Lower Your Student Loan Payment Today — Compare Offers from Top-Rated Lenders in 2 Minutes
2021 NerdWallet Best-Of Awards Winner


Deep in Debt From Your PhD Program? How to Refinance and Save

Kathryn Morstad

The higher the degree, the more expensive the program. People who graduate with a PhD from a solid program are often saddled with extreme debt that can reach six figures. Now, you have a good career and want to know how to pay off 100K+ in student loans as quickly and easily as possible.

Whether you used private or federal loans (you can borrow up to $138,500 in Federal Direct loans), you may want to consider refinancing as an option to consolidate and save money over the life of your loan. There’s no magic answer, but with great income and a stable future, lenders are extremely willing to help you put your debt portfolio into a workable plan.

How much student debt does the average PhD have?

PhDs, on average, graduate from school with loans totaling $108,400. This is almost double the $66,000 for a master’s degree and while you can get a PhD without a master’s degree, you may carry debt from a master’s program and/or your undergraduate program as well.

Needless to say, this much debt can be overwhelming. Assuming $100,000 debt with an interest rate of 6.5% for 10 years and you are faced with a monthly payment estimated to total $1,135. That can have a negative impact on your ability to make other financial plans like buying a house.

Why refinancing is a great idea for large student loan balances

While there are alternatives to refinancing, such as making larger payments or using windfalls, such as tax refunds or work bonuses, you will want to consider refinancing because it affords some additional benefits, including:

  • You have the opportunity to reduce your interest rate. Interest rates have never been lower and now is a great time to use that to your personal advantage. With a rate of 3%, that loan we discussed earlier for $100,000 to be paid over 10 years would have a monthly payment of $965 for a savings of $20,385 over the life of the loan.
  • If you want to lower your monthly payment to make repaying your student loan debt more manageable, you can do that by lengthening your repayment terms. Instead of 10 years (standard for federal loans), you can choose terms up to 20 and 25 years.
  • You can pay off your debt faster with shortened repayment terms. Sure your payment will be higher, but you will be able to retire your debt much sooner and save money on interest.
  • By refinancing, you can consolidate all your student loans into one easy payment. Whether you have federal or private loans, or a mix of both, a new lender would put all of the loans into a single loan package with one due date and one interest rate. Simple and easy.

The 4 Best Companies to Refinance Student Loans

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

No Maximum Loan Amount

Fixed Rate

4.48% – 7.29% APR 4

Variable Rate

3.53% – 7.24% APR 4
98% of surveyed customers would recommend SoFi to a friend

Fixed Rate

4.49% – 8.99% APR 3

Variable Rate

4.49% – 8.99% APR 3
Precision Pricing — Pick Your Monthly Payment

Fixed Rate

4.39% – 8.99% APR 2

Variable Rate

3.99% – 8.29% APR 2
Loans Available in All States but Maine and Oregon

Fixed Rate

3.94% – 8.48% APR 5

Variable Rate

Not Offered

Why PhD’s make excellent refinancing candidates

When lenders look at a loan application, they are looking for candidates that offer the best opportunities for loan repayment. As someone with an advanced degree, you bring several positive attributes to the table, which will hopefully include:

  • Good Credit — With a solid credit score of 670 or higher, you are demonstrating that you are credit-worthy and that is sweet music to student loan lenders. The higher your score the lower the interest rate and the more money you save in the long term.
  • Income — With an average starting salary of over $100,000 in many disciplines, PhDs bring high earning potential which contributes to a solid Debt-to-Income Ratio.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) — Your DTI is calculated as all of your monthly debt payments (including rent, taxes, debt payments) divided by your gross monthly income. This allows lenders to measure your ability to repay loans. An optimal ratio would be 43% of less.
  • An Advanced Degree — Just the very fact that you have an advanced degree counts towards your borrowing options. Lenders see it as a sign of hyper-responsibility that demonstrates solid judgement.

Check your best student loan refinance rates now

Now is a great time to check interest rates for refinancing with no impact to your credit score. With Purefy’s Compare Rates tool, you can input some basic personal information, like salary, degree, and debt amounts, to receive an estimated proposal from qualified lenders.

Purefy’s technology allows you to bring together a pool of top, national lenders that have been thoroughly vetted and are leaders in their industry with the best rates. Instead of you spending valuable time researching each individual company and applying for each rate, Purefy’s tool allows you a quick and easy way to see the best student loan refinance lenders — all at once — and review their offers in an “apples-to-apples” comparison.

If you have questions or would like expert advice on your student loan refinancing — don’t worry, we have incomparable support through our award-winning team of Student Loan Advisors. You can sign up for an individual, private consultation session with one of our experts and have all of your questions answered.

They’re available to discuss how refinancing works, how to compare rates, and how to navigate the final application process once you have selected your preferred lender.

A final word

People with PhD degrees are often perfect candidates for student loan refinancing. With high amounts of student debt, good credit, and solid incomes, they are well-suited to work with private refinancing lenders. They can design or customize a student loan package that saves money on reduced interest and has favorable repayment terms that meet their life goals.

Contact us today and see the difference refinancing can make in your life (at no obligation with no hidden fees).

You Might Also Like
purefy recommends

Student Loan Refinancing

Refinancing from 2.99% 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 12/01/2022. 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 4.49% APR to 8.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 4.49% APR to 8.99% 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 4.64% APR to 9.24% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 4.24% APR to 8.54% 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.

Want To Find Out When Student Loan Refinance Rates Drop?

Join our email list to get instantly notified when rates change.

I am a(Required)