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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Yes, consolidating is another option if you're just looking to manage your debt.
By consolidating, you'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?
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 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.
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
Learn more about SoFi.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.