Your 15-Day Plan to Save $20K on Your Student Loans (Yes, Really)

Katie Taylor Updated on May 3, 2019

What if I told you that in just a little over two weeks, you could be on your way to saving almost $20,000 on your student loans? You might think I was delusional.  

But I’m not. Refinancing to a lower interest rate can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your student loan. In fact, many people are able to save between $15,000 and $20,000. 

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Because taking any big financial action can be daunting, we put together an easy-to-follow 15-day plan for refinancing your student loans with a private lender.

Why 15 days?

Your credit score is a key component of your loan application, so minimizing the impact of credit inquiries on your score is important.

By limiting your search to 15 days, you’ll keep your credit score from dropping because of sporadic inquiries — that is, the credit bureaus will assume you're comparison shopping rather than seeking credit out of financial need. 

Let’s get started.

Day 1: Calculate how much you might save

First things first: let's see if refinancing is going to be worth your time. 

Use our 
Student Loan Refinancing Calculator to see how much money you might be able to save through refinancing. Write that number down on a post-it note and stick it to your computer. Use it as motivation when you’re deciding whether to research lenders or open Netflix.

Days 2-4: Collect your information

As with any new loan, you'll need to submit some documentation before you get approved. 

Here’s what you need to collect:

  • proof of income (pay stubs or, if you’re not yet employed, a job-offer letter)
  • proof of citizenship (social security or other government identification number)
  • valid ID (driver’s license or passport)
  • billing statements for all loans you’re planning to refinance
  • proof of monthly housing payments
  • address verification (utility bill or lease)

Day 5-7: Check your credit report and dispute errors

Your credit score is a huge determining factor in getting a better interest rate.

Because your credit score is based on information found in your credit report, checking the report is the best way to understand how to improve your score.

You can check your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com — and there’s no hit to your credit when you do that. If you see anything unexpected, contact the credit reporting company immediately to report the inaccuracy.

If you have a lot of negative activity on your report, don’t despair. You can still refinance — but you'll need to apply with a cosigner, or spend some time improving your credit. 

See also: Quiz: Do You Need a Cosigner to Refinance Your Student Loans?

Days 8-11: Research lenders

You can choose from dozens of private lenders when you’re deciding to refinance your student loans. That means you have plenty of options, but the process could be a little overwhelming.

So how can you keep it organized?

Create a spreadsheet with the criteria that are most important to you — minimum loan balance, repayment term options, interest rates, or special benefits (like unemployment protection or discounts for automatic payments).

Then research each lender’s offerings and compare them against each other. If you’re having trouble getting started, we’ve provided a list of several credible lenders with great reputations in student loan refinancing.

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Day 12: Get lender quotes

While differences in terms and perks will have a bearing on your decision, the biggest factor in your choice will likely be the interest rate.

Lenders generally have a quote option right on their home page. For most lenders, you can fill out just a bit of information and get a rough estimate of your interest rate and payment options. To save time, get quotes from several leading lenders at once on our best refinance companies page, with links that will take you right to the lenders you’re interested in. 

Each time you request a quote, you’re authorizing the lender to do what’s called a “soft” credit pull, meaning it doesn’t have an impact on your credit score.

Day 14: Fill out the applications

Once you get your quotes, you’re ready to apply.

We recommend applying to at least three lenders so that you can be sure you’re getting the best rate and terms for your situation. Now that you have a spreadsheet with criteria comparisons, as well as quoted rates, choosing your top three will probably be relatively straightforward.

Head to their websites and fill out the online application using the documentation you gathered earlier. You can probably fill out all three applications in less than an hour.

Day 15: Relax and mark your calendar

You did it! Sit down with a good book or your favorite TV show and congratulate yourself for taking an important step toward your financial freedom.

Set a calendar reminder to check back on your application status in about a week. If you're approved for a loan, you can expect to start saving money about three weeks after you accept the loan offer. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Continue paying on your existing loans until you're certain that the new loan has wiped them out! Otherwise, you could get dinged for a late payment. 

Now that you have a straightforward plan, there’s nothing holding you back from refinancing your student loans. Start today, and get ready to enjoy those savings. 

Published in: Refinance

About the Author
Katie Taylor

Katie Taylor is a content writer and editor with expertise in law and policy, finance, and entrepreneurship. She writes for startups and small businesses about everything from bookkeeping to telecom. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post and SheKnows.com. She is continuing to pay off law school loans and lives in Richmond, Vermont with her wife, son, and an unruly dog. Read more by Katie Taylor

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#1 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • Fixed rates: 2.49% - 6.25% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.88% - 6.15% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
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Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 2.49% fixed APR which can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash Financial is also one of the few companies that offers a great medical resident and fellow refinance product. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

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  • No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties.
  • Co-signer release program - you can apply for a cosigner release form your loan after 12 months of on-time payments
  • Specialty product for doctors in training with low monthly payment

Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.

#2 View More Details

For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need

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  • Variable rates: 1.99% - 6.84% APR
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Visit CommonBond View Loan Disclosure

CommonBond was founded in 2011 by three MBA graduates from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School who wanted to help their peers escape from high-interest student loan debt. Its original focus was on grad students, but it has since expanded to cover undergrads as well.

Of all the companies we reviewed, CommonBond has some of the best customer service. The company prides itself on being easy to reach by email, phone, or live chat. It offers networking events, expert panels, insider newsletters, and even has a program help borrowers who lose their jobs to find new ones. CommonBond also makes you feel good about choosing to refinance with them by donating money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance review

  • Unemployment protections - If you lose your job or decide to go back to school, you can delay your payments for up to 24 months.
  • Social promise - For every loan they fund, they also contribute to the education of a child in need.
  • Hybrid loan option - Offerings include a 10-year hybrid loan with fixed interest for the first five years, and variable interest for the final five.
  • Referral bonus - For every friend you refer who refinances their loans with CommonBond, you’ll earn a $200 cash bonus.
  • Qualification - Borrowers must have graduated at least 2 years prior if they want to apply without a co-signer. And borrowers in 6 states – Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota, and Vermont – cannot currently refinance through CommonBond.

Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.

#3 View More Details

SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider. 

  • Fixed rates: 2.99% - 6.88% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.25% - 6.43% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
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Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

$30 billion+ in refinanced student loans. SoFi has some of the lowest interest rates and, unlike the other lenders we reviewed, there's no maximum on the amount you can finance. Some state restrictions may apply.

  • Serious savings: Save thousands of dollars thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.
  • No hidden fees, no catch: No application or origination fees. No pre-payment penalties.
  • Fast, easy, and all online: Simple online application and access to live customer support 7 days a week.
  • Access to member benefits: SoFi members get career coaching, financial advice, and more—all at no cost.
  • 98% of surveyed members would recommend SoFi to a friend

Save thousands on your student loans and pay off your loans sooner. Find your rate.

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Ability to apply for cosigner release after 24 consecutive payments. 

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Visit NelNetBank View Loan Disclosure

Give Your Life’s Journey a Jump-Start.

If you’re ready to put student loans in your rearview mirror, Nelnet Bank student loan refinancing offers low rates and flexible terms to help you start getting ahead.

  • VARIABLE RATES: 1.95% - 5.69% APR See Disclaimer
  • FIXED RATES: 2.55% - 6.31% APR See Disclaimer
  • AUTO DEBIT SAVINGS: We’ll knock .25% off of your interest rate when you enroll in auto debit. See Disclaimer
  • NO ORIGINATION FEES: No application, origination, or prepayment fees on Nelnet Bank loans.
  • HARDSHIP PROTECTION: Hardship forbearance helps protect against unexpected loss of income. See Disclaimer

See How Much You Can Save: Estimate your savings with a student loan refinance from Nelnet Bank.

#5 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • Fixed rates: 2.95% - 7.63% APR
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Visit LendKey View Loan Disclosure

Connecting student borrowers to a network of over 300 community lenders with low interest rates. By partnering with these lenders, LendKey is able to give consumers direct access to the best rates available from the most borrower friendly institutions. As the servicer of all loans obtained through its platform, you can rest easy knowing your personal information will be safe and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.

LendKey Student Loan Refinance review

  • Lightning fast rate check - 2-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score
  • More lenders, more options - see the best offers from over 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances
  • Life of loan relationship - With LendKey, your personal information will never be sent or passed on to third parties. Their customer service team is with you from the moment you land on their website until you've completely repaid your loan.
  • Unmatched benefits- Community lenders put people over profits and offer unique benefits like cosigner release after 12 on-time payments, interest only repayment options to keep monthly payments low, the largest unemployment protection period in the market, and more.

Get a personalized quote from LendKey now.

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Best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast.

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Visit Earnest View Loan Disclosure

Using technology, data, and design to build affordable products, Earnest's lending products are built for a new generation seeking to reach life's milestones. The company understands every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

  • Commitment-free 2 minute rate check
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  • Skip a payment and make it up later
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Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.

#7 View More Details

16 different loan term options – more flexibility to pay down your loan faster

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Visit CollegeAve View Loan Disclosure

College Ave Student Loans offers major help and minor stress. We’ll help guide you through the process to find the right loan term and interest rate for you and the family budget.

  • Fast rate check: Get your new rate in 60 seconds 
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Click here to see more College Ave offerings and to start saving today! 

Comments

I reduced my student loan payment by $152 per month, by refinancing thru Nitro:

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