Refinancing Your Student Loans While Starting a Business

By Melissa Brock · January 11, 2024 · 6 minute read

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Refinancing Your Student Loans While Starting a Business

If you want to start a business, one thought may go through your mind (particularly if you’re funding your business out of pocket): “If I didn’t have to repay my student loans, I’d have more money to put toward my business.”

No doubt about it, student debt can be steep. The current average federal student loan debt per borrower is $37,338 and $54,921 per private loan borrower. Student loan borrowers who feel stymied by their debt may wonder how to get their business idea off the ground.

If student loans gobble up a chunk of your cash every month, refinancing might free up funds to put your fledgling business on the right track. Read on to learn how refinancing student loans can benefit the launch of your new business.

What Is Student Loan Refinancing?

Before diving into the definition of student loan refinancing, let’s discuss the components that make up a student loan: principal, interest rate, and loan term.

•   Principal: The principal is the original amount that you borrowed, which you will repay with interest over time.

•   Interest rate: The interest rate is a percentage of the loan principal that you pay monthly — on top of a portion of the principal. This is charged by the lender and is how they earn money while lending you cash.

•   Loan term: The loan term is the amount of time in which you will repay your loan.

Student loan refinancing means replacing your existing student loan with a new student loan. You can refinance either federal or private loans with funds from a private lender. There are two important points to keep in mind if you are considering refinancing. These factors can help you determine if refinancing is a good fit for you.

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

•   If you refinance for an extended term, you may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan, even if your monthly payment is lower.

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

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Benefits of Student Loan Refinancing

Some of the key reasons to refinance your student loans include the following:

•   Potentially lowering your interest rate: Reducing your interest rate on your student loans can save you a lot of money over time because you won’t pay as much in interest per monthly payment. Check with various lenders to ensure you’re getting the lowest interest rate possible. You can usually get the best rates by having a strong credit score and a steady source of income. Your credit score is the three-digit number that reflects how well you’ve paid back debts in the past.

•   Reducing your monthly payment: When you work with a lender to extend your loan term, you may reduce your student loan payments per month. For example, you may extend your loan term from 10 years to 15 years, though the specific options will depend on your lender. Note, however, as mentioned above, that extending your term often means you’re likely paying more interest over the life of your loan.

•   Obtaining a single monthly payment: Instead of making multiple monthly payments, you can refinance and make one monthly payment. Sticking to one monthly payment can help you stay organized and make your payments on time. You don’t have to refinance all of your student loans, however. For example, if you have five student loans and you have a low interest rate on one and a high interest rate on the rest, you could refinance just those four. Use a student loan refinance calculator to determine how different refinance scenarios might work to your advantage.

•   Choosing between variable- and fixed-rate loans: Refinancing may allow you to choose between a fixed- or variable-rate loan. A fixed-rate means your interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan, while a variable rate changes — and could increase or fall over time.

Note that you can also consolidate student loans, which involves combining several federal student loans into one loan, through the Direct Loan Program.

💡 Quick Tip: Refinancing could be a great choice for working graduates who have higher-interest graduate PLUS loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and/or private loans.

How Refinancing Student Loans Can Benefit a New Business

So, how exactly does refinancing student loans benefit a new business? Here’s a closer look.

1. Lower Your Loan Payments

As mentioned earlier, refinancing can help lower your loan payments by possibly offering a lower interest rate and/or by stretching out your loan term. Lowering your monthly payments can allow you to devote more financial resources toward your new business. You can also use the extra money to pay for household expenses or financial goals, like the down payment on a house or your retirement nest egg.

2. More Money to Get Business Loan

First, to clarify: Using student loans to start a business is a no-go. Student loan money should go toward education costs, living expenses, and housing. When you refinance, you can lower your monthly repayment amount. That can help your overall financial outlook. Then, if you apply for a business loan, you may have a more creditworthy profile.

A bank or credit union will review your financial information to evaluate your qualifications for a business loan. If you refinance your student loans and lower your monthly payment, that could help improve your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), an important indicator when you apply for a loan. Your DTI is calculated by all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. If you lower a component of your monthly debt (say, your student loan), you can lower your overall DTI, which is a positive.

3. Use Business Income to Pay Student Loans

Are you wondering, “Can my business pay my student loans?” The answer to that is “no,” if you mean pay directly through your enterprise. However, if you launch a business and earn income, of course you can use your pay to eliminate your debt, whether from a student loan or another source.

Keep in mind that as a business owner, you could get tax breaks that other taxpayers can’t claim, but you can’t deduct the principal payments you make on student loans.

Recommended: How to Get Out of Student Loan Debt

Refinancing Student Loans With SoFi

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.


Can you start a business if you have student loans?

Yes, you can start a business if you have student loans, but it may be harder to access business credit and save cash to put toward your business. No matter what, you must keep up with your student loan payments. Not making your payments can hurt your credit score later, which in turn can hurt your application for a small business loan.

How do I start a student loan?

You can apply for federal student loans by filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which helps determine the amount of federal student aid you can receive. You can apply for private student loans on lender websites.

Can I get an SBA loan with defaulted student loans?

Through the Small Business Administration, SBA loans require potential borrowers to keep up to date on student loan payments. Unfortunately, you could become ineligible with defaulted student loans.

Photo credit: iStock/ferrantraite

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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.

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.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.


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