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.