Updated on May 23, 2019
By Trish Sammer
So you want to refinance your student loans. How do you know which lender to choose?
Many people choose Laurel Road or LendKey. Let's take a look at the advantages and term options for each lender so you can make a better, educated decision about which one is for you.
One of the major drawbacks to refinancing federal loans is that you lose federal protections like forbearance and forgiveness. Most private lenders don't offer these benefits. But Laurel Road solves that problem. The lender is one of the few in the market that offers
Additionally, the lender will forgive the full amount of the loan if the borrower dies. Borrowers who qualify due to a disability can also qualify for full or partial forgiveness. This kind of flexibility could serve you well if your finances or life circumstances change.
The lender also promises savings: Laurel Road customers save an average of $20,000 or more over the life of their loans.
Do you prefer having lots of options but would rather someone else do the legwork of comparing lenders and terms? LendKey might be for you. The lender operates as a portal, with its platform connecting you to direct lenders based on your personalized needs. From there, you're able to see a comparison of terms and rates and make a
This unique approach to refinancing is what makes LendKey a popular choice. But what's more, the company's emphasis is on credit unions and community lenders, rather than big banks, that offer
LendKey's portal gives you the chance to compare interest rates and loan terms of more than 300 community banks and credit unions, all within a single portal and a single application. In other words, the LendKey experience is designed to meet your needs by giving you options. And if you need assistance, LendKey's loan specialists can help you navigate the choices.
On the other hand, Laurel Road offers extreme flexibility. In addition to the benefits outlined above, the lender is a great choice for medical students. A special program for medical students allows them to refinance as a soon as they're matched to a residency or fellowship program. Through this program, medical students enrolled in a residency or fellowship pay just $100 per month while they're enrolled, and accrued interest does not capitalize during this time.
Luckily, both lenders
Remember, a variable rate can fluctuate, while a fixed rate stays the same over the life of your loan. Your credit score and other factors will ultimately affect the interest rate you qualify for).
Neither of the two lenders
Yes, both offer a .25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for automatic monthly payments.
In addition, once you've paid off 10% of your loan principal, LendKey will also offer a 1% interest rate reduction. And while it's technically not a discount, Laurel Road's referral program offers you up to $400 for each person you refer who refinances their loans with the lender.
To qualify with LendKey, you must have an income of at least $24,000 a year, a credit score in the mid 600s, and a degree from an eligible school. You can refinance between $5,000 and $250,000 of existing student loan debt, but the exact amount varies based on your degree.
To keep its interest rates low, you generally must be
Parents refinancing PLUS loans must have children who graduated from Title IV institutions.
To start the process, visit LendKey’s “check your rates” page. Here, you'll enter information about yourself, your school, and your existing loan. Those who qualify will be shown several offers from different lenders. And even though another lender will technically refinance your loans, LendKey will handle origination and servicing. If you want a more detailed explanation of the application process, head over to our LendKey review. The application process takes just 15 minutes.
At the end of the day, it's up to you to decide which lender meets your personal and financial needs. But you can be sure that either LendKey or Laurel Road will provide a means to help you pay down your debt with ease.
Want to compare more lenders? We've done the research for you. See how the best refinancing companies compare in rates and loan terms.
Works with 275+ not-for-profit community lenders for higher approval chances
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 and that the best customer service team will be ready to answer your questions from application until your final payment.
Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking
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, it has no maximum amount you can finance. However, Nevada residents can’t currently refinance with SoFi. Minimum loan balances are higher in Arizona, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania due to state laws. Additional state restrictions may apply.
For every loan they fund, they contribute to the education of a child in need
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.
Get a personalized review of your refinancing options with CommonBond today.
Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.
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.
Click here to apply with Earnest and to see how much you can save.
Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender
Laurel Road is a national online lender with customers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Many of our non-bank competitors are not able to lend in all 50 states.Laurel Road has grown to be the second largest player in the student loan refinancing space in large part because of our reputation as the go-to low rate provider.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 3.25% 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.
Click here to see more of Splash's offerings and to see how you can save money.