Best Places for student loan refinance - How to apply, interest rates, and servicers.

Got a bunch of loans with high interest rates and looking for a way to lower your monthly loan repayments? Tired of the number of payments you need to make every month on your loans? Fret not, we’ve got you covered, from the best refinancing options to the tiny details from all the banks offering them.

Posted by Sharan Kumar on 8th March 2019


How does student loan consolidation work?

Loan repayment can be a troublesome part of your post-schooling days. Especially if you've got multiple loans to handle which requires you to make timely payments. It requires having to make payments regularly for different loans at different times, making sure it reached your bank. You will have to make sure you have enough cash in your bank account to not default on a payment.

Consolidation of your loans under one bank can help with this by re-adjusting your loan interest rates, reduce or increase your term duration, make a single payment for all your loans, and not have to worry about anything after.

This can help get you out of your debt faster, with much less hassle and have you fretting less, while at the same time pay less interest as your refinance rates are much lesser in comparison.

Beware that you can normally only refinance your loans once, so only go through with a student loan refinance when you are sure it is a great deal and will save you money in the long run. That means you must only refinance to a new loan with a lower interest rate, not a higher one.

Also, understand that refinancing is not on the same lines as consolidating. When you consolidate, you effectively merge all your existing loans into one. When you refinance, you pay off your old debts and create a new loan with new loan terms and conditions.

Some important criteria to review before you sign on the bottom line to student loan refinance

  • Interest rate - The interest rate is the primary drive behind the loan costs. while refinancing, you may find both fixed rate and variable rate loans. Keep in mind that with a variable rate, your interest rate and payment can go up when market rates go higher. With a fixed rate, it would not change for the life of the loan. Variable rates are usually cheaper in the short-term, but in a rising interest rate ecosystem, they can cost way more in the long run.

  • Fees - Banks may charge an origination fee and other fees for servicing your loan. A fee-free student loan refinance is perfect if you qualify with a lender that offers that perk. Also, make sure you do not have any penalties for early repayment.

  • Term - The term is how many years you have until you have to pay off the loan. A shorter loan usually saves you money by cutting down on interest, but that usually means a higher monthly payment. For your finances, a shorter term is better if you can afford to pay for it. Most student loan refinances options range from 5 to 20-year terms.

To qualify for refinancing, you will have to fulfill the requirements for a credit score, annual income, savings, and a college degree (or certificate of enrollment if you’re still in school). If you don't yet qualify on your own, you could apply with a creditworthy cosigner to increase your chances.


Table of Contents

Number Topics
1 How does student loan consolidation work?  
2 Federal Student Loan Consolidation
3 Private Student Loan Consolidation
4 Best student loan refinancing options
5 Top companies offering student loan refinancing
6 Best ways to refinance student loans FAQs

How does student loan consolidation work?

When you consolidate your student loans, you are essentially combining multiple loans into one. To facilitate the consolidation, a lender will pay off all your current loans and issue you a new loan for the total amount you owe in respect to all your previous loans.

Student loans can be taken from either the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Education, or from a private lender, such as a bank, credit union, state agency or the educational institution.

Your options for consolidation and the pros and cons of consolidation may differ depending on whether you have federal student loans, private student loans or a combination of the two.

Federal student loan consolidation

The Direct Loan Consolidation program is a free option made available for federal student loans. When you consolidate your federal loans, the U.S. Department of Education issues a Direct Consolidation Loan which is with a fixed interest rate that’s the overall average rate of the loans you’re consolidating, rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of a percent (0.125 percent).

This type of consolidation does not save you money on interest, but it can make it easier for you to manage your loans with a single payment each month. If you choose to extend your loan terms, you will have a lower monthly payment. Federal student loan consolidation does not involve a credit check, although you might be able to lower your monthly payment and there could be other benefits, such as being able to avail more repayment plans or forgiveness programs.

Private student loan consolidation

With Private student loan consolidation, a private lender repays all of your student loans, which may include both private and federal loans. The lender issues a new loan which is based on your creditworthiness.

You may be able to save money and lower your monthly payments by refinancing your student loans with an interest rate reduction. However, when you refinance federal loans, they will become private loans and will no longer be able to avail specialties for federal programs, including income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.

While both the options involve combining multiple loans into one, private loan consolidation is usually referred to as refinancing. This is because you will finance the new student loan based on a variety of variables, including your income, debts, employment, and credit. By contrast, federal loan consolidation wouldn't change how much interest accumulates, and eligibility does not depend on your creditworthiness.

You do not have to choose either. You can choose to consolidate your federal student loans and refinance your private loans, or the other way of doing it is to consolidate some of your federal loans and refinance others. Or, you may research your options and maybe even decide you shouldn’t use either.


Best student loan refinancing options

Following are the companies offering refinancing options for both Federal and Private student loans. The term for the same is from 5 - 20 years. The loan types have fixed and variable rates. 

Rank Lender Variable rates Eligible degrees
1 Earnest 2.55% -6.9% Undergraduate and Graduate
2 SoFi 2.54% - 7.28% Undergraduate and Graduate
3 CommonBond 2.69% - 7.43% Undergraduate and Graduate
4 LendKey 2.70% - 8.96% Undergraduate and Graduate
5 Laurel Road 3.23% - 6.65% Undergraduate and Graduate
6 Citizen One 2.98% -9.72% Undergraduate and Graduate
7 ELFi 2.80% - 6.01% Undergraduate and Graduate
8 iHELP LIBOR+2.5 to 8.5% Undergraduate and Graduate
9 Splash Financial 3.10% - 7.84% Graduate

Top companies offering student loan refinancing

1 - Earnest

Earnest offers borrowers much flexibility with refinancing student loans. The company has a non-traditional approach to underwriting, which also takes your money management skills into account.

Best features

Although your credit history matters, Earnest takes into consideration merit-based factors when reviewing applicants. For example, your history of making retirement account savings and saving for an emergency fund will also benefit your application. Your job and career aspects are also taken into consideration.

Earnest gives borrowers multiple options when it comes to repaying their loans, such as choosing your monthly payment and the option to make multiple payments each month or the ability to skip a payment every 12 months without a penalty as long as you are in good standing with your payments.

Earnest has earned a Trustpilot excellence rating and an A+ Better Business Bureau rating.

Things to take notice

Applicants cannot apply with a co-signer, which could make it a bit difficult for some people who are trying to qualify for refinancing.

Best for the people who -

  • Are financially fit, even in case they do not have a long credit history.

  • Want to refinance parent PLUS loans.

  • Desire flexibility in their loan terms and repayment plans.

Credit eligibility

Those who have a Minimum credit score 650 or above.

Those with a Maximum DTI 50 percent.

They require a Minimum credit history of 36 months.

Employment requirements

A Minimum income of $35,000 per annum.

You must be employed, have income from other sources or have an offer to begin working within the subsequent 6 months

Student eligibility

  • Earnest Only accepts graduates there is an exception if you’re within six months of graduating.

  • Eligible degrees Title IV-accredited school Grads and undergrads.

  • Eligible loans are Private and federal loans.

  • Co-signer option - not available

  • Pre Approval quote check option - available

  • State restrictions - Not available in all states.

Interest rates

Rate types - Fixed and variable

Autopay discount of 0.25%

Loan and refinancing terms

Loan Amount -  Min - $5,000 || Max - $500,000

Loan Period - Min - 5 years || Max - 20 years.

Repayment and hardship options

There are no prepayment penalties

Deferment can be availed on request.

Forbearance Yes, it is available during the period of economic difficulties and hardships.

Fees

There are no origination, late payment or additional fee charges.

Additional features

Possible to make biweekly payments, which will result in paying comparatively less overall interest. If you’re in good standing, you can be let off if you skip one payment every 12 months.

You can choose to customize your rate and term based on how much you can afford to pay each month, which can save you some money compared with traditional financing terms.


2 - SoFi

SoFi is one of the largest student loan refinance companies and was one of the earliest to allow borrowers to refinance their federal and private student loans into a single new loan. It has more of a focus on graduates who have a high income and good credit history.

Best features

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with no maximum loan amount determined prior to application.

When you refinance your student loans with SoFi, you also become a member. As a member, you are eligible for additional services, which include a career coach, a free financial advisor, waived fees for wealth management products and also discounts on the other loans from SoFi. Members are all invited to events, such as cooking classes and happy hours, in major cities around the country.

If you lose your job and it was not your fault, SoFi will put your loans in forbearance for up to 3 months and assist you in finding another job.

Drawbacks

SoFi chooses to lend to creditworthy borrowers with at least a FICO credit score >650 and consistent income. If you do not meet the criteria, you may not qualify for a loan at all or not get low rates.

If you use a co-signer to qualify for refinancing, your co-signer will be tied to your loan until it is completely paid off. Some other refinancers will release your cosigner after you establish a history of on-time payments.

Best for people who -

Want education and community features from their student loan to refinance

Have at least a FICO credit score >650.

Want to refinance parent PLUS loans with their other loans.

Credit requirements

Those who have a Minimum credit score 650 or above

Maximum DTI N/A

Minimum credit history N/A

Employment requirements

Minimum income N/A

You must be employed, have an offer to start work in less than 90 days or have income from other sources

Student eligibility

  • SoFi only accepts graduates.

  • Eligible degrees are Title IV-accredited school grads and undergrads.

  • Eligible loans are Private and federal loans

  • The co-signer option is available

  • Pre-approval quote check option is available

  • No State restrictions as SoFi is Available in all 50 states

Interest rates

Rate types are Fixed and variable

Autopay discount rate is 0.25 %

Loan and refinancing terms

Loan Amount -  Min - $5,000 || Max - No maximum price mentioned

Loan Period - Min - 5 years || Max - 20 years.

Repayment and hardship options

Repayment options More-than-minimum payments and biweekly payments are offered

Deferment It respects the existing grace periods on refinanced loans. Deferment is also available for up to six months for borrowers in school with at least half time school attendance, active-duty service members, those undergoing disability rehabilitation and those taking part in SoFi’s Entrepreneurship Program.

Forbearance Yes, in three-month increments for up to 12 months total if you lose a job through no fault of your own.

Fees

There are no origination fees charged on the refinanced loans.

Late payment - N/A

Additional fees - N/A

SoFi - Additional features

SoFi’s Entrepreneurship Program can connect you with peers, mentors, and investors who can help turn your idea into a reality.


3 - CommonBond

They started out lending mostly to graduates, especially doctors with those more than $100000 in debt.

Now have diversified into other streams and even to undergrads.

You can get to See your rate in two minutes

Your loan funds the education of a child in need with their social good programs

No Fees for origination, application or disbursement.

Best features

  • Commonbond offers Refinancing and consolidation of private and federal student loans

  • Hybrid loan options- where the rate remains fixed for the first 5 years and later becomes variable.

  • Social promise- funds the education of someone in need in an emerging market for every loan that closes.

  • Common bridge- unemployment program where they pause payments and help you find a job

Drawbacks

Does not offer to refinance in certain states as follows

Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont.

You lose the protections that a federal loan offers if you refinance it as it converts to a private loan.

Best for people who

Are undergrads, graduates, and Parent PLUS student loan borrowers

Credit requirements

A FICO score of 660 or higher.

Employment requirements

No annual income requirements

Requires you to be employed or have an offer letter at the time of application.

Student eligibility

  • Eligible degrees Title IV-accredited school Grads and undergrads.

Interest rates

2.70% – 7.44% APR variable rate refinancing (with autopay)

3.67% – 7.25% APR fixed rate refinancing (with autopay)

4.35% – 6.30% APR hybrid rate refinancing (with autopay)

Loan and refinancing terms

5, 7, 10, 15, 20 Year Repayment Terms

Repayment and hardship options

0.25% Interest Rate Reduction with automatic debts via ACH

Unemployment protection – loan payments are paused and it helps eligible graduates find new jobs and also hire them for short-term consulting projects

Fees

There are no application, origination or disbursement fees

Additional features

Access to CommonBond Community, for example, the Borrowers are connected to the events in their cities, networking opportunities, and lifestyle complimentary perks

Social good – for every fully funded degree that goes through CommonBond, it will fund the education of a student in need abroad for a year through Pencils of Promise.


4 - LendKey

LendKey is not a lender by itself. But, it offers a network of hundreds of community-based banks and similar credit unions that will refinance your student loans. LendKey unifies and manages the application process, also offers customer support to applicants and services the loans.

Best features

Instead of individually researching and comparing small banks and credit unions, LendKey allows you to see a list of potential good fits for you and their loan offerings. This makes it easier to quickly compare a variety of refinancing options.

since your loan comes from small banks and credit unions, you may receive better terms or more lenient repayment options. For example, some of the lenders may let you make interest-only payments, which could decrease your monthly payments but will increase the cost of your loan.

Drawbacks

You may be needed to join a credit union if you want it to refinance your loan. Eligibility can vary depending on the credit union but may be limited to people who live in a certain region or work at particular companies.

The terms and conditions can vary depending on the lender. Read the fine print to understand your new loan before agreeing to go through with the refinance.

Best for people who -

  • Want to stop their loan with multiple small lenders

  • Want to keep their money local but get good customer service from a bigger company

  • Might not qualify for refinancing from other lenders due to low income

  • Are interested repayment plans from a private lender

Credit requirements

Minimum credit score Varies, typically 600+

Maximum DTI Varies

The minimum credit history of 36 months

Employment requirements

Minimum employment eligibility is a minimum income of $24,000 annually

Student eligibility

  • Only accepts graduates Yes

  • Eligible degrees Undergraduate and graduate

  • Eligible loans Private and federal

  • Co-signer option Yes, and you might be able to release the co-signer after making 12 to 36 consecutive on-time full payments.

  • Preapproval quote check option No

  • No State restrictions but some of the lenders in the network may be regional.

Interest rates

Rate types are Fixed and variable

Autopay discount 0.25 percent

Loan and refinancing terms

Loan Amount -  Min - Varies || Max - Varies

Loan Period - Min - 10 years || Max - 10 years.

Repayment and hardship options

Repayment options - In-school payments are available

Deferment - Yes, due to financial hardship

Forbearance - Yes, due to financial hardship

Fees

The origination fee is nil.

Late payment - Not disclosed, dependent on the lender

Additional fees - Not disclosed, dependent on the lender


5 - Laurel Road

Laurel Road (A SubDivision of Darien Rowayton Bank) offers very competitive student loan interest rates to their customers. Variable interest rates start at 2.80% APR and fixed rates start at 3.37% APR. They explain that they believe their borrowers have earned these rates due to their hard work in completing college and earning a job.

Best features

First, off the list, similar to many other lenders, they charge no origination or prepayment fees.

One of the other benefits that Laurel Road offers, that many other lenders don't, is unemployment protection. If a borrower loses his or her job or any other form of economic hardship, Laurel Road will allow for partial up to full forbearance of payments for up to a period of 12 months. Furthermore, Laurel Road will forgive the loans of borrowers who pass away or unexpectedly become permanently disabled.

They also allow you to refinance your federal and private loans up to 100% of their value.

Laurel Road Bank allows medical and dental students to pay only $100 per month throughout their residency or fellowship and up to six months after training. It is important for borrowers to keep in mind that the interest that accumulates during this time will be added on to the total loan balance.

The last benefit, that many lenders also provide, is a discount for auto debits. Laurel Road calls it automatic electronic fund transfer, or EFT. Laurel Road will provide you with a discount of 0.25% if you automatically make your payments every month through any type of checking account.

Drawbacks

  • They don't offer more than 12 months of forbearance.

  • They Have no academic deferment for borrowers returning to school.

  • They do not let you make greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.

  • While many banks charge late fees, Laurel Road Bank’s late fee can be slightly higher than most at 5% or $28 (whichever is less) for a payment that is more than 15 days late.

  • While not specific to Laurel Road Bank, it is important to remember that you will give up certain protections when refinancing a federal loan with any private lender.

Requirements

Financially

  • A minimum credit score of 660.

  • Minimum income not necessary

  • The maximum debt-to-income ratio of 30%

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy Yes, after 4 years.

Others

  • Citizenship of the U.S must be a present or permanent resident. Permanent residents must have a valid I-551 card, called a green card.

  • Location in all 50 U.S. states.

  • Borrowers must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Associate degrees are acceptable for select professions.

  • Must have attended a Title IV-accredited school

Student eligibility

U.S. citizens with bachelors, graduate, or a professional degree and a job and parents who have taken student loans in favor of their children are eligible to refinance with Laurel Road. In addition, the individual must have at least $5,000 in educational loans.

To determine if you are eligible for refinancing, and to determine your personal interest rate, Laurel Road will do a credit check. In addition, having a good income and a debt-to-income of less than 30% both increase your chances of being approved.

If you do not possess a good credit or have a little credit history, you may still be approved for Laurel Road’s refinancing if you have someone to cosign on your loan. A cosigner shares the repayment responsibilities of the main borrower, reducing the risk for Laurel Road and making them more likely to work with you. Typically, a cosigner can be a parent, guardian, or another close adult.

Interest rates

3.23% – 6.65% (with autopay) for variable rates

3.50% – 7.02% (with autopay) for fixed rates

Loan and refinancing terms

5, 7, 10, 15, 20-year repayment terms

Max variable rates capped at 9% for 5-10 year terms. For greater than 10 year term, the max rate cap is 10% APR

Repayment and hardship options

No academic deferment.

Laurel Road offers economic hardship forbearance for those on military leave.

Medical and dental residents and fellows can pay $100 a month until 6 months after their residency or fellowship ends. Interest will accumulate during this time, and any unpaid interest will be capitalized at the end of the reduced payment period.

Postpone loan payments for 3 months at a time, for up to a total of 12 months, if you have proof of a qualified economic hardship such as involuntary job loss or unpaid maternity leave.

Laurel Road will forgive all or part of the customer’s student loan in the event of death or proved permanent disability.

Does not Allow greater-than-minimum payments via autopay

Does not Allow biweekly payments via autopay

Fees

Late fees for payments delayed greater than 15 days equalling 5% of the late payment or 28$ whichever is less.

No application or origination fees

No prepayment penalties

Additional features

In-house customer service team.

Concerns are escalated through complaints and disputes to the customer service managers.

Referral bonus of $400 for each person you refer that ends up refinancing his/her loans through laurel road.


6- Citizen One bank

Citizens Bank offers student loan refinancing for both private and federal loans through its Education Refinance Loans.

Since Citizens Bank is a traditional bank, its loan application process is very thorough. You’ll have to fill out the application along with the requested documentation before hearing back. Citizen’s Bank does have a rate quote tool that they call “Get My Rate“, that uses a soft credit check to show users what rate they would qualify for which would not go about affecting their credit.

Best features

Borrowers without degrees are also able to refinance.

Personalized rate estimates are obtained through a soft credit pull.

Co-signer release is available after a period of 36 months of on-time payments.

Drawbacks

Does not offer more than 12 months of forbearance.

Doesn't disclose a minimum credit score and income requirements.

No biweekly payments via autopay.

Cannot transfer Parent PLUS loans to Child

Requirements

Citizens, One does not disclose specific details about what it takes to qualify for student loan refinancing. Lenders typically look for borrowers who have good credit and enough income to afford to pay off their debts and expenses.

Financially

  • No disclosed Minimum credit score

  • No disclosed Minimum income

  • A Typical credit score of 690 or above for approved borrowers or co-signers is mentioned

  • Non-disclosure of Typical income of approved borrowers

  • No disclosure of Maximum debt-to-income ratio

  • No disclosure of whether you will qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy

Others

  • Non-citizens can qualify with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer if they're eligible.

  • Available in all 50 U.S. states for borrowers

  • Graduation is not a must

  • No need to have attended a Title IV-accredited school

  • No disclosure of Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer

Interest rates

its fixed-rate loans range from 3.89% – 9.99% APR

Its variable interest rate loans range from 2.98% – 9.72% APR.

Loan and refinancing terms

You can refinance on a term of 5, 10, 15, or 20 years.

Repayment and hardship options

Postpone payments your if you return to school at least half-time academically.

Postpone payments if you’re on active military duty is available.

Postpone payments for up to 12 months, in 2-month increments, if you’re experiencing economic hardship.

Loans can be discharged in the event of death/disability of the borrower

Greater-than-minimum payments via autopay are possible

Biweekly payments are not available.

Fees

You don't have to worry about an application, origination, or disbursement fee, and there’s no prepayment penalty, either.

Additional features

Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account like a checking account or auto loan at the time of applying will get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount.


7 - Education Loan Finance

Education Loan Finance has been offering student loan refinancing since 2015. A division of SouthEast Bank, the management team has more than 30 years of extensive experience in student loans.

Best features

Borrowers are assigned a separate dedicated personal loan advisor who is a single point of contact from application to pay off. Personal loan advisors are four-year college graduates who are trained and tested in student loan programs and refinancing.

Education Loan Finance gives borrowers the opportunity to save with some of its special programs. The lender’s fast track bonus offers a $100 if your loan is approved and you accept the offer within 30 days of your initial application date. If you refer a friend who ends up refinancing a loan, you’ll get $400 and your friend will get $100.

Drawbacks

Borrowers must have a minimum of 680 in FICO credit score, at least 3 years of credit history and a minimum annual income of $36,000.

Deferment and forbearance may be granted for up to 12 months but at the discretion of the bank. Discharge due to death or disability is reviewed individually. Co-signers may not be released from the loan. However, you can apply for a new loan with no cosigner at all.

Best for people who

  • Meet qualification requirements

  • Inclined to work with a personal loan advisor

  • Can take advantage of bonus programs

Credit requirements

Minimum credit score - 680 or above

Maximum DTI - 50%

Minimum credit history - 36 months

Employment requirements

Minimum income - $35,000 annually

Minimum employment eligibility - Must meet the minimum income requirement of $35,000 annually

Student eligibility

  • Only accepts graduates - Yes

  • Eligible degrees - Undergraduate, graduate and other advanced degrees

  • Eligible loans - Private and federal loans

  • Co-signer option - Yes

  • Preapproval quote check option - Yes

  • State restrictions - Available in all the 50 states

Interest rates

Rate types are Fixed and variable

Autopay discount is Automatically applied, electronic payments are required for all the borrowers

Loan and refinancing terms

Loan Amount -  Min - $15,000 || Max - No maximum price mentioned

Loan Period - Min - 5 years || Max - 20 years for students and 10 years for parents

Repayment and hardship options

Repayment options No prepayment penalties

Deference may be granted for up to a period of 12 months

Forbearance may be granted for up to a period of 12 months

Fees

Origination fee - None

Late payment - 5% of the past due amount or $50, whichever is less after a 10-day grace period

Additional fees - N/A

Additional features

You can earn a $100 bonus for accepting your loan offer within 30 days

You can earn a $400 bonus for referring a friend who refinances their student loans with Education Loan Finance

Student loan Refinance

source - pexels.com


8 - iHELP

Best features

iHelp, it services private student loans from its network of community banks who partner with it to give eligible student borrowers the vast options to refinance their loans

This reach gives student loan borrowers many options when it comes to borrowing money for their education.

Drawbacks

First, interest rates on iHelp student loans for student borrowers are variable, with no fixed rate options. For the life of the loan, the rate is completely dependent on the three-month LIBOR rate, which means the total cost of borrowing with iHelp may increase as interest rates rise. For private student loans for borrowers still attending school, the lowest possible interest rate is currently 4.48% but can be as high as 9.85%.

Borrowers refinancing private student loans with them can get a fixed interest rate for 10- and 15-year repayment plans. Fixed interest rates for the 10-year term plans range from 4.75% to 8.00%, while 15-year plan interest rates range from 5.50% to 9.00%. A 20-year repayment term is available but only with variable interest rates. Rates for any longer repayment term plans range from LIBOR+2.50% to LIBOR+8.50%.

The interest rates on refinanced private student loans are a bit higher than comparable student loan options available with other private lenders, meaning over the life of the loan, an iHelp borrower might pay more. However, because there are no origination or supplemental fees charged this makes it more cost-effective to borrowers using iHelp for refinancing loans.

Requirements

Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

Have 2 to 3 years of positive credit history.

Have an annual income of at least $24,000 for the previous two years

Be of legal age in the residing state.

Student eligibility

Eligible degrees Title IV-accredited school Grads and undergrads.

Interest rates

Fixed APR Range

4.75%–8.00% (10 years), 5.50%–9.00% (15 years)

Variable APR Range

LIBOR + 2.50% to LIBOR + 8.50% (20 years)

Loan and refinancing terms

To qualify for a consolidation loan through iHELP, the borrower must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident and must have had an annual income of at least $24,000 for the past 2 years.

Additionally, the borrower must have 2 years of good credit history, a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less, and should meet other credit requirements.

Can refinance Parent PLUS loans and then transfer to the child

Repayment and hardship options

Once a loan is approved, borrowers with an in-school loan have three options for repayment interest-only payments, no payments, or full principal and interest payments.

For refinanced student loans with iHelp, borrowers have the choice between principal and interest payments, graduated payments, or interest-only payments for a 24-month period.

There are no prepayment liabilities for either in-school or refinanced private student loans with iHelp.

iHelp student loan borrowers also have the options of deferment and forbearance after graduation or after dropping down below part-time status in school. Loan payments might be deferred for students in school, and forbearance may be requested in case of financial hardship, military service, or natural disasters.

Fees

There are no origination fees or application fees for iHelp refinance loans, and no prepayment penalties for early repayment of the loans

Additional features

Overall, iHelp has lower income and credit requirements than other private student loan lenders, and they offer different repayment terms to fit borrowers’ needs. Before securing a student or refinance loan with iHelp, borrowers should take the time to think about the total cost of borrowing by way of the interest rate, as the current rates may be lesser in cost than what other private student loan lenders offer.


9 - Splash Financial

Best features

With a very easy-to-use online loan calculator and competitive interest rates for the purpose of the refinancing of student loans, Splash Financial is a highly reputable company whose products can save graduates 1000s of dollars over the life of the loan.

Targeted primarily towards medical school graduates, Splash Financial is a great choice for any graduate who wants to simplify their payments and have some money saved in the process.

Best for people who

Are Medical graduates and parents of Graduates.

Requirements

To refinance through Splash Financial, borrowers must be US citizens, have outstanding loans between $7,500 and $350,000, and have a bachelor's or graduate degree.

In addition, borrowers must have proof of income from their current employer and a minimum credit score of >670.

Student eligibility

  • Verified income is a must

  • A degree is required from a Title IV accredited school

  • A US Citizen is necessary

  • A minimum credit score of 670 or above is expected.

Interest rates

Fixed APR Range - 3.75% - 7.03% APR

Variable APR Range - 3.10% - 7.84% APR

Loan and refinancing terms

Splash Financial offers loan refinancing for college graduates who are earning income.

The application is open to either the graduate or parent of the graduate with payment terms of 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 or 20 years. Splash loan refinancing is offered through a larger credit union called PenFed, the nation's third-largest federal credit union.

Repayment and hardship options

Full Repayment

Fixed Monthly Repayment

Fees

No application or origination fees are charged

No prepayment penalties and no hidden fees 

Additional features

Splash Financial has earned an A+ from the BBB, though with no published complaints or reviews.

Although Splash Financial themselves have only been in the loan refinancing business for about 5 years, they have partnered with PenFed, an 80-year-old federal credit union with over 1.6 million members on its books and also rated A+ from the BBB.


Best ways to refinance student loans FAQs

1 - What credit score do I need to refinance student loans?

In order to be eligible for student loan refinancing, you need a good credit score. But what is considered good? Most lenders want to see a score of about 680 or higher. Popular refinancing lender SoFi is willing to consider applicants with a score of 650 or above.

2 - Is there a downside to refinancing student loans?

Refinancing student loans can either be beneficial to you or may end up hurting you financially. If you only have private student loans, then a refinance can assist you in saving money in the long run with a lower interest rate, or it can help you financially stay afloat when your monthly payments are too high

3 - When should you refinance student loans?

For federal student loans, you can have anywhere between 10 to 30 years (for consolidated loans) to repay your loans. Refinancing companies usually offer repayment terms ranging from 5 to 20 years. Also, note that federal loans are fixed-rate loans that are guaranteed to maintain the same interest rate during repayment and throughout the term of the loan.

4 - Do student loans ever get written off?

Graduates only begin to repay their debts when they reach a certain income threshold (currently $21,000 for students taking out a loan since 2012) and have their debts written off if they're not repaid after a period of 30 years (or after 25 years for students who started courses between 2006 and 2012

5 - Can a student loan be forgiven?

While this isn't a forgiveness program in the general sense, you can get your loans forgiven through the Income-Based Repayment program or IBR for short. Through IBR, your student loan payments are limited to 10% to 15% of your discretionary income.

6 - How do I fight a student loan garnishment?

One of the easiest ways to get out of default is to consolidate one or more federal loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan.

Another option is to rehabilitate your loans.

Pay off your debt in full.

7 - How much can the IRS take out of your paycheck?

When the IRS moves forward with your wage garnishment, your employer has no choice but to comply with the IRS and transfer a portion of your wages to the IRS to pay your tax bill. The IRS has more garnishment power than ordinary creditors as concerned as it is not subject to the limitations of the state and federal garnishment laws, which means it may leave you with very little money every week to live on. However, the amount of your garnishment will depend on how much tax you usually pay.

8 - Can a creditor seize your bank account?

Federal and state exemptions may let you protect money in your bank account from levy/garnishment by a judgment creditor. If and when a creditor obtains a judgment against you, it may attempt to seize funds in your bank account. This is called a levy.

9 - Can a spouse's bank account be garnished?

The ability of a creditor to garnish a spouse's bank account depends on the type of the debt and the state you live in. Joint accounts may be a different story, however, and creditors can sometimes persuade a judge to allow them access to a spouse's account.

10 - How long does a garnishment stay on your credit report?

Even after your defaulted debts are paid off completely, they may still remain on your credit report. Some stay on there for up to 7 years to 10 years. A tax lien can sometimes stay on your credit report for 15 years.