Student Loan Refinancing
How to Pay off Student Loans Fast
Managing Your Student Loan Debt
Parent PLUS Loan Refinancing
Why Parents Should Refinance Student Loans
How to Refinance Parent Student Loans
Parent’s Guide to Student Loans
When to Apply for Private Loans
How to Pay for College Tuition
Applying for Student Loans Guide
Student Loan Process Checklist
Student Loan Refinance 101
Student Loan Glossary
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Most people initially use student loans to fill gaps in their educational funding. When the scholarships and grants run out, student loans are a common way to fund tuition, books, and fees to complete their education.
In fact, almost 70% of bachelor’s degree recipients leave school with student loan debt averaging about $29,000. And 56% of graduate school attendees graduate with student loans totaling more than $66,000.
Recent statistics show that upon graduation, people are starting out with more student loan debt than at any other time in history. Over the past 10 years, student loan debt has exploded by more than 100% and now is higher than total credit card debt for all Americans.
It’s no wonder people are anxious to figure out when to refinance student loans and whether you can do it twice or even multiple times as advertised rates drop.
Yes, refinancing is your choice, and you can choose to refinance whenever you want as long as you have strong credit and a good, steady income. In fact, if you have previously (and successfully) refinanced your student loans, then you are already a bankable candidate!
However, before you take the plunge make sure it makes financial sense. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.
First, figure out what your financial goals are — are you looking to save money on your monthly payments or over the life of the loan? Do you want to change your loan repayment terms? Are you now in a position to increase your monthly payment and want to pay off those loans more quickly? Do you have a cosigner on your loan that you want to release, but your current loan doesn’t allow it?
If you can significantly improve your overall financial situation, then refinancing student loan debt can be an excellent choice whether it’s your first time or you’ve refinanced before.
When you ask can you refinance student loans more than once, the answer usually relies on whether the benefits outweigh the downside of staying put.
Refinancing can lower your interest rate which saves you money over the life of your loan, as well as on your monthly payments. Depending on the difference between your current rate on existing loans and the rate you can qualify for, this can add up to thousands of dollars.
When you refinance, it can also allow you to customize your repayment terms to better fit into your current lifestyle. Things may have changed significantly in your personal circumstances — you may have gotten a better job paying more money or paid off some debt that improved your credit history.
Any of these things would allow you to score a better interest rate and save money while allowing you additional resources for things like buying a house, starting a new business, or establishing an emergency fund for life’s unknowns.
Our Top-Rated Picks for 2022 Offer Low Rates and No Fees
Refinancing student loans with reputable lenders typically won’t carry any fees associated with applying for the loan or acquiring the financing. In fact, most lenders offer lending packages with no origination fees or pre-payment penalties.
However, if you extend the terms of your loan you can end up paying more interest in the long run — even with a lower rate. For example, if you have a loan for $30,000 and are paying 6.5% interest, your monthly payment would be $586.98. The interest paid over the life of the loan would be $5,219.07.
If you refinance the same $30,000 at 3.0% and extend the payments to 15 years, you will only pay $207.17 each month but will pay $7,291.41 in total interest — an increase to interest costs of $2,072.34. You could, however, opt for a shorter repayment term, and you may be able to lower both your payment and total interest at the same time.
Another consideration is your loss of financial flexibility if you shorten the term and absorb higher monthly payments. These higher payments take an additional piece of your expendable income which could land you in financial trouble if your needs unexpectedly change.
Last consideration — you can negatively impact your credit score by having multiple inquiries from lenders as you research and explore your options. The good news is that using a rate comparison tool eliminates the need for more than one lender to hard pull your credit report when you are researching rates and selecting your loan package. The effects of credit inquiries on your score is generally fairly small.
By entering some simple, quick information, you can compare rates from numerous qualifying lenders at no obligation and with no impact on your credit report.
In short, always consider the impact of refinancing on your other financial priorities.
When you ask yourself the question, “How often can you refinance student loans?”, remember it’s a personal decision. There are no limits on the number of times you refinance your student debt. However, all things being equal, unless there are financial benefits to going through the refinance process, it may not make sense for you personally.
If you’re interested in saving money, use our rate comparison engine to quickly see real-time rate offers from industry-leading lenders.
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Any time there is a significant change in your personal financial circumstances, you may be presented with a great opportunity to assess the financial landscape and see where improvements can be made.
If you have been impacted by any of the following changes, like a boost in income or getting married, now may be a terrific time to refinance your student loans to get a better rate or terms.
If you have recently received a promotion or substantial raise, or if you have changed jobs for a more lucrative opportunity, you may want to explore refinancing your loans again. Keep in mind these new parameters change the game and can score you a much lower interest rate.
The ultimate goal is to pay off student loan debt as quickly as possible for your particular financial circumstances. If you experience a sizable increase in your monthly income, you may be able to consider shortening the terms of your loan with a higher monthly payment and ditching your debt faster than you planned.
Paying off a student loan refinance more quickly opens up tons of possibilities for redeploying your assets not to mention it just feels great!
However, remember that one-time situations should not be factored into your refinancing plans. Things like a one-off annual bonus or a windfall in the stock market cannot be used as part of your monthly income calculation. Lenders will only use ongoing income that can be counted on as they evaluate your ability to pay back your debt.
You can, however, use a one-time bump in income to pay down your principal balance as long as your current student loan doesn’t have a pre-payment penalty.
If you have had a significant improvement to your credit score, that can signal a good time for a refinance. It can be especially impactful if you have moved from a lower category to a higher category in terms of creditworthiness.
For example, if you previously had a score of 700 (good) when you refinanced your student loans and have since moved to a score of 750 (very good), then your chances of getting a better interest rate and more favorable terms have gone up dramatically.
Here are the categories and score ranges as defined by FICO. FICO scores are used by over 90% of lenders then they determine your ability to repay your loans.
Very Poor 300 – 579
Fair 580 – 669
Good 670 – 739
Very Good 740 – 799
Exceptional 800 – 850
While each lender has lending practices and parameters that are defined by their internal governance or Board of Directors, most lenders use 670 as the lowest score they will consider. And even though that score may be good enough to qualify for a loan, it will not get you the best interest rate and terms. When it comes to credit scores, the higher the score the lower the rates — hard stop!
Often when people marry, one or both bring outstanding student debt or previously refinanced loans to the table. Today, PenFed Credit Union allows spouses to combine their student loans into one refinanced package. This allows households where one spouse makes significantly more income to share their combined buying power.
With these types of loans, you can use your combined income for qualifying purposes. But the lender will use the credit score from the person with the highest rank to determine the cost of the loan. In fact, this can work well when one person is a stay-at-home parent and the other has a career with a strong income.
If there is a reason to keep the loans separate, but you still want to recognize the lowest rate possible, one spouse can cosign for the other spouse. The obvious drawback to this arrangement would be if the relationship took a turn for the worse. The loan holder could choose not to make payments and negatively affect the cosigner’s credit.
If you used a cosigner to secure your current student loan, you may be in a position now where you can assume total responsibility for the debt. In this case, you want to get a cosigner release. Some lenders allow a co-signer release after a certain number of payments have been made on time (usually around 12).
But what do you do if your current lender doesn’t allow for releasing cosigners? You can always refinance the loan again and negotiate the terms based on your new criteria. This frees up your cosigner to focus on their own financial goals and helps you to continue to build positive credit history.
Before you sit down to check out your options on refinancing student loans, take an unflinching look at your current eligibility. Can you demonstrate the type of character and creditworthiness that will attract the right lenders? Remember, this is an unsecured loan — meaning there is no collateral guarantee to offset the lender’s investment in the event of a default.
Lending companies will take several factors into consideration and have developed underwriting standards that include algorithms and computer modeling to remove subjectivity from the equation. These banks want to do business with you, but they also have to protect their assets to remain viable.
When refinancing student loans, lenders look at your credit score, income and employment history, and debt-to-income ratio. However, they also look at what school you went to and the degree(s) achieved. If you have student loans but didn’t complete a degree program, you can still refinance but may have a smaller pool of lenders expressing interest.
Your credit score represents your lifelong credit history and is your calling card or reference when presenting yourself to the financial industry. We talked earlier about the scoring categories, but how is your overall score factored in the first place?
Not every lender reports your credit information to all three credit agencies. There will often be differences in your credit score between the three reporting bureaus. That’s why it is important to check your credit report annually and follow up on any discrepancies to ensure the cleanest report possible.
Lenders base your creditworthiness on your ability to pay the loan back. Income and your history of employment are a large part of that decision. At a bare minimum, lenders want to see at least an annual salary of $40,000 per year.
You need to be able to demonstrate sufficient income to pay all of your bills as well as have a long-term history with your present company. Just like an employer, lenders don’t want to see someone who hops from job to job.
The debt-to-income ratio or DTI compares your monthly debt payments to your total gross income as a measure of your ability to pay. Lenders often use a 28/36 rule, meaning that you should spend no more than 28% of your gross monthly income on housing expenses and a maximum of 36% on debt service (including all revolving and installment payments).
Many lenders in the refinance market will want to see where you went to school and what type of degree you received. More advanced degrees, like graduate school, law, or medicine, carry additional weight and can get you a lower interest rate.
The US is experiencing the lowest interest rates in history which makes this the best time to refinance student loans. With average existing federal loan rates currently at 5.66%, refinancing could land you with a student loan refi rate starting as low as 1.88% (as of time of writing).
Similar to mortgage refinance rates, student loan refinance rates are now at dramatic lows. Don’t wait to see if you qualify for a major drop in interest.
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But why are interest rates so low and how long will they last?
The Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed) sets policy on the Federal Funds Rate or overnight funds rate — the rate that banks charge each other in the overnight market. From there, lenders develop the prime rate which is the rate they charge their most valuable and creditworthy corporate clients. Next, commercial and retail rates go up from there based on an applicant’s credit score and history, etc.
Due to the current economic landscape, the Fed has dropped the Fed Funds Rate to 0.00-0.25% with the outlook that it will stay there for the immediate future. This is driving record lows in refinancing rates and allowing you to save money.
However, as the economy improves, the Fed will start to raise interest rates as a way to prevent an “overheated” economy and its associated higher inflation. That will mean the cost of refinancing will go up as well as interest rates increase.
Now is the perfect time to compare your current interest rate to the rate you are being offered based on your immediate circumstances. You can take advantage of the historic lows while customizing your repayment terms to meet your new reality.
Rather than take time to research and investigate each individual lender that you find online and apply for preapproval, Purefy has developed a rate comparison tool that will do the leg work for you.
You provide some minimal personal information, and our tool will provide you with a list of preapproved offers from our top-tier lending partners.
You will have the information you need to compare rates, terms, and additional perks by the lender so that you can make a fully educated decision. Once you have made your selection, we have student loan experts who can help you with the loan application process and answer any questions you may have about refinancing your student debt.
Refinancing student loans can be done as often as it makes financial sense — there is no limit. If you have already refinanced student loans in the past, you may be able to qualify for even lower interest now. That can save you money on your monthly payments and over the entire life of the loan.
Key rates have dropped to historic lows and lenders are eager to do business with qualified people. Plus, if you have already refinanced your loans before, then you’re looking at a great candidate who can qualify for the best rates available.
Can you refinance student loans more than once? Absolutely. Especially with the right mix of excellent credit, strong income, and Purefy’s rate comparison tool.
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