How to Refinance Your NelNet Student Loans

Julissa Treviño Updated: January 13, 2020

If you have loans through NelNet, 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:


Many people choose CommonBond for its low rates (on average, customers with this lender save about $24,046 over the life of their loan) and its unique loan options. For example, the company offers a hybrid refinancing option that 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.


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.


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 for certain loan types, and $400 each time you refer a friend to refinance with ELFI (your friend also gets $100).

Learn more about ElFI.


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 - Nitro Recommended View More Details

Special offers for medical resident and fellow refinance products

  • Fixed rates: 2.59% - 8.49% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.49% - 11.72% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit Splash View Loan Disclosure

Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing with some of the lowest fixed in the industry 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.

#2 View More Details

ElFi offers top-rated customer service, some of the lowest rates available, and flexible terms to fit your goals.

  • Fixed rates: 4.29% - 7.29% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.48% - 7.98% APR
  • Minimum credit: 680
View More Details
Visit ElFi View Loan Disclosure
Student Loan Refinancing Made Simple.
Discover our low rates and fast, no-fee application process for refinancing your student loans or financing your college education.
The ELFI Difference:
  • Some of the Lowest Rates Available – We believe in rewarding financially responsible borrowers by providing some of the lowest refinancing rates available.
  • Expertise That’s Second to None – Our ELFI management team has over 30 years of expertise in student loans and student loan refinancing.
  • Fast and Easy Process – Secure your personalized student loan or refinancing options in just a few short minutes.
  • Personal Loan Advisors – Our award-winning customer service team will guide you every step of the way.
  • Service Coast to Coast - ELFI private student loans and student loan refinancing are available across the entire U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Click here to refinance now with ELFI.

#3 View More Details

SoFi is the leading student loan refinancing provider. 

  • Fixed rates: 3.99% - 8.24% APR
  • Variable rates: 2.49% - 7.99% APR
  • Minimum credit: 650
View More Details
Visit SoFi View Loan Disclosure

$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.

  • Serious savings: Save thousands of dollars thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.
  • No hidden fees, no catch: No application or origination fees. No pre-payment penalties.
  • Fast, easy, and all online: Simple online application and access to live customer support 7 days a week.
  • Access to member benefits: SoFi members get career coaching, financial advice, and more—all at no cost.
  • 98% of surveyed members would recommend SoFi to a friend

Save thousands on your student loans and pay off your loans sooner. Find your rate.

#4 View More Details

Works with 300+ community lenders for higher approval chances

  • Fixed rates: 2.49% - 7.75% APR
  • Variable rates: 1.90% - 5.25% APR
  • Minimum credit: 660
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.

#5 View More Details

Best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast.

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.

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