Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

Earnest should be your first pick for student loan refinancing

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If you have private student loans, you’re in a unique situation. Unlike with most loans, chances are that when you took your loans out, your credit wasn’t very good on its own and you may have even needed a co-signer on your loan.

Now that you’ve been repaying the loan, there’s also a decent chance that you could qualify for better rates and terms on your own and even remove your co-signer from your loans entirely. The question remains, though—given your situation and your goals, which is the best company to refinance student loans? We’ll guide you through your best options in this review.

Best Student Loan Refinance Companies of February 2023

Think twice before you refinance federal student loans. You’ll lose all of the generous federal benefits and options if you do, such as COVID-19 forbearance, and you’ll begin repayment on your loans immediately. 

Best Overall : Earnest


Earnest

Earnest

  • APR Range: 4.47%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$500,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Custom loan options

  • Skip-a-payment reward

  • Available to international and DACA students

Cons
  • Doesn’t allow co-signers

  • Restrictions for residents of many states

  • Skip-a-payment reward lowers forbearance length

Why We Chose It

Earnest has two big factors going for it compared with other lenders. First, it grants you the option to skip one payment every 12 months, provided you’ve made all your payments on time in the interim. It’s not a free pass, however; that payment is tacked onto the end of your loan, and it’ll still accrue interest. Each time you use it, it’ll reduce the amount of forbearance you have available by one month, and you only have a maximum of 12 months available to begin with. However, it can add extra flexibility to your budget if needed, and that’s always a plus. 

Additionally, Earnest offers an unparalleled range of loan options. Rather than forcing you to choose from a few term length options at five-year intervals, Earnest offers as many as 180 term length options with intervals as short as one month. That allows you to find a payment amount that better fits your budget. Indeed, that’s how you kick-start the process to get a rate quote: You start by telling Earnest how much you can afford for a monthly payment and go from there.

Repayment Options
  • Forbearance: Up to 12 months of forbearance during the life of your loan for qualified circumstances, such as financial hardship. 
  • Deferment: You can stop your payments entirely during certain qualified periods, such as if you return to school at least half-time or you’re a deployed as an active-duty soldier.
  • Biweekly payments: This option splits up your single monthly payment into payments due every two weeks. 
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 680 or higher for refinance loans.
  • In some cases, credit requirements for the student borrower may apply in addition to the normal credit requirements for the co-signer.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Must have at least two months’ emergency fund.
  • DACA recipients require a co-signer who meets residency requirements.
  • Available in Washington, D.C., and all states except for Kentucky and Nevada.
  • Variable-rate loans aren’t available for residents of Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.

Refinancing Marketplace : Credible


Credible logo
Credible logo.
  • APR Range: 3.99%–11.97%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$575,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Very low rates

  • $200 best rate guarantee

  • Good selection of lenders

Cons
  • Loan options may vary

  • May need to join a credit union

  • Some partner lenders are state-specific

Why We Chose It

Credible isn’t exactly a lender: It’s a marketplace that allows you to check your rates with several companies at once. In other words, it’s a student loan refinancing matchmaking company, although it helps people find other loan types too. Credible is refreshingly transparent about which lenders it works with so you know which ones to cross off of your shopping list. With 10 partner lenders in its network, it’s a fast and easy way to get your rate shopping done. 

Credible even offers a $200 “best rate guarantee”—find a better offer elsewhere from a non-partner lender, and Credible will reimburse you with a gift card. As with any loan marketplace, the downside is you’ll still need to research each company you’re matched with to see if it offers the features you’re looking for, if anything, beyond the lowest rate. 

Repayment Options

Repayment options vary depending on the lender that you’re matched with; if you end up going back to school, they may include:

  • Deferment
  • Fixed payments
  • Interest-only payments
  • Full repayment
Eligibility Requirements
  • Available in all 50 states.
  • Minimum credit score of 640 or higher.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Best Rates : Splash Financial


Splash Financial

Splash Financial

  • APR Range: 4.47%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–No maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–25 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Very low rates

  • Affordable options for medical professionals

  • May allow spouses to refinance loans together

Cons
  • Not available if you didn’t complete your degree

  • Loan options may vary

  • May need to join a credit union

Why We Chose It

Like Credible, Splash Financial is a student loan marketplace. Splash Financial, however, is specifically geared toward people looking to refinance their loans, and it works with a set of exclusive lenders you can’t apply with anywhere else. As such, you’ll be able to compare rates from several lenders at once, although the exact details of which lenders are in Splash Financial’s network aren’t disclosed. 

Since Splash Financial only serves as an intermediary to connect you with other lenders, there aren’t too many downsides to using it. However, most (if not all) of the lenders in its network only offer refinancing options to those who finished their degree, or at least who are in their final semester of studies with a signed job offer in hand from within their same field of study. 

Repayment Options
  • Full repayment: Full principle-and-interest payments are required for most refinanced student loans.
  • Medical and dental school repayment: Refinance your medical or dental school loans and you'll only have to make fixed monthly payments of $100 while you're in a residency or fellowship, and for a six-month period after you leave those programs. 
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 640 or higher.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Must have a completed degree, or be in your final semester of studies with a signed job offer from your same field of study.

Best Benefits : SoFi


SoFi

SoFi

  • APR Range: 4.49%–8.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 minimum. No maximum.
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Strong financial hardship benefits

  • Career coaching, special events, and more

  • Can refinance parent loans in your own name

Cons
  • No co-signer release

  • Spouses can’t refinance loans together

  • Applying with a co-signer takes 1–2 more weeks

Why We Chose It

Private student loan lenders don’t have a particularly good reputation for offering many perks, especially when you compare them with federal student loans. SoFi is somewhat of an exception to that because it offers many borrower benefits, including an unemployment assistance program, one-on-one career coaching, financial planning, special events, Los Angeles-based SoFi Stadium lounge access, and more. 

In addition, SoFi is one of the few lenders that allow graduates to refinance student loans that their parents took out for their benefit in their own name, thereby claiming responsibility for repayment. Be aware, however, that applying with a co-signer can tack on an extra week or two to your loan approval timeline. And once listed on the loan, there’s no way to remove a co-signer unless you refinance again in your name alone. 

Repayment Options
  • Reduced payment: If you experience a financial hardship, SoFi may be able to work with you on a way to lower your monthly payments. 
  • Forbearance and deferment: SoFi offers forbearance and deferment options in some cases, such as if you return to school or experience a natural disaster, but it doesn’t disclose the details of these programs. 
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 650 or higher.
  • Completed at least an associate’s degree.
  • Available in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or current resident, including non-permanent residents and DACA recipients.

Best for No Fees : Discover


Discover
  • APR Range: 4.99%–9.89%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$150,000
  • Loan Terms: 10–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No fees, even late fees

  • Available to DACA recipients

  • Generous loan hardship programs

Cons
  • No co-signer release

  • Doesn’t offer short loan terms

  • Doesn’t offer a pre-qualification option

Why We Chose It

Student loan refinances aren’t known for charging a lot of fees, but if you’re very fee-averse, Discover is a good choice. You won’t owe any fees at all, even if you pay late (although Discover may still mark it on your credit reports, which can cause your credit score to drop). Discover is also a good choice if you’re looking for more customer-friendly assistance programs than your typical lender offers. Discover provides several options for deferment, forbearance, and even loan discharge for death or disability. 

Unfortunately, Discover doesn’t offer any refinancing repayment periods shorter than 10 years, a big downside if you’re looking to commit to repaying your loans sooner. You’ll also need to be prepared to submit a complete loan application since Discover doesn’t offer loan pre-qualificaiton like most lenders. And it’s a relatively unfriendly lender if you need to apply with a co-signer since there’s no way to remove them.

If a lender like Discover doesn’t offer loan pre-qualification, be aware that you may see a small hit to your credit score since you’ll be completing a full application.  

Repayment Options
  • Deferment: No payments while you’re in school, in a medical residency or fellowship, on active military duty, or completing certain types of public service. 
  • Forbearance: Maximum forbearance length of 12 months per loan if you lose your job, become temporarily disabled, face financial hardship, or if your student loan payments are too much. 
  • Reduced payment: Lower monthly payments equal to your interest payment or $50, whichever is less, for at least six months while you regain your financial footing.
  • Reduced interest rate: Lower interest rate to reduce your payments ($50 minimum) for at least six months while you regain your financial footing.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score not disclosed.
  • Available in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, current resident, or international student (non-permanent residents may require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident).

Best for Students Who Didn't Graduate : Citizens Bank


Citizens Bank logo
Citizens Bank logo.
  • APR Range: 5.39%–11.98%
  • Loan Amounts: $10,000–$750,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • High borrowing limits

  • Two good discount options

  • Affordable repayment plans for doctors

Cons
  • Long co-signer release period

  • Few details on loan requirements

  • Special requirements if you didn’t complete a degree

Why We Chose It

Most student loan refinance companies require that you completed your degree in order to be eligible for refinancing. Citizens Bank is one of the few lenders to nix that requirement, although it does impose one additional requirement on you if that’s the case: You’ll need to have made your last 12 student loan payments on time in order to help demonstrate your creditworthiness. 

If you need a co-signer for your loan, be prepared for the long haul, too: Your co-signer only becomes eligible for release after three years of on-time payments. However, it is relatively affordable, especially with two stacking discount options. Like most lenders, you’ll get a 0.25% rate discount if you sign up for autopay. Citizens Bank will also knock another 0.25% off of your rate if you or your co-signer already had another Citizens account open when you applied for the loan, too. 

Repayment Options
  • Fixed repayment for medical school loans: Eligible medical residents and fellows can refinance their student loans and opt to make payments of just $100 until they complete their program.
  • Forbearance: Citizens Bank doesn’t disclose the specifics of its forbearance program, but it does have options that you may qualify for in certain cases.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Available in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (non-permanent residents may require a co-signer who meets eligibility requirements).
  • Must have made your last 12 student loan payments on time if you didn’t finish your degree or if you have an associate’s degree.

Best for Spousal Loans : PenFed


PenFed logo
PenFed logo.
  • APR Range: 7.74%–9.93%
  • Loan Amounts: $7,500–$300,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–15 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Fast co-signer release period

  • Anyone is eligible for membership

  • Allows spouses to refinance loans together

Cons
  • Must join the credit union

  • Doesn’t offer variable-rate loans

  • Must maintain a savings account with a $5 balance

Why We Chose It

PenFed Credit Union is one of the few lenders that allow spouses to combine their separate student loans together into one private student loan during the refinance process. This is handy if both you and your spouse are repaying private student loans, especially if you can qualify for a lower rate together. Otherwise, you’d have to apply for separate refinances, and that means your joint debts will be counted twice against you, rather than once as per if you refinance your loans together. 

If you’re refinancing loans on your own, PenFed may also be a good choice if you need to use a co-signer. PenFed offers a generous co-signer release policy: Your co-signer can be released from their obligation after a mere 12 on-time payments, assuming you’re able to qualify on your own at that point. 

Repayment Options
  • Unspecified: PenFed doesn’t disclose what options it has for forbearance, deferment, or loan modification for refinance loans, if any, although it does have a department that handles these requests.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Available in all 50 states.
  • Minimum credit score of 670 or higher.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or international student.

Best for Parent Loans : ISL Lending


Iowa Student Loan (ISL) Education Lending

Iowa Student Loan (ISL) Education Lending

  • APR Range: 3.94%–9.08%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–$300,000
  • Loan Terms: 7–20 years
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Flexible repayment plans

  • Doesn’t require a completed degree

  • Loan discharge for death or permanent disability

Cons
  • Doesn’t offer variable-rate loans

  • Not available for DACA recipients

  • Not available for residents of Maine and Oregon

Why We Chose It

The name Iowa Student Loan might fool you into thinking this student loan refinancing is only available to residents of the Hawkeye State, but this nonprofit lender is available pretty much across the entire country, except for Maine and Oregon. Its low rates make it a good refinancing option for just about anyone, but a few things make it stand out as an especially strong candidate for people with parent student loans. 

First, you may be able to opt for a graduated repayment plan that can help make payment easy, especially if you yourself are in the midst of your own career transition. If you’re an active-duty military member, you’ll also qualify for a reduced rate on your loan. 

Finally, unlike most private student loan lenders, ISL actually offers a loan discharge program if you become permanently disabled or die, similar to federal student loans. No one likes to think about this possibility, but if you’re a parent, the chances of an unfortunate event happening are higher than for newly-minted young grads. Choosing a loan with these options can better protect you and your family.

Repayment Options
  • Forbearance: May offer a pause in payments for certain cases such as financial hardship.
  • Graduated repayment: Rather than paying a steady payment, start with smaller payments that gradually grow to a larger size to finish repaying the loan in the same amount of time.
  • Deferment: ISL offers deferment for certain cases, such as financial hardship or serving in the military, if you’re up to date on payments and provide a budget worksheet.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 670 or higher.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Available in Washington, D.C., and all states except Maine.
  • No prior adverse credit events like foreclosures, bankruptcies, accounts in collection, etc. 
  • No more than two late payments overdue by 30 days (and none past 60 days) in the previous two years. 
  • Debt-to-income ratio under 25% (if you don’t pay rent or mortgage), 40% (for most others), or 45% (for those with mortgages and six-figure incomes).

Best for Large Balances : Laurel Road


Laurel Road logo
Laurel Road logo.
  • APR Range: 4.74%–8.00%
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000–No maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Very low student loan refinance rates

  • Kids can take over parent student loans

  • Special benefits for healthcare professionals

Cons
  • No co-signers allowed

  • Limited options for associate degree holders

  • Doesn’t offer deferment if you return to school

Why We Chose It

Some professions are known for having an especially high price tag, like law and medicine. Laurel Road is one of a few companies that cater to high-balance borrowers, especially people in the medical profession. For you, Laurel Road may offer special rate discounts, affordable $100 repayment plans for medical residents and fellows, and expanded refinance options for those with associate degrees. 

You don’t necessarily have to be a doctor or an x-ray technician to benefit from Laurel Road’s refinancing options, however. It also offers lots of ways for other people to save. Laurel Road offers a larger suite of banking services, and if you sign up for these and meet certain requirements (and they’re generally not too hard to meet), you could qualify for even lower rates on your student loan refinance.

Repayment Options
  • Natural disaster forbearance: Available for up to two months.
  • Economic hardship forbearance: Available for up to 12 months, granted in four three-month periods at a time. 
  • $100 repayment: Available for medical residents and fellows, this plan offers affordable payments, but keep in mind the payments may not cover the amount of interest accruing monthly.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 661 or higher.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Available in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C.
  • Can only refinance loans for graduate studies, undergraduate studies at a four-year institution, or certain associate degrees in the medical field.
  • Must have completed your degree unless you’re a parent refinancing student loans for your child, or you’re in your final semester of study with a signed job offer.

Final Verdict

There are a lot of reasons why you might want to refinance your student loans, and some lenders are clear winners in specific instances. For example, if you’re trying to relieve your parents of the student loan burden they took out for your education, ISL Lending is a top choice. If you’re trying to refinance your student loans with your spouse, PenFed is one of the few lenders that offer this handy option.

But for most people, Earnest is a great all-around option to add to any rate-shopping checklist. It offers the highest degree of customization so you’re more likely to land on the best option for your budget, rather than being shoehorned into a small handful of options. That can help you pay off your loan even quicker and maybe even with less interest charges to boot, so that you can move on with your life that much faster. 

Student Loan Refinancing

Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

Company Interest Rate  Loan Terms  Maximum Loan Amount  Minimum Credit Score 
Earnest Best Overall 4.47%–8.99% 5–20 years $500,000 680
Credible Best Refinancing Marketplace 3.99%–11.97% 5–20 years  $575,000 640
Splash Financial Best Rates 4.47%–8.99% 5–25 years  None 640 
SoFi Best Benefits 4.49%–8.99% 5–20 years  None 650
Discover Best for No Fees 4.99%–9.89%  10–20 years  $150,000 Not disclosed 
Citizens Bank Best for Students Who Didn't Graduate 5.39%–11.97% 5–20 years $750,000 No disclosed
PenFed Credit Union Best for Spousal Loans 7.74%–9.93% 5–15 years  $300,000  Not disclosed 
ISL Lending Best for Parent Loans 3.94%–9.08% 7–20 years $300,000 670
Laurel Road Best for Large Balances 4.74%–8.00%  5–20 years  None Not disclosed 

Guide to Choosing the Best Student Loan Refinance Companies

Compare Student Refinance Loans 

When looking at options to refinance your student loans, you want to compare providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Keep the following important factors in mind:

  • Rates: Know what rates are offered and if they are fixed or variable rates. Typically, the higher your credit score, the lower your rate. 
  • Terms: Student loan terms generally range from 5 to 20 years. However, some companies cut off term limits at 15 years. Know how long the term is and make sure it’s feasible to make timely payments. 
  • Customer service: Know how to get in touch with customer service whether it be through email, online chat, or email. You may have a question the website doesn’t answer. 
  • Borrower requirements: Do you need to have a certain FICO score to qualify? Know if there are other qualifications such as being a certain age, minimum income, or a particular type of degree program.

Apply for Your Student Refinance Loan

After choosing the student loan provider that offers the best refinance rates and terms for your needs, you will need to apply to refinance your loan. This is typically done online or with an agent over the phone. You will need your identification, Social Security number, and your current student loan information, including your account number and payoff amount.

You may also be asked for things like proof of graduation and current income. Having your finances in order makes the process go faster and increases your chances of getting a low-interest rate.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Consider Refinancing Your Student Loan?

Many people had to take out student loans to get a degree and want to know if they should consider refinancing their student loans. Before deciding, consider your needs and assess your current situation. Think about if it’s a good time to refinance and consider what your current rate is, if you could potentially qualify for a lower rate and if any fees will be involved. 

However, it may make sense to hold off on refinancing your student loans if your income isn’t stable and your FICO score is low.

How Do You Refinance Student Loans?

To refinance your student loans, apply for a loan from a private lender for the amount of your existing debt. Once approved, you can use the loan to pay off your old loans. You can refinance both federal and private student loans, consolidating them together. After that, you'll have just one loan to manage, with only one monthly payment to remember. 

What Credit Score Do You Need to Refinance Your Student Loans?

Not all lenders publicly list their minimum credit score requirements. Of the lenders that we looked at while researching this article (who disclose this information), Earnest has the lowest requirement. To qualify for a loan from Earnest, you'll need a minimum credit score of 650.

You may still be able to qualify for a loan with a lower credit score if you have a cosigner on your application.

What Is the Difference Between Student Loan Consolidation and Student Loan Refinancing?

Student loan consolidation and student loan refinancing may sound similar, but they're very different terms.

Although they're both loan payoff options, student loan consolidation refers to federal Direct Consolidation Loans. With a Direct Consolidation Loan, you can combine your eligible federal student loans. Repayment terms can be as long as 30 years, and your interest rate is based on the weighted average of your current interest rates.

With student loan refinancing, you work with a private lender to take out a loan for the existing debt. When you refinance, you'll lose federal loan benefits. However, you can qualify for a lower interest rate and save money over time.

Can You Refinance Federal Student Loans?

While you can refinance federal student loans—and even combine them with your private student loans—there are some drawbacks to consider.

When you refinance your federal education debt, you'll lose federal benefits and protections. For example, you'll no longer be eligible for income-driven repayment plans, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or federal forbearance or deferment programs.

Refinancing may be worth it if your goal is to save money, but think carefully about the downsides before submitting your loan application.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Education expense or student loan refinance for post secondary education

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