Refinancing Graduate Student Loans: All You Need to Know

By Susan Guillory · April 24, 2024 · 7 minute read

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Refinancing Graduate Student Loans: All You Need to Know

If you’ve finished graduate school, you’re likely looking for a job or are already working in your preferred area of study. Which is all good. But you may also be looking at that pile of grad school debt you have and wondering how you can make it go away ASAP.

If the interest rate on your loan (or loans) is higher than current rates, if you’re finding the monthly payment too high, or if you’re juggling multiple payments on different loans for school each month, you might want to consider graduate school loan refinancing.

Here, you’ll learn about what graduate student loan refinancing is, the pros and cons, and how to tell if it’s right for you.

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What Is Graduate Student Loan Refinancing?

Can you refinance student loans? Absolutely!

And graduate school loan refinancing works like any other kind of loan refinancing: it’s a modification of student loans that involves you taking out a new loan to pay off your graduate school loans.

If you had multiple loan payments and multiple interest rates before, you will now have a single monthly payment and one interest rate, which may (or may not) be lower than the rate on the original loan or loans.

There are two important points to consider when thinking about student loan refinancing:

•   If you refinance for an extended term, you are likely to pay more interest over the life of the loan, even though your monthly payment may be lower.

•   When you refinance a federal loan with a private loan, you forfeit the benefits and protections of federal loans.

💡 Quick Tip: Get flexible terms and competitive rates when you refinance your student loan with SoFi.

How Does Refinancing Grad School Loans Work?

So why would you want to consider refinancing your graduate school loans? Here are some of the benefits:

•   One single monthly payment

•   Possibly a lower interest rate

•   Potential to lower your monthly payment.

First, if you’re making multiple payments for more than one school loan up to your graduate school loan limit, you might feel like you’re treading water and getting nowhere in actually paying off the loans. When you refinance these loans, you end up with one monthly payment, and it might be easier to increase how much you put toward your debt to pay off the loan faster.

If the interest rate you got on your original student loans for grad school was high, you might be able to save money with a lower rate by refinancing. If you’ve got great credit, you could qualify for low interest rates.

And if you’ve been struggling to make your monthly payment(s), you may be able to refinance for a longer period of time to get a reduced monthly payment. However, as mentioned above, you may pay more in interest over the full life of the loan.

To refinance graduate student loans:

•   Shop around among lenders who specialize in refinancing.

•   Calculating your student loan refinancing rate is important, because rates can vary drastically from one lender to another.

•   Find one lender that offers good rates and terms. And realize: the better your credit score, the better the terms you may qualify for.

•   Apply for your new loan.

•   Once approved, you pay off your student loan debt. You’ll begin paying on the new loan within a few weeks.

Recommended: Undergraduate vs. Graduate Student Loans

Pros and Cons of Refinancing Grad School Loans

When considering graduate school loan refinancing, it’s important to look at both the benefits as well as the drawbacks.

Pros of Refinancing Grad School Loans Cons of Refinancing Grad School Loans
Potentially lower interest rates Bad credit might mean higher rates
Reduced monthly payment May pay more interest over the life of the loan
One monthly payment Might need a cosigner
Possible way to build credit Applying could negatively impact credit

If refinancing federal student loans, you will forfeit federal benefits and protections

The Pros

As noted in the chart, these are the main advantages of refinancing graduate student loans:

•   You may be able to get lower graduate student loan refinance rates, a reduced monthly payment, and roll what you’ve been paying on multiple loans into one monthly payment.

•   This could make it easier and faster to pay off your grad school loan.

•   If you’ve been struggling to pay your loan, refinancing could make it easier to pay on time, which could build your credit. If your credit score rises, you could potentially qualify for better terms.

And if you’ve felt confused and lost about how to refinance your loan, you’re in the right place because SoFi’s got lots of resources for guiding you through student loan refinancing.

The Cons

Now, to review the potential downsides:

•   When you refinance a federal student loan with a private student loan, you forfeit federal benefits and protections, such as forbearance.

•   If your credit isn’t great, you might only qualify for loans with higher interest rates, which could cause you to pay more for your refinance loan.

•   If you don’t qualify for graduate loan refinancing, you might have to have a cosigner to get approval, which can be a challenging step.

•   If you refinance for an extended term, you may pay more interest over the life of the loan.

•   When you apply for a new loan, it requires a hard vs. soft credit pull, which can temporarily lower your credit score.

Recommended: Guide to Refinancing Student Loans

Alternatives to Refinancing Graduate School Loans

If you aren’t able to or don’t want to refinance graduate loans, there may be other options for you to lower payments:

•   If you took out a federal loan through the US Department of Education, you may qualify for one of several income-driven repayment plans, including the new SAVE plan that replaces REPAYE. You need to meet the income and household size requirements.

•   You may also be able to defer payments if you qualify. There are deferment plans for unemployment, economic hardship, military service, cancer treatment, and more.

•   If you work in certain public service roles, such as teacher or for a nonprofit, you might qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You may be required to work in a qualifying role for a certain number of years to receive forgiveness for your student loan.

Keep in mind that if you do not have federal graduate loans, these won’t be options available to you.

Another option is to simply get aggressive about paying off your loan. This might require setting aside things you usually spend money on like clothes and vacations for a while. Or perhaps taking in a roommate. But once you pay off your grad school loan, you can resume those luxuries.

Recommended: Refinancing Student Loans vs. Income-Driven Repayment Plans

The Takeaway

If you’re struggling to pay your student loan, or if you feel your interest rate is too high, graduate school loan refinancing could be a way to provide some relief and help you save money. The process can replace one or more monthly payments with a single payment that can be for a lower amount, though it may mean you extend the term of the loan and pay more interest over the life of the loan. Refinancing federal loans with a private loan, however, does involve forfeiting federal benefits or protections, so it may or may not be the right choice for you.

Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.

With SoFi, refinancing is fast, easy, and all online. We offer competitive fixed and variable rates.


Is refinancing graduate school loans any different than other student loans?

Refinancing a graduate school loan works like it would for undergraduate student loans. By refinancing, be aware that you might lose any benefits you had with your federal student loan, such as the ability to defer or change to an income-driven repayment plan.

Is it easier to refinance graduate student loans?

Refinancing grad school loans, particularly if you have good credit, is fairly simple. Find a provider who offers competitive rates, get approved, pay off your previous student loans, and then start paying on your new loan.

What are some of the advantages of refinancing graduate student loans?

Refinancing student loans for grad school can help you get a lower interest rate. It can also help you consolidate multiple student loans into one monthly payment, and you could lower your monthly payment amount.

Photo credit: iStock/NeonShot

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A., NMLS #696891 (Member FDIC). For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see Equal Housing Lender.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


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