It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that student loans are more or less a national pandemic in the United States. There are 43.4 million Americans who have federal student debt. An American carries an average of 38.7 thousand dollars in student loans.
It is important to remember that your loan balance can rapidly spiral out of control if your loans have a high-interest rate. Fortunately, student loan refinancing can be a smart strategy to manage your debt.
What is student loan refinancing?
If you don’t know how student loan refinancing works, here’s everything you need to know.
In student loan refinancing, a new private company (usually a bank, online lender, or credit union) pays off the student loan and refinances it at the student’s convenience. The refinanced loan interest rates are lower than the original loan, and the payment terms are more flexible.
By refinancing, you get tied up in a refinanced new loan with an interest rate tied to your income, credit history, and other factors.
This way, you can reduce your monthly payment amounts (EMIs), lower your interest rate, or even pay off your loans early.
If you have a student loan with high-interest rates and have been paying that for years, you can benefit from refinancing. All you need is a good credit score and a stable income.
In this article, I have listed the 10 best student loan refinance companies in the USA based on their availability to borrowers, interest rates, and hardship of repayment options.
The Best Student Loan Refinance Companies
Note that all student loan refinance companies or, as we can call them, the lenders I’ve included in this list don’t charge for prepayment or processing, although they can charge late fees. I have described most of the terms related to their offerings but be sure to check their websites to learn more about what they offer at the moment.
Laurel Road is one of the best student loan refinance companies that allow refinancing of all sorts of students and parent Loans (and private parent loans) in one place. It also allows you to transfer your loans into your child’s name.
By doing so, you’ll no longer have any obligation to repay the loan, and your child will be entrusted with the responsibility for the same.
Moreover, you will be awarded $400 if you refer a friend and refinance with Laurel Road.
The minimum amount you can refinance is $7,500 for a term of up to 20 years, and there isn’t any maximum. Laurel Road doesn’t recommend a minimum credit score but states that its low rates are by its selection of the most creditworthy borrowers, “working professionals” in particular.
It applies the following rates on parents refinancing loans (including an autopay discount of 0.25%):
- Variable: 2.14% to 6.45%
- Fixed: 3.74% to 6.55%
To get the best terms, you should try to get rate quotes from various lenders before refinancing your student loans. While you can do this manually, going through a refinancing marketplace is much simpler. With Credible, you just need to submit your information once to get quotes from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score.
Credible allows you to compare loan terms and interest rates from up to ten top lenders and select the best one for your needs. Thereafter, you can easily complete your application online.
You can also use Credible to obtain quotes to refinance private, federal and even parent PLUS loans.
Credible offers an excellent rate guarantee. They have this guarantee program in which if you can receive an offer for a better rate from a lender that’s not on the Credible website, you can win a $200 best rate award.
Credible is also free to use. Instead of charging fees, it makes money through referral commissions if a user qualifies for a loan through its website.
The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) has grown highly popular by its competitive rates and remarkable benefits to borrowers. Despite its name, it is not limited to Rhode Island only. RISLA refinancing student loans all around the US.
You can refinance between $7,500 to $250,000 without paying any origination or application fees.
There are three-term options available – 5, 10, and 15 years.
All refinancing loans come with fixed interest rates of 4.29% to 7.04% (with an autopay discount of 0.25%).
RISLA’s student loan refinancing program is very good to assess, as they go beyond what one generally expects from private lenders.
It also offers:
- Graduate school deferment: Borrowers who choose to attend graduate school can defer their loan payments for up to 36 months.
- Total and permanent disability: Unlike most private lenders, RISLA offers loan discharges in the case of disability. A person unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment may qualify for total or permanent disability discharge. If they are found to be eligible, their loan balance is forgiven after they submit the relevant medical documents.
- Income-based repayment: Borrowers who cannot afford their payments may qualify for RISLA’s income-based repayment (IBR) plan. When you choose this option, RISLA will base your monthly payment on your family size and income to potentially reduce your payments.
- Forbearance: If you’re facing another emergency or are unemployed, you could be eligible for forbearance. If you qualify, you will be allowed to postpone your payments for up to three months at a time, for up to 12 months over the life of your loan.
SoFi is a great option for people who need a refinancing lender that offers comprehensive benefits. It grants numerous benefits to refinancing borrowers, such as:
- Unemployment protection: Borrowers laid off from their jobs can postpone making payments for three months at a time, for a maximum of 12 months.
- Career coaching: You get access to a career coach for advice on preparing for a promotion, asking for a raise, or building your career towards a better direction.
- Financial planning: SoFi allows you to make an appointment with a financial planner to get free personalized guidance on budgeting, investing, and retirement savings.
- Referrals: If you refer a friend to SoFi’s loan program, you will earn $10 when your friend checks the loan rates. Moreover, both of you will earn an additional $300 when your friend applies for a loan and gets approved.
SoFi allows you to refinance a minimum amount of $5,000 and has no upper limit on the loan amount.
However, you must have graduated with at least an associate’s degree to qualify for a loan.
Its rates are:
- Variable: 1.74% to 7.99%
- Fixed: 3.49% to 7.99%
Splash Financial is known for offering some of the lowest rates for student loan refinancing among all the lenders. It has both fixed and variable rates for you to choose from. As of now, it offers the following rates (with the lowest rate including an Autopay discount of 0.25%):
- Variable: 1.74% to 11.05%
- Fixed: 2.59% to 8.44%
It allows you to choose a loan term of 5,8, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years.
To refinance with Splash Capital, you need to have a minimum of $5,000 in student loan debt. There is no loan maximum.
Also, the lender charges no origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties. Moreover, many of Splash Financial’s lending partners offer cosigner release after receiving twelve consecutive timely payments on your loan.
If you and your spouse have student loans, you should try to combine your debt. So that your payments can be streamlined, and you will have just one monthly payment and one loan servicer to deal with.
Although most lenders allow you to co-sign your spouse’s refinancing application, PenFed Credit Union is the only lender that offers spousal loan refinancing (where the loans are consolidated together).
It allows you to refinance between $7,500 to $500,000 of student loan debt.
PenFed first looks at your combined income to determine your eligibility and set your interest rates. It can be especially useful if one of you happens to be a stay-at-home parent and will help you get a lower interest rate than what you’d receive on your own.
The minimum annual income for loans up to $150,000 is $25,000, and a cosigner with an income of $42,000 is needed unless you have the same income. For loans over $150,000, you or your co-signer must have an annual income of $50,000.
Its rates are:
- Variable: N/A
- Fixed: 6.74% to 8.93%
People who don’t graduate successfully usually have difficulty finding a lender willing to work with them on refinancing their loans. Fortunately, Citizens Bank is one of the rare national lenders that allow borrowers to refinance even if they don’t hold a degree. It also provides some other notable benefits, such as:
- Cosigner release: You may qualify to have your co-signer removed from your loan after making 36 timely payments.
- Automatic Payment Discount: You will receive an additional 0.25% off your interest rate after signing up for automatic payments.
- Loyalty Discount: People who hold another account with Citizens Bank, such as a savings or checking account, can qualify for a 0.25% reduction in their interest rate.
Borrowers must refinance for a minimum of $10,000, and repayment terms include 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years. Citizens Bank charges no origination or application fees and offers the following interest rates, including a 0.25% Autopay discount and 0.25% loyalty discount:
- Variable: 2.24% to 9.24 %
- Fixed: 4.30 % to 9.75 %
Students who haven’t graduated need to have made twelve timely and consecutive payments on their loans before applying for refinancing.
Discover is unlike many other lenders that charge application, origination, or late fees. It doesn’t charge any fees even if you miss a payment. Thus, you needn’t worry about any charge except the interest that accumulates on your loan. As of now, Discover offers the following interest rates for student loan consolidation (with the lowest rates including an autopay discount):
- Variable: 3.49% to 7.99%
- Fixed: 3.99% to 8.99%
With Discover, you can refinance a minimum of $5,000 for 10 or 20 years.
You even have the option of refinancing your loans when you are still in school.
To qualify for a loan, you must be at least 18 years old, have a verifiable income, and pass a credit check.
Although, you will likely get a lower interest rate with a creditworthy co-signer.
Earnest offers several special features, such as making automatic payments twice a month to speed up repayment and the choice of any repayment term between 5 and 20 years. It also offers a wide range of hardship repayment options beyond the usual 12 months of forbearance, such as the ability to skip a monthly bill every year. However, since borrowers cannot apply with a co-signer, you must meet the credit requirements on your own. As of now, there’s no official information regarding the amount of time before unpaid loans go into default.
To be eligible, borrowers need to have completed a degree at an eligible non-profit school and have a minimum credit score of 650. Also, they must meet other criteria such as having at least two months’ worth of expenses, no bankruptcies, and on-time payment history. Its rates are:
- Variable: 1.74% to 7.99%
- Fixed: 2.99% to 7.99%
The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority or MEFA is a non-profit, state-based agency that offers student loan refinancing to customers all across the USA.
Since MEFA doesn’t aks for borrowers to have a degree, people who didn’t graduate can also easily refinance. Also, it doesn’t charge any fees, including late fees.
Although the MEFA does not advertise a specific forbearance limit, the agency has assured that it will work with borrowers to modify their payment plans if they face financial troubles.
Its fixed and variable rates are currently the same, in the range of 4.50% to 7.20%.
Here is an overview of all the rates offered by these top student loan refinance companies:
|Company||Variable Rate||Fixed Rate|
|Laurel Road||2.14% to 6.45%||3.74% to 6.55%|
|RISLA||–||4.29% to 7.04%|
|SoFi||1.74% to 7.99%||3.49% to 7.99%|
|Splash Financial||1.74% to 11.05%||2.59% to 8.44%|
|PenFed Credit Union||N/A||6.74% to 8.93%|
|Citizens Bank||2.24% to 9.24 %||4.30 % to 9.75 %|
|Discover||3.49% to 7.99%||3.99% to 8.99%|
|Earnest||1.74% to 7.99%||2.99% to 7.99%|
|MEFA||4.50% to 7.20%||4.50% to 7.20%.|
Go through the rates and choose your provider wisely.
Student loan refinancing is a great way to manage your debt. As stated earlier, all lenders mentioned in this article don’t charge application, processing or origination fees.
As long as you have good credit, you should be able to qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate without paying any additional fees.
In due time, you can save thousands of dollars and comfortably pay off your loans well ahead.
Choose one of the companies listed in this of the 10 best student loan refinance companies and refinance your loan. Always be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before making a move.