Private Student Loan Refinancing: How to Compare Rates and Choose a Lender

Trish Sammer Updated on March 21, 2018

Let’s just come right out say it: some of the jargon associated with refinancing your student loan can be tough to get your head around. 

But here’s the good news: refinancing isn’t nearly as complicated as you might think. In fact, it’s possible to apply and even get a conditional acceptance in less than an hour. 

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That’s time well spent, when you consider that you’ll come away with benefits like lowered monthly payments and lower interest rates.

A time investment of 60 minutes can save you literally thousands of dollars? That’s a pretty good deal. 

Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know.

Make an apples-to-apples comparison

There are a lot of lenders offering student loan refinancing. So how you do choose the right one?

It’s actually pretty simple. Create a basic spreadsheet so you can get a side-by-side view of different banks to compare interest rates, loan terms, and other factors.

Don’t feel like making a spreadsheet? No problem. Check our Best Banks chart for an easy comparison.

Give yourself a time limit

Any time a lender performs a credit check on you, you might get a ding on your credit score for a credit inquiry. The same holds true when you’re researching your refinancing options.

However, keeping all credit inquiries within a 15-day period can minimize the impact on your credit score. Why? Because multiple inquiries over a limited amount of time indicate that you’re shopping around for a specific reason. On the other hand, spreading inquiries over a period of several months may make it seem like you’re constantly searching for additional credit.

Another reason to time-box your search: interest rates may change quickly. You don’t want to lose out on a great rate by waiting too long to decide.

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Apply strategically

You can minimize the number of credit hits on your account by not applying to lenders who aren’t a good fit. 

Find out what lenders expect in terms of credit history, employment records, and income. If you can’t easily find this information on the company’s website, pick up the phone and call them. In fact, finding a reason to call a lender before you apply has an additional benefit as well …

Get personal

You can learn a lot about a company through their customer service representatives. A quick call can provide insight to how responsive and knowledgeable the customer service reps are. Remember, when you settle on a company to do business with you are starting a long-term relationship. Make sure the company culture and values work well with what you need.

Start your search for a lender by checking out our picks for the best banks for student loan refinancing. 

 

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Published in: Refinance

About the Author
Trish Sammer

Trish Sammer is Comet's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her almost-husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer

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  • APR: 2.57% - 8.97%
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Visit LendKey View Loan Disclosure

LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.

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  • More lenders, more options - see the best offers from over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders for higher approval chances
  • Life of loan relationship - With LendKey, your personal information will never be sent or passed on to third parties. Their customer service team is with you from the moment you land on their website until you've completely repaid your loan.
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Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Review

  • Low interest rates - For well-qualified borrowers, SoFi offers some of the lowest rates we have found.
  • Strong customer service - It has more than 350 customer service reps available to help applicants through process.
  • Career coaching and networking - Perks include career services representatives who can help you find a job or negotiate a higher salary. SoFi also hosts networking events, happy hours and educational lectures on topics like buying a home in major cities around the country.
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Find out what interest rate SoFi can offer you here.

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Visit CommonBond View Loan Disclosure

CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.

Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance review

  • Unemployment protections - If you lose your job or decide to go back to school, you can delay your payments for up to 24 months.
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  • Hybrid loan option - Offerings include a 10-year hybrid loan with fixed interest for the first five years, and variable interest for the final five.
  • Referral bonus - For every friend you refer who refinances their loans with CommonBond, you’ll earn a $200 cash bonus.
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Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.

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  • APR: 2.57% - 7.89%
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Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

  • Commitment-free 2 minute rate check
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Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.

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Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender

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Visit Laurel Road View Loan Disclosure

Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance Review

  • National reach - Online lender that is available in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • No fees & the lowest rates in the space - Laurel Road is the most transparent about the rates they provide customers, and offer the lowest rates where it counts. Our customers will save more than $20,000 over the life of their loans on average. 
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  • The stability & security of a bank - They are a division of Darien Rowayton Bank, a stable and secure FDIC-insured bank, regulated by the FDIC and the Connecticut Department of Banking.

Get your personalized, pre-approved rates in less than 5 minutes.

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Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

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Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

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Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.

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