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Pros and Cons of 4 Top Student Loan Refinance Companies

Kat Tretina
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pros-cons-top-student-loan-refinance-companies

Federal student loan
Payments Return December 31

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Federal student loan
Payments Return December 31

We've got you covered.

Get Purefy’s free 20-page Ultimate Guide with just one click.

There are plenty of reasons to refinance student loans. You can lower your interest rate, save money, pay off your loans faster, and even lower your monthly payment. But with so many student loan refinancing companies out there, it can be difficult to pick the right lender.

To help you pick a lender, we broke down the pros and cons of four of the best student loan refinance companies.

Benefits and drawbacks of the best student loan refinance companies

Purefy’s four partner lenders have several qualities in common. They offer long loan terms, and none of them charge prepayment penalties or origination fees.

However, they differ from each other in several key ways. Here’s what you need to know about each lender.

Earnest

Earnest is an online lender specializing in student loan refinancing, private loans, and personal loans.

Pros

  • High loan maximum: With Earnest, you can refinance up to $500,000 in student loans, making it a good choice for those who went through expensive programs like medical school or law school.
  • Forbearance available: If you’re experiencing a financial hardship, like losing your job, you may enter into forbearance and temporarily postpone your payments.
  • Flexible repayment terms: Earnest allows you to pick your loan term. You can pick any length between five and 20 years, so you can select a seven year loan or even a 18-year loan.

Cons

  • No cosigners permitted: Earnest does not allow you to apply with a cosigner, so you have to meet its eligibility requirements on your own.
  • Not available in all states: Earnest does not offer student loan refinancing in all states. Residents in Kentucky and Nevada are not eligible.

ISL Education Lending

Unlike most refinancing lenders, ISL Education Lending is a non-profit organization. It offers both private student loans and refinancing loans.

Pros

  • Cosigner releases available: With ISL Education Lending, you can apply for a cosigner release after making just 24 consecutive monthly payments on time.
  • Interest rate reduction for military service members: Active duty service members can have their interest rates reduced to 0% for up to 24 months.
  • Borrowers do not have to graduate: ISL Education Lending is one of the few lenders that will refinance your loans if you didn’t graduate with a degree.

Cons

  • Fixed-rate loans only: ISL Education Lending only offers fixed-rate loans. If you’d prefer a variable-rate loan to take advantage of a lower initial rate, you’ll have to work with another lender.
  • High credit requirements: To qualify for a loan, you need a credit score of at least 670, or a cosigner with excellent credit.

PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union was established in 1935 and currently has over 1.6 million members, making it one of the largest, most trusted credit unions in the country.

Pros

  • Spouse loan consolidation: PenFed is the only lender that offers spouse loan consolidation, allowing you to combine your loans with your spouse’s debt.
  • Cosigner release after just 12 months: You can qualify for a cosigner release after just 12 consecutive monthly payments.
  • Parent refinancing: PenFed allows parent borrowers to refinance and transfer the loans into their child’s name.

Cons

  • Higher loan minimum: PenFed has a higher loan minimum than many other lenders. You must  have at least $7,500 in student loan debt to qualify for refinancing.
  • Limited loan term options: While other lenders allow you to customize your repayment term, PenFed has fixed loan term options.

CollegeAve

College Ave is a refinancing lender based in Wilmington, Delaware. In addition to refinancing, it also offers private student loans and parent student loans.

Pros

  • Flexible repayment options: With CollegeAve, you can select your own loan term. Rather than having only a few options to choose from, you can pick a personalized loan term that works for you, such as a non-standard six- or nine-year term.
  • Clear borrower requirements: CollegeAve is transparent about its underwriting requirements, so you can find out if you’d qualify for a loan without having to apply and go through a credit check first.
  • Long loan terms available: CollegeAve offers loan terms as long as 20 years. You can spread out your payments over a longer loan term to reduce your monthly payments.

Cons

  • Low loan maximums: College Ave has relatively low loan maximums. The maximum for undergraduate student loans and most graduate school loans is $150,000. If you have a veterinary, medical, dental, or pharmacy degree, the maximum is $300,000.
  • No cosigner release available: CollegeAve does not allow borrowers to apply for cosigner releases, so your cosigner will share responsibility for the loan until it’s paid off.

Choosing a student loan refinance lender

Now that you know the advantages and drawbacks of our selections for the best student loan refinance companies, you can make an informed decision when choosing a lender.

Each of the lenders on this list is excellent, offering competitive rates and multiple repayment terms. To ensure you get the lowest rate, use Purefy’s Compare Rates tool to get quotes from the lenders without affecting your credit score. Once you find the right loan for you, you can submit your application online.

The 4 Best Companies to Refinance Student Loans

Our Top-Rated Picks for 2022 Offer Low Rates and No Fees

efli-lender
No Maximum Loan Amount

Fixed Rate

4.29% – 7.29% APR 4

Variable Rate

2.48% – 7.98% APR 4
98% of surveyed customers would recommend SoFi to a friend

Fixed Rate

3.99% – 8.24% APR 3

Variable Rate

2.49% – 8.24% APR 3
earnest-logo
Precision Pricing — Pick Your Monthly Payment

Fixed Rate

3.74% – 8.49% APR 2

Variable Rate

2.49% – 7.99% APR 2
Loans Available in All States but Maine and Oregon

Fixed Rate

3.94% – 8.48% APR 5

Variable Rate

Not Offered
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efli-lender

Student Loan Refinancing

Refinancing from 2.48% APR

Check your rate in 2 minutes

with no impact on your credit score.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

4 ELFI Rate Disclosure:

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan debt consolidation and refinance program offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating and refinancing loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your cost of education debt and/or makes repayment very simple. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 09-01-2022. The interest rate and monthly payment for a variable rate loan may increase after closing, but will never exceed 9.95% APR. Interest rates may be different from the rates shown above and will be based on the term of your loan, your financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 6% would have 120 payments of $11.00 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

SoFi Rate Disclosure

3 SoFi Rate Disclosure:

Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.24% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 2.24% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. 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.

Earnest Rate Disclosure

2 Earnest Rate Disclosure:

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.99% APR to 8.74% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 2.74% APR to 8.24% 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.

ISL Rate Disclosure

5 Iowa Student Loan Rate Disclosure:

Fixed Rate Loan Terms: 5 years/60 monthly payments, 7 years/84 monthly payments, 10 years/120 monthly payments, 15 years/180 monthly payments, or 20 years/240 monthly payments. Annual Percentage Rate [APR] is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. This rate is expressed as an APR. Fixed APRs range from 3.94% to 8.48% APR [low to high range with 0.25% auto-debit rate reduction]. Rates are subject to change without notice. Fixed rates will not change during the term. Since there are no fees associated with this loan offer, the APR is the same percentage as the actual interest rate of the loan including a 0.25% auto-debit rate reduction. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. All estimates are based on information provided by you and are for informational purposes only, accuracy is not guaranteed and may not reflect actual rates or savings and do not constitute an offer of credit. Your actual rate, payment and savings may be different based on credit history, actual interest rate, loan amount, and term, including your cosigner [if applicable]. If applying with a cosigner, we use the higher credit score between the borrower and the cosigner for approval purposes. All loans are subject to credit approval.

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