Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

By Jody McMaster · July 05, 2023 · 5 minute read

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Should You Refinance Your Student Loans?

Editor's Note: For the latest developments regarding federal student loan debt repayment, check out our student debt guide.

If repayment of your student loans has started or interest is accruing, it might be high time to school yourself on managing your school debt. Refinancing is one option.

Sure, it’s not the most fun way to occupy a weekend, but taking a close look at your student loans and understanding the ways to repay them may save you money and angst.

When Might It Be a Good Idea to Refinance Student Loans?

There are many reasons it may be a good idea to refinance your student loans, including lowering your interest rate, lowering your payment, and combining multiple loans into one. You can refinance both federal and private student loans, but refinancing federal loans with a private lender will forfeit your eligibility for federal benefits and protections.

When It Would Save You Money

The main goal of refinancing with a private lender is to lower the interest rate on your student loans — federal and/or private — with one new loan with a new rate that pays off the existing loans.

When rates are low, refinancing student loans could make a lot of sense. How much could you save? This student loan refinancing calculator can be enlightening.

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

Or, perhaps you need to lower your monthly payment to help save money right now. One way to do this is to refinance your student loans with a longer loan term. This will reduce your payment, but you may end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan due to the extended term. You could also lower your payment by qualifying for a lower interest rate, if you can, and keeping the term the same.

You Qualify for Refinancing

Your eligibility to refinance student loans depends on your financial history, employment, and monthly income vs. expenses. If you’ve spent time building your credit and have a stable job, you could qualify for the best student loan refinancing rates.

You can also consider applying for a student loan refinance with a cosigner. If your cosigner has a stronger credit profile than you or better debt-to-income ratio, you may be able to land a better rate on your refinance.

You can usually refinance student loans right after graduating, and as often as you want after that. Most lenders charge no fees to refinance.

You Want to Remove a Cosigner

Some lenders allow a cosigner to be released from any repayment obligation when student loans are refinanced.

Principal borrowers applying for cosigner release typically have to demonstrate that they are able to handle the loan on their own by meeting certain minimum requirements.

You Want to Switch to Fixed Interest

If you have student loans with variable rates, you may want to consider refinancing to lock in a fixed rate before rates rise.

Then again, if you’re willing to take on a risk to potentially save on interest — and will be able to pay off your student loans quickly — you might consider switching from a fixed rate to a variable rate. A variable-rate loan typically starts with a rate that’s 1-2% lower than a comparable fixed-rate loan.

But what if variable rates rise? Variable rates often will still save you money over the long term.

You Are Willing to Give Up Federal Benefits

If you have federal student loans, refinancing them into a private student loan will eliminate the ability to participate in income-driven repayment plans, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and federal deferment and forbearance.

If you are using these benefits or plan to, it’s not recommended to refinance your student loans. Instead, you could consider a federal student loan consolidation. This combines multiple loans into one, with the interest rate being the weighted average of the loans you are consolidating rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent.

Want to see if refinancing could be right for you? We’ve created a quick quiz that might help.

IMPORTANT: The projections or other information generated by this quiz regarding the likelihood of various outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual results, and are not guarantees of offers.

The Takeaway

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.


When is it a good time to refinance student loans?

You can refinance your student loans at any time, but a good time to refinance is if you’re looking for a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment, and you’re not using or planning on using federal benefits. To qualify for the best rates, you’ll need a solid credit profile and a stable income. You can also consider refinancing your student loans with a cosigner.

Can refinancing student loans reduce the cost of your total debt?

Yes, refinancing your student loans can reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. You can do this by lowering your interest rate (and keeping your loan term the same) and/or shortening your loan term.

What credit score do you need to refinance student loans?

The minimum credit score needed to refinance student loans varies from lender to lender, but FICO states that a “good” credit score is 670 or higher. To get the best student loan refinance rates, you’ll want to have a good credit score and low debt-to-income ratio. If you don’t meet those requirements, you may want to consider refinancing with a cosigner.

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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