How To Find The Right Student Loan Refinance Company

Jon O'Donnell Updated on May 7, 2019

Refinancing student loans can be a great strategy to make monthly payments more manageable and cut overall interest costs. In recent years, the number of lenders offering refinancing has increased, creating a competitive environment with lots of innovation and new options. But picking a lender can be daunting. Which student loan refinance company is the best? What should you consider besides the interest rate? Which lender should you trust with your money?

10 tips to help you find the right student loan refinance company

Choosing a lender to refinance your student loans is a big decision. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever for people to explore rate options and find the best deal. With most lenders, it takes less than 15 minutes to see how much you could save by refinancing.

1. When comparing interest rates, make sure it’s “apples to apples.”

For side-by-side comparison, it’s important to compare different lenders’ offerings for the same loan balance, time frame, and type of interest. For example, is the rate you’re being shown fixed or variable? Variable rates are the lowest, but they can increase significantly over the next four to six years. Don’t compare one lender’s fixed rate with another’s variable rate.

2. What term length options does each company offer?

Most lenders offer a variety of term lengths between 5 and 20 years. But some have more choices than others.

3. What type of borrowers do they want to work with?

Eligibility requirements vary among lenders, but most of them want you to have a steady job and credit score of 650 or higher. Be sure to find out the lenders’ credit score requirements, debt-to-income ratio requirements, and degree requirements. What are the minimum and maximum amounts for refinancing? It’s also important to note that some lenders will only work with graduates of certain schools. Ask if your institution is eligible.

4. What types of loans do they refinance?

Not all companies refinance both private and federal loans. If you have a variety of loans and are eager to consolidate them into a single payment, be sure the company you choose accepts all of your loans. And note that while refinancing federal loans can get you a lower interest rate, it can also make you ineligible for income-based repayment or loan forgiveness programs. Be sure to weigh the benefits against the trade offs before you refinance federal student loans.

5. What are the lenders’ payment options and borrower protections?

Refinancing student loans is all about making your debt repayment strategy fit your lifestyle and goals. When choosing a company, ask if you can pick your monthly due date. What happens if you lose your job or change careers? Are there grace periods, deferment, or forbearance options? Some private lenders offer a two-year interest-only option for recent grads, and let you pause payments if you go back to school.

6. Do they offer other types of loans?

Some lenders specialize exclusively in student loans, but others with diverse offerings want to build long-term relationships with upwardly mobile college grads. If you have different types of loans – a car loan, mortgage, small business loan, etc. – you might be able to negotiate a better deal by having all of them with the same lender.

7. What’s the lender’s reputation?

It’s smart to research a company before you take out a loan with them. Read reviews and media coverage. Check their Facebook or Twitter accounts to see how engaged they are with their customers. How long have they been in business? What is their mission and founding principles? Is the company financially sound? How committed are they to customer service?

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8. What are the lender’s co-signer policies?

Many lenders publicly disclose the percentage of their borrowers who have co-signers. Are you likely to need a co-signer to get approved? And does the lender have a program for releasing a co-signer after a certain number of on-time payments?

9. Does the lender charge any fees or offer any discounts?

In an increasingly competitive lending environment, most companies have done away with application fees, origination fees, disbursement fees, and prepayment penalties, but it’s important to check to be sure. Also be sure to ask if you can get discounts for autopay, having other accounts, or referring friends. Many lenders will knock .25 percentage points off of the interest rate if you enroll in automatic billing.

10. Does the lender offer any perks?

Some lenders offer career counseling services, happy hours, networking events, entrepreneurial support, and more on the theory that everyone benefits when their borrowers are more successful and make more money. At least one lender donates to an education nonprofit for each loan they close.

How to get the best deal on student loan refinancing

There are many banks that offer student loan refinancing, but based on our research and reviews, we consider the ones below to be the best in terms of interest rates, transparency, product offerings, track records, ease of applying, and customer service....

Published in: Refinance

About the Author
Jon O'Donnell

Jon is a writer and marketer for Nitro who is passionate about bringing transparency to the student loan process along with providing families with the information needed to make smart financial decisions. He also just recently refinanced his student loans allowing him to pay them off 5 years faster all while saving an additional $152/month. As he continues to pay them off himself, he strives to help others do the same. Jon also has a long history of connecting people with educational opportunities to help them improve their careers and their overall personal finances. In his free time you can find him reading travel blogs and researching destinations around the world in search of his next adventure. Read more by Jon O'Donnell

Refinance and Save Today With These Lenders

#1 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • Fixed rates: 2.49% - 6.31% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.88% - 6.15% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
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.

  • Low interest rates – especially for graduate students
  • 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

  • Fixed rates: 2.83% - 6.74% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.99% - 6.84% APR
  • Minimum credit: 660
View More Details
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: 2.49% - 6.94% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.25% - 6.59% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
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.

#4 View More Details

Ability to apply for cosigner release after 24 consecutive payments. 

View More Details
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% - 5.62% APR See Disclaimer
  • FIXED RATES: 2.48% - 6.62% 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
  • Variable rates: 1.90% - 5.25% APR
  • Minimum credit: 660
View More Details
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.

#6 View More Details

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
  • Client Happiness can be reached via in app messaging, email, and phone 
  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or loan disbursement
  • Flexible terms let you pick your exact monthly payment or switch between fixed and variable rates
  • Skip a payment and make it up later
  • Online dashboard is designed to make it easy to apply for and manage your loan

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

  • Fixed rates: 3.24% - 5.54% APR
  • Variable rates: 3.34% - 5.69% APR
  • Minimum credit: 680
View More Details
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 
  • Instant credit decision
  • Super flexible terms: 16 loan terms available from 5 to 20 years
  • No fees to apply

Click here to see more College Ave offerings and to start saving today! 


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

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