For most borrowers of college student loans, the soonest they can refinance is after graduating.
If you’re a graduate student with a good job, you might be able to refinance the loans you took out for your undergraduate degree. For others, refinancing debt with a cosigner may make sense.
Depending on your financial situation, the goal of refinancing may be to snag a lower interest rate or have lower monthly payments. If you find that refinancing one or more student loans will result in significant interest savings, every month you delay refinancing could be costing you money.
What Do Your Current Loans Look Like?
If the only time you’ve even thought about your student debt is when you took out the loans, you’ve got a little bit of homework to do and a few decisions to make.
You may want to do some digging to refresh your memory on interest rates and terms.
Contact Info for Most Federal Student Loans
The government assigns your loan to a loan servicer after it is paid out. To find your loan servicer, visit your account dashboard on studentaid.gov, find the “My Aid” section, and choose “View loan servicer details,” or call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 800-433-3243.
Loans Not Owned by the Department of Education
If you have Federal Family Education Loan Program loans that are not held by the government, contact your servicer for details. Look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.
If you have a Federal Perkins Loan that is not owned by the Education Department, contact the school where you received the loan for details. Your school may be the servicer for your loan.
If you have Health Education Assistance Loan Program loans and need to find your loan servicer, look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills.
Private Student Loans
If you’ve lost track of private loans, you can check your credit reports .
Consolidating vs. Refinancing Student Loans
The two words are sometimes used interchangeably, but they aren’t quite the same thing.
The Department of Education offers student loan consolidation, which allows you to combine your federal student loans into a single Direct Consolidation Loan that will have one monthly payment.
The interest rate is the weighted average of your prior loan rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percentage point. You can’t include any private student loans, so you’ll still have a separate payment for those if you have them.
If your loans are eligible for a Direct Consolidation Loan, you can apply right after you graduate , when you leave school, or when you drop below part-time enrollment.
Student loan refinancing refers to paying off current loans with a new loan from a private lender, preferably with a lower rate. You might be able to refinance private and federal student loans, ending up with one loan and one monthly payment.
You’ll want to know all your student loan repayment options—and the pros and cons of consolidating or refinancing your loans, which could make your life easier and your payments more manageable.
A refinancing calculator can come in handy when estimating savings—both monthly and over the life of your loan.
Serious savings. Save thousands of dollars
thanks to flexible terms and low fixed or variable rates.
Weighing Perks and Interest Rates
Before deciding whether student loan refinancing is right for you, it’s important to know that if you refinance your federal student loans with a private lender, those loans will no longer be eligible for programs like income-driven repayment plans and federal forbearance.
Refinancing also will take the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program out of the equation.
But if you can get a lower student loan interest rate, refinancing may be a good fit. Most refinancing lenders offer loan terms of five to 20 years. Shortening or elongating your loan term can affect your monthly payment and the total cost over the life of your loan.
Private lenders can have some pretty stringent criteria. Typically, you’ll need a good credit score and a history of on-time payments, a stable job and/or income—or a cosigner—and a solid debt-to-income ratio.
When can you refinance student loans? As soon as you establish a financial foundation or bring a solid cosigner aboard. Should you refinance your student loans? If you can get a lower interest rate or lower your monthly payment, it might be a move worth considering.
SoFi offers student loan refinancing with a fixed or variable rate, no origination fee, and unemployment protection. A refi opens the door to SoFi membership, which entitles you to services that might help with your career and personal goals.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended to December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since in doing so you will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave up to $10,000 and $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients unrefinanced to receive your federal benefit. CLICK HERE for more information.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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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.