Here’s how to refinance student loans

When you refinance student loans, you can save money by replacing existing education debt with a new, lower-cost loan through a private lender.

To qualify, you’ll need:

  • Credit scores at least in the high 600s – ideally higher.
  • A steady income.
  • If you fall short on either, you might need a co-signer who qualifies.

You can refinance both federal loans and private loans. It doesn’t cost anything to refinance student loans, and you may be able to reduce your monthly payment or pay off your debt faster.

To decide if refinancing your student loans makes sense, you’ll want to make sure your loans qualify, that you’re not giving up payment options you might need, that you’re getting a better interest rate, and that you’ve chosen the right company.

How to refinance your student loans through NerdWallet

Compare lender rates, requirements and features

Top lender interest rates

LenderTermsFixed APR rangeVariable APR range
5 to 25 years5.34% – 8.73%7.35% – 7.35%
5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years5.24% – 9.99%6.24% – 9.99%
5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years7.11% – 11.18%0% – 0%
5 to 20 years4.96% – 9.79%5.49% – 9.74%
5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years5.48% – 8.94%5.28% – 8.99%
5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years5.74% – 10.99%5.49% – 10.89%
Multiple term options7.12% – 11.19%7.6% – 14.5%
Ready to compare all your student loan refinancing options with the lenders above? COMPARE LENDER RATES NOW
See lender disclosures below.

Calculate your potential savings

Refinance student loans: Your questions answered

Should you refinance student loans during the federal student loan forbearance?

If you have federal student loans, you probably should not refinance before student loan bills resume in October 2023. You’ll lose access to protections available only to federal student loan borrowers, like the 12-month student loan on-ramp and a new income-driven repayment plan called SAVE that could give you $0 payments. If you decide to proceed, you should have stable personal finances and emergency savings before taking that risk.

If you have private student loans and qualify for refinancing, it could be a good choice if you can secure a lower interest rate. Refinancing carries no fees or costs. For those who qualify for a lower interest rate, student loan refinancing may help you accomplish one or more of these goals:

  • Pay less interest over the life of the loan.
  • Pay off education debt faster.
  • Reduce monthly student loan payments.
  • Release a co-signer.
  • Refinance a parent loan in the child’s name.

Use a student loan refinance calculator to estimate your savings.

What happens when you refinance student loans?

When you refinance student loans, a private lender pays off your existing loans and replaces them with one loan with a new interest rate and repayment schedule. Going forward, you’ll make monthly payments to the new lender.

» MORE: How to refinance student loans in 7 steps

What credit score do I need to refinance student loans?

You — or your co-signer— typically need credit scores that are at least in the high 600s. Many refinance lenders seek borrowers with scores in the mid-700s. The better your (or your co-signer’s) credit, the better the rate you’ll likely qualify for. Additionally, you need enough income to comfortably cover your expenses, student loan payments and other debts.

» MORE: Refinancing student loans with bad credit

Is it a good idea to refinance a federal student loan?

Refinancing is a good idea if you qualify for a lower rate and you’re comfortable giving up the benefits that come with federal student loans. When you refinance federal loans, you lose access to income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs and other federal loan perks.

» MORE: Should you refinance federal student loans?

Is refinancing student loans better than consolidation?

It depends on your situation and goals. If you have the credit and income requirements to qualify for a lower rate, refinancing can save you money and help you become debt-free faster.

If you consolidate your federal loans through the government, you won’t receive a lower interest rate, but you may qualify for loan forgiveness programs or income-driven repayment plans. Federal student loan consolidation won’t save you money. In fact, it may extend your loan repayment schedule, increasing the amount of interest you pay long term.

» MORE: Pros and cons of consolidating federal student loans

Which is the best lender to refinance with?

Most borrowers will want to go with the lowest interest rate they qualify for. But if rates are similar, look for lenders offering other features you value, such as the ability to refinance parent PLUS loans in the child’s name or flexible repayment options in case of an unexpected financial hardship.

» MORE: The best student loan refinancing companies

Best student loan refinance companies for:

Paying off student loan debt fasterGet rid of debt more quickly
Refinancing international student loansMost lenders require a qualified co-signer
Refinancing parent PLUS loansFind a lower rate or refi in your child’s name
Refinancing with a co-signerCo-signers can strengthen your application
Refinancing without a degreeOptions for students who didn’t graduate

NerdWallet student loan refinance ratings and reviews

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

CHECK RATE

on Earnest’s website

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

5.0NerdWallet rating 

FIXED APR

4.96-9.79%

VARIABLE APR

5.49-9.74%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

650

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast

SoFi Parent PLUS Refinancing

on SoFi’s website

SoFi Parent PLUS Refinancing

FIXED APR

5.24-9.99%

VARIABLE APR

6.24-9.99%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

None

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers who want plenty of benefits with their refinanced student loan.

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance

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on Nelnet Bank’s website

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance

5.0NerdWallet rating 

FIXED APR

7.12-11.19%

VARIABLE APR

7.60-14.50%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

Mid to High 600s

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers with strong finances.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

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on LendKey’s website

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

4.0NerdWallet rating 

FIXED APR

7.11-11.18%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

660

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers who prefer to work with a community bank or credit union, rather than a big bank.

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

CHECK RATE

on Education Loan Finance’s website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

FIXED APR

5.48-8.94%

VARIABLE APR

5.28-8.99%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

680

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers who value good customer service.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

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on Laurel Road’s website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

5.0NerdWallet rating 

FIXED APR

5.74-10.99%

VARIABLE APR

5.49-10.89%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

660

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for borrowers who want to refinance during their medical or dental residency

Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

CHECK RATE

on Splash Financial’s website

Splash Financial Student Loan Refinance

FIXED APR

5.34-8.73%

VARIABLE APR

7.35-7.35%

MIN. CREDIT SCORE

650

KEY FACTS

PROS & CONS

PRODUCT DETAILS

Best for receiving offers from multiple lenders.

Disclaimers

Education Loan Finance Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/
EarnestActual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 5.21% APR to 10.04% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.74% APR to 9.99% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. The maximum rate for your loan is 8.95% if your loan term is 10 years or less. For loan terms of more than 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95%. Please note, we are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account.
SoFiNotice: SoFi’s Refinance Loan is a private student loan. Understand that when you refinance federal loans, you forfeit all flexible federal repayment options that are or may become available to federal student loan borrowers. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would affect your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation loan options.Notice: Though SoFi offers an Unemployment Protection Program and career services, SoFi’s Refinance loan is a private loan. Understand that when you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options that are or may become available. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would affect your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation loan options.*NOTICE: If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans. Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.Fixed rates range from 5.24% APR to 9.99% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 6.24% APR to 9.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates will never exceed 13.95% (the maximum rate for these loans). SoFi rate ranges are current as of 9/08/2023 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. 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. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.
LendKeySee LendKey’s full terms and conditions at https://www.lendkey.com/disclaimers
Laurel Road Full Laurel Road Disclaimers. Rates as of 10/18/23, rates subject to change. Terms and Conditions Apply. All products subject to credit approval. IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Please note that if you refinance qualifying federal student loans with Laurel Road, you may no longer be eligible for certain federal benefits or programs and waive your right to future benefits or programs offered on those loans. Examples of benefits or programs you may not receive include, but are not limited to, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-driven Repayment plans, forbearance, or loan forgiveness. Please carefully consider your options when refinancing federal student loans and consult http://studentaid.gov/ for the most current information. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association. All products offered by KeyBank N.A. ©2022 STUDENT LOANS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED OR GUARANTEED. KeyCorp® All Rights Reserved. Laurel Road is a federally registered service mark of KeyCorp. 3 Corporate Drive, 4th fl, Shelton, CT 06484.
Splash Financial Splash Financial, Inc. (NMLS # 1630038) reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. The information you provide is an inquiry to determine whether Splash’s lending partners can make you a loan offer, but does not guarantee you will receive any loan offers. Terms and conditions apply. Products may not be available in all states. These rates are subject to change at any time. If you do not use the specific link included on this website, offers on the Splash website may include other offers from lending partners that may have a higher rate. Fixed Rate options range from 5.34% (with autopay) to 8.73% (with autopay). Variable rate options range from 7.35% (with autopay) to 7.35% (without autopay). Some of the rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) index and some are derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.
Nelnet Bank Fixed interest rates range from 7.12% APR (with auto debit discount) to 11.19% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan. Variable interest rates range from 7.60% APR (with auto debit discount) to 14.50% APR (without auto debit discount). Variable rates for Nelnet Bank Refinance Loans are calculated using either (a) the One-Month SOFR; (b) the 30-day Average SOFR; or (c) the forward-looking term rate based on SOFR as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and/or The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth day (or the next business day) of the immediately preceding calendar month. The variable rate may reprice and change on the first day of each month if the SOFR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month SOFR index is 5.32% as of November 1, 2023.

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