REFINANCE STUDENT LOANS

Refinance on your terms, not theirs.

A special report from EducationData.org

Find out which of the two dozen lenders we investigated have the lowest refinancing rates and the most honest lending terms and conditions.

How to Refinance Your Student Loans

1

Make sure refinancing makes sense for YOU.

  • Know the drawbacks. Refinancing could mean losing certain federal protections, such as payment postponement options and access to federal loan forgiveness programs.
  • Understand your situation. If your finances have worsened since you originated the loan (i.e. loss of income, lower credit score, etc.), you may not qualify for better payment terms without a co-signer than you currently have.
How to Refinance Your Student Loans
2

Check rates.

  • Use our rankings to create a list of lenders to apply to. The longer the list, the more options you’ll have.
  • Provide basic personal information to obtain quotes. Lenders can’t give specifics without knowing more about you.
How to Refinance Your Student Loans
3

Review your options.

  • Read our in-depth reviews for each of the lenders that offer acceptable rates and terms. The devil is always in the details.
  • Decide on loan terms that work for you. Choose a fixed or variable rate, how long you want the repayment period to be and other term options provided.
How to Refinance Your Student Loans
4

Choose a lender.

  • Complete the application. Provide additional documents and give permission for a hard credit check to allow the lender to provide final terms.
  • Wait for approval. If you’re denied, the lender must provide written notice explaining the reason for the rejection.
How to Refinance Your Student Loans
5

Finalize the loan.

  • Sign the final documents. Once approved, sign to formally accept the loan. You’ll then have three days to back out if you get cold feet.
  • Continue existing payments until payoff. Keep making payments until your previous lender provides confirmation that their loan has been paid in full.
How to Refinance Your Student Loans

Lenders & Refinance Rates

Below is a list of the lenders we researched and reviewed, sorted by lowest available fixed APR. Click on a lender’s name to learn more about our findings.

Note: the APRs below include any available discount, such as a 0.25% reduction for setting up automatic payments.

Lender Rating Fixed APR Variable APR
Lender Laurel Road Rating A- Fixed APR 1.68% – 6.25% Variable APR 1.07% – 6.15%
Lender Brazos Rating A Fixed APR 2.15% – 4.00% Variable APR 1.87% – 5.04%
Lender First Republic Bank Rating B Fixed APR 2.25% – 6.25% Variable APR None
Lender CommonBond Rating A+ Fixed APR 2.26% – 6.99% Variable APR 1.96% – 7.07%
Lender Nelnet Bank Rating D- Fixed APR 2.30% – 5.94% Variable APR 1.87% – 5.41%
Lender Citizens Bank Rating B- Fixed APR 2.44% – 8.33% Variable APR 1.99% – 8.08%
Lender Earnest Rating B+ Fixed APR 2.44% – 6.04% Variable APR 1.88% – 5.89%
Lender First Tech Federal Rating C- Fixed APR 2.45% – Undisclosed Variable APR None
Lender ELFI Rating A- Fixed APR 2.47% – 5.99% Variable APR 2.39% – 6.01%
Lender SoFi Rating B- Fixed APR 2.49% – 7.19% Variable APR 1.99% – 6.84%
Lender NaviRefi Rating D- Fixed APR 2.50% – 6.04% Variable APR 1.88% – 5.89%
Lender PenFed Credit Union Rating B+ Fixed APR 2.89% – 4.98% Variable APR None
Lender College Ave Rating A- Fixed APR 2.99% – 10.24% Variable APR 2.94% – 10.24%
Lender Navy Federal Credit Union Rating C+ Fixed APR 2.99% – 12.03% Variable APR 1.61% – 10.22%
Lender MEFA Rating B- Fixed APR 3.05% – 5.55% Variable APR 3.05% – 5.55%
Lender UW Credit Union Rating A Fixed APR 3.14% – 7.15% Variable APR 1.67% – 4.97%
Lender RISLA Rating A Fixed APR 3.29% – 6.09% Variable APR None
Lender PNC Bank Rating C Fixed APR 3.44% – 6.74% Variable APR 2.22% – 5.52%
Lender Discover Rating D+ Fixed APR 3.49% – 6.99% Variable APR 1.74% – 5.74%
Lender Advantage Rating B+ Fixed APR 3.74% – 7.78% Variable APR None
Lender SELF Refi Rating C+ Fixed APR 3.80% – 5.30% Variable APR 2.50% – 3.85%
Lender EDvestinU Rating B Fixed APR 3.91% – 6.53% Variable APR 1.81% – 4.43%
Lender iHelp (ZuntaFi) Rating D Fixed APR 3.92% – 5.60% Variable APR 2.68% – 3.64%
Lender BECU Rating C- Fixed APR 4.49% – 9.49% Variable APR None

Advantage

Our Rating: B+
Rating: B+
Loan Limits: $7,500 – $200,000+*
Fixed Rates: 3.74% – 7.78%
Variable Rates: None
Terms: 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 670
Misc. Restrictions: Unavailable in several U.S. states
Apply Link

*Borrowers need special approval to refinance more than $200,000 in student loans.

Advantage has very user-friendly policies but did not merit our top score due to a lengthy minimum loan term and an uptick in negative user feedback. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has logged a steady increase in complaints from Advantage borrowers over the last few years.

Advantage may be a good lender for borrowers who struggle financially. Relief options include graduated repayment, loan rehabilitation services, and up to 24 months of financial hardship deferment. Advantage is also one of the only lenders to truly charge zero fees, with no fees hidden in contract disclosures.

For more information on Advantage, read our full review.

BECU

Our Rating: C-
Rating: C-
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $125,000
Fixed Rates: 4.49% – 9.49%
Variable Rates: None
Terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Borrowers must be(come) BECU members
Apply Link

BECU is an established credit union, but fixed rates are among the industry’s highest. Refinancing requires a relatively high debt minimum. BECU’s website is sparse with details, offering little incentive for interest rates.

Elsewhere online, few consumer reviews are available. Finally, consumer complaints have risen steadily in the past five years, with a sudden 63% jump in 2020.

For more information on BECU, read our full review.

Brazos

Our Rating: A
Rating: A
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $400,000
Fixed Rates: 2.15% – 4.00%
Variable Rates: 1.87% – 5.04% (9.90% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 720 (690 with co-signer)
Misc. Restrictions: For Texas residents only
Apply Link

Brazos is a nonprofit direct lender with some of the lowest rates available. Refinancing with Brazos includes repayment options for borrowers who experience financial hardship. Brazos is one of the few refinance lenders to accept applications from nonresidents (with co-signer; only certain visas qualify).

Specializing in education loans, Brazos garners consistent positive feedback from industry professionals, consumers, and former employees. Unfortunately, co-signer release is unavailable.

For more information on Brazos, read our full review.

Citizens Bank

Our Rating: B-
Rating: B-
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $750,000
Fixed Rates: 2.44% – 8.33%
Variable Rates: 1.99% – 8.08% (21.00% Cap*)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 650
Apply Link

*The variable rate cap is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.

Citizens Bank is part of Citizens Financial Group, an $180 billion company; this may excuse the high rate of complaints filed with the CFPB. User experience varies significantly and seems dependent on interactions with individual customer service representatives; some borrowers report exceptional experiences with knowledgeable staff while many complaints recount frustrating interactions with agents unwilling or unable to answer fundamental questions.

Citizens Bank earned extra points for accepting refinance applications from nongraduates and nonresidents (each with certain restrictions) and for its policy offering post-active duty deferment for members of the military.

For more information on Citizens Bank, read our full review.

College Ave

Our Rating: A-
Rating: A-
Loan Limits: $5,000 – $300,000
Fixed Rates: 2.99% – 10.24%
Variable Rates: 2.94% – 10.24% (25.00% Cap)
Terms: 5 to 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 650
Misc. Restrictions: Unavailable in Maine
Apply Link

Overall, College Ave is an average lender and loan processor with some exceptional offerings, including excellent customer service according to consumer reviews. Refinance borrowers have a wide range of term options, and applicant requirements are very reasonable.

For more information on College Ave, read our full review.

CommonBond

Our Rating: A+
Rating: A+
Loan Limits: $5,000 – $500,000
Fixed Rates: 2.26% – 6.99%
Variable Rates: 1.96% – 7.07% (9.99% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 660
Misc. Restrictions: Unavailable in Nevada and Mississippi
Apply Link

CommonBond, Inc. has some of the most user-friendly policies in the industry, including flexible rates and terms, a low variable rate cap, and limited applicant restrictions. CommonBond was founded in 2012 by three business students who wanted more corporate accountability and transparency from their lenders.

CommonBond refinance loans are serviced by CommonBond Lending LLC, eliminating the complication of a third-party servicer. Note that further restrictions may apply for residents of Michigan, Rhode Island, and Washington.

For more information on CommonBond, read our full review.

Discover

Our Rating: D+
Rating: D+
Loan Limits: $5,000 – $150,000
Fixed Rates: 3.49% – 6.99%
Variable Rates: 1.74% – 5.74% (18.00% Cap)
Terms: 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

While Discover Bank has some of the most flexible deferment options available, consistently negative user experience and a history of litigation are red flags. Among CFPB public consumer complaints against private student loan servicers, 5% are about Discover Bank.

Refinance program disclosures include an aggressive loan default policy (refinance loans that enter default are due immediately in their entirety) and explicitly states, “Discover may sell or transfer a refinance loan to another institution at any time” (meaning your lender could change overnight).

For more information on Discover, read our full review.

Earnest

Our Rating: B+
Rating: B+
Loan Limits: $5,000 – $500,000
Fixed Rates: 2.44% – 6.04%
Variable Rates: 1.88% – 5.89% (11.95% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 650
Misc. Restrictions: Unavailable in Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada; variable rates are unavaiable in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas
Apply Link

Earnest would likely be an A+ lender were it not for a 2017 acquisition by Navient Corporation and the subsequent uptick in consumer complaints. Despite this, Earnest remains a merit-based, data-driven direct lender and a favorite among industry experts.

Some of Earnest’s exceptional offerings include flexible applicant requirements and options for debt relief, such as temporary hardship forbearance that includes unpaid maternity/paternity leave. Note that Earnest has not been implicated in ongoing lawsuits against parent company Navient alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

For more information on Earnest, read our full review.

EDvestinU

Our Rating: B
Rating: B
Loan Limits: $7,500 – $200,000
Fixed Rates: 3.91% – 6.53%
Variable Rates: 1.81% – 4.43% (21.00% Cap)
Terms: 5, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 700 (without co-signer)
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

Though less than a decade old, EDvestinU® is reputable as a nonprofit direct lender and part of the New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation (NHHEAF) Network under the New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Corporation (NHHELCO).

EDvestinU is a trustworthy lender that is more accessible than some other lenders, with no degree requirement and availability in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

For more information on EDvestinU, read our full review.

ELFI

Our Rating: A-
Rating: A-
Loan Limits: $15,000+
Fixed Rates: 2.47% – 5.99%
Variable Rates: 2.39% – 6.01% (9.95% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 680
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

ELFI is an online-only student loan refinancing program through SouthEast Bank, a locally-owned financial servicer in Farragut, Tennessee. ELFI has low rates and average requirements to qualify for refinancing, such as a bachelor’s degree and a debt-to-income ratio of 43% or lower. The only conditions borrowers may take issue with are the relatively high standard fees and lack of co-signer release.

For more information on ELFI, read our full review.

First Republic Bank

Our Rating: B
Rating: B
Loan Limits: $60,000 – $350,000
Fixed Rates: 2.25% – 6.25%
Variable Rates: None
Terms: 7, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: 680
Misc. Restrictions: No variable APR; available only in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and parts of Florida, Oregon, and Wyoming.
Apply Link

First Republic Bank is unique in that it offers student loan refinancing and consolidation loans as personal lines of credit. While this line of credit does not qualify for educational tax benefits, it does give you the option to pay off debts that are not usually covered by student loans.

To refinance with First Republic, you must have or open a First Republic ATM Rebate Checking Account; closing your account triggers an immediate 5.00% interest rate increase. First Republic also offers a prepayment rebate of up to 2% of the original loan balance if you pay off your loan in full within 48 months.

For more information on First Republic, read our full review.

First Tech Federal

Our Rating: C-
Rating: C-
Loan Limits: $5,000 – $500,000
Fixed Rates: 2.45% – Undisclosed
Variable Rates: None
Balloon Rates: 6.35% – Undisclosed
Interest-Only Rates: 6.35% – Undisclosed
Terms: 5, 7, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Borrowers must be(come) First Tech credit union members
Apply Link

First Tech Federal discloses neither credit nor graduation requirements, and the website refers to additional unspecified requirements.

While First Tech offers refinancing options most lenders do not – including loan options with balloon payments or 1- to 10-year interest-only periods – this credit union charges hidden fees, such as a payment processing fee and monthly credit union membership fees.

For more information on First Tech, read our full review.

iHelp

Our Rating: D
Rating: D
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $250,000
Fixed Rates: 3.92% – 5.60%
Variable Rates: 2.68% – 3.64%
Terms: 5, 8, 12 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

iHelp offers a fixed-hybrid rate and income-based repayment plan (via ZuntaFi). Aside from these options, this lender is underwhelming. iHelp charges excessive fees, including a collection fee of up to 25% of the principal balance.

With uncapped variable rates that are only available on 20-year loans, iHelp appears to benefit financial institutions to the detriment of the borrower.

For more information on iHelp, read our full review.

Laurel Road

Our Rating: A-
Rating: A-
Loan Limits: $5,000+
Fixed Rates: 1.68% – 6.25%
Variable Rates: 1.07% – 6.15% (10.00% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 660
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

Laurel Road specializes in student loan refinancing and financial services for healthcare professionals, offering special rates and benefits to practicing medical professionals. Borrowers have the option to transfer debt from parent to child and apply for generous debt relief options, including reduced payments, deferment, or partial deferment.

Keycorp acquired Laurel Road in 2019. KeyBank services all refinance loans; refinancing is available in 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

For more information on Laurel Road, read our full review.

MEFA

Our Rating: B-
Rating: B-
Loan Limits: $10,000+
Fixed Rates: 3.05% – 5.55%
Variable Rates: 3.05% – 5.55% (20.00% Cap)
Terms: 7, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: 670
Misc. Restrictions: Only refinances loans used to attend not-for-profit schools
Apply Link

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority or MEFA is an established nonprofit creditor with some unique requirements. For example, MEFA only refinances loans that have been repaid on time for the previous 12 consecutive months. Furthermore, loans must have been used to attend a not-for-profit degree-granting institution.

MEFA deals solely in education loans. Eligibility requirements are reasonable, and a degree is not necessary.

For more information on MEFA, read our full review.

Our Rating: D-
Rating: D-
Loan Limits: $5,001 – $250,000
Fixed Rates: 2.50% – 6.04%
Variable Rates: 1.88% – 5.89% (Undisclosed Cap)
Terms: 5 to 20 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Unavailable in Nevada; variable rates are unavailable in some states.
Apply Link

NaviRefi is an invite-only refinancer for borrowers who either have student loans (parent loans are ineligible) from Navient Corporation or other current business with Navient. Refinancing includes undisclosed fees. Navient also fails to disclose a variable rate cap and certain eligibility requirements.

NaviRefi has not been implicated in ongoing lawsuits against parent company Navient Corporation and its subsidiaries Navient Solutions LLC and Pioneer Credit Recovery alleging violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

For more information on NaviRefi, read our full review.

Our Rating: C+
Rating: C+
Loan Limits: $7,500 – $175,000
Fixed Rates: 2.99% – 12.03%
Variable Rates: 1.61% – 10.22% (20.25% Cap)
Terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Borrowers must be(come) Navy Federal Credit Union members
Apply Link

Navy Federal Credit Union was recently charged and fined $28.5 million by the CFPB for violation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In 2020, Navy Federal paid $25 million after a class-action lawsuit found that the institution improperly collected excess overdraft fees; checks went out in February 2021.

Navy Federal’s most redeeming quality is its range of options for parent borrowers. Parent borrowers may consolidate loans for multiple children or refinance before their student has graduated. Services are available in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

For more information on Navy Federal, read our full review.

Nelnet Bank

Our Rating: D-
Rating: D-
Loan Limits $5,000 – $500,000
Fixed Rates: 2.30% – 5.94%
Variable Rates: 1.87% – 5.41% (Undisclosed Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years
Min. Credit Score: 680
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

Previously U-fi, Nelnet Bank is an online-only subsidiary of Nelnet, Inc. Nelnet Bank has not been explicitly implicated in any lawsuits involving Nelnet, Inc., although most ongoing litigation predates the bank’s November 2020 founding.

Few consumer reviews about Nelnet Bank are available, but Nelnet, Inc. is the subject of 10% of CFPB consumer complaints about student loan servicers. Nelnet Bank’s low interest rates and option to transfer debt from parent to child saved this refinance lender from a failing score.

For more information on Nelnet Bank, read our full review.

PenFed

Our Rating: B+
Rating: B+
Loan Limits: $7,500 – $300,000
Fixed Rates: 2.89% – 4.98%
Variable Rates: None
Terms: 5, 8, 12 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: 700 (670 with co-signer)
Misc. Restrictions: Only available to U.S. citizens; borrowers must be(come) Pentagon Federal Credit Union members
Apply Link

Pentagon Federal Credit Union stands out due to its unique benefits. For example, spouses may transfer a debt balance or refinance jointly. PenFed offered variable rates until 7/1/2021; it is unclear if variable rates will become available again. Refinancing is only available to U.S. citizens.

For more information on PenFed, read our full review.

PNC Bank

Our Rating: C
Rating: C
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $75,000
Fixed Rates: 3.44% – 6.74%
Variable Rates: 2.22% – 5.52% (18.00% Cap)
Terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Borrowers may not be current students at the time of refinancing
Apply Link

PNC Bank, one of the largest banks in the United States, processes and services its own Education Refinance Loan (PERL). While the PERL has no graduation requirement, 1other prerequisites are excessive. For example, to qualify for refinancing, a student loan must have a minimum 24-month repayment history. Borrowers must also display a steady income over the previous two (2) years. Borrowers may incur fees for late payments, and PNC Banks may sell or transfer a refinance loan to another institution at any time.

For more information on PNC Bank, read our full review.

RISLA

Our Rating: A
Rating: A
Loan Limits: $7,500 – $250,000
Fixed Rates: 3.29% – 6.09%
Variable Rates: None
Terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: 680
Misc. Restrictions: NA
Apply Link

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority or RISLA is the non-profit financer behind the College Planning Center of Rhode Island. This lender offers low rates, unique borrower protections and comes highly recommended by financial analysts at major media outlets.

Borrowers who refinance with RISLA may apply for income-based repayment plans. Part-time students qualify for refinancing, and loans are serviced in-house. Stringent credit requirements and fees kept this lender from earning an A+.

For more information on RISLA, read our full review.

SELF Refi

Our Rating: C+
Rating: C+
Loan Limits: $10,000 – $70,000
Fixed Rates: 3.80% – 5.30%
Variable Rates: 2.50% – 3.85% (18.00% Cap)
Terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: 700 (650 with co-signer)
Misc. Restrictions: For Minnesota residents only
Apply Link

SELF Refi is the Minnesota Office of Higher Education’s student loan refinance program. It is a decent lender with strict requirements. For example, refinance borrowers must maintain Minnesota residency. The program is only available to students; parent loans are ineligible.

SELF Refi offers the same starting rates and terms to all qualifying borrowers regardless of financial standing. They are also one of the few refinance lenders to advertise general COVID relief: from 3/13/2020 through 9/30/2020, SELF set all interest rates to 0% due to COVID-19.

For more information on SELF Refi, read our full review.

SoFi

Our Rating: B-
Rating: B-
Loan Limits: $5,000+
Fixed Rates: 2.49% – 7.19%
Variable Rates: 1.99% – 6.84% (9.95% Cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Min. Credit Score: 700 (soft minimum)
Misc. Restrictions:
Apply Link

Social Finance, Inc. is an online-only finance corporation with some stand-out offerings that include transferring debt from parent to child and unemployment protection with job placement assistance.

SoFi is currently subject to a nationwide class-action lawsuit alleging lending discrimination. This is not to be confused with the 2018-19 Federal Trade Commission inquiry alleging SoFi misrepresented how much money consumers have saved or will save using its products. Because these legal issues both deal directly with SoFi’s lending programs, we advise potential borrowers to refinance with caution and keep a record of every communication with SoFi representatives.

For more information on SoFi, read our full review.

UW Credit Union

Our Rating: A
Rating: A
Loan Limits: $5,000+
Fixed Rates: 3.14% – 7.15%
Variable Rates: 1.67% – 4.97% (15.00% cap)
Terms: 5, 7, 10 or 15 years
Min. Credit Score: Undisclosed
Misc. Restrictions: Borrowers must be(come) UW Credit Union members
Apply Link

The University of Wisconsin Credit Union offers a speedy turnaround; the refinance loan process takes 2-4 weeks from application to loan dispersal. Borrowers may apply for interest-only payments for the first two (2) years of the loan’s term. Membership is open to students, faculty, staff, and alumni (and their families) of Wisconsin’s massive public postsecondary system.

For more information on UW Credit Union, read our full review.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of frequently asked questions about SoFi student loan refinancing.

Refinancing a student loan means paying off that loan immediately with another loan from a separate lender. Borrowers may choose to refinance a single loan, or they may opt to pay off multiple loans at once. Refinancing student loans can be cost effective when borrowers are careful to choose the right terms and conditions for their economic needs. For reasons to refinance your student loans, read How to Choose the Right Loan Terms.

Consider refinancing any time you qualify for reduced interest rates. Successful refinancing is usually the outcome of a change in the borrower’s financial situation. For more about the best time to refinance, read Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and Why You May Not Qualify for the Best Refinance Rates.

Consolidation usually refers specifically to Federal Direct Loan Consolidation. It’s similar to the refinance process, but consolidation combines existing loans instead of taking out a whole new loan. Consolidating federal loans also retains certain borrower protections included with those loans.

Because refinancing means getting a new loan, refinancing a federal loan means losing federal protections. Such benefits include student loan forgiveness or discharge and temporary federal student debt relief such as the CARES Act of 2020. For more about what special protections are exclusive to federal loans, read Federal Student Loan Protections.

Yes. Partial student loan financing is an option for borrowers who have multiple loans with varying interest rates. If just one or two loans carry a high interest rate, it may not be cost effective to refinance all of them. It is also possible to consolidate federal loans and refinance private loans separately.

Yes. As you have more time to build a solid credit history, you may eventually qualify for an even lower rate. If your income increases significantly, you may also wish to shorten the term of your loan to pay it off quicker. For more about multiple refinance loans, read How Many Times Can You Refinance? and How to Lower Your Interest Rate.

The entire process usually takes a month or two, up to 120 days. For some lenders, prequalification takes a few minutes with their online application. Final qualification may take 1 to 3 business days. Once you receive your loan offer, you’ll have 30 days before it expires. If you accept the offer, you have 3 days to rescind. Refinance lenders say to expect your original loans to be paid off in 14-30 days. Lenders generally say the first repayment comes due after 30-45 days. With some refinance lenders, the first repayment due date is relative to the time of disbursement; for others, it depends on the date of origination.

To confirm your APR and offer terms, your lender will need to perform a hard credit inquiry. A hard credit pull is the type of credit pull that has the potential to damage your FICO score. Additionally, closing a line of credit has an impact on your score. While refinancing opens a new line of credit, paying off the initial loan(s) also closes one or more lines of credit. Thus, your score quickly “evens out.” For more about the impact refinancing may have on your credit score, read Does Refinancing Affect Your Credit Score?

Most lenders won’t refinance loans for someone who has declared bankruptcy. Declaring bankruptcy after refinancing will not necessarily eliminate the debt. In early 2020, a New York federal judge discharged over $200,000 in student loans for one borrower who declared bankruptcy. This is not standard, however.

Your refinance lender should send you several legal disclosures. Read these disclosures carefully and make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities. If you still have concerns or there is anything you do not understand, it may be wise to meet with a third-party advisor. A financial professional may also alert you if anything in your loan contract seems suspicious.

You have a legal right to rescind or cancel your acceptance of the new loan within three (3) days of your initial acceptance. The Right to Rescind is part of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), which protects all consumer borrowers from predatory lenders. For more about how to use your right to rescind, read Right to Rescind a Refinance Loan.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission facilitated the repayment of more than $230 million to student borrowers who had been scammed. Recent investigations include:

  • Student Debt Doctor
  • Student Debt Relief Group
  • Strategic Student Solutions
  • Student Aid Center
  • Alliance Document Preparation
  • A1 DocPrep, Inc.

The Federal Trade Commission posts a complete list of people and companies banned from participating in debt relief businesses.

The FTC has distributed more than $1 million to the customers of a company that did business under multiple names, including American Student Loan Consolidators, BBND Marketing, and United Processing Center. Many companies do business under more than one name or change names when their services change. Multiple concurrent business names, however, may be designed to confuse clients and pass blame. Other signs include:

  • Asking for your Federal Student Aid or FSA ID password. No legitimate student loan servicer, even those working with the U.S. Department of Education, will ever ask for your FSA password. Do not share this information with any lender.
  • Excessive upfront fees. It’s normal for servicers to charge for their services, such as initiating a line of credit or paying off loans on your behalf. Dozens of monthly fees or one-time fees over $200, however, are not standard.
  • Promises of immediate loan forgiveness. Loan forgiveness in the event of death is an industry standard. Other than that, private companies rarely forgive loan debt. At least one legitimate nonprofit company offers the potential for loan forgiveness on student debt more than 25 years old. Student loan forgiveness for federal loans is possible but rare.

If you suspect a student loan debt relief scam, submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. You can also report the fraud to the Attorney General of your state.