Many private lenders, including large traditional and small community banks, credit unions and alternative online lenders, offer student loan refinancing. When you refinance your loans, the lender pays off your current balances and issues you a new loan — ideally, you wind up with a lower rate or better terms than you had.
Refinancing can be a helpful, money-saving choice. In addition, if you’re consolidating multiple student loans into one, that strategy can make managing monthly payments easier.
However, if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender, you may lose out on certain federal benefits, so consider the pros and cons carefully. You’ll also want to shop for lenders, as your new loan’s terms, interest rate and other features will vary based on your creditworthiness and your choice of lender.
Gearing up to offer student loan refinancing can be difficult for small community banks and credit unions, while, from your perspective, finding and comparing offerings from regional financial institutions can take a lot of time. LendKey, founded in 2009 after the arrival of the Great Recession, aims to solve both of these problems.
LendKey isn’t a lender. Rather, it’s a cloud-based platform that community banks and credit unions can use to quickly and easily offer student loans and student loan refinancing. You can apply for student loan refinancing through LendKey and compare offers from community banks and credit unions.
The money you borrow comes from the bank or credit union, and each lender may have its own criteria for applicants. However, LendKey services the loans and manages much of the loan application process, ensuring that you only see offers from lenders that operate in your area.
As of Sept. 7 of this year, LendKey had more than 275 financial institution clients. Although they may not all offer student loan refinancing or be available in your area, being able to quickly find and compare offers from a variety of small lenders can be advantageous to borrowers.
|Fixed APR range*||Starting at 3.15% with autopay.|
|Variable APR range*||Starting at 2.58% with autopay. The variable-rate cap depends on the lender and will be listed in the loan disclosure form.|
|Loan terms offered||Five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years|
|Fees||No origination fees, but you may need to pay a small fee to become a member of a credit union before refinancing your loans with it.
There may be late-payment fees, such as 5% percent of the unpaid amount, and returned check charges, such as $10-$25 per returned check.
|Loan amount||The limits vary depending on the lender.|
|Repayment plans||Interest-only for the first 48 months if you choose a 15- or 20-year repayment term. Or, you can start full interest and principal payments at the outset with any of the repayment terms.|
|Co-signer release||Most lenders let you release a co-signer after making a series, such as 12, 24 or 60, of on-time full principal and interest payments. You also must pass a credit check and meet the lender’s income requirements.|
|Savings opportunities||You can get a 0.25% interest rate discount if you set up automatic debit payments.|
|Additional features||Most of the lenders let you put your loans into forbearance for up to six months at a time, for a total of 18 months over the loan’s lifetime, if you lose your job.|
*As of October 19, 2017
What it takes to qualify:
|Credit score and income||The minimum credit score varies by lender, but is often in the mid-600s, according to a LendKey representative. You must also make at least $24,000 per year.|
|Loan types||Private and federal student loans for associates, undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Parent loans, LSAT, MCAT, GRE and other exam-preparation loans are not eligible.
|School and state eligibility||You must graduate with an associates, undergraduate, graduate or doctorate degree. The eligible-schools list varies by lender.
Refinancing is not available to residents of Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.
The lenders in LendKey’s network may offer lower interest rates than other student loan refinancing companies. But even though there are many lenders in its network, it’s still important to compare offers from multiple places. Generally, as with so many types of loans, you’ll need higher credit scores to get the premium rates with any student refi lender.
A LendKey representative told us that borrowers with credit scores in the mid-600s should be able to qualify for most refi offers from its network of lenders. You’ll also need a minimum annual income of $24,000, which is in line with other lenders, including Citizens Bank, iHelp Student Loans and EdvestinU.
There are a few features that every LendKey lender offers, such as a 0.25 percent interest rate discount when you use autopay, and no origination fees. Both of these are fairly standard with student loan refinancing, but are still worth noting, especially if you’re comparing offers from other lenders that may not offer a discount or charge an origination fee.
With LendKey, you can also choose from five different loan terms: five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years, and between a fixed- or variable-rate loan. That’s not an unusual range, but some other lenders may offer fewer loan term options, such as only 10, 15 or 20 years. Some lenders also only offer one interest rate type, although many offer both fixed- and variable-rate loans.
You can’t refinance your student loans through LendKey if you didn’t earn a degree, a requirement that some lenders don’t impose. For example, you can refinance at Citizens Bank without a degree if you make 12 full on-time payments on the loans you wish to refinance and meet its other eligibility criteria, including no longer being enrolled in school.
A few of the features that really stand out are available from most, but not all, lenders in the LendKey network. These include a graduated repayment option, which lets you make interest-only payments for the first four years if you choose a 15- or 20-year repayment term.
While making interest-only payments can lead to higher monthly payments later, it may be a good option if you want to lock-in a low interest rate now (because you think interest rates may rise) but can’t afford a high monthly payment at the moment. You can still make larger payments and pay down the principal during these four years if you want. Student loans don’t have prepayment penalties.
Lengthy loan forbearance. You may be able to delay payments for up to 18 months, in six-month increments, if you lose your job. Other lenders offer similar forbearance options, but generally not for as long. Since your loan will still accrue interest when it’s in forbearance, this could increase your overall cost of borrowing. But it’s still a better option than missing payments, which could hurt your credit and result in you defaulting on the loan.
Advantages of refinancing with LendKey
Easily compare prescreened offers. LendKey lets you check and compare loan offers with a soft credit inquiry, which doesn’t hurt your credit score. You’ll only see offers from eligible lenders based on your address, degree type, loan amount and loan types. The offers may depend on these factors, as well as your income and credit, and they’re contingent on a hard-inquiry credit check and verification of your information.
You can easily sort your loan offers by annual percentage rate (APR), monthly payment or number of payments (the term), and filter the offers by APR, monthly payment, terms and interest rate type.
Most LendKey lenders offer a co-signer release option. If you’re applying for refinancing with a co-signer, you may be able to release the co-signer and take complete responsibility for the debt after as few as 12 consecutive full payments.
Repayment plan options. Some lenders let you choose a four-year interest-only repayment plan if you take out a 15- or 20-year loan.
Lengthy loan forbearance. You may be able to delay payments for up to 18 months, in six-month increments, if you lose your job.
No origination or application fees. It doesn’t cost anything to refinance your loans through LendKey. However, you may need to pay a small fee to become a member of a credit union before refinancing your loans with it. There also may be late-payment fees, such as 5% percent of the unpaid amount, and returned check charges, such as $10-$25 per returned check.
Combined federal and private loans. Some of LendKey’s lenders let you refinance federal and private students loan into a single new loan. While you’ll lose some federal benefits when you do, if you’ve decided the refinancing is right for you, then such consolidation can be helpful.
Disadvantages of refinancing with LendKey
Rates may vary depending on where you live. While LendKey has some of the lowest advertised interest rates, even if you have excellent credit and little debt you might not be able to get the low rate. The advertised rate on LendKey is the lowest possible rate among all of its lenders, and some lenders are only available to residents of specific areas.
Lack of filters when comparing offers. While it’s easy to compare offers during the prescreening, you can only filter the loans based on annual percentage rate, monthly payment, term and type of rate.
Other features may be important to you, such as a graduated repayment plan, 12-month co-signer release, forbearance options or a high loan limit. To compare these, you’ll need to select a loan offer to view the lender and either contact the lender directly or review the loan disclosure form (available on the following “submit your application” page).
Only available in select states. You won’t be eligible for refinancing through LendKey if you’re a resident of Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia.
You can’t refinance parent loans or test-prep loans. Some lenders, such as SoFi, let you combine loans that your parents took out to pay for your education with your student loans. LendKey’s lenders may let you combine your federal and private student loans, but you can’t include parent loans. You also can’t include loans you took out to prepare for a test, such as the LSAT or MCAT.
You must earn your degree to qualify. If you took out a student loan and attended school, but left before earning a degree, you won’t be able to refinance through LendKey.
What customers is LendKey best for?
Comparing offers from a variety of lenders is a good way to ensure that you get the best rate and terms possible. LendKey lets you quickly see offers from community banks and credit unions that you might not otherwise know about or think to check.
Since LendKey’s prescreening process is quick and easy and doesn’t hurt your credit, anyone who’s meets the minimum credit, loan type, degree and residency requirements should at least take it for a spin.
Taking a closer look at the online platform
It’s easy to find and apply for refinancing on the LendKey website. The student loan refinancing home page lists interest rate ranges, has a video and snippets explaining the potential benefits of refinancing with LendKey, and offers informational articles about refinancing student loans.
However, it can be difficult to find specific information about LendKey’s loan terms and eligibility requirements. SimpleTuition had to reach out to a press representative to clarify potentially important information, including where LendKey offers student loan refinancing and whether benefits like a co-signer release are available from all lenders.
Some of these points may not be important to you. LendKey screens out ineligible lenders and if your loan amount is too low or high, or you don’t meet other loan requirements for lenders in your area, you’ll get a screen that says no offers are available.
Still, it would be helpful to have a page that clearly lists general qualification requirements, benefits and other terms.
Those quibbles aside, the online platform is easy to navigate and very responsive. After filling out a simple questionnaire, you typically be able to compare and filter loan offers based on several criteria, including the loan terms and APR. You could apply for refinancing in a few minutes, although it’s best to take your time, compare lenders and read the fine print first.
Reviewing fine print before signing a contract is always important, but it may be especially important when you’re refinancing a student loan with LendKey. While the basic features, such as the interest-rate type, APR and term are easy to see, other features and benefits depend on the lender.
You have to start the lending process through the prescreen, but that doesn’t commit you to refinancing with LendKey. You may want to submit the application information, narrow down your options to the few loan offers that have the lowest APRs (and fit your term and interest rate type preferences) and then review the fine print for those lenders.
An option to filter loan offers based on features, such as the number of consecutive payments you need to make to release a co-signer, would be helpful. Instead, you need to choose a loan offer before you can see which lenders offer these terms, then research the fine print for that lender on your own.
You can find some information, such as the loan’s fees, interest rate cap for variable-rate loans and interest rate reduction terms, near the top of the loan disclosure form, which is available near the bottom of the application submission page.
However, the loan disclosure may not show when and how you can release a co-signer or if a particular lender offers interest-only repayments. You could call the lender or LendKey to find out the specifics.
Alternatively, if you search the lender’s name, “refinancing” and “partner.lendkey.com,” you should find the website for refinancing student loans through the bank or credit union. The page will have the lender’s interest rate ranges, loan features and eligibility requirements.
The loan application process begins when you click the “check your rate” button, which prompts you to choose whether you’re applying for a new loan or want to refinance. (If you’re on the student loan refinancing page, you might not see this popup.)
Fill out the application
To proceed with the application, you’ll have to share:
- Your name, address, email address and phone number
- Your citizenship status
- Your total annual income
- The school you graduated from and the type of degree you earned.
- The estimated total loan amount you want to refinance and the loan type or types
If you don’t think you’ll qualify for refinancing due to your credit, or you want to add a co-signer to see if you’ll get better terms, you’ll also need to include a co-signer’s information.
You don’t need to put in your Social Security number, although you do need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. At this point, your credit will only be checked with a soft credit pull, which doesn’t hurt your score.
Compare loan offers
After submitting your application, you’ll generally see the results within 30 seconds. The number of results you’ll get depends on the information in your application, including where you live and what types of loans you have.
You can narrow down the results by filtering for an APR range, monthly payment range, loan terms or interest rate type, and sort the results by APR, monthly payment or number of payments.
Choose a lender
Once you’ve determined which loan offer is best for you, clicking on “select and continue” will show you which banks or credit unions could refinance your loans with these terms. You can switch between lenders that offer the same loan terms. Or, you can go back to the list of all the offers by clicking “reselect offer.”
Click “confirm” once you’ve decided on the terms and chosen your preferred lender.
Submit an application
The next step is to submit your application and authorize the lender to do a hard credit inquiry, which could ding your credit. You’ll need to enter your Social Security number and date of birth. You’ll also have to create an account, which allows you to log in and submit required documents or check your loan status later.
Review the loan disclosure form before submitting your application. If you might want to release a co-signer, use a graduated repayment plan or put your loans on hold after losing a job, you may want to contact the specific lender to check if it offers these benefits.
Review the conditional loan offer
Once you submit your application, LendKey will review your credit and conditionally approve you for a loan. The terms may be different than the original offer you saw, so be sure to review them before proceeding.
Verify your information
If you want to move forward with the loan offer, you’ll need to verify your information. For example, you could upload copies or pictures of pay stubs to verify your income, a picture of your diploma to show you earned a degree and a picture of a government-issued ID to prove your citizenship status.
Final approval and loan disbursement
LendKey will forward your information to the lender, who will then send back the official loan document for you to sign. Once you do, the lender will pay off the student loans that you’re refinancing and you’ll begin making payments toward the new loan.
These finals steps may take a few weeks. Make sure you continue paying your student loans until the process is complete.
While LendKey makes it easy to compare loan offers from community banks and credit unions, you may also want to consider refinancing with a traditional bank, alternative lender or a community bank or credit union that’s in your area but isn’t part of the LendKey network.
Other lenders may offer you a lower interest rate, more-fitting terms or additional features that you think will be beneficial. For example, SoFi lets you refinance your student loans with a parent’s educational loans. Also, while SoFi has shorter three-month (12-month maximum) unemployment forbearance options than some LendKey lenders, if you lose your job, you’ll get free access to a career counselor who can help you find work.
You may also need to use a different lender to refinance your loans if you don’t qualify because you didn’t earn a degree or don’t live in an eligible state. You could use SimpleTuition to compare student loan refinancing lenders and terms. As with LendKey, some of these lenders will show you refinancing offers based on a soft credit check.
Refinancing your student loans through a private student lender could help lower your monthly payments, decrease your interest rate and save you money. Once you’ve considered the pros and cons of refinancing and decided that it makes sense for you, it’s time to choose a lender and an offer.
Shopping for lenders lets you zero in on the loan offer that best suits your needs. Even if you set fees and interest rates aside, you want to compare lenders — they may offer different terms and repayment options, or have different eligibility requirements.
College Ave is a new fintech company that offers student loan refinancing. Unlike many other lenders that offer student loan refinancing, refinancing is available in every state. There are other perks as well, such as the ability to choose your loan term and decide between two repayment plans. However, College Ave also has a higher interest-rate range than you’re apt to find with some other lenders, and you can’t release a co-signer (let that person out of his/her obligation).
What is College Ave?
College Ave was co-founded by two former Sallie Mae executives, Joe DePaulo and Tim Staley, in 2014. It is one of the newest companies in the student loan space.
Unlike some major banks that offer student loans or student loan refinancing in addition to traditional lender services, College Ave focuses solely on student loans. When it launched, the company offered private student loans to help people pay for school. Then, in 2016, it began offering student loan refinancing as well.
The application for refinancing is simple, it can take just three minutes to complete, and you’ll find out if you qualify right away. You can also personalize your new loan by choosing the interest type, repayment term and repayment plan.
However, College Ave falls short on clarity at times.
College Ave student loan refi in a nutshell
|Fixed APR range*||3.35 to 7.50% with autopay discount|
|Variable APR range*||2.75 to 7.25% with autopay. Capped at 25%.|
|Loan terms offered||You can choose from five to 15 years|
|Fees||If you don’t make a minimum payment within 15 days of the due date, the late fee is the lower of 5% of the unpaid monthly payment or $25. (There’s also a returned check charge of $25.)|
|Loan amount||$5,000 to $150,000 for graduate or undergraduate programs. Up to $250,000 for medical, dental, pharmacy and veterinary programs.|
|Repayment plans||Interest-only for the first 24 months, or you can start full interest and principal payments at the outset.|
|Savings opportunities||You can get a 0.25% interest rate discount if you set up automatic debit payments.|
*As of Oct. 12, 2017
How College Ave compares with other lenders
Compared with some traditional banks or credit unions, College Ave’s easy-to-follow application process is certainly a plus. Customer service is also quick to pick up the phone and answer questions.
While College Ave has an online calculator that you can use to estimate your loan terms and savings, it doesn’t offer prequalification or preapproval. With a prequalification or preapproval, other lenders can tell you if you’re likely to qualify, and your approximate terms, with a soft credit inquiry (one that doesn’t hurt your credit score).
College Ave’s interest rate range is also higher than other lenders, and you may be able to save money by comparing your options and getting a lower rate elsewhere. However, don’t assume that the lender with the lowest advertised rate is the one that’s going to offer you the best terms. Lenders have different criteria for evaluating applicants, and you might find that you get the best refinancing offer from a lender that has mid-range advertised rates.
Being able to choose your loan terms is certainly a plus for College Ave, and a feature that most student loan refinancers don’t offer. However, other lenders offer longer terms of up to 20 or 25 years, which could lower your monthly payment compared with what you’d get under College Ave’s maximum of 15 years.
You may also contrast interest rate types and repayment plans when reviewing lenders. College Ave offers variable- and fixed-rate loans, which is common but still a perk that some other lenders don’t have.
Another potentially important distinction among lenders: forbearance and deferment options. These programs let you temporarily stop making payments when you have a financial hardship, such as a medical emergency or a job loss, or if you return to school or join the military.
Navient services College Ave’s refinanced loans, so it determines the forbearance and deferment requirements and manages the programs. A Navient representative said it allows for in-school and military deferments, and offers forbearance in three-month periods with a maximum 12 months for the life of a loan.
Advantages of refinancing with College Ave
Personalized loan terms. Most lenders let you choose from two or three term options, such as five, 10 or 15 years. But with College Ave, you can choose any term from five to 15 years. Your term impacts you interest rate and monthly payment, and being able to choose a nonstandard repayment term, such as nine years, could help you minimize your overall loan cost.
Graduated repayment option. When you refinance with College Ave, you can choose between making interest-only payments for the first 24 months or full interest and principal payments from the start. Interest-only payments could be a good option for those who want to refinance and lower their monthly payments in the short term, but be advised: Doing so will increase your overall borrowing costs and could mean higher monthly payments later.
Referral program. You can earn $250 for referring others to College Ave, and the person you refer will get a $100 bonus.
Open to residents of every state. Some lenders can only refinance loans to residents in select states, but College Ave refinancing is available across the country.
Relief on fees. College Ave charges neither an application fee nor an origination fee.
Drawbacks of refinancing with College Ave
Lack of transparency. Although College Ave aspires to offer clarity, it falls short on several fronts. Unlike some other student loan refinancers, College Ave doesn’t list a minimum credit history or income or debt-to-income (DTI) requirements to qualify for refinancing. However, these are all factors that a representative said are important in determining your eligibility and terms when refinancing.
The College Ave savings calculator tool lets you estimate your loan terms based in part on your credit score. The tool doesn’t let you choose a credit score below 680. A spokesperson for the company told SimpleTuition that the minimum required credit score is in the “high 600s” and confirmed that you likely won’t be able to get approved for a College Ave loan with a score in the low- or mid-600s.
Other information, such as the late-payment fee and cap on variable interest rates, isn’t listed on the pages for refinancing or in the FAQ. A customer service representative shared the information over the phone, however, and you can find it on a loan disclosure form once you start the application process.
No refinancing parent loans in the student’s name. If a parent took out either a loan from a private student lender or a federal parent PLUS loan to pay for your education, you may want to take over the legal responsibility for the debt. Some lenders let you refinance your student loans and parents’ loans together. With College Ave, you can only refinance parent loans if the parent co-signs your new loan. However, that still leaves your parent with a legal responsibility for the debt.
No option to release a co-signer. Some lenders let you apply for refinancing with a co-signer and offer an option to release the co-signer once the primary borrower makes a series of full on-time payments and is eligible on his or her own. Refinancing through College Ave doesn’t give you this option.
You must graduate to be eligible. In order to refinance your student loans, you must graduate from an eligible school and earn a degree. If you took out loans but didn’t earn a degree, you’ll have to refinance with a different lender that allows you to do so.
College Ave doesn’t publish a list of eligible schools, but at a minimum, the school must be Title IV-eligible, meaning it complies with the requirements to be part of federal student aid programs. You can send an email to email@example.com with the school’s name to confirm its eligibility.
Serviced by Navient. After refinancing your loans with College Ave, you’ll receive a welcome letter from Navient, which partners with College Ave. You’ll make payments, receive statements and have to turn to Navient if you have questions about your loan. While many refinancers partner with loan servicing companies and this isn’t inherently a drawback, if you’re turning to College Ave because of its customer service or ease of use, you won’t necessarily have the same experience once the refi is done.
What it takes to qualify:
|Credit score, credit history, income and debt-to-income ratio||Not disclosed|
|Loan types||Private and federal student loans. You can refinance parent loans only if the parent co-signs the new loan.|
|School and state eligibility||You must graduate from a Title IV-eligible undergraduate or graduate program. Refinancing is available in all states. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a school’s name to confirm its eligibility.|
What borrowers is College Ave best for?
As a new fintech company, College Ave may be a great fit for someone who is looking for a sleek and easy application process and personalized loan terms. Being able to choose your term, interest-rate type and repayment plan can help you manage your payment or long-term costs.
College Ave could also be a good option for borrowers who don’t qualify at other lenders because of their state of residence, since it provides loans nationwide.
If a particular features draws you to College Ave, be sure to look for other lenders that have a similar feature, then take time to compare and contrast.
For example, you may want to compare College Ave and Earnest if you’re looking for an option to customize your repayment term. However, Navient bought Earnest in 2017. While the initial announcement indicates that Earnest will remain a separate brand, keep an eye on post-acquisition reviews and possibly changes to Earnest’s refinancing terms.
Another example: Borrowers who want to refinance and then make interest-only payments could also look for offers from LendKey, which connects them to a network of regional banks and alternative lenders. Some of LendKey’s partner lenders offer interest-only payments for the first four years.
A closer look at the online platform
College Ave has an intuitive website and it’s easy to find the refinancing page and start an application. But before you do, you can use College Ave’s savings calculator to get an approximate idea of your new loan terms and overall savings.
Start by listing the student loan types you hold and your outstanding balance, monthly payment and years until your loans are paid off. College Ave uses this information to determine your current total cost of repayment.
On the next screen, you can toggle between different options to see how they could affect your monthly payment and overall savings.
The interest rate on your new loan depends on the interest rate type, loan term and credit score. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, you can check it for free through SimpleTuition’s parent company, LendingTree. However, keep in mind that the free score you get is a VantageScore, while College Ave uses a FICO score, so there will likely be a difference between the two. As an alternative, you can get your free FICO at Discover Scorecard. Check with your bank and credit card issuer as well, as many financial institutions now offer free FICO scores as a perk.
Aside from the student loan refinancing application and savings tool, there are several pages on the College Ave website devoted to student loans for current students, or parents of current students. The site also has a blog, where you’ll find informative articles on student loans, paying for school and personal finance.
There are several FAQ pages, with answers to common questions about student loans, student loan refinancing and repayment.
A look at the fine print
You won’t find a lot of fine print on College Ave’s website. But that could be construed as a negative. As with all financial contracts, it’s important to read the terms before signing. However, College Ave doesn’t display some potentially important information until after you start the application process.
For example, a College Ave representative confirmed by phone that refinanced loans have a late payment fee that’s the lesser of $25 or 5 percent of the amount due. The late fee is only charged once you’re 15 days past due, though.
Another representative confirmed that the variable-rate refinancing loan has a cap of 25 percent, inclusive of the 0.25 percent autopay discount. And she said there’s no way, as mentioned previously, to release a co-signer from your loan.
You’ll see all these fine-print items on the loan disclosure form, the second stage of the application process.
There are some fine-print items that are clearly listed on the refinance or FAQ pages, including the minimum and maximum loan amounts and loan term options. You’ll also read that College Ave doesn’t charge an origination fee and there’s no prepayment fee.
What to expect during the application process
College Ave has a short application that can take just three minutes to complete and submit.
The first page asks for your name, email, phone number, address, date of birth, citizenship status, Social Security number and household income. You’ll also have to share information about your school and degree.
If your school doesn’t appear after you enter the state and city, it may not be an eligible school for College Ave student loan refinancing. As we recommended earlier in this article, you can send an email to email@example.com with the school’s name to confirm its eligibility.
You can also share your employment information and an alternative contact whom the loan servicer can reach if it’s having trouble contacting you, but these fields are optional.
Worried about those hard inquiries eating away at your credit score? Moving to the next page will not result in a credit inquiry. After submitting the information, you’ll see a loan disclosure form. It isn’t an official offer for refinancing, but it shows a lot of those fine-print items you don’t see on the website, such as the late-payment fees and variable-rate cap. You’ll also be able to see examples of how choosing different interest-rate types and repayment plans can alter your repayment amount.
Moving forward in the application, you’ll choose whether you want to apply alone or with a co-signer. With either option, your application will get submitted and College Ave will then run a credit check. If you choose to go with a co-signer, you can email the co-signer a link to the application or fill in his or her information right away. The co-signer will need to share similar personal and financial details, such as his/her address, Social Security number and annual household income.
When you submit a completed application, you’ll generally receive official loan offers right away. In some cases, you may need to provide additional documentation to confirm your identity or financial particulars.
Continue making your loan payments as usual after accepting a refinancing offer. It could take up to three to four weeks for the lender to pay off your loans, and if you miss a payment in the meantime, you may have to pay fees and it could affect your credit.
Once you see that your original loans are paid off, stop paying those loans. Navient will service your new loan, and you’ll receive an email with your estimated first-payment due date.
How to compare student loan refi offers
Each lender has its pros and cons, and there isn’t a single best one for every student borrower. Still, there are ways to evaluate your options, and some key points you should compare before choosing which lender to use.
- Eligibility. Make sure you qualify for refinancing with the lender. You might be ineligible due to your state of residence, the types of loans you have, what institution you attended or whether you earned a degree.
- Desirable loan options. Decide if you want a variable- or fixed-rate loan, and consider your ideal loan term. Then look for lenders that offer loans with these features.
You can quickly compare general loan terms from multiple lenders on SimpleTuition. Some lenders let you apply for preapproval and to get approximate loan terms. Even if lenders don’t have a preapproval option, if you’re committed to refinancing you can still submit multiple applications to see your offers.
Credit inquiries from multiple student loan refinancing applications will only count as one hard inquiry for credit-scoring purposes if you complete the applications within 14 days.
Once you have all your offers, you can plug the terms into a refinancing calculator to see which one saves you the most money. However, be sure to consider more than just the savings. Deferment or forbearance options, and the option to release a co-signer, may be important even if they don’t have immediately quantifiable monetary value.