8 Best Banks to Refinance and Consolidate Student Loans in 2019

Frequently Asked Questions About Refinancing

What is student loan refinancing?

When you refinance student loans, you take out a new loan from a private lender to pay off one or more of your old loans. If you qualify, you could snag a lower interest rate on this new loan. You can also choose new repayment terms to pay off your debt faster or lower your monthly bills.

Eligible borrowers can refinance student loans to achieve a number of objectives, such as:

  • Saving money on interest with a lower rate
  • Adjusting your monthly payments to match your goals
  • Combining multiple loans into one, simple repayment
  • Removing a cosigner from your debt
  • Switching to a new loan servicer with better customer service

Whatever your goals, refinancing can be a savvy strategy for managing your student loan debt.

Are there any downsides to refinancing student loans?

Refinancing federal student loans means you turn them private. As a result, you lose access to federal programs, such as income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Some private lenders offer help if you run into financial hardship, but this varies by lender. If you’re relying on federal protections, then you should not refinance your federal student loans. But if you’re comfortable sacrificing these programs, refinancing could be a smart strategy for paying off your loans.

What’s the difference between private refinancing and federal consolidation?

Although refinancing can simplify your debt by combining multiple loans into one, it’s different from federal student loan consolidation. You refinance student loans with a private lender, but you consolidate loans by taking out a direct consolidation loan from the federal government.

Federal consolidation combines federal student loans into one new loan, and it lets you choose new repayment terms. But it doesn’t lower your interest rate, so you won’t save money on interest — only student loan refinancing helps you lower your rate, if you qualify.

How do I refinance my student loans?

Many lenders offer student loan refinancing, from traditional banks, to credit unions to online lenders. Before choosing one, shop around and compare your offers. Several lenders make it easy to get an instant rate quote online with no impact on your credit score. By checking your rates with a variety of providers, you can find a refinanced student loan with the best possible terms.

Am I eligible for student loan refinancing?

You can refinance one or more federal and/or private student loans, but you must meet a lender’s requirements for credit and income. Most lenders look for a credit score of 650 or higher, along with a steady source of income or an offer of employment. If you can’t meet these criteria on your own, you could qualify by applying with a creditworthy cosigner, such as a parent.

Along with your credit score and annual income, some lenders also look at your savings and debt-to-income ratio. Finally, some lenders require proof of graduation, as they’ll only approve borrowers who have obtained their degree. If you left school before graduating, there are relatively few student loan refinance providers that will work with you.

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