The Best Companies for Refinancing and Consolidating Student Loans in 2018

People who refinance their student loans saved an average of $259 a month, and up to $19,231 over the life of the loan. If your interest rate is over 4 percent, you might be paying too much. That's why Comet has done the homework for you, researching and rating lenders to identify the best companies for refinancing and consolidating student loans.

Are You ReFi Ready?
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Save Today With These Leading Lenders

  Interest Rates (APR) ReFi Loan Types Variable Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Fixed Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Hybrid Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Terms (Years)  
2.815% - 7.125% Variable & Fixed 2.58% - 7.07% 3.25% - 7.25% N/A 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Visit SoFi

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2.99% - 6.99% Variable & Fixed 2.99% - 6.42% 3.50% - 6.99% On request 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Visit Laurel Road

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2.63% - 7.50%1 Variable & Fixed 2.63% - 7.50%1 3.25% - 7.50%1 N/A 5 to 15 years2

Visit CollegeAve

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2.81% - 7.12% Variable, Fixed & Hybrid 2.76% - 7.03% 3.18% - 7.25% 3.83% - 6.15%

5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Hybrid: 10 years

(first 5 fixed, second 5 variable)

Visit Common Bond

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2.58% - 8.12% Variable & Fixed 2.58% - 7.62% 3.15% - 8.12% N/A 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Visit LendKey

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3.11% - 8.46% Variable & Fixed 3.11% - 8.46%1 3.35% - 8.24%1 N/A 5, 10, 15 & 20

See Examples

Visit Citizens

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Who is eligible to refinance and consolidate student loans?

Are you one of the 8 million Americans who could be getting a better deal? A Goldman Sachs report estimated that $211 billion in student loans are ripe for refinancing – about 70% of private student loans and 25% of loans from the Federal Family Education Loan Program.

Wondering if you're a good candidate for refinancing or consolidating? Here's what these companies look at when considering your application:

A good credit score

Your creditworthiness is crucial. You'll be a good candidate if your credit score is in the 650 to 850 range.

A low debt-to-income ratio

Banks want your credit score to be high, but they also want your debt-to-income ratio to be low — less than 36%. Calculate your ratio by adding all monthly debt payments and then dividing that sum by your gross monthly income (what you earn before taxes).

Repayment history

A responsible finance history assures a bank that you are a low risk. Being current on your bills, credit cards and student loans is an important loan criterion.

Solid employment history

Banks review your employment and income history.

A college degree

Grads represent lower risk and have higher approval rates.

Eligibility Requirements for Student Loan Refinancing

  Credit Score Minimum Average Refi
Credit Score
Minimum Debt Amount For Refinancing Maximum Debt Amount For Refinancing Minimum Income Requirements  
Good Good $5,000 No Max No Min Required Visit SoFi

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660 N/A $5,000 No Max No Min Required Visit Laurel Road

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Good Good $5,0003 $250,0003 $75,000 Visit CollegeAve

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660 700+ $5,000 $500K No Min Required Visit Common Bond

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660 Good $7,500 $125K: Undergrad $250K: Graduate $300K: Medical/Dental/Vet $2,000/
month
Visit LendKey

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680 Good $10,000 $90K: Undergrad $225K: Grad/Doctoral $300K: Dental/Medical/Law $24,000 Visit Citizens

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All of the lenders listed in the table above also look for the following, in order to be refinance eligible...

  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Eligible Loans To Refinance: Private & Federal
  • Proof Of Degree Required: Yes
  • Proof Of Employment Needed: Yes - Paystub

When does it make sense to refinance your student loans

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If you’re looking for an opportunity to save money

A new loan with a lower interest rate will decrease your monthly payment, which may enable you to pay off the loan faster. If you are looking for more money in your budget today, you can refinance your student loans for a longer period of time—spreading out your payments, reducing your monthly bill.

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If your current interest rate is greater than 4%

If your private or federal student loans have an interest rates of 4% or higher, refinancing will likely save you money. Parents can also save money by refinancing their PLUS loans, which typically have higher interest rates than student loans.

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If variable, income-based repayment options are not as important to you

You will lose eligibility for federal income-driven repayment plans if you refinance your federal student loans. Examples are Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), and the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) plan. These plans decrease monthly payments if you have a low income, lose your job, or experience economic hardship.

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If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness is for federal employees, teachers or those who work in a public service. If you work in one of these fields and you have been consistent in your payments, you could be eligible to have your federal student loans forgiven. Once you refinance, these benefits will no longer be available to you. If you are eligible for student loan forgiveness, we recommend calculating whether student loan forgiveness or refinancing will save you more money over the life of your loans.

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If you want to release a co-signer

Many students apply with a co-signer, often a parent or grandparent, when they first take out college loans. This enables young people with little or no credit history to get lower interest rates. But once you’ve been out of school for a few years, you may want to release your loved one from responsibility. Removing a cosigner from the original loan can be a difficult bureaucratic struggle. Refinancing can be a much simpler way to get everything in your own name.

How Much Lower Could Your Monthly Student Loan Payments Be?

  Average Savings (Monthly) Average Savings (Yearly/Lifetime) Auto Pay Loyalty / Account Discount Fees & Penalties  
$288 $22,359 Yes - 0.25% N/A None Visit SoFi

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N/A $20,000+ Yes - 0.25% N/A None Visit Laurel Road

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N/A N/A Yes - 0.25%1 Yes - 0.25%1 None Visit CollegeAve

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$323 $24,046 Yes - 0.25% N/A None Visit Common Bond

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$191 $16,657 Yes - 0.25% N/A None Visit LendKey

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$132* $1,536/year* Yes - 0.25%3 Yes - 0.25%2 None Visit Citizens

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*There are no prepayment penalties, origination fees, or application fees for the Lenders on Comet

Who Should You Refinance With?

Our Reviews of the Top Companies for Refinancing Student Loans
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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.

  • 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.
  • Unemployment protection - Borrowers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own may apply for Unemployment Protection. If approved, SoFi will suspend their monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during the forbearance period. These benefits are offered in three month increments, and are capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. Note that interest will still accrue while loans are in forbearance.

Find out what interest rate SoFi can offer you here.

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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.

  • 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. 
  • Customer service reputation - Laurel Road's customer service representatives are no rookies. With 19 years of experience on average, Laurel Road’s Customer Service team delivers an experience that is best in the industry. They work to build meaningful, life-long relationships with our valued customers to improve their overall financial wellness.
  • 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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College Ave Student Loans is simplifying the student loan experience. By specializing in student loans, we are able to give our customers the attention they deserve and deliver loans that are simple, clear, and personalized for the individual: we help you find your perfect fit.

We offer competitive rates, a wide range of repayment options, and a customer-friendly experience.

  • 5 - 15 year repayment terms2 
  • Refinance federal, private, and ParentPLUS loans
  • Additional 0.25% interest rate reduction with Nationwide Bank © discount1
  • Choose immediate full payments or 2 years of interest only

Students with student loan debt are already saving money with College Ave Student Loans.

Check out their refinancing options to see how much you can save today.

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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.

  • Unemployment protections - If you lose your job or decide to go back to school, you can delay your payments for up to 24 months.
  • Social promise - For every loan they fund, they also contribute to the education of a child in need.
  • 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.
  • Qualification - Borrowers must have graduated at least 2 years prior if they want to apply without a co-signer. And borrowers in 6 states – Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont – cannot currently refinance through CommonBond.

Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.

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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.

  • Lightning fast rate check - 2-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • 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.
  • Unmatched benefits- Community lenders put people over profits and offer unique benefits like cosigner release after 12 on-time payments, interest only repayment options to keep monthly payments low, the largest unemployment protection period in the market, and more.

Get a personalized quote from LendKey now.

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Citizens One is the National Lending Division for Citizens Bank, N.A., which was founded in 1828 and is the nation’s 13th largest retail bank with more than $149 billion in assets. Citizens Bank, N.A. is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island and has over 1,200 brick-and-mortar branches in the Northeast and Midwest. Although it is a traditional bank, its rates are highly competitive with the non-traditional startups that have proliferated in recent years and its size and long track record offer some unique advantages. However, you must have at least $10,000 in student loan debt to refinance. Refinance your student debt and start saving today. Customers have saved an average of $1,584 per year*.

  • Brick-and-mortar locations - It’s the only lender we reviewed that is part of a traditional bank.
  • Discounts2,3 - you can qualify for another 0.25 percent off by signing up for autopay.
  • Less stringent requirements5 - You don’t have to have completed your degree to refinance, if you are employed. Borrowers with a bachelor’s degree must have made 3 full on-time payment to refinance. Graduate degree holders do not have a minimum number of on-time payments required to refinance.
  • Co-signer release program4 - You can apply for cosigner release from your loan after 36 on-time payments.

Student loan borrowers are already saving money with Citizens One. Check their offerings to see how you can save money.

Let's Review

Over the past decade, we’ve seen dramatic changes in technology, medicine, politics – and now college loans. The emergence of innovative startup firms that specialize in student debt refinancing has created a competitive environment with attractive new options for borrowers. If you’re struggling under the weight of college debt, now is a great time to find out if you could save money by bundling or renegotiating your loans. It’s easy to find out, and there are no prepayment penalties, origination fees, or application fees.


Find out how much you can save right now with:

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Refinancing FAQs

Q: Does it cost money to refinance my student loans?
No. With our partners, there is no cost to refinance your student loans.
Q: How will I know if refinancing will save me money?
Small reductions in your interest rates translate into large savings over the life of your student loans. When refinancing, your new interest rate will be based on your credit history: the better your history, the lower your rate. Our partner banks listed above offer rates starting as low as 2%.
Q: How long does the refinance process take? If approved, when can I expect to start saving money?
It will take about 15 minutes to go thru the application process with our partners. Once approved, you can expect to start seeing your savings within 3 weeks.
Q: Can I refinance both private and federal student loans?
Yes. You can refinance both, but be cautious with your federal loans. Once you refinance your federal loans, you will lose benefits related to Student Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment.
Q: Should I refinance into a variable or fixed rate?

What is a variable interest rate?

A variable interest rate is one that can change based on the terms of the loan. For instance, a variable rate may be 3% early in the year but 4% later in the same year. A change in the general economy can cause such a fluctuation. For instance, when mortgage rates increase, the student loan variable rate will also increase. Any loan not locked into a rate will go up or down over time. Federal student loans aren’t issued with variable rates, but private student loans may or may not be.

What is a fixed interest rate?

Fixed rate student loans keep a constant interest rate: a loan issued with a fixed rate of 3.5% will maintain that interest rate, even years later.

What are the pros and cons of each?

The primary benefit of a fixed interest rate is that your payment amount won't change. For most people, a fixed interest rate is preferred. It's easier to budget, and there are no surprises. A variable interest rate is a benefit if the rate is lower and you’re planning on paying off the loan in a year or less. In that case, you don’t have to worry too much about interest rate increases, which will add to your monthly payment.

Q: What is the current interest rate environment?
Interest rates are rising and expected to rise in 2017; the good news is that they will rise slowly. The reason is simply that rates have been so low for so long. This increase won’t mean anything for current borrowers with fixed interest rates, but borrowers with variable rates may want to pay off loans earlier. New borrowers will likely want fixed rate loans, especially if they're borrowing for more than one year.
Q: I want to refinance but don’t meet the eligibility requirements. What do I do?

Check your credit report.

AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source authorized by federal law to provide free annual credit reports. On this site, you can get your credit report for free each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Once you get your report, spend the time to make sure it is correct. If you find anything inaccurate, contact the specific credit reporting bureau to dispute and remove them. A bank will typically require you to have a credit score that is over 650 to refinance student loans.

Pay down credit card debt.

You can improve your credit score and your chances of being approved for refinancing your student loans if you pay down the debt on your credit card. If you have high balances with high interest rates, consider consolidating those to credit cards with lower-rates. Then, work on paying down all of your balances to below 30% of your credit limit. When you pay down the debt on your credit card you boost your credit score.

Look for a co-signer.

If your credit isn’t as strong as you would like it to be, find a parent, spouse, or family friend with strong credit to co-sign the student loan refinance application with you. A co-signer not only improves your chances of getting approved, but could also help you get a lower interest rate on that new loan.

Q: Does refinancing hurt my credit score? Does shopping around hurt my credit score?
There may be a small decrease in the short-term for pulling your credit score to refinance, but in the long run you should see an increase. When you refinance, you are consolidating your student loans into one loan with one payment. You are replacing multiple lines of credit – the number of student loans you have – with one line of credit. The fewer open lines of credit you have on your credit report, the higher your credit score is likely to be.
Q: I have a co-signer. How does this impact my ability to refinance?
You have a couple of options. First, you can ask the co-signer to be a part of the refinancing and if they have a strong credit history, this could help you get approved and get a lower interest rate. Second, if you personally have a strong credit history you can release the co-signer from the initial loans and take on the refinancing by yourself.
Q: What documents do you need to refinance?

When you are ready to apply to refinance your student loans, get the following documents in order:

  • The most recent loan statement for each loan that you want to refinance, showing your loan servicer name and address along with the repayment start date, estimated payoff date, original loan balance, current loan balance, interest type, and interest rate.
  • Driver’s license, passport, or bank statement to verify your address.
  • Your last month’s pay stubs.
  • Your most recent tax return.
  • Proof of graduation.
Q: How long does it take to start saving, once my application is approved?  
It depends on the bank. Generally, you should see the payoff post with your original lender approximately 3-4 weeks after you receive your final disclosure. It’s important to continue making payments to your original lender until you’ve confirmed that the payoff has posted.

Ready to lower your student loan payments and get out of debt faster?

Find out how much you can save right now with:
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