Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.
If you got your student loans back when interest rates were high, you're smart to think it might be a good idea to refinance when rates have dropped. Whether you get a lower rate or take years off your loan (or both!), your savings could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
You can typically qualify to refinance your student loans if your outstanding balance is at least $5,000, though some lenders have higher minimums. You'll often need to be in good standing and up to date on your current loan payments, have steady income and a credit score of 660 or higher. Otherwise, your refinancing may require a cosigner.
Wednesday, September 28th
Although Earnest has only been around for a little less than 10 years, they've already helped more than 160,000 clients - including over $14.5 billion in refinanced student loans. Instead of passing you off to a third-party lender like many of their rivals, Earnest services your loan themselves. As they put it, "real people are never more than a call or email away" .
First step: rate estimate
Click on the green "Get Started" or "2 Min: Get My Rate" button to see what your new interest rate could be if you refinance with Earnest. You'll provide your name, email address and citizenship status, as well as the details of your current student loans. To finalize your rate quote, you'll need to choose a password for your account and enter your Social Security Number. Completing this process will give you a rate estimate. For reference, their posted rates are competitive on both fixed-rate loans and variable-rate loans during our most recent visit to the Earnest site (and those rates included a 0.25% auto pay discount).
Second step: full application
If Earnest isn't able to match your information with your credit history to do a soft pull, you'll be taken to a screen asking you to start a full application. That will include more specifics about your major and graduation date, current employment and salary, as well as a request to connect the account where your paycheck is deposited. The clearer the financial picture you give Earnest, the more likely you are to be offered the lowest possible rates on your student loan refinancing. And, if you add a cosigner to your loan, you may also qualify for a lower interest rate. Just remember that submitting a full application does impact your credit report.
No hidden fees
There are some big advantages to using Earnest for student loan refinancing. Not only do they consider your credit score, but they also take into account your financial responsibility: if you've been paying your current loans on time, Earnest gives you credit for making good choices already. There are no extra fees, either: not origination, prepayment, or anything else.
Super-flexible repayment options
Plus, Earnest offers a great deal of flexibility you won't find elsewhere. You can customize the payment amount you prefer or the specific number of months you want to have as your repayment term: no one-size-fits-all expectations here. You may also be eligible for a deferment if you start attending graduate school. Finally, once you've made on-time payments for six months, you can skip a payment once every 12 months (though the principal and interest from that skipped payment will be spread out over the ones you have remaining, and that will make your monthly payments higher).
Great reputation earns highest spot
As a student loan refinancing provider, Earnest enjoys a very positive reputation. Starting with an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB, and in conjunction with nearly 4,000 five-star reviews elsewhere, it's easy to see that this is a resource you can trust. Clients repeatedly praise Earnest for a smooth process and almost unbelievably low interest rates compared with previous loans and other lenders. Impressively, the vast majority of Earnest users are completely satisfied with their experience. Earnest receives the top spot in our review of the best student loan providers.
Comparison shopping is a great way to save money and get good deals. Why should student loan refinancing be any different? Since 2012, Credible has made it possible to find the best rates on a number of financial products, from mortgages to personal loans, with nearly 1.5 million people using the platform to get the money they need.
12 lenders to choose from
There are a handful of referral services like this available today, but Credible is one of the best. Their online form makes it quick and uncomplicated to find out if you prequalify for refinancing with one of their 12 partner lenders: Advantage Education Loans, Brazos, Citizens Bank, College Ave, CommonBond, EDvestinU, INvestEd, ISL, MEFA, PenFed, RISLA and SoFi.
Find out if you prequalify
After you've answered the standard questions about yourself and your refinancing needs, Credible performs a soft pull on your credit. You'll get a results list that clearly shows you which lenders prequalified you, plus all of the terms of the loans they might offer (interest rate, monthly payments and loan length, total interest). We appreciate that Credible also shows you which of their lenders would prequalify you under certain circumstances, like a higher loan amount or adding a cosigner, as well as the ones that weren't a match. Don't be offended if you don't prequalify with some of Credible's partners: it could be due to state residency or other requirements you just don't happen to meet.
Do your homework on the lender you select
Once you click on "Select Lender" , your experience will depend on the provider. For example, with Citizens and EdvestinU, your process continues on the Credible platform, but SoFi will take you directly to their own site (with the information you provided to Credible pre-filled in at SoFi for your convenience). And, it should go without saying that the rest of the process - completing the full application, going through underwriting, and servicing of the refinanced loan itself - all goes through the lender and has nothing to do with Credible. We encourage you to read more about the lender before making your final decision (and you can find many of those institutions in the other reviews here!).
Excellent feedback from clients
It's hard to find anyone with a negative thing to say about Credible. The Better Business Bureau gives the company their highest "A+" rating and accreditation, and there were almost no complaints registered there. Better yet, more than 4,200 people gave Credible a 5-star rating, saying that the service connected them with loans from reputable lenders and it saved them a lot of money. Those reviews aren't strictly limited to student loan refinancing, because Credible matches people with other types of lending, but it's still reassuring feedback.
Best rate guaranteed
Another compelling reason to work with Credible to source your student loan refinancing is their $200 Best Rate Guarantee. If you get an offer with a lower interest rate from a lender outside of Credible's network, it could get you some cash. Just be sure to read the terms and conditions of the offer before you start making plans for the money!
Great way to shop for student loan refinancing options
Credible is a great place to start if you're hoping to refinance your student loans. With just a few clicks, you'll know exactly which lenders will prequalify you - and you'll save yourself the hassle of applying with any lender who won't. There are lots of good reasons to start your loan refinance process with Credible, and they earn high marks in our review.
SoFi is one of the most popular options for students who want to refinance their loans. More than 375,000 SoFi members have refinanced over $30 billion in student loans, and the company was named as one of the best choices in the industry by US News and World Report. You'll regularly find SoFi included as a trusted partner on platforms that refer prospective borrowers to other lenders, too.
Good reasons to get loans refinanced here
There are a lot of reasons why SoFi should get your business for refinancing student loans. They're available to residents of all 50 states and DC, and their minimum loan amount is just $5,000. SoFi is also one of the only lenders we found who will refinance loans on associates' degrees and not just bachelors' and up.
Lowest rate guaranteed and other promos
Also, SoFi guarantees that they'll refinance your student loan with the lowest rate. Terms and conditions apply, but if you meet the criteria they'll not only match that rate but also give you $100! And, at the time of our most recent visit to the SoFi site, there was a promotion offering a $500 welcome bonus on newly-refinanced student loans.
No Social Security number required to prequalify
Finding out if you prequalify for refinancing is easy. Just answer a few questions about why you want to refinance your loans and if they're federal, private or a mixture. You can either enter the information from your current loan(s) manually, or link via Plaid to your current provider (Sallie Mae, Discover, Navient, and so on). SoFi will gather other details like your graduation year and field of study, your annual income, and so forth, until they've gathered enough information to do a soft pull on your credit report. We were glad that we didn't have to provide our Social Security number for SoFi to prequalify us for student loan refinancing: many of their rivals required it.
Many combinations of rates and terms
You'll find plenty of loan options here: fixed-rate and variable-rate, terms anywhere from 5-20 years, and all with competitive interest rates. While we didn't qualify for their absolute lowest APRs, we were pleased with what we were given during the prequalification process.
Not a flawless reputation
In spite of all these positives, SoFi's standing isn't picture-perfect. Their reputation has taken some hits over the years, from an FTC action in the past that didn't get resolved until 2019 to more than 150 complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau in the year leading up to this review - though many of those are related to SoFi's other financial products and not to student loans and refinancing. Still, we found complaints from students who said that they never got the promotional money they were expecting, that their loans took too long to fund, and that their interest rates were higher than average. And yet, the BBB still gives SoFi their highest possible rating ("A+" ) and there's a lot of feedback from very satisfied student borrowers too.
Still a good choice for student loan refinancing
SoFi maintains its spot as a recommended choice for student loan refinancing, despite some of the flaws in its reputation. It's a good option for students who might not be eligible to refinance with other lenders for some reason, and we like the wide variety of rates and terms found here. We're hopeful that customer feedback will continue to improve, and we give SoFi high marks for their student loan refinancing product.
Splash Financial is on a mission to help you save money on your student loans through refinancing. In business since 2013, this site serves as a referral platform that lets you shop around for the best rates and terms among Splash Financial's lending partners. More than 100,000 people have created accounts with this service, submitting more than six billion dollars in refinancing requests.
Social Security number required for quotes
You can get a rate estimate for your student loan refinancing by answering a series of questions about your degree, how much you owe, your current financial situation (income and investments), and your contact details. The last step of the process requires you to enter your Social Security number, but Splash Financial reassures prospective clients that it will result only in a soft pull on their credit report at that stage of the process. (Of course, if you like what you see and decide to apply for a specific refinancing loan, a hard pull will be done at that point.)
Competitive interest rates
We were impressed with the rate quotes we got during the prequalification process. They'll always depend on the current market and the lenders in Splash Financial's network (which, incidentally, we would love to see them list straight out - but they don't). The interest rates we received on our student loan quote weren't the lowest we found, but they were still competitive with the better lenders in our review.
Find out which lenders are a match
When you select a loan that interests you and click "Continue" , the next page will disclose the lender you've been matched with. Everything you entered during your prequalification rate check gets passed along to that lender, to make it faster to complete your full refinancing application. For what it's worth, every single loan presented to us was a match with Earnest, another lender in our student loan refinancing evaluations. That wasn't as much variety as we were expecting, but at least we were given options there with very competitive rates and terms.
Easy to get help from customer support
We got a quick response when we reached out to Splash Financial's customer service team via live chat online. Our rep told us that there are about 10 different lenders in their network, and she (or he?) offered to double-check our prequalification application to see why we had only been matched with Earnest. We also learned from that rep that only one lender in Splash Financial's network offers cosigner applications: in our rate quote, we weren't allowed to indicate spousal income, and that was the reason we only got a match with one lender. Keep that in mind if that applies to your situation as well.
Customer services gets lots of compliments
Although you won't find thousands of client reviews for Splash Financial - which is to be expected, given that they've been in operation for less than 10 years - the feedback you will see is almost universally positive. Starting with an "A-" rating and accreditation with the BBB and continuing on to the 250+ five-star reviews left by happy customers, this referral platform is doing a solid job of connecting people with lenders offering lower-than-average interest rates and great terms on refinanced student loans. The top compliments this service receives tend to relate to their customer service: representatives are described as "responsive" , "knowledgeable" and "friendly" .
Loans serviced by third parties
The one caveat is the same we offer with any lending referral service: remember that, ultimately, your loan will be serviced by the lender and not by Splash Financial. This company connects you to the financial institution, but from there onward it all depends on that bank, credit union, or other lender.
Reliable option for getting multiple lender offers
Splash Financial earns a good ranking among resources for refinancing student loans. We were impressed by their customer service, both in our interactions and in what we found described in client reviews. It isn't the most robust of the referral services in our platform, but Splash Financial still gets high marks for being a trustworthy way to refinance your student loans.
Education Loan Finance (or ELFI for short) is a division of SouthEast Bank, located in Tennessee. Launched in 2015, this lender works strictly with educational funding: student loan refinancing, plus private undergraduate, graduate, and parent loans.
Harder to qualify for refinancing here
To see your rates with Education Loan Finance, you'll provide your name and contact information, basic details about your educational background and income, and your Social Security number so that they can perform a soft pull on your credit history. You'll find out immediately if you prequalify for student loan refinancing here, and we found their criteria to be more stringent than some rival lenders: we were told that we would need a cosigner to continue our application, even though other services were able to offer us refinancing without one.
Attractive interest rates and many terms to choose from
On the plus side, we appreciated that ELFI still showed us the rates and terms available on their refinanced loans. We could choose terms of 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years, and interest rates we were quoted were competitive with the best lenders in our review. Of course, those rates are subject to change - based on the qualifications of our cosigner, since we didn't prequalify on our own. Still, they were very competitive and it might be very much worth your while to jump through the hoops ELFI requires in order to take advantage of those low rates.
Minimum loan amount of $15,000
ELFI has a higher-than-average minimum loan amount: $15,000. That's not very competitive with rival services who allow refinancing of student loans with a balance of just $5,000. You also can't refinance here if you didn't complete your degree, though that's not uncommon among lenders in this industry.
Education Loan Finance gets a lot of positive feedback from satisfied clients. There were no complaints registered with the BBB in the year leading up to this review, and the BBB gives ELFI an "A-" rating. More impressive are the 1,500+ five-star ratings from borrowers who name specific support reps for going above and beyond with their helpful, knowledgeable service. Across the board, customers say that this lender delivers on its promise to help them save a significant amount of money by refinancing their student loans: no bait-and-switch and no nasty surprises at any point during the process.
Better-than-average student loan refinancing if you qualify
We were on the fence between giving ELFI a rating of 3.5 or 4 stars: with that higher loan minimum and the increased likelihood of needing a cosigner, they have a few drawbacks. But ultimately this lender earned our 4-star rating because of their demonstrated track record for providing low interest rates and dependable service to their clients. It's still a good idea to shop around a bit before choosing where to refinance your student loans, but if you qualify to work with Education Loan Finance, you can trust that it will be a good experience.
Unlike some lenders, College Ave only does student loans - both for students just starting out and needing money for the first time, as well as refinancing for existing loans. This lender is based in Delaware and has both an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau.
Your loan maximum depends on your degree
College Ave has a minimum refinancing amount of $5,000. If you've got a doctorate degree in the medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary fields, you'll have a maximum loan amount of $300,000. Undergraduate and graduate degrees are limited to a loan of $150,000 or less. Your repayment terms can range anywhere from 5-20 years, and College Ave's advertised rates are in line with the better lenders we've seen. Their rates do reflect a 0.25% discount for making automatic payments.
Only a soft pull on credit to prequalify
To find out if you prequalify for a refinanced student loan through College Ave, you'll need to enter several critical details. These include your full Social Security number, your annual income, and the amount you want to refinance. College Ave reassures you that you'll only have a soft pull on your credit, at least until you get to the point of actually submitting a full application.
Aggravating application process
Be careful as you walk through the process. You'll get a page that shows you the range of rates and the terms for your potential refinancing, and there's a place to click to save those. If you don't, and you get to the Apply page, there's no way to go back! Even the multiple emails you'll get confirming your prequalification won't show you that page again: you'll have to enter all of your information from the start. Not the most intuitive or convenient process, by any means.
Decent feedback from borrowers
College Ave gets quite a lot of positive feedback from their clients. You'll find more than 900 five-star reviews from satisfied borrowers, saying that the entire loan process was fast and simple to understand. Keep in mind, though, that there's no way to sort out reviews strictly related to refinancing: most of the ones posted to the College Ave site are from students who got their original loans here and not necessarily refinanced from somewhere else.
Rates may be higher than originally quoted
That's an important distinction, because not every borrower is thrilled with the College Ave experience. There are quite a few who say that the rate they were offered (after finalizing their application and taking the hit to their credit report) was significantly higher - not just compared with other lenders but with the rates dangled in front of them during the prequalification process.
Not bad, but consider other options too
Is College Ave a trustworthy option for refinancing a student loan? Sure. Between their excellent reputation with the BBB and their ample 5-star reviews from borrowers, we didn't spot any glaring red flags that would indicate this lender has anything to hide. However, we were put off by the application itself: why do they make it so hard to see the rates (unless you have the foresight to save them in advance)? Maybe that has something to do with the fact that their rates are often higher than their rivals'. You could get the student loan refinancing you need from College Ave, but you may want to shop around a little first.
LendKey has partnered with a network of credit unions and banks since 2009, providing numerous loan options through their digital platform. "A" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, this service is worth considering if you're looking to refinance at least $5,000 in student loans (up to a maximum of $125,000 for undergraduate degrees, $175,000 for graduate degrees, and $300,000 for certain medical programs).
Glitches in the online application
You'll enter your basic information to see if you prequalify for student loan refinancing here. If LendKey can't match your details with your credit profile, you'll be asked to provide your Social Security number. You'll still only have a soft pull on your credit at this stage. Unfortunately, even with our SSN, LendKey wasn't able to find our information (which is odd, because their competitors didn't have any problem prequalifying us to refinance our student loans).
Positive comments from clients
That left us to rely on what other students had to say about their experiences with LendKey. You'll only find four- and five-star reviews featured on their site, but fortunately those account for almost 90% of their independently-verified ratings (just over 300 in total at the time of this evaluation). Most borrowers limit their comments to the application process alone and say that while it took longer than expected, they got rates they liked and that would save them a lot of money.
More information, please!
But, we wish that LendKey were more transparent. In poking around trying to find out more, we saw comments that indicated that this provider might not be available in all states: if you live in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia, your prequalification application might not go through. There's also no detailed information about which lenders are in LendKey's network or how many there are; the site references "hundreds" of partners, but we imagine that many of them fund loans unrelated to education. And again, we were completely - and inexplicably - unable to even get through the prequalification process.
Could be better, could be worse
For all of these reasons, LendKey isn't our first choice for student loan refinancing. It's just too much of a hassle to figure out in advance if you're even eligible - and it doesn't feel very secure to provide sensitive details like a Social Security number when there's a chance you won't be able to apply after all. LendKey has some very satisfied borrowers and a good reputation, so we don't discount them entirely. However, you may want to see what other student loan refinancing platforms can do for you first.
MEFA stands for the "Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority" . It was created by the MA state legislature in 1982 as a way to make college more affordable for students statewide. Despite its origins, MEFA now offers private student loans and loan refinancing nationwide, not federal or state funding.
No surprises in the prequalification process
Like most of the lenders we reviewed, MEFA makes it easy to find out if you qualify for refinancing on your student loans, with no impact to your credit score unless you decide to submit a full application for approval. You'll start by creating an account and then entering your information, like gross monthly income, school attended, and how much you'd like to refinance. You'll be told right away if you prequalified for a MEFA refinancing loan (and, if not, you'll be given the specifics of why you were declined).
Interest rates and loan terms aren't very competitive
If you qualify to refinance your student loan with MEFA, you can expect interest rates a bit higher than other lenders in our review. MEFA has a higher-than-average required minimum for student loan refinancing: $10,000. You'll also find slightly fewer repayment terms here too: 7, 10, or 15, with no options for 5- or 20-year loans. On the plus side, this is one of the few lenders that will refinance your student loans even if you didn't finish your degree.
Refinancing takes a while
You shouldn't expect your refinancing to happen lightning-fast with MEFA. Once you complete the full application and submit all of your documents, it can take up to two weeks for the final review to be completed. When your new loan has been approved and you e-sign your documents, the funds should be disbursed within five days.
Limited feedback from borrowers
It's hard to say what clients think about MEFA: there's just not a ton of feedback. We didn't find a BBB listing, and most of the other comments we encountered were related to MEFA's financial presentations and not to their student loans or refinancing.
No forbearance or deferment programs
Another issue is that MEFA doesn't seem to have any kind of deferment or forbearance options for borrowers who encounter temporary financial difficulties. That puts this lender far below their rivals who have clearly-defined ways of helping borrowers in times of need.
Not the best for student loan refinancing
While we didn't find anything alarming about MEFA's student loan refinancing, we also didn't come away convinced that this lender is worth much thought when choosing a service. Their interest rates are just okay, and their loan terms tend to be less generous than competing financial institutions'. You'll likely find better options elsewhere.
Lend-Grow can help you refinance your student loans by connecting you with lenders in their marketplace. This service specializes in partnering with smaller financial institutions who might not have the budget to get noticed on larger platforms, and who are willing to offer better-than-average rates and terms to earn your business.
Refinance loans from $25K to $750K
In order to qualify for student loan refinancing through Lend-Grow, you'll need to have total outstanding loans from $25,000 to $750,000. At the time of this evaluation, Lend-Grow was offering refinancing loans with competitive APRs and repayment terms of 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 years.
Basic information required
To get started, click on "See My Offers" . Select "Student Loan Refinance" and then indicate whether or not you're applying as an individual or joint with a cosigner. You'll have to provide your mobile number and email, gross annual income, rent/mortgage amount, address, and other relevant details.
Nice rewards program
One nice perk you'll get with student loan refinancing at Lend-Grow is their Payback Rewards program. They'll pay 0.10% APR of your loan amount for three years to help bring down your outstanding balance, as long as you enroll in the rewards program and make on-time, full payments. There's a maximum benefit of $1,500 over those three years. Another part of the rewards program is a $250 donation every year for two years to your school's Alumni Fund, for a total of $500.
Not enough feedback
Lend-Grow winds up towards the bottom of our rankings for student loan refinancing. Why? At the time of this review, there just wasn't enough feedback to give the service a higher rating. Even though they'd been in business for more than two years, Lend-Grow didn't have a listing with the Better Business Bureau, and we found very little commentary from students who had used them to refinance their loans.
Extremely limited service area
Also, when we went through the application process, we got all the way to the last screen only to be told that Lend-Grow isn't available in our area. Given that we entered a location in a major metropolitan area, we were surprised (and disappointed) to see that we couldn't use the service. Lend-Grow should come right out and say which states are included in their student loan refinancing program, instead of making prospective clients disclose a lot of personal information and then find out that they don't qualify.
Not competitive with other services
We love the idea of including smaller-scale lenders in the student loan refinancing marketplace. Unfortunately, Lend-Grow has a long way to go before we can recommend them over their competitors.
CommonBond got its start in 2012 and has funded over $4 billion in student loans. The company partners with Pencils of Promise to help provide schools, teachers and technology to students in the developing world.
Working with another service?
To find out what you prequalify for through CommonBond, you'll fill out an online application that's almost exactly the same as anywhere else: name, school of attendance, desired amount to refinance, and your Social Security number (for a soft pull credit check). Oddly enough, when we went to check our rate with CommonBond, we were also given the option to include Credible - a different student loan refinance provider. We're not entirely sure what CommonBond's relationship is with Credible (or why anyone wouldn't just go directly to Credible to begin with).
From bad to worse
Cue the *wah wah* horns, because all we got when we submitted our prequalification application was a "500 Internal Server Error" . We reached out to CommonBond through the live chat and were told to go into the account dropdown in the upper right corner to see our dashboard and continue the application from there. And we still didn't have any rate quotes! Oh, and our rep also mentioned that self-employed people aren't eligible for loans or refinancing without a cosigner (with the exception of doctors and dentists). It just gets better and better here.
Reputation fails to impress
CommonBond doesn't have a stellar reputation. We're never impressed when a company has a "B+" rating from the Better Business Bureau: that may have been a decent grade in school, but it's not a good sign for a company. There weren't a lot of complaints registered with the BBB, fortunately, but every single one was negative. (Granted, most people don't go to the BBB to file a compliment.) We started to get excited when we saw that there were over 300 five-star reviews - independently-verified, even! - on the CommonBond site. And then we sorted them by "newest" and discovered that the most recent was over two years old. Social media posts? Over a year old. CommonBond doesn't exactly seem to be doing a brisk business - of any kind.
Fast response via live chat, at least
And yet, when we reached out via CommonBond's live chat on their website, we were connected with a representative right away. He reassured us that their posted rates are absolutely up-to-date, though he had no explanation why so much of their content was that stale.
Use any other service for your student loan refinancing
There's just no good reason to start your search for student loan refinancing with CommonBond. Their website is glitchy and outdated, their criteria for approving loans is really strict (and isn't clearly stated prior to or during the prequalification process), and their reputation leaves a lot of room for improvement. You're much better off starting with a higher-ranked service in our review.
But, be careful if you're considering refinancing your federal student loans into a private loan. There are some benefits offered with government student loans that don't carry over into privately-funded ones. Do your research before you sign on the dotted line and make sure that the benefits you'd gain outweigh the perks you'd lose.
So, you've determined that it's the right time to refinance your student loan. What should you look for in a lender? Here are some factors to guide your decision-making:
To help you determine the best way to refinance your student loan, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked today's top lenders. We're confident that with this information, you'll easily find the right rate and term on your loan refinancing!
Select any 2 Student Loan Refinance Companies to compare them head to head