Great Lakes Student Loans Refinance - Yes, it's Possible (Here's How to do it)


Jen Williamson Updated: April 30, 2019

Did you know that it's possible to get a lower interest rate on your Great Lakes student loan? It totally is. The only catch: You'll have to say "so long" to Great Lakes.

To refinance your Great Lakes student loan to a lower interest rate, you'll need to apply for refinancing through a private lender. The good news is this whole process is pretty easy, and people do it all the time. In fact, 94,000 people refinanced their student loans last year. Here's what you need to get a better deal on your own student loans. 

great-lakes-student-loan

What is Great Lakes?

If you have a federal student loan, you also have a loan servicer. Great Lakes is one of the big ones and it's one of several companies the federal government uses to service student loans. Great Lakes was recently in the news because they were acquired by Nelnet, another big loan servicer. 

A loan servicer is an organization that acts as the middleman between you and the federal government, administers your loan, and takes your payments. If you need to adjust the payment terms on your loan, you talk to your servicer.

You can't refinance your loan with your existing federal loan servicer, though. You have to switch to a private lender for that. 

What is refinancing?

Refinancing is the closest thing you get to a do-over on your student loan. You take out a new loan with a private lender, and that lender pays off all your other loans for you. What you’re basically doing is replacing your old loan, or multiple different loans, with a single new one.

If you have federal loans, refinancing will mean you’re replacing those loans with a private loan. 

Why should I consider refinancing?

The big benefit to refinancing is that you can score a lower interest rate. That equates to a lower monthly payment (most people who refi lower theirs by about $253 per month) or big savings over the life of your loan. In fact, our data shows that the average person who refinances can save around $16,000.

You can also replace many different loans with a single loan—which makes managing and paying off your debt easier.

In addition, refinancing gives you the chance to reset the timeframe of your loan—lengthening it if you want to reduce your monthly payment, or shortening it to pay less interest in the long run.

See also: The 1 Thing You're Probably Not Doing That Could Save You Big-Time On Your Student Loan 

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What would refinancing mean for my federal loans?

When you refinance your federal loans, those loans are replaced with a private loan.

There’s a big benefit to this: a chance to score a lower interest rate. Refinancing with a private lender is the only way you can reduce your interest rate on a federal loan.

That’s because federal loans aren’t set according to your credit score. Everyone gets the same rate, depending on the type of loan you have and when you took it out. The current rate for undergraduate Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans taken out on or after July 1, 2018 is 5.05%.

When you refinance with a private lender, that lender takes a look at your credit score and financial situation—and offers you a new interest rate based on what they see. If you have a high credit score, you could get considerably lower interest—some lenders, like Lendkey, are offering rates as low as 2.47%.

The downside to this is that you lose access to federal protections like income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness for public service employees.

See also: 9 Ways People Accidentally Sabotage Student Loan Forgiveness

The federal government does offer its own (partial) answer to refinancing with a private lender: consolidation. Under this program, you replace multiple federal loans (and only federal loans) with one Direct Consolidation Loan, and you keep your federal perks.

The downside is that you also keep your federal interest rate—and it may even go up. Interest rates for Direct Consolidation Loans are set based on the weighted average of interest rates across all your loans, rounded up to the nearest eighth of a percent.

See also: Everything You Need to Know About Student Loan Consolidation

What are the steps to refinancing my Great Lakes student loan?

The first step is to pick a new lender and get a sense of the interest rate they would offer you.

Every lender’s criteria will be slightly different, but you can get a ballpark idea of how much you could save by plugging your loan info into an online refinancing calculator. Ours is here, if you’d like to compare rates from several different lenders at the same time. 

Most lenders have an online application process that takes about 20 minutes or so. You’ll need info on your current student loans, plus your salary information and work history—so get those documents ready.

The lender will ask you some questions about your financial life and existing loans, then do a “soft pull”—a credit check that doesn’t show up on your score. After that, they’ll make you an initial offer.

Once you pick a lender, they’ll handle all the communication with Great Lakes to refinance your loan.

How do I choose a new lender to refinance my loan with?

There are plenty of lenders out there—and you could go on a research binge to find a great one. But you don’t have to, because we’ve already dug into this question.

Here are some of our preferred lenders. All of these have low rates, great industry reputations, and something special that makes them stand out:

  • SoFi: Offers networking events, classes, an entrepreneurial seed program, and career coaching for ambitious borrowers.
  • CommonBond: It’s made social responsibility part of its mission, with a program that funds the education of children in Ghana.
  • LendKey: Connects you with over 13,000 community banks and credit unions offering very competitive rates—that you wouldn’t have found on your own.

Refinancing your Great Lakes student loan is a smart move if you want to save on interest. Use our free calculator to see how much you could save.

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Credible is an online marketplace that provides borrowers with competitive, personalized loan offers from multiple, vetted lenders in real time.

  • Free to use, no hidden fees
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit Credible View Loan Disclosure

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace that empowers consumers to discover student loan refinancing options that are the best fit for their unique circumstances. Our integrations with leading lenders and credit bureaus allow consumers to quickly compare accurate, personalized loan options ― without putting their personal information at risk or affecting their credit score. The Credible marketplace provides an unrivaled customer experience, as reflected by over 2,000 positive Trustpilot reviews and a TrustScore of 9.5/10. Credible is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

For more information, click here to apply now with Credible.

  • Compare prequalified rates from multiple, vetted lenders in 2 minutes.
  • Refinance federal, private and ParentPLUS loans.
  • San Francisco-based customer support 7 days a week.
  • Checking your rates won't affect your credit score.
  • Get your final offer in as little as 1 business day.
  • Credible’s partner lenders do not charge prepayment penalties, loan application fees, or origination fees.
  • Free to use, no hidden fees: Requesting rates can take just minutes and costs you nothing.
#2 View More Details

Earnest empowers people with the financial captial they need to live better lives.

  • APR: 2.05% - 6.99%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to $500K
View More Details
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.

#3 View More Details

Operates in all 50 states; 2nd largest student loan refinancing lender

  • APR: 2.25% - 7.02%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No refinancing amount maximum
View More Details
Visit Laurel Road View Loan Disclosure

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.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance Review

  • National reach - Online lender that is available in all 50 US states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • No fees & the lowest rates in the space - Laurel Road is the most transparent about the rates they provide customers, and offer the lowest rates where it counts. Our customers will save more than $20,000 over the life of their loans on average. 
  • Customer service reputation - Laurel Road's customer service representatives are no rookies. With 19 years of experience on average, Laurel Road’s Customer Service team delivers an experience that is best in the industry. They work to build meaningful, life-long relationships with our valued customers to improve their overall financial wellness.
  • The stability & security of a bank - They are a division of Darien Rowayton Bank, a stable and secure FDIC-insured bank, regulated by the FDIC and the Connecticut Department of Banking.

Get your personalized, pre-approved rates in less than 5 minutes.

#4 View More Details

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

  • APR: 2.14% - 7.24%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $500K
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.

#5 View More Details

Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking

  • APR: 2.27% - 7.94%
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Refinance up to 100% of student debt
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

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.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing 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 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 on topics like buying a home in major cities around the country.
  • Unemployment protection - Borrowers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own may apply for Unemployment Protection. If approved, SoFi will suspend their monthly SoFi 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.

#6 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • APR: 2.01% - 8.88%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Refinance up to $300K
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.

#7 View More Details

Many ELFI customers save hundreds per month month and thousands over the length of the loan term.

  • APR: 2.39% - 6.69%
  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • No refinancing maximum amount
View More Details
Visit ElFi View Loan Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating outstanding education loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your costs of education and/or makes repayment very simple. Education Loan Finance - backed by the strength of SouthEast Bank - combines the benefits of traditional education loan refinancing with the superior products, service, and support found in the private market.

Education Loan Finance (ElFi) review

Check out their low rates today to see how much you can save.

  • Get Your Rate. With Education Loan Finance's Find My Rate tool, you can complete a short application to receive a preliminary quote on your eligible rates and terms, all without affecting your credit score.
  • Apply in Minutes. Education Loan Finance's online application is fast and simple.
  • Outstanding Personalized Service. Our Personalized Loan Advisors specialize in student loan refinancing and help busy professionals find the option that's right for them.
  • Student Lending Experience: Education Loan Finance isn't a start-up company - we have a longstanding history and expertise in serving student loan borrowers.

Attractive Bonus and Referral Programs:

  • Education Loan Finance Fast Track Bonus**: Education Loan Finance's application process is streamlined and simple, and you can earn a $200 bonus just for closing your loan within 30 days of your initial application.
  • Education Loan Finance Referral Program**: Earn $400 for each new Education Loan Finance Client referred by you!
#8 View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • APR: 2.43% - 7.60%
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • No Maximum when refinancing
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

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.

  • 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.

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