Earnest Student Loan Reviews

Learn about features, drawbacks, repayment options of Earnest Student Loans. If Earnest is the right fit for you, check their application process & benefits available

Updated by Theres Ann on 17th December 2020

Earnest is an online-only lender that helps in student-loan refinancing, Parent PLUS loans, 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 student loans 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.

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Earnest student loans reviews

Earnest uses innovative technology to provide the foremost flexible repayment options of any student loan refinancing company because it already offers flexible repayment options for its student loans. In the case of unanticipated financial hardship, Earnest offers the foremost flexibility to help borrowers to guard their credit scores by lowering payments and rate of interests and offering forbearance programs in the future and it helps to a great extend.

While Earnest’s features are robust, its application-and-approval process is exhaustive, and the biggest issue is that loans aren’t available in all states. So it is suggested that students who are approved for an Earnest private student loan should compare rates to other lenders before deciding to avoid any future concern.

Here are the pros and cons of choosing the Earnest student loan are


1 - Prequalification is available- Before filling out a full application Earnest will have a soft credit inquiry to show estimated rates without affecting your credit score.

2 - Option to skip a payment every 12 months- Borrowers can request for a month of forbearance in every 12 months without going through a formal application.

3 - Get nine months grace period- Earnest offers a nine-month grace period based upon all its loan types, three months longer than the industry standard.

4 - No fees-  Earnest charges no loan fees and not even late payment fees. 


1 - Must meet the age of majority requirements- Earnest eligibility for a private student loan is you must meet the age-of-majority requirement for the state where you reside such as for Alabama and Nebraska it’s 19, and in Mississippi, it’s 21.2

2 - Not available in all 50 states- Earnest private student loans aren’t available to the residents of Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Nevada, Texas, or Virginia.

3 - Must be Enrolled full time- If in case you are enrolled less than full time, you’re not eligible for a student loan from Earnest. Generally, a full-time student is usually a student who takes 12 units, credits, or hours per term at an institution where the standard course load is equal to 16 units, credits, or hours.

4 - No cosigner release- If you are thinking to apply with a co-signer, the only way to release your co-applicant from the loan is to refinance.

Ways Earnest can improve

Earnest isn’t one of the five-star lenders. Hence is always open to improving. Some ways how earnest could improve is 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 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.

How does Earnest private student 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.

1- Features: 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.

2 - Services: Regarding the service to the borrowers, the rate for 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. The payment flexibility offering of the firm is also rated above average.

3 - Repayment options: 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.

4 - Customer service: Regarding 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.

Contact details

You can contact Earnest via phone during the working hours 8 am-5 pm PST, Monday-Friday. 

Phone #: (888)601-2801

Email: Email

Address: 303 2nd Street,

Suite 401N,

San Francisco, 94107

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, the 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

Qualification criteria to get private student loans from Earnest 

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 the checking account where your paycheck is deposited, so that your income can be verified by Earnest.

  1. 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.

  2. The typical income of approved borrowers is also not mentioned. The 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.

Payment policies of Earnest private student loans

  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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  5. The 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.

  6. 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.

Applying for an Earnest student loan

Earnest’s student loan application is available on both, offline and online and is mobile-friendly as well. It considers the borrower’s earning potential, and determine that the application is exhaustive. Some of the requirements for the full application include:

  1. Security Number

  2. Educational and Employment Background Information

  3. Most Recent Tax Forms

  4. Link to Your Financial Accounts

  5. A Picture of Your Government-Issued Photo ID

  6. So its better to be ready with these documents to complete the application process in one sitting.

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

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

A borrower can check their application is for an Earnest private student loan as soon as you complete the application process after which you’ll choose your loan, and Earnest will reach out to your school of choice to certify enrollment.

According to Earnest, some schools certify loans within a few weeks of classes beginning, while others may have a three-to-five-week processing timeframe that doesn’t matter when they receive your loan information. Earnest strongly recommends applying as soon as you know you’ll need a private student loan to allow ample time for the disbursement.

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Private student loans provided by Earnest

Earnest has several student loans to offer such as mentioned below: 

Undergraduate Student Loans

Full-time undergraduate students can apply for Earnest student loans independently or with a cosigner and a rate of interest is assigned supported your repayment term and therefore the credit history of you and/or your cosigner. The loan term can choose from five to fifteen years.

Variable Rates - 1.78% to 11.44%

Fixed Rates- 4.39% to 12.78%

Graduate Student Loans

Earnest’s graduate student loans are available to the students who are enrolled for full time in a qualifying graduate, MBA, medical, or law school program and medical students can defer their repayment until their residency is complete.

Variable Rates- 1.78% to 9.89%

Fixed Rates- 4.39% to 10.99%

These details vary in time so do refer to the official website to confirm the rates.  

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Forbearance and loan discharge options

Earnest offers a variety of options for those borrowers who are going through financial hardships and in this, the simplest option is offered to skip a payment once every 12 months without applying for forbearance. You can apply for forbearance up to 12 months over the life of your Earnest student loan for several reasons such as

  • The involuntary decrease in income due to a reduction in hours, unpaid leave, or a change from full-time to part-time employment

  • An Involuntary loss of employment due to layoffs

  • Significant increase in essential home or family costs, including medical expenses, emergency home repairs, and child care

  • Unpaid maternity or paternity leave

In this, the military members are eligible for a deferment during active duty and up to 180 days after demobilization. Earnest also offers other means of assistance like if you can’t afford your full payment but can still pay something, it offers a Rate Reduction Program that provides a reduced rate of interest for six months, lowering the monthly payment during that point.

Second, the Term and Rate Modification Program can help you get current by extending your repayment term and reducing your rate of interest, and lastly, in the event of death or total and permanent disability, Earnest will discharge all of the borrower’s private student loans.