Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

Maybe you’ve thought about refinancing your student loans to try and save money, but you don’t know where to start. That’s understandable because there is a broad landscape of companies and lenders that refinance student loans. With the right information and guide, figuring out how to refinance student loans doesn’t have to be daunting. It’s important to compare lenders to find the best student loan refinance lenders.

Lending Partner
Min. Loan
Fixed APR
Eligible Degrees
  • College Ave
    Min. Loan
    $1,000
    Fixed APR
    3.49%–12.99%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Credible
    Min. Loan
    N/A
    Fixed APR
    N/A
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Discover, Member FDIC
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    4.59%–12.99%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • LendKey
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    4.25%–12.35%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Sallie Mae
    Min. Loan
    $1,000
    Fixed APR
    4.25%–12.35%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • SoFi
    Min. Loan
    Varies
    Fixed APR
    4.23%–11.76%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Splash Financial
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    2.88%–6.72%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • College Ave
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    3.99%–9.24%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Credible
    Min. Loan
    N/A
    Fixed APR
    N/A
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Education Loan Finance
    Min. Loan
    Varies
    Fixed APR
    Starting at 2.75%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate, Graduate & Parent Loans
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • LendKey
    Min. Loan
    Varies
    Fixed APR
    2.99%–8.77%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • SoFi
    SoFi Logo
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    3.24%–6.53%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
  • Discover, Member FDIC
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fixed APR
    3.49%–6.99%
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    NEXT
    on lender’s secure website
In this article

    The 5 best student loan refinancing of 2020

    ProviderMax AmountRepayment PeriodFixed APR
    Earnest$500,0005 – 20 yearsas low as 2.98%
    SoFiFull loan balance5 – 20 years2.99% – 6.238%
    CommonBond$500,0005 – 20 years2.83% – 6.74%
    Splash FinancialNo max5 – 25 yearsstarts at 2.88%
    Citizens Bank$500,0005 – 20 yearsas low as 2.99%

    Rates accurate as of November 2020

    The 5 best student loan refinance companies of 2019

    Best for flexible payment terms – Earnest

    One of the standout features that Earnest offers is borrowers get the chance to skip a payment once every 12 months after they have made six consecutive months of payments.

    Fixed APR
    3.23%–6.04%
    Loan Amount
    N/A
    Fees
    None
    SimpleScore
    4.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Earnest 4.8
    Fixed APR 5
    Perks 5
    Transparency 4
    Variable APR 5
    Fees 5

    Earnest was founded in 2013 and strives to offer flexible and customizable plans to customers. It has served over 105,000 customers and refinancing comes with no origination fee.

    It also offers military deferment and a rate reduction program, for borrowers who have come into financial difficulty. Interest rates can be modified for up to six months under this program. The application uses more than just credit scores and history to determine eligibility, such as savings accounts or a history of no late fees, making more people eligible for its loans. However, Earnest does require a minimum credit score of 650.

    Best for member perks – SoFi

    Sofi focuses on high earners for refinancing candidates.

    Fixed APR
    3.24%–6.53%
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fees
    Late fee
    SimpleScore
    3.6 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore SoFi 3.6
    Fixed APR 4
    Perks 4
    Transparency 3
    Variable APR 3
    Fees 4

    Choosing SoFi as your lender opens the door to many perks, such as career coaching, financial planning and exclusive member events. Events might include local happy hours, networking events or a financial workshop to develop your money smarts.

    SoFi also focuses on customer service outside of just its financial tools, offering a wealth of educational resources for its borrowers, everything from blog posts to individual financial planning sessions. It takes a big picture approach to financial steps and aims to serve borrowers at different life stages.

    SoFi Disclosure

    Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 1.99% APR to 6.24% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 1.99% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 3.06% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

    Best for hybrid APRs – CommonBond

    CommonBond offers borrowers the option of a variable, fixed or hybrid APR.

    Fixed APR
    6.98%–10.74%
    Loan Amount
    $2K to 100% of costs
    Fees
    $10 or 5% late fee
    SimpleScore
    4.2 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore CommonBond 4.2
    Max Fixed APR 4
    Perks 5
    Transparency 3
    Loan Amount 5
    Fees 4

    This APR approach offers a fixed rate for part of the life of your loan and then switches to a variable rate, which could be appealing to many borrowers. This is unusual and an outstanding feature for a lender. Plus, you can get a 0.25% discount on your interest rate when you sign up for autopay. The website also features a handy Refi 101 Guide that comes with a short quiz and explains the basics of refinancing in a digestible manner.

    Best for med school students – Splash Financial

    Splash Financial claims a 95% satisfaction rate and offers to refinance specifically for med school students.

    Fixed APR
    2.88%–6.72%
    Min. Loan
    $5,000
    Fees
    N/A
    SimpleScore
    3.5 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Splash Financial 3.5
    Max Fixed APR 4
    Perks 3
    Transparency 4
    Max Variable APR 3
    Fees N/A

    Residents and medical fellowship students who refinance and fit the term have the option to pay just $100 a month during their residencies and fellowships, and for six months afterward. But the maximum length of time to pay $100 a month is 84 months. Both fixed and variable rates are offered with the lowest interest rate being 2.80%, which could make a big payment difference to someone in a long-term residency.

    Splash Financial Disclosure

    Fixed APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rate options range from 2.88% (without autopay) to 7.27% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.88% per year to 6.21% per year for a 5-year term, 3.40% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term, 3.45% to 5.08% for a 8-year term, 3.89% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term, 4.18% per year to 5.11% per year for a 12-year term, 4.20% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.51% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan). Variable APR: Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Variable rate options range from 1.99% (with autopay) to 7.10% (without autopay) and will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. Our lowest rate option is shown with a 0.25% autopay discount. Our highest rate option does not include an autopay discount. The variable rates are based on the Variable rate index, is based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of April 27, 2020, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.43763%. The interest rate on a variable rate loan is comprised of an index and margin added together. The margin is a fixed amount (disclosed at the time of your loan application) added each month to the index to determine the next month’s variable rate. Variable rate options without an autopay discount consist of a range from 2.01% per year to 6.30% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.35% per year for a 7-year term, 2.09% per year to 3.92% per year for a 8-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 2.67% per year to 4.56% per year for a 12-year term, 3.44% per year to 6.65% per year for a 15-year term, 4.75% per year to 6.93% per year for a 20-year term, or 5.14% per year to 7.10% for a 25-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate may be between 9.00% and 16.00%, depending on loan term. The floor rate may be between 0.54% and 4.21%, depending on loan term. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

    Best for parent loans – Citizens One

    Citizen Bank offers a wide range of refinancing terms, from five to 20 years, and can help you refinance up to $500,000 in student loans.

    Fixed APR
    N/A
    Loan Amount
    $5K–$15K
    Fees
    N/A
    SimpleScore
    4.3 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Citizens One 4.3
    Rates 5
    Loan Size 2
    Customer Satisfaction N/A
    Support 5
    Fees 5

    Specifically for parents, its Parent Education Refinance Loans can include any student loan debt used to finance a child’s education. Federal Direct PLUS loans and private student loans from other lenders are included in that. Loans that parents took out only in their name or that they co-signed on are also eligible. There are no application, origination or disbursement fees in the application process either, which might save you some money.

    What is student loan refinancing?

    Student loan refinancing is an option to change how and what you pay on your loans each month. Essentially, refinancing a student loan replaces your current loan with a new one, complete with a new payment amount, a new term length and hopefully a lower interest rate.

    Refinancing may help you pay less in interest over the length of your loan term, have more manageable monthly payments or help you get a co-signer off of a loan.

    How to refinance your student loans

    Refinancing your student loans can be a smooth and straightforward process. Many lenders offer online applications, and processing can take just a few days. Here are the steps to follow if you want to refinance your student loans.

    1. Find at least lenders you are interested in refinancing with. It’s always a good idea to shop around to see what different lenders are able to offer you.
    2. Prepare the information you’ll need to apply. This includes checking your credit report for any errors and disputing them if so, knowing your credit score beforehand, knowing your total student loan balance and interest rates for each loan, and knowing your total monthly payment.
    3. Get estimates from the lenders you’ve chosen.You may have to fill out applications to get loan offers, or you may be able to get prequalified. Compare the offers and see which works best for you. A loan application generally asks for personal information like your address, income, current loan information, assets, and age of loans.
    4. Compare offers and choose one. When you’ve chosen the offer, you’ll sign a contract for the new terms of your debt. You’ll have to get the 10-day payoff amount from your original lender and submit it to your new lender. There is a three-day period called the recission period, where you or the lender can pull out of the agreement. Until this is completed and the loan officially approved, you need to continue to make payments to your original lender.
    5. You have successfully refinanced. The new lender pays off your debt to your original lender, and you start making payments on your new debt terms to this new lender.

    What’s the difference between student loan refinancing and consolidation?

    Student loan consolidation and student loan refinancing both streamline your debt repayment process by taking your original debt terms and offering you new ones. Either option can be a useful tactic in your debt payoff journey. However, there are key differences between the two processes.

    Debt consolidation bases your new interest rate on your old interest rates. It takes the weighted average of your current interest rates to create your new interest rate.

    Refinancing bases your new interest rate on your credit score and ability to repay the debt. This may be a higher or lower rate, depending on your credit score.

    Keep in mind however,  there are caveats in refinancing federal student loans:

    • Some lenders will not refinance federal student loans at all.
    • To consolidate federal loans, you must do so with the Department of Education’s federal loan program.
    • You cannot refinance student loans through the Department of Education.

    Refinancing through a private lender may require you to give up some of the protections that come from federal loans, such as loan forgiveness or income-based repayment options. Debt consolidation doesn’t require this.

    Methodology

    SimpleScore

    The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

    For every review, our editorial team:

    • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
    • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
    • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

    Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

    Max Fixed Rate

    Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.

    Perks

    We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.

    Transparency

    Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

    Loan Amount

    Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 

    Fees

    We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

    Kara Perez

    Contributing Writer

    Kara Perez is the founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Bravely focuses on bringing actionable, intersectional and accessible financial education to people via pop up events and online community. Additionally, Kara co-hosts the award-winning podcast The Fairer Cents, which has been named the top money podcast for women by Forbes and The Balance. Kara has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, ABC Nightline News, and US News and World Report as a financial expert. She lives in Austin TX.

    Reviewed by

    • Courtney Mihocik
      Courtney Mihocik
      Finance Editor

      Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in insurance, personal finance, and loans. Previously, she wrote and edited for Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, Ballantyne Magazine, Thread Magazine, The Post, ACRN, The New Political, Columbus Alive and the Institute for International Journalism.