Earnest Student Loan Reviews

Confused about choosing Earnest for your student loans? Learn more about the features, drawbacks, benefits, repayment methods and standout capabilities of Earnest Student Loans.

Updated by Theres Ann on 20th November 2019

Earnest is an online-only lender that helps in student-loan refinancing, Parent PLUS loan, and personal loan refinancing. Though the company was launched only in 2013, it has already lent almost $2 billion in student loans. What makes Earnest stand out from the rest in its approach to holistic writing, along with flexible student loan terms and repayment options. Usually for refinancing what is considered includes credit, income, and outstanding debt.

However, for Earnest factors including savings to cover at least two months of personal expenses including your new loan, bank account balance, depth of non-student and non-mortgage debt, on-time loan payments in the past, frequent late payment, overdraft or insufficient funds, Earning potential in your chosen career and more are considered.

The flexible repayment feature of the organization can help you to skip a payment, change your payment date, or make extra payments. This is however not available to residents of Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island. Variable-rate loans are not available in Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, and Wyoming.

Table of contents

Features of Earnest 

Earnest does not claim to be a perfect lender. Improvement in Earnest can be done by allowing the borrowers to apply with a co-signer. Borrowers are even allowed to refinance their Parent PLUS loans. They can also refinance their loans in nearly 50 states.

Soft credit allows you to verify the rate that you’ll get. Moreover, application or origination fee is not applied. 

A prepayment penalty is also not available. Late fees are also not applied.

Your cosigner's credit history and financial situation will allow you to decide on your actual rate.

Earnest payment and savings

The earning potential for career and data from the financial accounts that you are connected to. When your paycheck is deposited you also have to connect the checking account. This allows you to verify your income. Accounts can be connected for savings, investments, credit cards and other loans. More clarity is granted to your financial picture.

Connect checking account where your paycheck is deposited, so that your income can be verified by Earnest. The minimum credit score required is 650. No minimum income is guaranteed. The credit scores of those candidates whose income is approved are not mentioned.

The typical income of approved borrowers is also not mentioned. Maximum debt to income ratio is also not mentioned. You can even qualify if you are filed for bankruptcy.

You should also be a US citizen, and possess 10-year, non-conditional green card. The candidate should also have attended a Title IV-accredited school. Moreover, borrowers cannot apply with a co-signer.

Repayment options

Both academic and military deferments are granted as repayment options. In the case of forbearance, borrowers can even postpone their payments for three-month increments, to up to 12 months in case they have a decrease in income such as a reduction in hours of work, unpaid leave and shift from full-time to part-time employment.

Loss of employment due to an involuntary fault, the decrease in costs such as medical expenses, emergency home repairs, childcare, and more counts.

One month’s equivalent payment can be avoided if they are making monthly payments or if their bi-weekly payments are done. The skipped payment would be distributed among the other payments. A skipped payment would also be counted towards your 12-month forbearance limit.

Extension of payment by 7 days

1 - The due date on individual payments can be pushed back by the due date and the autopay date can be changed through online Earnest account. Loans are discharged in the case of death or disability of a borrower.

Greater than minimum payments are also allowed via autopay. Bi-weekly payments are also allowed via autopay. However, payments are not made after October 18, 2018.

2 - Since October 18, 2018, Earnest allows borrowers to make same-day payments and to schedule multiple extra payments at once. The loan servicer is Earnest and has an in-house service team.

There is no process available to escalate concerns. Moreover, the borrower is not assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative.

3 - Average time for approval is however not disclosed. The monthly payments can be customized and payments can easily be adjusted. By choosing an exact monthly payment amount, borrowers save their interest by choosing an exact monthly payment amount.

4 - Multiple student loan refinancing options can be considered, to be made sure that you are offered the best rate. Along with the interest rates, the lender’s repayment options along with the flexibility that they offer to borrowers are considered. You can apply on Earnest’s website, in case you are ready to borrow.

Wondering how to get college fee? Read info on student loans to get help

How to close your credit card accounts?

If you close your account, your credit will automatically drop in the short term. Credit scores are also balanced. The decrease in income such as hour-reduction, unpaid leave and full-time to part-time payment are essential.

Bankers, advisors, and representatives do not get assigned to borrowers. To increase minimum monthly payments, extra payments are made at once and same-day payments are also allowed.

How does Earnest loan score?

More than 50 data-points across various categories are used to check if Earnest is granted an average, below-average or above-average service when compared with other student loan refinance lenders.

Earnest is granted an above-average score for enabling faster payments. By limiting fees and interest rates, lenders score high. Lenders are also transparent about their underwriting criteria and help borrowers to take personalized rate estimation before rate application.

With regard to the service to the borrowers, the rate of service is rated below average. The score for this parameter is high if the lenders provide service to borrowers across various locations, different financial situations, and varying citizenship statuses. Payment flexibility offering of the firm is also rated above average.

Lenders score high in the payment flexibility parameter, if they offer more than 12 month forbearance period, in school and in military deferment and the other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.

With regard to the support to the customers, the rating is average and multiple ways are offered to get in touch and to have in house customer service. Full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies are displayed by the website.

Ways for Earnest to improve

Earnest isn’t one of the five-star lenders. Hence is always open to improving. Some of the ways in which earnest could improve are as given below.

  • Earnest should allow borrowers to apply with a cosigner.

  • It should help borrowers to refinance their Parent PLUS Loans

  • Loans should be refinanced for borrowers in all the 50 states.

Soft credit loans help you to check to qualify and see the rate that you’ll get. No application or origination fee is applied by the soft credit loans. A prepayment penalty is also not applied to the loans. Late fees are also not applied.

Qualified customers will not only find low-interest rates at Earnest, but they’ll also find a customized student loan product. It has also found a place in the annual list of ‘Best Places to Refinance your Loan’.

Qualification to refinance with Earnest

Precision Pricing Option is one of the coolest features that Earnest offers to borrowers. With this, you can pick up your monthly payment and Earnest comes up with a term between 5 and 20 years and this allows you to hit your exact monthly payment. The precision pricing model helps you to choose a 7.5-year loan term. Competitive rates are granted on these loans.

Loans with fixed rates ranging from 3.25% to 6.32% are granted on competitive loans. For variable rate loans, the interest rate ranges from 2.57%-5.87%. Maximum interest rates on loans under the 10-year term are 8.95%.

Loans ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 are refinanced by the Earnest. Refinancing fees are not charged like most private lenders. These ranges are subject to change at any time. Better protections are offered Earnest than most private student loan lenders. If the borrower is in the Graduate school, or in the peace-corps or military, then he’ll be able to defer his loans.

You are not allowed to make payments but interest continues to accrue in the case of Student loan deferment. In student loan deferment, payments need not be made. However, the interest continues to accrue. Forbearance is always a result of economic hardships. However, the borrowers of Earnest will not qualify for income-based repayment.

Lower interest rates are not offered in the market. But this lender offers lower rates to people with mediocre credit scores. You may find better rates in case you have a credit score greater than 700. Credits can be compared with other private lenders before choosing Earnest. What makes Earnest stand out is its use of data and technology and legible underwriting.

Looking for more? Find Top 10 Private student loan lenders

Reviews of Earnest student loan refinancing

Earnest has multiple benefits for refinancing. 

Highly flexible student loans are offered by most lenders. Borrowers can choose their exact loan payment and their exact monthly payment. Precision pricing is offered that helps them to choose an amount that they would pay each month. This is advantageous for borrowers with a strict monthly budget.

Pros of Earnest loan refinancing

In a nutshell, the extra benefits of Earnest are given below - 

  • Fees for extra or early payments are not granted

  • Bi-weekly payments are offered which saves money on interest

  • Payment can be sometimes skipped and paid-up later

  • Earnest has a mobile app for managing and tracking loan payments

  • A 0.25% interest rate discount for borrowers enrolled in an autopay is offered

  • You’ll also have to switch between fixed and variable rates once every 6 months.

In-house loan-servicing is another benefit of Earnest

  • Borrowers choosing Earnest Refinance Options can call and clarify their doubts with the Earnest employee, rather than a third-party servicer. This resolves any questions or issues that may arise

  • Earnest agrees to not pass the clients to a third party in thirty days. This helps in ensuring that borrowers will have direct access to the source of information about their loan. This often results in faster resolution times. 

Drawbacks of Earnest Loan Refinancing

  • More financial and personal information such as access to an online bank, investment, and retirement house is collected by Earnest.

  • These grants read-only access to transaction data in those accounts. This means that the company cannot deposit or withdraw from the account. Some people find it difficult to share this data with a lending company.

  • Some of the states that do not receive the benefits of the Earnest student loan include Nevada, Dakota, South Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Eligibility of the borrowers

The eligibility requirements of the borrowers are listed below. 

  • The borrower should hold an accrued debt taken for financing education at a Title IV accredited school

  • The borrower should have graduated or should be in the final semester.

  • The borrower should hold a job or should have a written job offer letter.

  • The candidate should have a credit score of at least 650.

  • Student loans should all be in good standing

  • The borrower should be current on his/her rent or mortgage payments

  • The candidate should stay in one of the states where Earnest provides its services

Few extra criteria checked for granting loans  -

  • The current savings of the borrower

  • The spending strategy, that is if you spend less than you earn.

  • Clarity on increasing bank account balances

  • The amount of credit card debt that a person owes.

  • The borrower’s history of making online payments

  • The frequency of being charged late or obtaining an overdraft fees

  • The earning potential of the borrower

How to refinance with Earnest?

It is best to refinance with Earnest if there is an improvement in your credit since college. A better credit score is an assurance that you can qualify for a better interest rate which saves you in the long run.

Money management is also important while applying for Earnest student loan. Good savings, satisfactory payment history, and good spending habits clearly indicate on how to refinance a loan with Earnest at the best rate.

Moreover, if you only have a few years from being debt-free, most of your interest would have been paid right now. In this case, it is only enough to step up your debts faster. If you have plans to apply for a federal loan forgiveness program, make sure that you do not refinance your loan.

Comparison with other lenders

Below is the comparison of Earnest with several other private student loan lenders such as SoFi, CommonBond and Laurel Road. 

1 - SoFi

The variable annual percentage rate varies between 2.54% to 7.27% for Earnest Student Loans. But for Sofi Student loans, the Annual Percentage rate ranges between 2.500% to 7.115%.

The fixed annual percentage rate (APR) for Earnest Student Loan ranges between 3.89% to 7.89% for Earnest Student Loans and for Sofi Student Loans the percentage ranges between 3.890% to 8.074%.

The minimum amount granted for Earnest Student Loans is $5,000 and the minimum amount granted for Sofi Student Loan is also $5,000. The maximum amount granted for Earnest student loan is $5,00,000 and then there is no maximum limit for the amount granted by the Sofi Student Loan.

The custom loan term is from 5 to 20 years in the case of Earnest Student Loans and the same in the case of Sofi Student Loan. When only a few states are eligible to receive the services of the Earnest Student Loan, all states are eligible to receive the services from the Sofi Student Loan.  

Associate or Higher Degree is granted by the Earnest Student Loans and also the Sofi Student Loans. For Earnest Student loan the borrower should either be employed or should hold an offer for a position to join within 6 months.

For Sofi student loans, the candidate should either be employed or should start an offer within 90 days. Interest-only payments or origination fee is not awarded.

Sofi Student Loans uses a cosigner. The auto-pay interest rate reduction is not used by Earnest or Sofi Student Loans. A soft credit check is used by both lenders. When in terms of customer service, Sofi is better, in terms of interest rates, Earnest is better. The payment flexibility is the same for both the lenders.


The variable APR of Earnest Student Loans range between 2.54% to 7.27%. The variable APR for Commonbond Student Loans range between 2.55% to 7.07%. The fixed APR for Earnest Student Loans is between 3.89% and 7.89%. For common bond student loans, the fixed APR ranges between 3.20% to 7.25%.

The minimum loan amount is $5,000 for both the lenders and the maximum loan amount is $5,00,000 for both the lenders. The custom loan term is from 5 to 20 years.

Only a few states are eligible to receive the benefits of the Earnest Student Loans, whereas all states are eligible to receive the benefits of the Earnest Student Loans. For Commonbond, the borrower should either be employed or should have an offer in hand.

Laurel Road

Laurel road being a traditional lender that operates in all the 50 states, offers competitive rates for loan terms of 5,7, 10, 15 or 20 years. Loans can be refinanced for an undergraduate degree, graduate program or professional degree. Including an MBA or law.

The amount to be refinanced cannot be capped by Laurel. The variable annual percentage rate (APR) for Earnest Student Loans range between 2.54% and 7.27%. The variable APR for Laurel Road Student Loans range between 2.99% and 6.42%. The fixed annual percentage rate for Earnest Student loans range between 3.89% and 7.89%. For Laurel student loans the fixed APR ranges between 3.5% and 6.99%.

The minimum amount granted by both the lenders is $5,000. The maximum amount granted by both the lenders is $5,00,000. There is no limit on the maximum amount granted by the Laurel Student Loans.

The degree requirements for Earnest Student Loans is Associates or higher and the degree requirements for the Laurel Road Student Loans is Bachelors or higher. Release of a cosigner is granted only on existing loans by Earnest Student Loans and release of a co-signer varies case by case for Laurel Road Student Loans.

Earnest can be approached by those with less credit history. It is regarded as the Best Merit-based lender. Notable benefits of this organization are given here.

  • Ernest looks beyond your credit score.

  • Custom term based on a budget is also granted.

  • You have the option to skip one payment every 12 months.

However, Earnest holds tight for tougher repayment requirements with a no-cosigner option. It uses to determine interest rate using savings pattern, job history, investments, and more.

  • It grants you the freedom to choose your payment and then the rate is tailored by Earnest and the terms are also worked with, to make the term work.

  • At every six months, the switching rate varies between fixed and variable interest rate.

  • Forbearance is offered in case your job is lost due to unexpected circumstances.

  • Your loans can differ in case you decide to go back to school.

  • You can choose between several repayment options including bi-weekly payments, extra-payments and more.

Maximizing your chances of Earnest loan approval

Ways to maximize your chances of Earnest Loan Approval are given below.

Lowering your debt

Unsecured debt like a credit card can be paid off as early as possible. Debt reduction is the perfect solution for the credit score improvement and the debt to income ratio.

Application to multiple lenders

Check around to see who gives you the best rate. There are lenders granting money at different rates for different circumstances. In case you are guaranteed a loan by most of the lenders, you can then choose between lenders who offer the lowest interest rates.