DollarGeek Presents:

Best Student Loan Refinancing Lenders of October 2021

DollarGeek's goal is to help you make the best financial decisions. To help us do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations or ratings.

Borrowers often believe that paying back their student loan debt directly to the federal government is their only option—resigned to robotically paying that monthly payment, feeling like it will never end. Not true! You can reduce your monthly student loan payment by refinancing. The key is to find the best student loan refinancing lender and the good news is that DollarGeek has researched the best student loan refinancing lenders.

So, now that you’re going to go shopping for the best student loan refinancing lender, what do you need? First and foremost, it is important to have a healthy credit score. A solid credit score will help you snag a better interest rate, which will lower monthly payments and save you money.

Want to get an idea of what your monthly payment can look like? Check out our student loan refinancing calculator here.

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OVERALL RATING:
(5)
on College Ave's website

Variable Rate

2.94% - 7.74%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 7.84%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

2.94% - 7.74%

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 7.84%

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View Details
OVERALL RATING:
(4.5)
on CommonBond's website

Variable Rate

1.99% - 5.61%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.98% - 5.79%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

1.99% - 5.61%

Fixed Rate

2.98% - 5.79%

+ Show More Details
View Details
OVERALL RATING:
(4.5)
on Earnest’s website

Variable Rate

1.88% - 5.64%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.50% – 5.79%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

1.88% - 5.64%

Fixed Rate

2.50% – 5.79%

+ Show More Details
View Details
OVERALL RATING:
(5)
on LendKey's website

Variable Rate

1.98% - 8.55%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 8.77%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

1.98% - 8.55%

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 8.77%

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View Details
OVERALL RATING:
(4.5)
on Splash's website

Variable Rate

1.98% - 7.10%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.88% - 727%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

1.98% - 7.10%

Fixed Rate

2.88% - 727%

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OVERALL RATING:
(4.5)
on SoFi's website

Variable Rate

2.24% - 6.39%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.74% - 6.74%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

2.24% - 6.39%

Fixed Rate

2.74% - 6.74%

+ Show More Details
View Details
OVERALL RATING:
(4.5)
on PenFed's website

Variable Rate

2.99%-5.15%

varies on credit

Fixed Rate

2.25%-4.61%

varies on credit

Variable Rate

2.99%-5.15%

Fixed Rate

2.25%-4.61%

+ Show More Details
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DollarGeek's Picks: Best Student Loan Refinance Rates and Lenders - October 2021

DollarGeek is here with you every step of the way when selecting the best student loan refinancing lender. Find the best place to start saving thousands on your student loans.

Best For

Variable APR

Fixed APR

Loan Amount

(5.0)

Flexible repayment terms and low rates

2.94% - 7.74%
2.99% - 7.84%

$5,000–full balance of education loans

(4.5)

Longer forbearance

1.99% - 5.61%
2.98% - 5.79%

$5,000–$500,000

(4.5)

Customized repayment options

1.88% - 5.64%
2.50% – 5.79%

$5,000–$500,000

(5.0)

Working with a community bank or credit union

1.98% - 8.55%
2.99% - 8.77%

$5,000–varies by degree type

(4.5)

Getting multiple rate quotes

1.98% - 7.10%
2.88% - 727%

$5,000–$500,000

(4.5)

Member benefits

2.24% - 6.39%
2.74% - 6.74%

$5,000–full balance of education loans

(4.5)

Married couples refinancing together

2.99%-5.15%
2.25%-4.61%

$7,500–$300,000

Best for flexible repayment terms and low rates

(5.0)

Min. Credit Score

Mid 600's

VARIABLE RATE

2.94% - 7.74%

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 7.84%

Overview

College Ave is one of the top student loan refinancing lenders on our list because of their flexible loan terms, sufficient forbearance period, and versatile payment options. College Ave is established by ex-Sallie Mae executives, allowing the platform to streamline their student loan refinancing process.

As a student loan refinancing option, College Ave scores well in its fee structure. There are no loan origination or application charges and prepayment penalties. Borrowers can get instant eligibility results by providing their details.

DollarGeek likes College Ave because of its flexible loan terms. Borrowers can choose any loan term between 5 years and 20 years, which isn’t the case with any other lender. At the same time, College Ave offers a forbearance period of 12 months, available in three months or six months increments.

Borrowers can apply with or without a cosigner, depending on their financial profile. College Ave offers additional rate discounts with autopay feature.

What We Like

  • College Ave offers flexible repayment terms, between 5 years and 20 years.
  • The lender provides multiple repayment options (four).
  • 0.25% interest rate discount for making automatic payments.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • College Ave doesn’t offer its services in Maine.

Best for flexible repayment terms

(4.5)

Min. Credit Score

680

VARIABLE RATE

1.99% - 5.61%

Fixed Rate

2.98% - 5.79%

Overview

Commonbond student loan refinancing solutions are some of the most competitive in the market, especially in terms of its APRs. Commonbond distinguishes itself with a longer forbearance period (24 months) and quick cosigner release (36 months).

Borrowers can check their eligibility with a soft credit pull. The loan amount can be anywhere between $5,000 to $500,000. You can choose between different loan terms, including 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years. Commonbond doesn’t charge an origination fee or prepayment penalty for its refinancing loans, although there is a late payment fee.

Our analysis indicates that Commonbond offers some of the most competitive fixed and variable APRs for its student loan refinancing products. In addition to the standard fixed and variable rate APRs, Commonbond offers a hybrid-APR, under which the lender offers a fixed rate for five years and a variable rate for the remaining loan term.

Commonbond offers a discount of 0.25% for autopay activation.

What We Like

  • Commonbond offers a forbearance of 24 months, longer than most online lenders.
  • Commonbond provides competitive APRs for student loan refinancing.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • Commonbond doesn’t offer its student loan refinancing services in all 50 states.

Best for flexible repayment terms

(4.5)

Min. Credit Score

650

VARIABLE RATE

1.88% - 5.64%

Fixed Rate

2.50% – 5.79%

Overview

Earnest is an online lender that provides student loan refinancing solutions and private student loans. Earnest takes a slightly different approach when it comes to student loan refinancing. The lender takes into account the personal financial details of individual borrowers.

Borrowers can refinance their student loans as long as they have a consistent income, their bank account balances are going in a positive direction, they are current on their rent or mortgages, and don’t have bankruptcy or accounts in collections recently.

Earnest offers some of the most flexible loan terms to its borrowers. A borrower can pick a monthly payment amount, and Earnest will use it to develop a custom payment term.

When it comes to flexibility, Earnest allows its student loan refinancing clients to skip one payment in 12 months. Borrowers can choose a flexible payment schedule and change it if necessary. 

Earnest doesn’t charge prepayment penalties, so students can make extra payments to pay off their loans quicker. Choosing for the automatic payment option provides a 0.25% discount on both fixed interest rate and variable interest rate loan options.

What We Like

  • Earnest allows borrowers to pick flexible loan terms, repayment amounts.
  • Borrowers can skip one payment every 12 months.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • Earnest doesn’t provide its full-suite services across 50 states (Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada).

Best for utilizing credit unions and community banks.

(5.0)

Min. Credit Score

680

VARIABLE RATE

1.98% - 8.55%

Fixed Rate

2.99% - 8.77%

Overview

LendKey is a lending marketplace for connecting borrowers with suitable lenders. The platform primarily works with credit unions and small community banks, which may result in a more personalized experience.

Borrowers seeking student loan refinancing can share their personal information and lending requirements on LendKey to receive offers from various banks. The borrower can choose a suitable bank and move forward with the underwriting process. Also, LendKey’s credit eligibility involves a soft credit check, ensuring no impact on your credit score.

In terms of student loan refinancing products, LendKey offers a forbearance period of up to 18 months, which is loner than most lenders. Borrowers can apply with a cosigner, with the option of cosigner release available with most lenders on the platform.

One of the shortcomings of LendKey is that the platform doesn’t provide its services all across the country.

What We Like

  • LendKey provides access to various lenders, allowing borrowers to choose the most favorable terms.
  • LendKey services loans in-house to provide the best customer experience.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • LendKey doesn’t offer its services in all the 50 states.

Best for getting multiple rate quotes

(4.5)

Min. Credit Score

650

VARIABLE RATE

1.98% - 7.10%

Fixed Rate

2.88% - 727%

Overview

Splash Financial is another lending marketplace on our list. The online loan portal offers loans from three primary lenders, including Laurel Road, Penfed, and U-Fi from Nelnet. Our research reveals that Splash Financial has some of the best student refinancing rates available in the market.

Applying for a student loan refinancing takes only a couple of minutes on Splash Financial’s website. Borrowers will receive quotes from different lenders, with varying APR, loan terms, and forbearance or deferment policies. You can choose the one that works for you.

Splash Financial doesn’t charge any origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalty for its student refinance loan. On the other hand, Splash Financial does have a 12-month cosigner release, as long as payments are made uninterruptedly and on time.

Borrowers can work with a dedicated account executive for continuous support and guidance throughout the application process.

What We Like

  • Splash Financial allows borrowers to receive quotes from different lenders.
  • Splash Finance has lower APRs, both fixed and variable.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • The terms of the loan may vary from one lender to another, requiring borrowers to check individual terms.

Best for member benefits and low interest rates

(4.5)

Min. Credit Score

N/A

VARIABLE RATE

2.24% - 6.39%

Fixed Rate

2.74% - 6.74%

Overview

SoFi is one of the market leaders when it comes to student loan refinancing. The online lender has refinanced student loans worth over $30 billion. SoFi offers student loan refinancing solutions to borrowers with stable cash flow, health credit profile, and lower debt.

What makes SoFi popular for refinancing student loans is its flexible loan terms. Borrowers can choose between 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years loan term. SoFi allows applicants to check their eligibility and applicable rates through a soft credit check.

One of the perks of refinancing student loans from SoFi is its community or member benefits. SoFi customers get access to career guidance, financial planning, member rate discounts on loans, estate planning, and unemployment protection.

SoFi didn’t offer a cosigner release option for student loan refinancing prior to May 1, 2019, but that policy has changed. You can find more information by getting in touch with SoFi’s customer support.

What We Like

  • SoFi doesn’t charge application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.
  • SoFi offers flexible payment terms and additional rate discounts to existing members.
  • 0.25% interest rate discount for making automatic payments.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • Borrowers must apply for a loan of $5,000 ($10,000 in California) or above, which is slightly higher than other lenders.

Best for married couples refinancing together

(4.5)

Min. Credit Score

Mid 600's

VARIABLE RATE

2.99%-5.15%

Fixed Rate

2.25%-4.61%

Overview

Penfed Credit Union is one of the only lenders on our list that offer combined student loan refinancing for couples. Penfed Credit Unions offers competitive APRs, although their average borrowers have strong credit profiles. If you’re seeking student loan refinancing from Penfed Credit Union, applying with a cosigner could improve your approval rates.

Borrowers can start their refinancing process by becoming a member of the Penfed Credit Union. You can become a member by opening a savings account for as low as $5. Identifying your loan eligibility requires your personal details and a soft credit check, leaving no impact on your credit report.

Penfed Credit Union stands out because of its refinancing solutions for couples. Married couples can combine their student loans and apply for a refinancing loan. The credit union will select the spouse with a higher credit score and consider combined income for better lending terms.

There are some areas that Penfed needs to improve, including a missing forbearance period and loan deferment feature.

What We Like

  • Married couples can combine their student loans and apply for a single refinancing loan.
  • There are no origination charges or prepayment penalties for Penfed Credit Union refinancing loans.

Areas to Watch Out for

  • Penfed Credit Union doesn’t offer forbearance.

Learn About Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing allows you to restructure your student loan, lower or increase monthly payments, and even get favorable rates with a refinancing lender. Here is a list of some of the best student loan refinancing companies.

  • College Ave
  • Commonbond
  • Earnest
  • LendKey
  • Splash Financial
  • SoFi

The rate of interest of a student refinance loan depends on several factors, including your credit score, income, and credit history. Our analysis indicates variable rates from 1.81% to 8.55% and fixed rates in the range of 2.25% to 8.77%.

  • College Ave (3.24% to 6.04% variable; 3.34% to 6.54% fixed)
  • commonbond (1.99% to 5.61% variable; 2.98% to 5.79% fixed)
  • earnest (1.99% to 5.74% variable; 2.98% to 5.79% fixed)
  • LendKey (1.98% to 8.55% variable; 2.99% to 8.77% fixed)

Refinancing a student loan can be a smart move under certain circumstances. If you’re able to lower your interest rate, combine different student loans, or negotiate better payment terms, restructuring your student loan can be a good move.

However, it is essential to understand that you may lose some of your federal protections when you refinance a student loan.

There are some limitations when it comes to student loan refinancing.

  • You may disqualify from federal relief programs or flexible repayment plans.
  • Choosing a longer repayment period or a lower amount will increase your net interest payments.
  • You will pay processing charges or loan underwriting expenses.

There are several companies that offer student loan refinancing solutions. Here is a shortlist of student loan refinancing lenders.

  • College Ave
  • Commonbond
  • Earnest
  • LendKey
  • Splash Financial
  • SoFi

Refinancing your student loan doesn’t hurt your credit score. The only impact is when a lender makes a hard inquiry on your credit profile before offering the terms of the loan. Avoid filing multiple loan applications simultaneously.

When you apply for a mortgage, lenders review your current debt-to-income ratio to adjudge your ability to repay the loan. If you have a student loan, it will contribute to a higher debt-to-income ratio, which may prevent lenders from extending credit or providing favorable terms.

When you refinance your student loan with a private loan, your federal loan is replaced by a new private loan, which means any protection you enjoyed with a federal student loan no longer applies. You will lose out on income-adjusted repayment plans or debt elimination programs.

The credit score requirements vary for different student loan refinancing lenders. Here is a list of some of the popular options:

  • College Ave: 600+
  • Commonbond: 680+
  • Earnest: 650+
  • LendKey: 680+
  • Splash Financial: 650+

Some financial advisors recommend individuals to stay with their federal student loans and avoid refinancing student loans for various reasons, including:

  • Loss of eligibility to apply for student loan forgiveness
  • Uneligible for income-adjusted repayment programs
  • No relief under the CARES Act.

Pros of refinancing student loans

  • Lower interest rates.
  • One consolidated payment.
  • Better payment terms.

Cons of refinancing student loans

  • Unable to qualify for federal forgiveness or income-adjusted repayment plans.
  • Lower payments but higher repayment terms.
  • No relief under the CARES Act.

There are several options when it comes to student loan forgiveness.

  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness
  • Disability discharge
  • Income-driven repayment
  • Military loan forgiveness programs
  • State loan forgiveness programs for public servants 
  • Employer student loan assistance initiatives.
  • College Ave (3.24% to 6.04% variable; 3.34% to 6.54% fixed)
  • Commonbond (1.99% to 5.61% variable; 2.98% to 5.79% fixed)
  • Earnest (1.99% to 5.74% variable; 2.98% to 5.79% fixed)
  • LendKey (1.98% to 8.55% variable; 2.99% to 8.77% fixed)

There are several lenders that offer financing solutions for student loan refinancing. Here is a list of some of the best student loan refinancing companies.

  • College Ave
  • commonbond
  • earnest
  • LendKey
  • Splash Financial
  • SoFi

In order to get the lowest student loan refinance rate, here is what you need to do.

  • Improve your credit score before applying.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Apply with a co-signer with an impeccable credit profile.
  • Build a strong credit profile.

Several individuals are unaware of the fact that they can negotiate their student loans with their lenders.

  • Discuss your financial issues with your lender.
  • Provide a clear picture of your finances for a repayment plan.
  • Pay the agreed amount in full.
  • Inform your lender in case of missed payments.

It is possible to negotiate a student loan when it is in default or delinquency. Some lenders may settle for as little as 50% of the remaining loan, whereas others may need you to make a higher payment.

  • Contact the lender in advance.
  • Discuss a repayment plan in advance.
  • Pay the remaining amount and get a ‘paid-in-full’ statement from the lender.

If you’re considering paying off your student loan early, it’s an excellent approach towards a debt-free life. You can lower your debt-to-income ratio, qualify for any kind of credit with a good credit score, and use the installment amount for any of your long-term financial goals.

Check out these additional resources:

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