With high student loan interest rates, college grads can end up owing far more than they initially borrowed, and their monthly minimum payments can take up a significant portion of their paychecks.
If you have student loans and want to tackle your debt head-on, you can use student loan refinancing to qualify for a lower interest rate and save money over your loan's life. There’s no fee to refinance your education loans, and you can usually refinance online in just a few minutes.
We researched some of the top lenders to identify the best student loan refinancing companies for your needs. Here they are, as well as who each lender is best for.
- Best student loan refinancing options of September 2021
- Best student loan refinancing if you didn’t graduate: INvestEd
- Best student loan refinancing for parents: Laurel Road
- Best student loan refinancing for the lowest interest rates: Splash Financial
- Best student loan refinancing for married couples: PenFed
- Best student loan refinancing for borrower protections: RISLA
- Best no-fee student loan refinancing: MEFA
- Best student loan refinancing marketplaces: Credible and LendKey
- How to pick the best student loan refinancing company for you
Best student loan refinancing options of September 2021
Best student loan refinancing if you didn’t graduate: INvestEd
Most student loan refinancing lenders require you to have a bachelor’s degree or higher to qualify for a loan. If you didn’t graduate, you aren’t eligible for refinancing. INvestEd is one of the few exceptions that will work with borrowers who don’t have a degree.
INvestEd is a private lender. Although it gives private student loans only to those attending schools in Indiana, it offers student loan refinancing to borrowers nationwide. Borrowers may have up to 20 years to repay their loans and refinance up to $250,000. INvestEd offers both variable and fixed-rate loans.
The lender also has a generous forbearance policy. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you can postpone your payments for up to three months at a time, for up to 24 months over the life of your loan.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Variable: 2.46% to 6.35%
Fixed: 3.47% to 6.82%
|Loan amounts||$5,000 to $250,000|
|Repayment terms||5, 10, 15, and 20 years|
Best student loan refinancing for parents: Laurel Road
If you took out federal Parent PLUS Loans or private parent loans to pay for your child’s education, consider refinancing your debt through Laurel Road.
Not only does the lender offer competitive interest rates and multiple repayment terms, but it’s one of the only lenders that allows you to transfer parent student loans to your child. When you refinance into your child’s name, you’re no longer responsible for the loan, and you don’t have to make payments anymore.
With parent loan refinancing, you can have up to 20 years to repay your debt, and you can choose between a fixed-rate loan and a variable-rate loan. Laurel Road doesn’t charge loan application fees or origination fees, and there is no prepayment penalty.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Variable: 2.14% to 6.65%
Fixed: 2.75% to 6.25%
|Loan amounts||$5,000 and up|
|Repayment terms||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years|
Best student loan refinancing for the lowest interest rates: Splash Financial
If you’re looking for a low interest rate, Splash Financial has the lowest refinancing rates as of June 11, 2021. Splash Financial works with a network of banks and credit unions to offer low rates on refinancing loans.
There are also no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties. Although there is a $5,000 loan minimum to refinance, there is no loan maximum, which makes Slash Financial a good option for those with a significant amount of student loan debt. At this time, eligibility for student loan refinancing with Splash Financial is limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Variable: Starting at 1.88%
Fixed: Starting at 2.49%
(lowest rates include .25% autopay discount)
|Loan amounts||$5,000 and up|
|Repayment terms||5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, and 20 years|
Best student loan refinancing for married couples: PenFed
If you’re married and both you and your spouse have student loans, PenFed Credit Union is the only lender that offers spouse loan refinancing. With this option, you can combine your loans and refinance them to have the same interest rate and a single monthly payment.
When you apply for spouse loan refinancing through PenFed, the lender looks at your household income and highest credit score, which increases your chances of qualifying for a loan and getting a competitive interest rate.
PenFed has a range of repayment terms to choose from. With spouse loan refinancing, you can have as long as 15 years to repay your loan, and you can opt for a fixed interest rate or a variable interest rate. There are no prepayment penalties, origination, or application fees.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Variable: 2.13% to 5.25%
Fixed: 2.89% to 5.63%
|Loan amounts||$7,500 to $300,000|
|Repayment Terms||5, 8, 12, and 15 years|
Best student loan refinancing for borrower protections: RISLA
The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is a nonprofit organization that offers student loan refinancing for borrowers in all 50 states. The lender offers competitive, fixed-rate loans, cosigner releases, and interest rate discounts.
But what makes RISLA stand out from other refinancing lenders is its unique borrower protections:
- Income-based repayment: If you can’t afford your monthly payments, RISLA offers income-based repayment. Similar to the federal repayment plan of the same name, RISLA’s income-based repayment plan is based on your income and family size. Depending on your situation, your monthly payment amount could be significantly reduced.
- Grad school deferment: If you go to graduate school, RISLA allows you to defer your student loan payments for up to 36 months.
- Total and permanent disability discharge: If you become totally and permanently disabled and cannot work, RISLA will discharge your remaining loan balance.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Fixed: 3.19 to 6.09%
(lowest rates include .25% autopay discount)
|Loan amounts||$7,500 to $250,000|
|Repayment terms||5, 10, and 15 years|
Best no-fee student loan refinancing: MEFA
The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority is a nonprofit, state-chartered student loan organization that offers private student loans and refinancing loans to borrowers nationwide.
As a nonprofit, MEFA tends to have lower rates and fees than some other lenders. For its refinancing loans, it charges no fees at all. There are no application fees, origination fees, late fees, or even returned check fees. If you decide to repay your loan early, there is no prepayment penalty, either.
You can choose between fixed- and variable-APR loans, and you have up to 15 years to repay your loan. You must have at least $10,000 in student loans to qualify for refinancing with MEFA, but there is no loan maximum.
|Interest rates (as of June 11, 2021)||Variable: Starting at 3.05%
Fixed: Starting at 3.05%
|Loan amounts||$10,000 and up|
|Repayment terms||7, 10, and 15 years|
Best student loan refinancing marketplaces: Credible and LendKey
Before refinancing your loans, you should look at offers from multiple lenders to compare rates and terms. Although you can manually shop around on your own, it can be time-consuming. Using a student loan refinancing marketplace like Credible can simplify and streamline the process.
With Credible, you can get rate quotes from up to 12 lenders — more than other marketplaces offer — when you fill out one form. It does only a soft credit check so it doesn’t affect your credit score, and it’s completely free.
Credible gets a fee from its partner lenders when you take out a loan through the platform. However, the fee doesn’t affect your loan terms or how much you pay the refinancing lender.
Read our Credible review.
If you want to compare options across lending marketplaces, LendKey also lets you review loan rates and terms from several lenders quickly and easily. Its goal is to make the process of refinancing your student loans less time-consuming. To date, LendKey has helped over 119,000 borrowers with their lending needs.
LendKey offers a convenient calculator that lets you estimate how much you could potentially save by refinancing your student loans, so you have a good idea of what to expect before you start. If you decide to move forward, you can fill out a quick and simple form to compare loan options. The process is easy, and there's no hard credit check required, so you won't see an impact on your credit score. There are also no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
Read our LendKey review.
How to pick the best student loan refinancing company for you
As with any kind of financial product, you want to make sure to think through the pros and cons of refinancing your student loans and which lender you want to work with. Here are some things to keep in mind as you evaluate student loan refinancing company options:
Make sure you know your financial goal
If you’re thinking about refinancing your student loans, you probably have a specific reason for doing so. It could be to lower your monthly payment, to get a lower interest rate and save money over the length of your loan, or even to pay off the loan faster.
Whatever your reason, make sure you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish by refinancing. Then evaluate lenders and loan terms based on how well they can make this goal happen for you.
Explore your options and do your research
If you're wondering how to get a loan, it's clear there are many lenders out there that offer student loan refinancing. Shop around and take advantage of any pre-qualification tools you may find. Many lenders will let you input your information to see whether you might be approved for a refinance and what interest rates you could be offered.
Although you won’t be able to look over exact terms, and most pre-qualifications are not hard-and-fast offers, you can get a good idea of what your options might be. You also won’t take a hit to your credit score as pre-qualifications don't typically involve a hard credit check to your credit reports.
Understand your interest rate options
You’ll be offered interest rates that are either fixed or variable when refinancing your student loans. With a fixed-rate loan, the interest rate you agree to when you sign the paperwork will remain the same for the life of the loan. A variable-rate loan will have an interest rate that potentially goes up and down, following whatever index on which your lender bases its interest rates. For example, your interest rate might go up or down based on federal interest rate changes.
Which type of interest rate is right for you? That depends on what you want to accomplish by refinancing your student loans. Some lenders will offer you a lower rate if you choose a variable option, but that means your payments could change when it’s not convenient for you. A fixed rate will ensure you have predictable payments for the life of the loan. A variable rate is good if you already plan to pay off the loan in a short period of time. Your financial goals and circumstances will guide you to the choice that’s right for you.
Understand the pros and cons of term lengths
The term of a loan is the length of time that you will be making payments before the loan is paid in full. A shorter-term loan will have higher monthly payments than a longer term loan and vice versa.
If you’re looking for a lower monthly payment, a longer-term loan would be a good choice. If you’re looking to pay off your loan quickly, then you’ll want to look at loans with shorter terms. You also may be able to get a better interest rate related to the length of the term. Shorter loans may offer you a lower interest rate.
Look for your options if you encounter hardship
One good thing about student loans from the federal government is that there are protections for when you experience hardships such as losing your job or getting divorced and losing income. Some federal loan programs also offer a grace period after you graduate, giving you time to secure a job before you begin making student loan payments. When you refinance federal student loans, you’re taking out a private student loan and that means you will lose your federal protections.
If you’re considering refinancing your student loans with a specific lender, ask about what provisions are available for hardships or times when your economic situation may change. These provisions may include things such as forbearances or deferments.
When developing our list of the best student loan refinancing companies, we looked at all the factors discussed above: application process, interest rate, potential loan terms, minimum and maximum refinancing amounts, and any unique factors a particular lender offers.
We looked at popular companies and categorized them according to the type of refinancing they would be best for. We did not evaluate all companies in the category. These lenders have been chosen based on how well they deliver value in helping you reach your financial goals, getting the rates and terms you’re looking for, and helping you handle times of hardship.
FAQs about student loan refinancing
Is it worth it to refinance student loans?
It really depends on your situation and what you want to accomplish through refinancing your student loan. If you have several loans, you can consolidate your debt into a single loan payment. Student loan consolidation can make it easier to track and manage your monthly payments. You could also use refinancing to get a lower interest rate or make your monthly payments smaller on a current loan. If consolidating or a lower interest rate sounds good to you, then refinancing may be worth the time and effort. Keep in mind, though, that if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you may forego certain benefits like public service loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment options. If you have questions about whether it's the right move, talk with your lender or loan servicer.
When should you refinance your student loans?
There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when is a good time to refinance student loans. Having a good credit score is a good place to start. If you’re currently working on improving your credit score, you may want to wait to refinance an existing loan until you’re up to a good or very good rating so you can increase your chances of being approved for a new loan and getting an interest rate reduction.
Being financially stable and able to pay on time each month is also a consideration. If you’re in a situation in which you're not working or you're struggling with massive credit card debt, you might want to wait to refinance until you’re able to get on more even financial footing.
When it comes to the best time to refinance your student loans, one big thing to look for is if interest rates will generally be lower than what you’re currently paying on your loans. Getting a smaller payment or saving over the course of the loan is one of the main reasons to refinance. If the new interest rate will be the same or more, refinancing might not be the best idea. If interest rates are trending down, then you might be looking at a good opportunity to save on interest payments over the life of your loan.
What credit score do I need to refinance student loans?
There is no set credit score for student loans refinancing. Each lender will have its own parameters for approving loans, so it’s best to contact the company you’re interested in borrowing from to see what’s required. In general, a positive credit history can give you an advantage. Lenders may also consider factors like your debt-to-income ratio and your annual income when they review your loan application.
Will refinancing student loans hurt my credit?
Your credit score may take a hit initially for having a hard credit inquiry performed by the refinancing company considering your application. Your score will quickly bounce back from that, though the inquiry will stay on your reports for up to two years. Because student loan refinances are basically personal loans, your credit utilization ratio won’t be impacted. The only thing that could have a lasting impact on your score is if you skip payments or don't make on-time payments on your newly refinanced loan. Certain lenders allow you to set up automatic payments to help you stay on track.
Can you refinance your student loans more than once?
There is no limit to the number of times you can refinance your student loans. In fact, as interest rates change, refinancing multiple times can result in significant savings in what you will pay overall.