Best Banks to Refinance Student Loans in 2017

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Refinance Student Loans

If you went to college, especially if you went to grad school, you’re already waking up to the harsh world of student loan repayment. Millions of Americans have trouble leading fulfilling lives as they repay their student loans. This doesn’t just mean less money for a night out at the bar. It means less money to spend saving for retirement, starting a family or engaging in other forms of career-advancing education. Fortunately, a number of companies are attempting to fill the gap, making it easier for people to repay their student loans faster so that they can get onto the next stage of their lives.

Here are your best options to refinance and consolidate your student loans for lower monthly payments and a shorter repayment schedule!

Disclosure: This review is designed to help student loan borrowers refinance their student loans. The information found below was not created by any of the lenders listed in this review.

Best Banks to Refinance Student Loans

 Lender

Variable Rates

Fixed Rates

Terms

Income Requirement

Minimum Credit Score

 SOFI

studentloanrefinance

 2.58% to 6.50% 3.38% to 6.74%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  No Minimum  650

 commonbond

studentloanrefinance

 2.56% to 6.48%  3.37% to 6.74%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  No Minimum  660

 LENDKEY

studentloanrefinance

 2.43% to 5.97%  3.25% to 7.26%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  $24,000  680

 collegeave

studentloanrefinance

 3.00% to 6.25%  4.75% to 7.35%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  $24,000  660

 elfi

studentloanrefinance

 2.10% to 6.01%  3.35% to 6.69%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  $35,000  680

 purefy

studentloanrefinance

 2.11% to 7.40%  3.50% to 8.24%  5, 7, 10, 15, 20  $25,000  650

Best Lender For

Best For

Lender

 Low Interest

 

LENDKEY

studentloanrefinance

 Bad Credit

 

purefy

studentloanrefinance

 Good Credit

 

LENDKEY

studentloanrefinance

 High Income

 

elfi

studentloanrefinance

 Low Income

 

SOFI

studentloanrefinance

Detailed Review

SoFi

The catch is that SoFi tends to lend to two kinds of people: Those with a well-established credit rating and above average income or those who are well on their way to that category. One of the more interesting things about SoFi is that they will look at a person’s earning potential as a sign of creditworthiness, rather than just what the person is earning in the here and now. That can be very attractive to someone who, for example, just graduated from business school and is starting at the bottom rung of the right ladder.

SoFi offers competitive lending rates across the board. What’s more, they offer much more than just refinancing and consolidation of student loans. You can get personal loans to consolidate your credit card situation or start a new business. Parent loans are another service offered by SoFi, including Parent PLUS consolidation and refinancing loans. You can even get a mortgage through SoFi, with the company offering no less than four different mortgage products. Pre-approval, for rates you will actually be able to take advantage of if you decide to go with SoFi as your mortgage lender, will cost you nothing and will cause no damage to your credit score.

One of the most attractive features across the entire SoFi suite of services is that none of their loans require any kind of origination fee, application fee or early repayment fee. Chances are good that if you’re looking to consolidate or refinance your student loans, you want to save every last dollar that you can. With origination fees for loans in the range of 1 to 6 percent, that can be a significant savings when you work with SoFi.

SoFi also offers wealth management services, allowing you to start planning for your retirement and future starting today. Their rates are extremely low, even compared to other robo-advisor services. What’s more, you can get advice from a real live advisor to help you define and meet your financial goals.

What really makes SoFi stand out, however, is the suite of perks they offer alongside their financial services to their members. If you can’t pay your loans on time because you lost your job, SoFi will suspend payments, though interest will still accrue. However, SoFi doesn’t just stop there. They will also help you to find a new job. What’s more, there are networking events sponsored by SoFi, allowing you to meet other people in your professional field or just make new friends. If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll definitely be interested in SoFi’s entrepreneur program, which offers mentorship and networking opportunities. They’ll even let you meet with potential investors in their office space if you like.

When it comes right down to it, SoFi would be a clear leader just on the basis of interest rates and fees alone. When you add in everything they offer on top of that, it’s hard for any of these other options to complete. They were one of the first on the scene and we suspect it’s going to be a long time before a true competitor emerges.

Get Started with Sofi >

Interest rates:

  • Fixed rate loans from 3.38% to 6.74% APR
  • Variable rate loans from 2.58% to 6.50% APR

To qualify:

  • Credit score of at least 650
  • No minimum annual income
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree or higher

Loan terms:

  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years for student loan refi
  • Offers parent private and PLUS loans
  • Loan balances from $5,000 to No Max

Commonbond

CommonBond is cut from the same cloth as early SoFi. They are, when you get right down to it, a student loan consolidation and refinance company. Much like SoFi, they got their start with the alums of an elite business school. In the case of SoFi, this was Stanford. In the case of CommonBond, it’s the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School whose most famous alum is perhaps President Donald Trump. Much like the founders of SoFi, the founders of CommonBond saw the student loan market as ripe for disruption and went about doing what they could to shake things up in the name of providing better student loan products and services.

There are three basic categories of loans with CommonBond: Student loan refinancing loans, parent PLUS refinancing loans and student loans for those pursuing an MBA. Rates for the first two start at a low, low 2.35 percent APR. They estimate that the average saving over the life of a loan for those who refinance their student loans with CommonBond is over $24,000, a considerable sum by any measure. Their APR for those seeking an MBA begins at 6.23 percent APR, with an estimated savings over federal student loans of $10,000. You don’t need a business degree to know that means some serious savings for the entrepreneurs of the future.

CommonBond offers nine different student loan refinancing options, including fixed rate and variable rate options. Terms are available for five, 10, 15 and 20 year options. They’re the first company in the student loan consolidation and refinancing field to offer a hybrid of both fixed and variable rate loans, which offers a fixed rate at first and then a variable rate after a certain point in time.

For those who like a little corporate social responsibility, CommonBond offers something that no other lender currently does: A “one-for-one” program similar to what is already offered by Toms Shoes and Warby Parker glasses. Every degree that is fully funded using their platform will also fund the education of a student overseas for one year in partnership with Pencils of Promise. CommonBond also bankrolls financial literacy classes for underprivileged youth in underserved areas of the United States. The CommonBond Social Impact Award gives $10,000 to the leading social entrepreneur of the year.

Again, like SoFi, there are no origination fees, no early repayment fees and no application fees. There is also a similar program for people who lose their jobs when paying back their loans with CommonBond.

The difference between CommonBond and SoFi ultimately one of taste and style. Social climbers and entrepreneurs will value that SoFi offers them a robust network of professionals to meet, as well as opportunities for entrepreneurial advancement. Those who are more interested in general social responsibility and awareness would perhaps rather park their dollars with CommonBond. However, CommonBond does not offer the same robust suite of services that SoFi offers, ultimately limiting them to a specific customer — one who is in need of consolidation or refinancing of their student loans.

Get started with CommonBond >

Interest rates:

  • Fixed rate loans from 3.37% to 6.74% APR
  • Variable rate loans from 2.56% to 6.48% APR

To qualify:

  • Credit score of at least 660
  • No minimum annual income
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree or higher

Loan terms:

  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years for student loan refi
  • Offers parent private and PLUS loans
  • Loan balances from $5,000 to $500,000

LendKey

LendKey, which formerly went by the rather unfortunate name “Fynanz,” is a little different from the other platforms on this list. It’s not a lender as such. Rather, LendKey will put you in touch with lenders in your community. Their connections are with community banks and credit unions, meaning that they connect you with lenders who put a sense of community and social responsibility over that of profit. This can be a Godsend for people who are trying to get their interest rates lowered but don’t have the most outstanding credit records to speak of, as community banks and credit unions tend to have more forgiving lending policies than large commercial lenders.

LendKey offers refinancing for student loans, both public and private. They have a calculator tool on the website that allows you to take a glance at what you stand to save by consolidating with LendKey. The best part is that you don’t even have to give any personal information to take advantage of this service. You simply enter in information about your earnings and debt and LendKey gives you a glimpse into what you might be able to save by working with them.

Another service offered by LendKey are home improvement loans. You can’t get a mortgage through LendKey, but they can connect you with lenders who will help you to upgrade your home and make improvements to it. For people who purchased “fixer upper” homes or are looking to spruce up their starter home just before a sale, this can mean connection to the kind of funds they need to improve their lives, but might not be able to find otherwise.

One reason that LendKey offers home improvement loans is that they work with a broad network of contractors. You can borrow as much as $40,000 to improve the state of your home. What’s more, all home improvement measures are covered, so you don’t have to worry about your loan getting turned down because what you want to do to your home isn’t covered. LendKey offers competitive rates for home improvement loans, with terms as long as 15 years, meaning that there are monthly payments that can fit into just about anyone’s budget. Because LendKey only partners with reputable contractors, they can put you in touch with the right people to make improvements to your home, taking one more headache out of the process. You can get an estimate in less than a minute.

Again, one of the main appeals of LendKey is that of style rather than substance. While SoFi is for social climbers and entrepreneurs and CommonBase is for people with an eye toward broader social concerns, LendKey is for people with an eye toward their own community. If you want to invest in your community through community banks, credit unions and local contractors, this is definitely the refinance and consolidation choice for you.

Get started with LendKey >

Interest rates:

  • Fixed rate loans from 3.25% to 7.26% APR
  • Variable rate loans from 2.43% to 5.97% APR

To qualify:

  • Credit score of at least 680
  • Annual income of at least $24,000
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree or higher

Loan terms:

  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years for student loan refi
  • Does not offer parent private and PLUS loans
  • Loan balances from $7,500 to $175,000

College Ave

Compared to the companies we’ve met thus far, College Ave has a much more limited vision and scope of what it is that they do: They help people to pay for college, no more, no less. This includes undergraduate loans, graduate loans, parent loans and, of course, refinancing and consolidation of existing student loans.

Students applying for student loans need a co-signer, but they can see 100 percent of their total costs covered with College Ave. There are also never any origination fees when working with College Ave. As much as $2,500 will be loaned to students to cover direct expenses related to attending college. The website offers a number of tools to help interested parties determine which of College Ave’s products and services will make the most sense.

College Ave offers four different loan repayment options, and lets the borrower set the term of the loan. So you can pay the loan back on a schedule that makes the most sense to you, with monthly payments that are going to fit in with your budget. You can apply in three minutes or less and you get to choose whether you want a fixed or variable interest rate on your student loan.

Similarly, when refinancing, College Ave lets you decide whether you want to pay a fixed interest rate or a variable one. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of consolidation and refinancing loans offered through College Ave is that you can opt to pay nothing but your interest for up to two years. That can allow you to take a big whack at your interest, letting you focus later payments directly on the principal of the loan. What’s more, the interest rate payments can be attractive to students who are not expecting to have a large earning potential when they graduate from college.

Get started with College Ave >

College Ave has some interesting aspects about it. However, it’s limited. It only really offers loans for education, compared to the other lenders on this list. For people who are only looking for a student loan or a consolidation loan, College Ave might be the right place to hang their financial hat. At the very least, you should explore the site using their free tool. After all, you have nothing to lose by looking into things.

Interest rates:

  • Fixed rate loans from 4.75% to 7.35% APR
  • Variable rate loans from 3.00% to 6.25% APR

To qualify:

  • Credit score of at least 660
  • Annual income of at least $24,000
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree or higher

Loan terms:

  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years for student loan refi
  • Five, seven, or ten years for parent private and PLUS loans
  • Loan balances from $15,000 to $250,000

ELFI

ELFi, a service offered by SouthEast Bank, may be able to help you save hundreds of dollars every month by consolidating multiple loans into one, often lowering the interest rate and monthly payment. ELFi’s low interest rates are their main advantage. They are also worth a look because they never charge application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties. ELFi offers a “Fast Track Bonus” to any borrower who submits all of their loan documents and accepts loan terms within 30 days of their initial application date. A $100 check is mailed to the borrower within six to eight weeks of loan disbursement.

Get started with elfi >

Interest rates:

  • Fixed rate loans from 3.35% to 6.69%
  • Variable rate loans from 2.10% to 6.01% APR

To qualify:

  • Credit score of at least 680
  • Annual income of at least $35,000
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree or higher

Loan terms:

  • 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years for student loan refi
  • Five, seven, or ten years for parent private and PLUS loans
  • Loan balances from $15,000 to $250,000

purefy

Purefy promises a transparent, simple process for student loan refinancing with two different lenders: Citizens and PenFed Credit Union. Purefy offers low rates, no origination or application fees. You can use their Find My Rate tool to calculate your estimated rate and see if having a cosigner can save you a significant amount. No credit check required. Couple loans. Purefy allows married couples to bundle student loans into one loan. Most lenders won’t do that. They also allow spouses to act as cosigners, basing interest rates on the higher of the two spouses’ credit scores.

Get started with Purefy >

  • Fixed rate loans from 3.50% to 8.24% APR
  • Variable rate loans 2.11% to 7.40% APR

To qualify

  • Credit score of at least 670 with a cosigner or 700 without
  • Annual income of at least $25,000 with a cosigner or $42,000 without
  • Debt-to-income ratio no more than 42%
  • Five, eight, 12 or 15-year loan terms
  • Loan balances from $7,500 to $150,000 (Larger loans may be available for those with graduate degrees)

Where we’d love to see Purefy improve! Currently, Purefy does not offer variable interest rate loans. As variable rate loans typically offer lower minimum interest rates, they can be beneficial for borrowers who plan to pay off their balances quickly. Also, Purefy’s lenders have no standard forbearance or deferment policies, although their lenders claim to work with borrowers on a case-by-case basis. If that is a concern, you may want to work with another lender that offers specific options.

Conclusion

These are good options for refinancing and consolidating student loans, most of which are different with regard primarily to style. While we believe that SoFi is the clear favorite because of the robust series of services they offer, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right choice for everyone. We hope that we’ve been able to inform you to make the right decision about which one of these is the right refinancing and consolidation loan service for you. Paying back your student loans is never pleasant, but we hope we just made it a little bit easier on you. Paying less every month, shortening the time you pay off your loans is part of moving past them and getting on with your life.

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