How to Refinance Your NelNet Student Loans


Julissa Treviño Updated: April 30, 2019

If you have NelNet loans, you might have considered refinancing as an option to get a lower interest rate or monthly payment. 

Technically, you can't refinance your loans directly through NelNet, but that doesn't mean that refinancing is off the table—you'll just have to do it through a private lender. Here's what you need to know. 
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What is refinancing?

Refinancing is when you take out a new loan with new loan terms to pay for your existing loan.

Why take out a brand-new loan? Because doing so can get you out of debt a lot faster. 

When you replace your old loan (or loans) with a new one that has a lower interest rate, you can lower your monthly payment or save money over the life of your loan.

Borrowers who choose to refinance can often lower their payments by $253 a month, or save $16,183 over the life of the loan. You can see how refinancing can impact your monthly payment with our Student Loan Refinancing Calculator

What are the benefits of refinancing?

It's easy to see why people choose to refinance.

With a lower interest rate, more of your monthly payment will go towards the principal, allowing you to pay down your debt faster. You can also choose to extend or reduce your repayment term to either pay off the loan faster or lower your monthly payments. 

One important thing to note is that if you do choose to refinance, you'll lose the benefits of your federal loans, like deferment, forbearance, and student loan forgiveness, if those were things you were hoping to take advantage of. 

See also: Quiz: Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

Am I eligible to refinance?

Each lender has its own eligibility requirements. Generally, you'll need to have a solid employment history and credit score in order to refinance. If you can't qualify on your own, look into getting a cosigner. (And even if you can qualify on your own, having a cosigner may snag you a better interest rate.)

Both federal and private student loans can be refinanced through a private lender, so if you have NelNet loans and other loans, you can refinance all of these loans together.

See also: Quiz: Do You Need a Cosigner to Refinance Your Student Loans?

Can I refinance my NelNet loans?

As a servicer of federal loans, NelNet does not offer refinancing directly.

In order to refinance your loans, you need to apply through a private lender. 

Borrowers who are looking to refinance typically choose their lender based on:

All of these factors will play a role in determining which lender is the best fit for you. 

Your new lender will offer you specific loan terms, like a new interest rate and repayment term, and will pay off your existing debt. After refinancing, you'll no longer make your monthly payments to NelNet. Instead, you'll work directly with your new lender. Just be sure to verify that your old loan is zeroed out before you stop making payments. 

Can I consolidate student loans with a private lender?

Yes, consolidating is another option if you're just looking to manage your debt.

By consolidatingyou're able to combine several student loans into one monthly payment. This simplifies debt repayment and usually lowers your monthly payment by extending the time you have to pay.

Just be sure to be aware of the difference between refinancing and consolidation. 

When people refer to consolidation, they're typically talking about federal loans, which are consolidated as a Direct Consolidation Loan.

If you go through federal consolidation with the U.S. Department of Education, you'll get a single, and usually lower, monthly payment but not the benefits of a lower interest rate or reduction in debt.

Rather, the interest rate on your Direct Consolidation Loan is the weighted average of all the interest rates on all your old loans. Since this new interest rate isn't based on your credit score, this may be the way to go if you have less-than-great credit.

Refinancing with a private lender  affords you the same benefit of combining multiple loans into a single, more affordable payment—but you usually get the added bonus of a lower interest rate, especially if you have good credit. This allows you to pay off your debt quicker.

See also: Should I Consolidate My Student Loans?

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Where can I find the best deals on student loan refinancing?

Here are a few of the lenders we're currently recommending:

CommonBond

Many people choose CommonBond for its low rateson average, customers with this lender save about $24,046 over the life of their loan—and unique loan options. For example, the company offers a hybrid refinancing option which offers a fixed rate for five years and then a variable rate for the following five. 

CommonBond customers also have the opportunity to attend networking events, panel discussions, and dinners hosted by the company and designed to connect borrowers with industry professionals.

Learn more about CommonBond.

SoFi

Unlike other private lenders, SoFi goes beyond credit scores and debt-to-income ratios when considering whether to approve a refinancing application. It considers factors like your estimated cashflow, career prospects, and education. This means that even if you don't have the best credit score now, but you got a great education and are going into a profession that will pay dividends, you have a good chance of getting a good interest rate. In fact, they offer some of the most competitive rates in the industry.

Learn more about SoFi.

Laurel Road

Considering refinancing but don't want to lose the benefits of federal loans, like forbearance and deferment? Laurel Road has you covered. It's one of the few lenders that offers these protections under certain circumstances. 

In addition, it offers low rates, with customers saving an average of $20,000 or more over the life of their loans. It also offers special refinancing options for medical and dental students, as well as parents who’ve taken out loans for their child's education.

Learn more about Laurel Road

Splash Financial

To make sure you're getting the best deal possible, Splash Financial negotiates on your behalf with its partner banks and credit unions. Their mission is to help you save money and make sure you can repay your loans — which is why they also offer financial literacy to prospective customers. Through free consultations, the company helps you navigate through the options for your particular student loan scenario. 

It's also a go-to lender for those in a medical residency or fellowship because they have specific refinancing plans just for you. 

Learn more about Splash Financial.

ElFI

Education Loan Finance, or ELFI, offers the benefits of traditional loan lenders with the highly-rated customer service of a smaller, community bank—it's backed by a management team with a combined 30 years of experience. To eliminate the issues borrowers tend to experience during the refinancing process, it has streamlined the online application process. 

There are also a few perks: When you sign on as a customer, you get a $100 bonus, and $400 each time you refer a friend to refinance with ELFI (your friend also gets $100).

Learn more about ElFI.

LendKey

LendKey partners with credit unions and community lenders, rather than big banks, to offer low interest rates and an emphasis on great customer satisfaction.If you want to compare several options at once, LendKey operates as a platform that connects you directly to lenders. 

Learn more about LendKey.

Which lender should you choose?

To research and compare lenders' rates before making your decision, see Best Options in 2018 to Refinance Student Loans.

After you choose a lender, you can apply for refinancing directly on their website. Then, just wait until you hear back about your application.

Your interest rate and loan terms will depend on your credit history, among other factors. Don't forget that you need to keep making payments to NelNet on your original loan until you get confirmation that refinancing has been approved.

Ready to refinance? Visit our lender page to compare rates and loan terms. 

Refinance & Save Today With These Leading Lenders

#1 View More Details

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

  • APR: 1.81% - 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.

#2 View More Details

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

  • APR: 2.02% - 6.45%
  • 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.

#3 View More Details

Offers unemployment protection and career/coaching/networking

  • APR: 1.81% - 5.98%
  • 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.

#4 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.

#5 - 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.
#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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