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Can Refinancing Your Student Loans Lower Your Interest Rate?

By Jody McMaster · April 06, 2022 · 3 minute read

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Can Refinancing Your Student Loans Lower Your Interest Rate?

Yes. The main point of a refinance is to get a lower rate, and graduates who qualify can save serious money.

Interest Rate, Explained

An interest rate is the rate charged to borrow money. Interest is calculated as a percentage of the unpaid principal amount. Federal student loans have a fixed rate, while many private student loans have a fixed or variable rate.

Student loans generate interest daily. Lenders typically add the accrued interest to the balance each month when the bill is generated.

The interest rate paid on any loan may make a big difference. If you have $75,000 in student loan debt and 20-year repayment term, the difference in interest paid with a 6.5% rate and a 4% rate is over $25,000.

To refinance student loans, people with excellent credit and a healthy income — or a solid cosigner — will generally qualify for the lowest rates.

Lowering Your Interest Rate With Consolidation vs Refinancing: How They Differ

For Federal Student Loans

Consolidation is a term reserved for federal student loans and is different from refinancing. Student loans are combined into one loan with a longer term (up to 30 years), reducing the monthly payments. The rate is the average of the existing loans’ rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percentage point.

Opting for a Direct Consolidation Loan allows borrowers to retain access to federal programs like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans.

But because the new interest rate is the average of the existing rates, rounded up a hair, consolidating loans and drawing out the term usually results in more total interest paid.

Normally, if you had started paying toward Public Service Loan Forgiveness and then consolidated your loans, you’d have to start your qualifying payments over. But a waiver through October 31, 2022, will count repayment on loans before consolidation.

For Private Student Loans

Refinancing means paying off your private or federal student loans with one new loan with a new rate and, sometimes, term.

Refinancing with a private lender may lead to substantial savings.

Then again, it might not be the right move for every borrower. For those with federal student loans, refinancing means losing access to federal student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans.

But borrowers with higher-interest student loans may find the allure of a lower rate — fixed or variable — tempting. If you qualify, you could reduce your payments or save a lot on total interest paid.

Recommended: Can Refinanced Student Loans Still Be Forgiven?

Understanding Your Options to Lower Interest Rate

Federal student loan consolidation is meant to make your monthly payment more manageable by lengthening your repayment term, but it will not lower your rate.

Only by refinancing with a private lender can you try to lower your current private or federal student loan rates. This student loan refinancing calculator can give you an idea of how much you could save by refinancing.

Before you start browsing interest rates, take a look at your current loans. How much do you owe? What are the rates? Are you enrolled in any federal benefits, eligible for any, or hoping to be?

Having this information at the ready can provide valuable insights as you start comparing the rates and terms you might qualify for from different lenders. A rate quote is usually quick and entails only a soft credit pull.

After you’ve determined how much you could potentially save by refinancing, consider looking at other benefits offered by the lender.

Refinancing With SoFi

Refinancing student loans to a lower interest rate makes sense for borrowers who are able to do so and who don’t qualify for or need income-driven plans or other federal programs.

SoFi offers student loan refinancing with low fixed or variable rates, as well as access to member benefits at no cost.

There are no fees when you refinance with SoFi, and the application process can be completed online. If you’re ready to take the next step in paying off student debt, get a rate quote in two minutes.

FAQ

What is federal student loan refinancing?

If you refinance federal student loans, a private lender pays them off with one new private student loan that ideally has a lower rate. Federal student loan consolidation is different.

Do low interest rates apply to student loans?

Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduates have a fairly low fixed rate for all borrowers. The rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate and professional students is higher. The rate for Direct PLUS loans, for graduate students and parents of dependent undergrads, is yet higher. Most federal student loans also have loan fees that are a percentage of the total loan amount. The fee for PLUS loans has run over 4% in recent years.

Private student loan rates generally are higher than federal student loan rates, but refinancing rates may be quite low for those who qualify. There’s never any cost to refinance, and you can do so as many times as you want.

Can you refinance a student loan for a lower interest rate?

Yes, if you qualify to do so.


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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 beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance 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 unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven 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.


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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