The Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies
Are you bogged down by student loan debt? Are you wondering if student loan refinancing could help? Do you have concerns about finding the best student loan refinancing companies?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you’re not alone.
Fortunately, there are many loan refinance lenders that can provide the guidance you’re seeking.
Below, we compare the best student loan refinancing companies, while providing additional information that can help you chart your path forward.
What is Student Loan Refinancing?
Student loan refinancing is the process of obtaining a new loan at a new rate. The primary goal is to obtain a lower rate, which reduces your monthly payment and makes it easier to stay current.
How to Refinance Student Loans
It doesn’t matter how many student loans you have, the refinance process is generally the same:
- Review your situation including current student loan payment, remaining balance, interest rate, and remaining payments
- Review your credit history and credit score
- Compare multiple student loan refinancing companies
- Choose a loan refinance company based on your findings
Taking these steps will give you the confidence you need to make an informed final decision.
The 10 Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies
There is no shortage of student loan refinancing companies, which improves the likelihood of finding one that matches your every want and need.
Below are 10 of the best choices:
Best overall: Wells Fargo
When taking into consideration the total picture, Wells Fargo is the best student loan refinancing company. Varying terms, low rates, and a streamlined application process make it easy for you to take action.
Best overall runner-up: Brazos
Brazos may not be on the same level as Wells Fargo, but the company is only a touch behind. The only drawback of Brazos is that it’s only for primary residents of Texas.
Best with no degree: Citizens Bank
You go to college with the idea of getting a degree, but things have a way of changing. If you have loans with no degree, turn to Citizens Bank. They can provide you with a private student loan that works for your budget.
Best for college students: College Ave
If you’re in college and want to get a jump start on your finances, College Ave can help you refinance your loans. It’s not the right decision for everyone, but refinancing and/or consolidating while you’re still in school can put you on the right track to a better future.
Best for parents and co-signers: EdvestinU
As a parent or co-signer, you’re looking for a particular type of loan refinance company. EdvestinU is set up to cater to parents and co-signers.
Best for married couples: ELFI
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) provides both refinancing and consolidation options. Managed by SouthEast Bank, ELFI offers a variety of products to suit the needs of most borrowers. It’s a good choice for any borrower, but married couples find it particularly helpful.
Best for borrower protections: MEFA
The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is well-known for its borrower protections — and that’s something you want when you’re refinancing or consolidating your student loans.
Best for flexible repayment options: PenFed
Flexibility is a must when refinancing your student loans. This allows you to agree to terms that suit your budget. PenFed offers flexible repayment options, thanks to a variety of terms and competitive interest rates.
Best for customer service: RISLA
If you have student debt, you’re likely to also have questions. RISLA offers class-leading customer service. This holds true both when comparing student loan lenders and after you get a new loan.
Best rates: Discover
Your student loan refinancing rate is one of the most important details. The lower the rate, the lower your monthly payment. Discover can help you secure a loan with a competitive fixed or variable interest rate.
How To Choose the Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies
There’s no right or wrong way to manage student loan debt, as every borrower is in a unique position. However, there are some criteria that are more important than others when selecting a refinancing or student loan consolidation company.
There’s nothing more important than the overall cost of refinancing your student loans. Knowing this number allows you to make a more informed comparison.
Some lenders are willing to refinance all types of loans, while others have strict criteria. For example, if you have a private student loan, consider which lenders have a program that suits you.
Compare lenders with federal and private student loans in mind. Knowing which type you have will help you find a lender that can help.
Variable rates (APR)
A variable rate loan may offer a lower starting rate, but it can and probably will fluctuate during the course of your repayment. When the rate changes, so does your monthly payment.
Fixed rates (APR)
A fixed rate APR remains the same over the term of your loan. This allows for your monthly payment to remain the same, too.
The most common student loan terms are 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years. The longer your term, the lower your payment. However, a longer term also means paying more in interest.
Minimum credit score
A credit check is part of the refinancing process. You need to know the lender’s minimum credit score requirement. The best lenders are willing to work with borrowers of all credit levels.
Flexibility with minimum income increases the likelihood of approval. Some lenders may even offer an income driven repayment plan.
Allow for a co-signer
Allowing for a co-signer is important, especially if you don’t qualify to refinance on your own.
Advantages of Refinancing Student Loans
There are many advantages of refinancing student loans, but these are the ones that will drive your decision:
- Refinancing allows you to secure a lower interest rate
- Refinancing allows you to alter your payment plan
- You can apply with a co-signer if you have no credit or bad credit
- The opportunity to lower your monthly payment
Disadvantages of Refinancing Student Loans
Just as there are benefits, there are also disadvantages of refinancing student loans. These include:
- You may not be eligible, such as if you have a low credit score or no credit history
- You may not be eligible to secure a lower interest rate
- Refinancing may add years to your payoff period
- Refinancing and repayment fees may come into play
Should I Refinance My Student Loans?
This is a personal question that only you can answer. Some student loan borrowers are ready to dive into the process, while others have questions.
Generally speaking, refinancing or student loan consolidation is best for borrowers who can lower their interest rate without adding too many years to the repayment period.
If you have questions about refinancing your student loans, consult with several lenders to learn more about your options and the process.
Loan Refinancing VS Loan Consolidation
Your student loan lender may offer both refinancing and consolidation. While these sound the same, there are some key differences:
Refinancing combines federal and/or private loans into one private loan. Consolidation combines multiple federal loans into one federal loan.
Refinancing allows you to combine both federal and private loans. Consolidation only allows you to combine federal loans.
Refinancing allows you to lower your rate. Consolidation will not lower your rate.
You can save money with refinancing, but not consolidation.
There are benefits of both refinancing and consolidation, so compare the pros and cons before making a final decision.
How to Get the Best Refinancing Deal
You don’t want to refinance your student loans with just any lender. You want to find the best deal, as this provides the most financial gain.
Here’s how you can get the best refinancing deal:
- Compare a minimum of three to five lenders.
- Contact each lender — either by phone or online — to obtain more information and ask questions.
- Know what you’re looking for and what’s most important to you.
- Understand the result of refinancing with a particular lender.
And of course, before you begin your search for the best refinancing deal, consider other options such as student loan forgiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most common questions associated with student loan refinancing:
What is the difference between student loan consolidation and student loan refinancing?
With student loan consolidation, you combine two or more federal loans into one loan. With refinancing, you can combine both federal and private loans. Also, refinancing allows you to secure a lower credit score.
Can I refinance my student loan with bad credit?
Credit score requirements vary from lender to lender. If you have bad credit and don’t qualify, you can use a co-signer — such as a parent — to complete the process. You’ll know more after your lender runs a credit check.
Am I eligible for student loan refinancing?
The best way to answer this question is to check with every lender you’re considering.
What credit score do I need to refinance my student loans?
Generally speaking, if you want to refinance without a co-signer, a credit score of 650 or greater is required.
When should I refinance my student loans?
You can refinance while you’re in school or after you graduate. Either way, know why you want to refinance your loan.
What types of loans are eligible for refinancing?
Both federal and private loans are eligible for refinancing. This gives you greater flexibility.
Are there any costs associated with refinancing?
Check with the lenders you’re comparing to learn more about their application, refinance, and repayment fees.
How does refinancing impact my credit score?
If you decide to refinance your loan, consider the impact it could have on your credit score. Overall, your credit score shouldn’t take much — if any — of a hit. The biggest concern is the number of hard inquiries on your credit report. Most lenders can help avoid this through a prequalification process.
Should I refinance or consolidate my loans?
There are pros and cons of both, so you should carefully consider both options. Student loan refinancing is best if you want to combine federal and private loans, all while lowering your interest rate.
Consolidation can help lengthen your repayment term to lower your payment.
Could it be more difficult to refinance my student loans if I have an associate degree?
It will reduce the number of lenders you can work with, but there are still plenty of options to consider.
Did the recent federal rate cut affect student loan refinancing?
This will not have any effect on student loan refinancing. You can still secure a fixed or variable rate loan.
What is student loan forgiveness?
Student loan forgiveness allows you to cancel your debt. There are a variety of programs that provide forgiveness, so learn more about each one.
What loan repayment term is best?
The loan repayment term you choose should be based on factors such as your current balance and term, interest rate, income, and budget. For example, if your student loan payment is currently too high to manage, a longer term is best.
Tip: Consult with lenders about your eligibility for an income driven repayment plan. This can help you manage student debt based on your income, as opposed to your balance.
What are the benefits of a variable interest rate?
Your loan refinancing rate will impact your monthly payment. A variable interest rate is often lower than a fixed rate, but it can fluctuate. The primary benefit is a lower monthly payment, but this could change if there’s a large rate hike.
As a student loan borrower, there’s no shortage of refinancing options to consider. Compare the many refinancing companies with an eye toward those that closely align with your financial circumstances and future goals.
With so many lenders to choose from, you should be able to find a refinancing company that suits your requirements.