Student Loan Refinance Guide

Refinancing your student loans is a great way to save on interest costs or lower your monthly payments when you need a little help. By understanding how the process works and who the key providers are, you can set yourself up for success in paying off the remainder of your education costs. The best student loan refinance companies offer great APR rates, flexible repayment terms, great customer service and additional tools and resources to help you succeed.

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%–12.39%
    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 Disclosure: 1. Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
In this article

    The 4 best student loan refinance providers of 2020

    LenderFixed RatesTermsLoan AmountKey Benefit
    SoFi2.99% – 6.24% (with AutoPay)5 – 20 yearsUp to full balanceComes with free financial coaching
    Splash FinancialStarting at 2.88%Not listedUp to full balanceRate check in 3 minutes
    EarnestStarting at 2.98%Not listedMinimum $5,000Ability to adjust payment date
    CredibleStarting at 2.92%5 – 20 yearsVariesGet multiple offers at once

    The 4 best student loan refinance providers of 2020

    Best overall – SoFi

    Student loan refinancing through Sofi is available up to the full balance of your loan with repayment periods of five to 20 years.

    Fixed APR
    3.24%–6.53%
    Loan Amount
    N/A
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    SimpleScore
    3.6 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore SoFi 3.6
    Fixed APR 4
    Perks 4
    Transparency 3
    Variable APR 3
    Fees 4

    Compared to several comparable options, rates are a bit more expensive for both variable- and fixed-rate refinancing. SoFi does allow for refinancing private loans, Parent PLUS loans and federal loans. The company also offers career coaching and financial advice to all customers free of charge.

    If you decide to go back to graduate school while repaying your SoFi loan, the company will allow you to defer your loan until you complete your schooling. This service also extends to active-duty military and people undergoing disability rehabilitation. Overall, SoFi is a well-rounded option for student loan refinancing.

    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 medical school debt – Splash Financial

    Students with medical school debt that are looking to refinance should consider using Splash Financial.

    Fixed APR
    2.88%–6.72%
    Loan Amount
    N/A
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    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

    Rates on medical school refinancing start at 2.80% APR variable and 3.76% fixed. During your time in residency and fellowship, you can refinance and pay as little as $100 month. These amended payments can continue up to six months after your training completes.

    Rates on Splash Financial refinancing for traditional student loans start as low as 1.83% APR variable and 3.13% APR fixed before a 0.25% autopay discount. Compared to other lenders, these rates are industry-leading. Couple this with 95% customer satisfaction, cutting-edge application technology and helpful customer service, and you can see why Splash Financial is one of the best student loan refinancing companies available.

    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 mobile app – Earnest

    Earnest offers student loan refinancing with fixed rates starting at 2.98% APR and variable rates starting at 1.99% APR with auto pay, which is on-par with the current rates available at comparable lenders.

    Min. Loan
    N/A
    Fixed APR
    3.23%–6.04%
    Eligible Degrees
    N/A
    SimpleScore
    4.8 / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Earnest 4.8
    Fixed APR 5
    Perks 5
    Transparency 4
    Variable APR 5
    Fees 5

    A refinanced loan through Earnest comes with several great features, including in-house servicing, customized loan terms, the ability to skip one payment every year and biweekly auto payments.

    Additionally, if you’re looking to consolidate several student loans, Earnest can help, as the company offers refinancing and debt consolidation options. Interested applicants will need at least a 650 credit score, current employment and be up to date on their loan accounts and rent or mortgage payments.

    Best marketplace lender – Credible

    If you’d like to get multiple offers and rates from different lenders at the same time, you may want to consider using a marketplace lender like Credible.

    Fixed APR
    N/A
    Loan Amount
    N/A
    Eligible Degrees
    Undergraduate & Graduate
    SimpleScore
    N/A / 5.0
    close
    SimpleScore Credible N/A
    Max Fixed APR N/A
    Perks N/A
    Transparency N/A
    Loan Amount N/A
    Fees N/A

    Within two minutes, you can see offers from several of the top student loan refinancing lenders across the country. All loans come with no service fee, no origination fee and no prepayment penalties.

    Credible offers refinancing for private loans, federal loans and parent PLUS loans. Current rates start as low as 2.92% with repayment terms between 5 and 20 years. Lenders looking to streamline the comparison process will enjoy using the online marketplace provided through Credible.

    Credible Disclosure

    Variable rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Your actual rate may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown above and will be based on factors such as the term of your loan, your financial history (including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history) and the degree you are in the process of achieving or have achieved. While not always the case, lower rates typically require creditworthy applicants with creditworthy co-signers, graduate degrees, and shorter repayment terms (terms vary by lender and can range from 5-20 years) and include loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts, where applicable. Loyalty and Automatic Payment discount requirements as well as Lender terms and conditions will vary by lender and therefore, reading each lender’s disclosures is important. Additionally, lenders may have loan minimum and maximum requirements, degree requirements, educational institution requirements, citizenship and residency requirements as well as other lender-specific requirements.

    What is student loan refinancing?

    Student loan refinancing is the practice of exchanging an existing loan for a new loan with either lower monthly payments or a lower annual percentage rate (APR). When you refinance, a new lender either gives you funds to pay off your existing loan or directly pays your current lender the full amount. As your initial student loan is paid off, that loan is closed. From then on, you make payments to the new lender for the money you borrowed to pay off the first loan. Generally, people refinance their student loans when interest rates drop, their credit score goes up or they need to lower their monthly loan payments.

    Student loan refinancing vs. consolidation

    The main difference between refinancing and consolidation is the number of loans you are looking to get new terms for. When you refinance, you take out a new loan to replace the single loan you are refinancing. When you consolidate, you take one a new loan that pays off and replaces two or more loans. Consolidation carries the same benefits and functionality of refinancing with the addition of the convenience of not having to make multiple loan payments to different lenders every month.

    RefinanceConsolidation
    • Refinance to get a lower rate
    • Applies to one single loan
    • Consolidate to pay one aggregate rate
    • Applies to two or more loans

    What to look for when you refinance your student loans

    • APR rates, not interest rates. Make sure you’re looking for the student loan refinancers that offer the lowest APR rates and not interest rates. APR rates take into account any fees or additional costs you may have to pay and adds them to your interest costs.
    • Flexible repayment terms. When deciding how you want to repay your loan, look for flexibility in how long you get to repay. This becomes especially important if you’re looking to lower your monthly payments.
    • Plans for help if you need it. Some lenders offer incentives that can help you down the road if you have trouble paying. These include things like deferment, the ability to skip a payment and the ability to change your payment due date.

    How to refinance your student loans

    1. Request your 10-day payoff amount from your current lender.

    Contact your existing lender and request your 10-day payoff amount. This is the amount your new lender will need to pay to close out your existing loan. Generally, you can request this automatically from your existing lender’s website.

    2. Shop online lenders offering student loan refinancing.

    Begin comparing the top student loan refinancing companies. Determine what key factors are important to you, and find the best fit.

    3. Complete the preapproval process.

    Once you’ve located a few potential options, go through the preapproval process. Make sure the lender you want to work with is willing to work with you.

    4. Select a lender, and move forward with the full application process.

    After you’ve completed the pre-approval process, make a selection on the lender you want to use. Complete the full application process and wait for approval. Time frames for approval will vary greatly depending on the lender you choose.

    5. Once approved, immediately pay off your existing loan.

    Most student loan refinancing companies will pay off your existing lender automatically. Some, however, will send the money to you and ask you to pay off your existing loan. If that is the case, take the money and pay off the loan immediately. Failure to do so could get you into a tough financial situation.

    Private student loan refinancing

    Whether you’re looking to lower your payments or save on interest, private student loan refinancing often can help. Different lenders may be willing to offer you better rates or lower payments depending on your loan details, market rates and your creditworthiness. If you’re struggling to keep up with payments, start by reaching out to your current loan provider for help. If the company is unable to assist, refinancing to a longer-term might be an option. You will generally pay more over the life of the loan on interest, but your payments will come down.

    Federal student loan refinancing

    Refinancing your federal student loans is possible through private lenders, but may or may not be the right fit for you. If you’re having issues paying, altering your repayment plan could be the better option and can be done as many times as needed. If your goal is to save on interest payments, refinancing through a private lender could help you to save significantly. Do be aware, though, that you will lose the protections and repayment options that are unique to federal student loans.

    Can you refinance student loans more than once?

    Yes, you can refinance your student loans as many times as you want. Should you? Well, the reasons you might want to refinance your student loans a second time are the same reasons you refinanced in the first place. If interest rates change, your creditworthiness improves or you need to adjust the size of your payments, take advantage of the savings or more-fitting repayment terms.

    Discover Student Loans Disclosure Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans for Undergraduate Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.375%% as of July 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

    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. 

    Jason Lee

    Contributing Writer

    Jason Lee is a U.S.-based freelance writer with a passion for writing about dating, banking, tech, personal growth, food and personal finance. As a business owner, relationship strategist, and officer in the U.S. military, Jason enjoys sharing his unique knowledge base and skill sets with the rest of the world. Follow Jason on Facebook here

    Reviewed by

    • Andrea Perez
      Andrea Perez
      Personal Finance Editor

      Andrea Perez is an editor at The Simple Dollar specializing in personal finance. Prior to that she specialized in digital marketing content for online learning websites. She holds a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from the University of South Florida.