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.
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.
Refinancing your federal loans with a private lender can help you:
The benefits of refinancing depend on your goals. If your goal is to lower your monthly payment, opt for paying over an extended term. If your goal is to get out of debt faster and save more money, opt for a shorter loan term.
When you refinance your federal loans, those loans are replaced with a private loan.
As we said above, 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.
Depending when you graduated, you may be paying over 6% interest on your federal loans. Current refi rates are running as low as 3.14% for a fixed rate loan.
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 1.9% for variable rate loans.
So what's the downside? Well, you will lose access to federal protections like income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness for public service employees.
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.
1. Do some comparison shopping.
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 as a starting point.
2. Get a preliminary quote.
Once you've keyed in on a few lenders you'd like to consider, go to their websites and get some rate quotes.
Most will give you the option of a "soft-pull" quote, in which you can get a preliminary quote after answering a few questions. It's called a soft-pull because the lender won't pull your credit score.
Most lenders have an online application process that takes about 20 minutes or so. The lender will ask you some questions about your financial life and existing loans. You’ll need info on your current student loans, plus your salary information and work history—so get those documents ready.
4. Review your loan offer.
After the lender has processed your application, they'll extend an offer that will include your interest rate, your monthly payment, and your loan term.
Once you pick a lender, they’ll handle all the communication with Great Lakes to take over your loan. However, it's important to continue making payments to Great Lakes until you have verified that your balance with them has been zeroed out.
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:
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.
Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with new rates as low as 2.63% 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.
SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider.
$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.
Save thousands on your student loans and pay off your loans sooner. Find your rate.
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.
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.
Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances
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.