Best Place to Refinance Student Loans in 2021

Updated: August 13, 2021

Overwhelmed by all your options when it comes to refinancing your student loans? You’re not alone. 

Refinancing your student loan debt can save you a lot of cash — an average of $253 a month or $16,183 over the life of your loan

The key to nabbing those savings is finding the right refi deal for your unique situation. But don't stress! We're here to help. 

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Our top picks for refinancing your student loans in 2021

  Interest Rates (APR) ReFi Loan Types Variable Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Fixed Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Hybrid Rates (APR)
w/ Autopay
Terms (Years)  
1.88% - 6.31% Variable & Fixed 1.88% - 6.15% 2.49% - 6.31% N/A 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20

Visit Splash

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1.99% - 6.84% Variable, Fixed & Hybrid 1.99% - 6.84% 2.83% - 6.74% 3.63% - 5.66% 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
Hybrid: 10 years

Visit CommonBond

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2.25% - 6.94% Variable & Fixed 2.25% - 6.59% 2.49% - 6.94% N/A 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Visit SoFi

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1.95% - 6.62% Variable & Fixed 1.95% - 5.65% 2.48% - 6.62% N/A 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25

Visit NelNetBank

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1.90% - 7.63% Variable & Fixed 1.90% -5.25% 2.95% - 7.63% N/A 5, 7, 10, 15, 20

Visit LendKey

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1.88% - 5.79% Variable & Fixed 1.88% - 5.64% 2.48% - 5.79% N/A 5 to 20

Visit Earnest

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3.24% - 5.69% Variable & Fixed 3.24% - 5.54% 3.34% - 5.69% N/A 5 to 20

Visit CollegeAve

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Our criteria for choosing these lenders:

  • Price. Saving money is the main priority in refinancing. The lenders on this page offer extremely competitive interest rates compared with others in the market.
  • Ethics. In an industry that has had its share of challenges, these lenders have outstanding ethical standards.
  • Customer service. We only picked lenders that get great reviews for their customer service. Some have even won awards.
  • Innovation. Many of these lenders are creating specialized products to make low interest rates available to more people.
  • Perks. Yoga classes and wine-tastings. Trips to Ghana to build schools for local kids. Scholarship programs and entrepreneurial seed funding. We looked for lenders that offer something special.

Find out how much you can save right now with:

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Can I refinance my student loans?

Are you one of the 8 million Americans who could be getting a better deal? A Goldman Sachs report estimates that $211 billion in student loans are ripe for refinancing – that's about 70% of private student loans and 25% of federal.

Wondering if you're a good candidate for refinancing or consolidating your student loans? Here's what these companies look at when considering your application:

A good credit score

Your creditworthiness is crucial. You'll be a good candidate if your credit score is in the 650 to 850 range.

A low debt-to-income ratio

Banks want your credit score to be high, but they also want your debt-to-income ratio to be low — less than 36%. Calculate your ratio by adding all all of your monthly debt payments and then dividing that sum by your gross monthly income (what you earn before taxes).

Repayment history

A responsible finance history assures a bank that you are a low risk. Being current on your bills, credit cards and student loans is an important loan criterion.

Solid employment history

Banks review your employment and income history.

A college degree

Grads represent lower risk and have higher approval rates.

Eligibility requirements

  Credit Score Minimum Average Refi
Credit Score
Minimum Debt Amount For Refinancing Maximum Debt Amount For Refinancing Minimum Income Requirements  
650 Good $5,000 No Max No Min Required Visit Splash

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660 700+ $5,000 $500K No Min Required Visit CommonBond

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650 779 $5,000 No Max Income must exceed expenses Visit SoFi

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(640 w/ co-signer)
Good $5,000 Undergraduate - $125K, Graduate/MBA/Law - $175K, Health Professional - $500K $36,000 Visit NelNetBank

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660 Good $5,000 $125K: Undergrad $250K: Graduate $300K: Medical/Dental/Vet $2,000/
Visit LendKey

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650 Good $5,000 $500,000 No Set Requirement Visit Earnest

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680 Good $5,000 $300,000 $60,000 Visit CollegeAve

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All of the lenders listed in the table above also look for the following...

  • Eligible Degrees: Undergraduate & Graduate
  • Eligible Loans: Private & Federal
  • Proof Of Degree Required: Yes
  • Proof Of Employment Needed: Yes - Paystub

Is refinancing a good idea? It might be if ...


You’re looking for an opportunity to pay off your loan faster or lower your monthly payment

A new loan with a lower interest rate can decrease your monthly payment and/or allow you to pay off the loan faster. If you're looking for more money in your budget today, you can refinance your student loans for a longer period of time — spreading out your payments can help you reduce your monthly bill.


Your current interest rate is greater than 4%

If your private or federal student loans have an interest rates of 4% or higher, refinancing will likely save you money. Parents and people with grad-school loans can also save money by refinancing PLUS loans, which have higher interest rates than other federal student loans.


If income-based repayment options are not working for you

Federal income-driven repayment plans can be an effective way to lower your monthly payments. However, they can also make it harder to achieve progress because most of your monthly payment is applied to interest rather than principle. Lowering your interest rate can help you make a bigger dent in your balance faster. (It's important to note that refinancing means you will no longer be eligible any federal student loan benefits.)



If you don’t qualify for student loan forgiveness

Student loan forgiveness is for federal employees, teachers, or those who work in a public service. If you work in one of these fields and you have been consistent in your payments, you could be eligible to have your federal student loans forgiven. Once you refinance, these benefits will no longer be available to you. If you are eligible for student loan forgiveness, we recommend calculating whether student loan forgiveness or refinancing will save you more money over the life of your loans.


If you want to release a cosigner

Many students apply for student loans with a cosigner, such as a parent or grandparent, when they first take out college loans. But once you’ve been out of school for a few years, you may want to release your loved one from that responsibility. Removing a cosigner from the original loan can be a difficult bureaucratic struggle. Refinancing can be a much simpler way to get everything in your own name.

How much could you save?

  Average Savings (Monthly) Average Savings (Yearly/Lifetime) Auto Pay Loyalty / Account Discount Fees & Penalties  
N/A $29,340 0.25% on some loans No None Visit Splash

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$323 $24,046 Yes - 0.25% No None Visit CommonBond

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N/A N/A Yes - 0.25% No None Visit SoFi

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No Data No Data 0.25% on some loans No Yes Some Visit NelNetBank

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$191 $16,657 Yes - 0.25% No None Visit LendKey

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N/A N/A Yes - 0.25% No None Visit Earnest

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N/A N/A 0.25% on some loans No None Visit CollegeAve

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Who should you refinance with?

Detailed comparison of the top lenders in the space
Splash financial blue-1
Learn More or Apply Now

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Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with rates that can save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loans. There are no application or origination fees, and no prepayment penalties. Splash Financial is in all 50 states and is intensely focused on customer service. Splash is also one of the few companies that offers a refi product just for medical residents and fellows. You can check your rate with Splash in just minutes.

Splash Financial review

  • Low interest rates – Splash's rates are typically low across the board, but their rates for grad-loan refi are especially attractive. 
  • No fees or penalties — No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties.
  • Check your rate in 3 minutes without impacting your credit score
  • Specialty product for doctors-in-training that features a low monthly payment.

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

Learn More or Apply Now

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Earnest empowers you with the financial capital you need to live your best life. 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 considers every applicant's unique financial story to offer the lowest possible rates and radically flexible loan options for living life.

Click here to apply now with Earnest.

  • Commitment-free two-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.
  • Make extra or early payments without fees.
  • Skip a payment and make it up later.
  • Consolidate your private and federal loans.
  • Online dashboard is designed to make it easy to apply for and manage your loan.
  • Faster response times because they use technology to improve and accelerate our decision-making processes.
Learn More or Apply Now

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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 is rated as having 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 it 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 because they donate money to an education nonprofit for each loan they write.

CommonBond review

  • Unemployment protection — 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 cosigner. CommonBond offers loans in every state except Mississippi and Nevada.

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

Learn More or Apply Now

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SoFi, which stands for “Social Finance,” was created by a group of Stanford business students who found themselves with a mountain of debt after graduation. They set out to change the student loan industry and help borrowers like themselves to get lower interest rates. 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.

SoFi review

  • Low interest rates — For well-qualified borrowers, SoFi offers some of the lowest rates we have found.
  • Strong customer service — It has more than 350 customer service reps available to help applicants through the refi process.
  • Career coaching and networking — Perks include career services representatives who can help you find a job or negotiate a higher salary. SoFi also hosts networking events, happy hours and educational lectures in major cities around the country.
  • Unemployment protection — If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for unemployment protection. If approved, SoFi will suspend your monthly loan payments and provide job-placement assistance during the forbearance period. These benefits are offered in three-month increments, and are capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. Note that interest will still accrue while loans are in forbearance.

Find out what interest rate SoFi can offer you here.

Learn More or Apply Now

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Save your hard-earned cash with Student Loan Refinancing from Nelnet Bank.

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.

Click here to refinance with Nelnet Bank.

  • 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.

Learn More or Apply Now

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LendKey operates student loan programs for over 275 not-for-profit and community lenders across the country. 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. Best of all, their customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from the application process through your final payment.

LendKey review

  • Lightning-fast rate check - Two-minute rate check with no impact on your credit score.
  • More lenders, more options — See the best offers from over 275 not-for-profit and 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.

Learn More or Apply Now

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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.

Click here to start saving with College Ave

  • 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
  • Make your payments work for you: Save more overall or pay less monthly.
  • No fees to apply


Lender reviews

Let's recap

Over the past decade, we’ve seen dramatic changes in technology, medicine, politics – and now college loans. The emergence of innovative startup firms that specialize in refinancing student loans have created a competitive environment with attractive new options for borrowers. If you’re struggling under the weight of college debt, now is a great time to find out if you could save money by bundling or renegotiating your loans. It’s easy to find out, and there are no prepayment penalties, origination fees, or application fees.

Find out how much you can save right now with:

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Q: Does refinancing cost money?
No. With our partners, there is no cost to refinance your student loans. We only give our stamp of approval to lenders that do not charge fees application or origination fees.
Q: How will I know if refinancing will save me money?
Even a 0.50% reduction in your interest rate can translate into large savings over the life of your student loans. When refinancing, your new interest rate will be based on your credit history: the better your history, the lower your rate. Our partner banks listed above offer rates starting as low as 2%.
Q: How long does the refinance process take? If approved, when can I expect to start saving money?
It will take about 15 minutes to go through the application process with our partners. Once approved, you can expect to start seeing your savings within three weeks.
Q: Can I refinance both private and federal student loans?
Yes. You can refinance both, but be cautious with your federal loans. Once you refinance your federal loans, you will lose benefits related to Student Loan Forgiveness and Income-Driven Repayment.
Q: Should I choose a variable or fixed rate?

What is a variable interest rate?

A variable interest rate is one that can change based on the terms of the loan. For instance, a variable rate may be 3% early in the year but 4% later in the same year. A change in the general economy can cause such a fluctuation. For instance, when mortgage rates increase, the student loan variable rate may also increase. Any loan not locked into a rate can go up or down over time. Federal student loans aren’t issued with variable rates, but private student loans may or may not be.

What is a fixed interest rate?

Fixed rate student loans keep a constant interest rate. A loan issued with a fixed rate of 3.5% will maintain that interest rate for the life of the loan.

What are the pros and cons of each?

The primary benefit of a fixed interest rate is that your payment amount won't change. For most people, a fixed interest rate is preferred. It's easier to budget, and there are no surprises. A variable interest rate is a benefit if the rate is lower and you’re planning on paying off the loan in a year or less. In that case, you don’t have to worry too much about interest rate increases, which will add to your monthly payment.

Q: What is the current interest rate environment?
Current interest rates (as of February 2020) are quite low, making this an excellent time to refinance. It is uncertain how long low rates will be sustained. 
Q: I want to refinance but don’t meet the eligibility requirements. What do I do?

1. Check your credit report. is the only source authorized by federal law to provide free annual credit reports. On this site, you can get your credit report for free each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Once you get your report, spend the time to make sure it is correct. If you find anything inaccurate, contact the specific credit reporting bureau to dispute and remove the incorrect items. A bank will typically require you to have a credit score that is over 650 to refinance student loans.

2. Pay down credit card debt.

You can improve your credit score and your chances of being approved for refinancing your student loans if you pay down the debt on your credit cards. If you have high balances with high interest rates, consider transferring them to cards with lower rates. Then, work on paying down all of your balances to below 30% of your credit limit. When you pay down the debt on your credit card, you boost your credit score.

3. Look for a cosigner.

If your credit isn’t as strong as you would like it to be, find a parent, spouse, or family friend with strong credit to cosign the student loan refinance application with you. A cosigner not only improves your chances of getting approved, but could also help you get a lower interest rate on that new loan.

Q: Does refinancing hurt my credit score? Does shopping around hurt my credit score?
Shopping around should not impact your credit score, because most lenders will provide quotes without having to pull your credit report. This is called a "soft pull."

When you're ready to go with a specific lender, that company will need to do a hard pull, which can result in a small decrease in your score. However, in the long run you should see an increase due to the benefits of refinancing. 
Q: What documents will I need to provide?

When you are ready to apply to refinance your student loans, get the following documents in order:

  • The most-recent loan statement for each loan that you want to refinance, showing your loan servicer's name and address, along with the repayment start date, estimated payoff date, original loan balance, current loan balance, interest type, and interest rate.
  • Driver’s license, passport, or bank statement to verify your address.
  • Your last month’s pay stubs.
  • Your most recent tax return.
  • Proof of graduation.
Q: How long does it take to start saving, once my application is approved?  
It depends on the bank. Generally, you should see the payoff post with your original lender approximately three to four weeks after you receive your final disclosure. It’s important to continue making payments to your original lender until you’ve confirmed that the payoff has posted.

Ready to lower your student loan payments and get out of debt faster?

Find out how much you can save right now with:
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