With a to-do list that’s threatening to take over your weekend and an email inbox in need of attention, the last thing you have time for is a long, involved application process—even if it could mean saving thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, refinancing your student loans can be a relatively quick process, though you will need to set aside a bit of time and have some documents ready before you start. Here’s what you need to know.
How long does it take to apply?
Completing a student loan refinancing application can be done online and generally takes about 15 minutes, depending on the lender.
It will likely be time well spent since you could end up saving over $250 a month or up to $20,000 over the life of your loan.
The process will go more quickly if you have a few things on hand before you start an application.
- The most-recent loan statement for each loan you want to refinance. Make sure each statement shows your loan servicer's name and address as well as the repayment start date, an estimated payoff date, the original loan balance, the current loan balance, the interest type, and the interest rate.
- A driver’s license, passport, or bank statement that can be used to verify your address.
- Your last month’s pay stubs.
- Your most recent tax return.
- Proof of graduation.
How long does it take to get approved?
Once you’ve completed the application, you’ve done the hard part. Many lenders will send you a conditional acceptance within a few minutes.
However, depending on what the original application asked for, the lender may request additional documentation as they begin the loan review.
After your loan application has been approved, you can usually expect to start saving money in about three to four weeks. That’s when you’ll see your old loan balance listed as fully paid. At that point, your new lender will have purchased your old loans, and you’ll begin making your new, lower payments.
Be careful, though. Don’t stop making payments on your loan until you see that your new lender has purchased your loans. You don’t want to default in the middle of refinancing.
If you’re wondering what banks are looking for during those few weeks of the review process, here’s a quick run-down:
- A good credit score. You should be in a good position if your score is between 690 and 850.
- A low debt-to-income ratio. You can calculate your ratio by adding together all your monthly debt payments and then dividing that total by your gross monthly income (what you earn before taxes). Banks typically want to see a number less than 36%.
- A responsible repayment history. Banks look for low risk candidates—people who’ve made timely payments on bills, credit cards, and student loans.
- A solid employment history. Lenders see an applicant with a steady job and income as a better bet for paying back their loans.
- A college degree. Students who have graduated are more likely to get approved for refinancing.
If you decide that refinancing your student loans is the right step for you, you could be making lower payments in less than a month.
To find out how much you could save from refinancing your student loans, check out our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator.