
Citizens Bank C+
ISL C+
Lend-Grow C+
SELF Refi C+
SuperMoney C+
First Tech Federal C
BECU C-
Navy Federal C-
First Republic Bank D+
iHelp D+
Discover D
Nelnet Bank D
PNC Bank D-
NaviRefi F

Sources

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, CFPB Sues Nation’s Largest Student Loan Company Navient for Failing Borrowers at Every Stage of Repayment
  2. Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School Project on Predatory Student Lending, VILLALBA V. NAVIENT
  3. NavientClassAction.com, Navient Class Action Information
  4. Earnest, Eligibility Guide
  5. Earnest, Earnest Operations LLC Refinance Education Loan Variable Rate Application & Solicitation Disclosure
  6. CFPB, Consumer Complaint Database
  7. Dun & Bradstreet, Business Directory: Earnest LLC
  8. Better Business Bureau, Search Businesses and Charities