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.

FAQ

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.


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


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.

Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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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Should I Pay Off Debt Before Buying a House?

Ready to buy your own home? There’s a lot to consider, especially if this is your first time applying for a mortgage and you’re carrying debt. While having debt is not necessarily a deal-breaker when you’re applying for a mortgage, it can be a factor when it comes to how much you’ll be able to borrow, the interest rate you might pay, and other terms of the loan.

Understanding how the home loan process works can help you decide whether it’s better to pay off debt or save up for a downpayment on a home. Here’s what you need to know.

How to Manage Debt before Buying a Home

Understand Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

When lenders want to be sure borrowers can responsibly manage a mortgage payment along with the debt they’re carrying, they typically use a formula called the debt-to-income ratio (DTI).

The DTI ratio is calculated by dividing a borrower’s recurring monthly debt payments (future mortgage, credit cards, student loans, car loans, etc.) by gross monthly income.

The lower the DTI, the less risky borrowers may appear to lenders, who traditionally have hoped to see that all debts combined do not exceed 43% of gross earnings.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say a couple pays $600 combined each month for their auto loans, $240 for a student loan, and $200 toward credit card debt, and they want to have a $2,000 mortgage payment. If their combined gross monthly income is $8,000, their DTI ratio would be 38% ($3,040 is 38% of $8,000).

The couple in our example is on track to get their loan. But if they wanted to qualify for a higher loan amount, they might decide to reduce their credit card balances before applying.

That 43% threshold isn’t set in stone, by the way. Some mortgage lenders will have their own preferred number, and some may make exceptions based on individual circumstances. Still, it can be helpful to know where you stand before you start the homebuying process.

Recommended: How to Prepare for Buying a New Home

Consider How Debt Affects Your Credit Score

A mediocre credit score doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to get a mortgage loan. Lenders also look at employment history, income, and other factors when making their decisions. But your credit score and the information on your credit reports will likely play a major role in determining whether you’ll qualify for the mortgage you want and the interest rate you want to pay.

Typically, a FICO® Score of 620 will be enough to get a conventional mortgage, but someone with a lower score still may be able to qualify. Or they might be eligible for an FHA or VA backed loan. The bottom line: The higher your score, the more options you can expect to have when applying for a loan.

A few factors go into determining a credit score, but payment history and credit usage are the categories that typically hold the most weight. Payment history takes into account your record of making on-time or late payments, or if you’ve filed for bankruptcy.

Credit usage looks at how much you owe in loans and on your credit cards. An important consideration in this category is your credit utilization rate, which is the amount of revolving credit you’re currently using divided by the total amount of revolving credit you have available. Put more simply, it’s how much you currently owe divided by your credit limit. It is generally expressed as a percent. The lower your rate, the better. Many lenders prefer a utilization rate under 30%.

Does that mean you should pay off all credit card debt before buying a house?

Not necessarily. Debt isn’t the devil when it comes to your credit score. Borrowers who show that they can responsibly manage some debt and make timely payments can expect to maintain a good score. Meanwhile, not having any credit history at all could be a problem when applying for a loan.

The key is in consistency — so borrowers may want to avoid making big payments, big purchases, or balance transfers as they go through the loan process. Mortgage underwriters may question any noticeable changes in your credit score during this time.

Recommended: What Credit Score is Required to Buy a House?

Don’t Forget, You May Need Ready Cash

Making big debt payments also could cause problems if it leaves you short of cash for other things you might need as you move through the homebuying process, including the following.

Down Payment

Whether your goal is to put down 20% or a smaller amount, you’ll want to have that money ready when you find the home you hope to buy.

Closing Costs

The cost of home appraisals, inspections, title searches, etc., can add up quickly. Average closing costs are 3% to 6% of the full loan amount.

Moving Expenses

Even a local move can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to factor relocation expenses into your budget. If you’re moving for work, your employer could offer to cover some or all of those costs, but you may have to pay upfront and wait to be reimbursed.

Remodeling and Redecorating Costs

You may want to leave yourself a little cash to cover any new furniture, paint, renovation projects, or other things you require to move into your home.

Trends in the housing market may help you with prioritizing saving or paying down debt. So it’s a good idea to pay attention to what’s going on with the overall economy, your local real estate market, and real estate trends in general.

Here are some things to watch for.

Interest Rates

When interest rates are low, homeownership is more affordable. A lower interest rate keeps the monthly payment down and reduces the long-term cost of owning a home.

Rising interest rates aren’t necessarily a bad thing, though, especially if you’ve been struggling to find a home in a seller’s market. If higher rates thin the herd of potential buyers, a seller may be more open to negotiating and lowering a home’s listing price.

Either way, it’s good to be aware of where rates are and where they might be going.

Inventory

When you start your home search, you may want to check on the average amount of time homes in your desired location sit on the market. This can be a good indicator of how many houses are for sale in your area and how many buyers are out there looking. (A local real estate agent can help you get this information.)

If inventory is low and buyers are snapping up houses, you may have trouble finding a house at the price you want to pay. If inventory is high, it’s considered a buyer’s market and you may be able to get a lower price on your dream home.

Price

If you pay too much and then decide to sell, you could have a hard time recouping your money.

The goal, of course, is to find the right home at the right price, with the right mortgage and interest rate, when you have your financial ducks in a row.

If the trends are telling you to wait, you may decide to prioritize paying off your debts and working on your credit score.

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Remember, You Can Modify Your Mortgage Terms

If you already have a mortgage, you may be able to make some adjustments to the original loan by refinancing to different terms.

Refinancing can help borrowers who are looking for a lower interest rate, a shorter loan term, or the opportunity to stop paying for private mortgage insurance or a mortgage insurance premium.

Consider a Debt Payoff Plan

If you decide to make paying down your debt your goal, it can be useful to come up with a plan that gets you where you want to be.

Because here’s the thing: All debt is not created equal. Credit card debt interest rates are typically higher than other types of borrowed money, so those balances can be more expensive to carry over time. Also, loans for education are often considered “good debt,” while credit card debt is often viewed as “bad debt.” As a result, lenders may be more understanding about your student loan debt when you apply for a mortgage.

As long as you’re making the required payments on all your obligations, it may make sense to focus on dumping some credit card debt.

Recommended: Beginners Guide to Good and Bad Debt

The Takeaway

Should you pay off debt before buying a house? Not necessarily, but you can expect lenders to take into consideration how much debt you have and what kind it is. Considering a solution that might reduce your payments or lower your interest rate could improve your chances of getting the home loan you want.

When you consolidate your credit card debt, you typically take out a personal loan, ideally with a lower rate than you’re paying your credit cards, and use it to pay off all of your credit cards. You then end up with one balance and one payment to make each month. This simplified the debt repayment process and can also help you save money on interest.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.


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


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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Budgeting as a New Doctor

Budgeting as a New Doctor

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


The member’s experience below is not a typical member representation. While their story is extraordinary and inspirational, not all members should expect the same results.

Dr. Christine M. has always been goal-oriented about her finances. That approach worked well when she decided to become a doctor. She stretched an annual salary of $55,000 during her five years as a resident and fellow. Once she became a new doctor in private practice on the East Coast, she made paying down her medical school loans her top priority. By being frugal, she was able to pay them off in three years.

The road to becoming a doctor is long — 11 years at a minimum — and the average cost of medical school is expensive. The median medical school debt for the class of 2021 is $200,000, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. And that’s not counting undergraduate student loans, credit card balances, or other debt.

But the hard work can pay off. A doctor’s median annual salary is around $208,000. That’s a significant increase from the $60,000 average annual salary a first-year resident earns.

If you’re a doctor, the beginning of your career marks a new phase of your earning power. It’s also a prime opportunity to get yourself on sound financial footing, including paying off your medical school loans. That’s why budgeting is so important for doctors. These strategies can help you reach your financial goals.

Resist the Urge to Start Spending Right Away

After years of hard work and sacrifice, you may be tempted to treat yourself. But don’t go wild. “I think lifestyle creep is the biggest danger we see [among new doctors],” says Brian Walsh, CFP, senior manager, financial planning for SoFi. Leveling up early in your career can wreak havoc on your savings and financial health while setting unsustainable spending habits that are hard to break.

Automate your finances whenever possible. For instance, preschedule your bill payments and set up automatic contributions to your retirement account.

To encourage good spending habits, use cash or a debit card for purchases, Walsh suggests. You may also need to practice extra self-control. Because Christine was thrifty, she was able to triple her loan payments to $4,500 a month. She also made additional payments whenever she could. “You just have to keep reminding yourself what your priorities are because it’s easy to want more,” she says.

Get Serious About Savings

As a new doctor, you may not start your career until you’re in your thirties, which puts you behind the curve on saving for long-term goals. The good news: earning a higher income can help you make up for lost time.

Walsh advises early-career physicians to set aside 30% of their income for savings. Of that, 25% should be for retirement and 5% for other savings, like starting an emergency fund that can tide you over for three to six months. The remaining 70% of your income should go toward expenses, including monthly medical school loan payments.

The sooner you start saving and investing, the sooner you can enjoy compound growth, which is when your money grows faster over time. That’s because the interest you earn on what you save or invest increases your principal, which earns you even more interest.

Consider Different Investments

For investing your retirement savings, you may need to think beyond maxing out your 401(k) or 403(b), though you should do that as well. Walsh suggests new doctors tap into a combination of different investment vehicles. This strategy, known as diversification, can help protect you from risk. Here are some vehicles to consider:

•  A health savings account (HSA), which provides a triple tax benefit. Contributions reduce taxable income, earnings are tax-free, and money used for medical expenses is also tax-free.

•  An individual retirement account (IRA), like a traditional IRA or Roth IRA, can offer tax advantages. Contributions made to a traditional IRA are tax-deductible, and no taxes are due until you withdraw the money. Contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars; your money grows tax-free and you don’t pay taxes when you withdraw the funds. However, there are limits on how much you can contribute each year and on your income.

•   After-tax brokerage accounts, which offer no tax benefits but give you the flexibility to withdraw money at any time without being taxed or penalized.

Two options to consider bypassing are variable annuities and whole life insurance. Walsh says they aren’t suitable ways to build wealth.

Regardless of the strategy you choose, keep in mind that there may be fees associated with investing in certain funds, which Walsh points out can add up over time.

Protect Your Income

There are a variety of insurance policies available to physicians, and disability insurance is one worth considering. It covers a percentage of your income should you become unable to work due to an injury or illness. If you didn’t purchase a policy during your residency or fellowship, you can buy one as part of a group plan or as an individual. Check to see if it’s a perk offered by your employer. Christine’s practice, for example, includes a disability plan as part of its benefits package. Monthly premium amounts vary, but in general, the younger and healthier you are, the cheaper the policy.

Recommended: Short Term vs. Long Term Disability Insurance

Develop a Plan to Repay Student Loans

No matter how much you owe, having the right repayment strategy can help keep your monthly payments manageable and your financial health protected.

To start, consider the types of student loans you have. Federal loans have safety nets you can explore, like loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment (IDR) plans, which can lower monthly payments for eligible borrowers based on their income and household size. The Biden Administration is currently working on revamping IDR and Public Service Forgiveness to make it easier to qualify and to accelerate forgiveness for some borrowers.

Once you’ve assessed the programs and plans you’re eligible for, determine your goals for your loans. Do you need to keep monthly payments low, even if that means paying more in interest over time? Or are you able to make higher monthly payments now so that you pay less in the long run?

Two approaches to paying down debt are called the avalanche and the snowball. With the avalanche approach, you prioritize debt repayment based on interest rate, from highest to lowest. With the snowball method approach, you pay off the smallest balance first and then work your way up to the highest balance.

While both have their benefits, Walsh often sees greater success with the snowball approach. “Most people should start with paying off the smallest balance first because then they’ll see progress, and progress leads to persistence,” he says. But, as he points out, the right approach is the one you’ll stick with.

Explore Your Refinancing Options

Besides freeing up funds each month, paying down debt has long-term benefits, like boosting your credit score and lowering your debt-to-income ratio. And you may want to include refinancing in your student loan repayment strategy.

When you refinance, a private lender pays off your existing loans and issues you a new loan. This gives you a chance to lock in a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying and combine all of your loans into a single monthly bill. Some lenders, including SoFi, also provide benefits for new doctors.

Though the refinancing process is fairly straightforward, some common misconceptions persist, Walsh says. “People overestimate the amount of work it takes to refinance and underestimate the benefits,” he says. A quarter of a percentage point difference in an interest rate may seem inconsequential, for instance, but if you have a big loan balance, it could save you thousands of dollars.

That said, refinancing your student loans is not be right for everyone. If you refinance federal student loans, for instance, you may lose access to benefits and protections, such as federal repayment and forgiveness plans. Weigh all the options and decide what makes sense for you and your financial goals.

The Takeaway

As a new doctor, you stand to earn a six-figure salary once you complete medical school and residency. But you’re likely also saddled with a six-figure student loan debt. Learning new strategies for saving and investing your money, and coming up with a smart plan to pay back your student loans, can help you dig out of debt and save for your future.

If you decide that student loan refinancing might be right for you, SoFi can help. Our medical professional refinancing offers competitive rates for doctors who have a loan balance of more than $150,000.

SoFi reserves our lowest interest rates for medical professionals like you.


Photo credit: iStock/Ivan Pantic

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


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.


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.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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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5 Tips For Getting the Lowest Rate When Refinancing Student Loans

The main reason for refinancing student loans with a private lender is to combine your loans into one new loan with a lower interest rate. If you extend the loan term and get a lower student loan interest rate, your monthly payment will go down. Another option is to shorten your loan term, which will allow you to pay potentially thousands of dollars less in interest over the life of the loan.

Reduce Your Interest on Student Loans

Consolidating multiple student loan balances into one new loan with a low interest rate can be ideal for those looking to reduce the amount they owe in interest. It’s important to note, though, that if you refinance federal student loans, you lose access to federal benefits such as student loan forgiveness.

Getting approved for student loan refinancing isn’t just a matter of submitting an application. You need a game plan — one that will help you become a strong loan candidate, who’ll land a quick “yes” and a lower student loan interest rate. Here are five ways to get a lower interest rate on student loans.

5 Point Plan for Getting a Low Interest Rate

1. Check your credit.

If you want to reduce your student loan interest rate through refinancing, the first thing you should do is check your credit score. The better your credit profile, the less risky you appear to lenders. If your credit profile is solid — meaning you have a decent credit score and a low debt-to-income ratio — lenders should offer you their best rates.

If, however, your credit profile isn’t quite where you want it to be, that’s OK. Take a few months to build up your credit and reapply for student loan refinancing down the line to see if you qualify for a better rate.

Recommended: Why Your Debt to Income Ratio Matters

2. Take a hard look at your cost of living.

Some cities are more expensive to live in than others. Someone renting an apartment in a small Midwestern town, for example, has lower living expenses than someone who owns a row home in San Francisco. Cost of living ties directly into your debt-to-income ratio, and therefore matters when you want to get a lower interest rate on student loans.

To some extent, this is out of your hands; your zip code helps lenders determine your cost of living. But anything you can do to pay down debt and make choices that free up more cash—such as renting a smaller apartment, taking on a roommate, or leasing a cheaper car—can help your case.

3. Give lenders a complete history.

Some student loan refinancing lenders consider things like where you went to school and how you’re doing professionally when they weigh your application. Provide as much information as you can when it comes to your undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Be sure to also include all relevant work experience. Again, if you can show lenders that you have a solid work history and your income has steadily increased, you will appear less risky. The less riskier you are to lenders, the better your student loan interest rate will be.

If there’s a job offer on the horizon, be sure to submit your offer letter with your application. And if you get a promotion while your application is under review, notify the lender immediately. If you’re in line for a promotion that will positively affect your paycheck, wait until that’s materialized before you apply.

4. Show all your income.

When lenders ask for income information, they mean all of your income, not just job earnings. List dividends, interest earned, bonuses, and the extra money you make from your side hustle or Airbnb rental property. As long as you can prove these income sources, it will all count towards your debt-to-income ratio and help to lower it. And again, the lower this ratio, the better chances you have at qualifying for a low student loan refinance rate.

The higher your income, the more cash you have to throw at the refinancing equation.

Also, make sure your driver’s license is current and that your student loan statements are all correct. If you’re self-employed, wait until you’ve filed your taxes to apply for refinancing—it’s the easiest way to prove the previous year’s income.

5. Be flexible.

If you have a number of student loans and you’re not offered the best rate when you apply for refinancing, consider refinancing only a couple of them. You may snag a lower interest rate with a smaller refinance balance. You can always apply for the full balance down the road after you’ve received a raise or moved to a less expensive location.

Being flexible also means you might want to think about asking a friend or relative for help if your application isn’t as strong as you’d like. When you refinance your student loans with a cosigner who has a good credit profile and low debt-to-income ratio, you may be able to get a lower rate than if you refinanced on your own.

Refinance Student Loans With SoFi

The stronger you are as a student loan refinancing candidate, the better your chances are of getting the best student loan refinance rate possible. To get the lowest rate when refinancing, check your credit, take a close look at your living expenses and debt-to-income ratio, give lenders a complete history of your education and employment, make sure to include all of your income sources in the application, and finally, be flexible, even if that means applying with a cosigner.

Keep in mind, though, that if you choose to refinance your federal student loans with a private lender, you lose access to federal benefits, such as student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. Make sure you don’t plan on using these benefits now or at any point in the future before deciding to refinance.

If you do think a student loan refinance may be in your best interest, consider SoFi. SoFi offers competitive rates and does not charge any origination fees. It takes just a few minutes to see your rates, and your credit score will not be affected when you prequalify.

See if you prequalify for a student loan refinance with SoFi.

FAQ

Can you negotiate your student loan interest rate?

Not necessarily. Rates are determined by both the market and your credit profile, leaving little room for negotiation. You can, however, present your lowest offer to another lender to see if they will match that.

How can I get a lower interest rate when refinancing my student loans?

You can get a lower interest rate when refinancing student loans by building your credit profile, having a reliable source of income, and making sure your debt-to-income ratio is low.

Is it possible to get lower rates when refinancing student loans?

Yes, it is possible to get a lower interest rate when refinancing student loans. Your student loan interest rate will depend on current market rates, your credit profile, and your debt-to-income ratio.


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.


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


Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

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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How to Combine Bank Accounts

There are times in life when you might wonder if you should merge bank accounts. One obvious trigger is marriage: You and your spouse may decide to combine all or some of your accounts into joint reserves. Or perhaps you simply have a number of bank accounts, and they are becoming unwieldy. Perhaps you opened one in college, then another when you moved to start your first job, and then yet another to get a special promotional bonus.

Whatever your goals, if you’re craving financial simplicity or otherwise need a fresh approach to your accounts, here’s what you need to know about:

•   How to combine bank accounts

•   The pros and cons of combining bank accounts

•   When to combine bank accounts.

How to Combine Bank Accounts in 4 Steps

If you decide that merging bank accounts is the right step for you, here’s how to make it happen:

1. Decide Where to Keep Your New Account

The first step — whether you are downsizing for yourself or joining two individuals’ finances together — might be to decide where you want to open your new account.

If you or your spouse have multiple accounts across different financial institutions, you could evaluate which institution offers the best benefits and lowest fees. You might stick with the one existing account you like best or start a joint account somewhere new.

If you are doing the latter, you could compare traditional vs. online banks or which institutions are offering a perk that appeals to you.

2. Start Shifting Accounts

Here’s the next step in how to combine bank accounts: If you’ve decided you want to combine accounts, you could start moving your direct deposits, automatic credit card payments, and other similar transactions over from your old accounts to the new one. You might also want to make sure any subscriptions or other deductions are switched over as well.

3. Check That Your Account Is Up and Running

After about a month, you might want to double-check and make sure that everything has transferred properly. You don’t want to end up paying a late fee or have a check bounce because you weren’t monitoring your accounts.

You also want to be sure that your direct deposits are on time.

4. Close the Unnecessary Accounts

Once you see the correct payments and deposits coming in and out of the new combined account, then you could take the last step in how to merge bank accounts, which is to start closing your old accounts.

This might involve a trip to a branch in person, and if there is anything left in your old account, the bank will issue you a check or cash payment for the remainder.

Recommended: Guide to Reopening a Closed Bank Account

Benefits of Combining Bank Accounts

If you’re wondering whether to merge bank accounts, it can be helpful to consider the pros and cons of combining accounts. Here, the upsides:

•   A shared account gives each person in the relationship access to money when they need it. Joint accounts usually offer each person a debit card, a checkbook, and the ability to make deposits and withdraw money.

This also includes online access to account information, which might help when it comes to paying bills together or other when making shared financial decisions.

•   Even those who are not looking to combine finances with someone else could benefit from merging their own money into fewer accounts. How many bank accounts should you have? For most single adults, just one checking and one savings account at the same bank should cover your financial needs.

This could help cut down on confusion and simplify your spending, so that you’re not trying to balance your budget across multiple accounts. Minimizing the number of accounts you hold could mean fewer fees, since many banks charge monthly fees or require a minimum balance.

•   Another advantage to a joint bank account is that you are less likely to run into financial surprises with your partner. With money going into (and out of) one account that you both have access to, it might be easier to keep tabs on your monthly budget and spending.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


Drawbacks of Merging Your Accounts

Now, consider the downsides of merging accounts:

•   Some couples may prefer to keep their financial independence. In fact, rather than combining all your finances, you might decide to create a new joint account but also keep some accounts separate. Or you might decide to keep your finances totally independent of each other, and instead come up with a budget to figure out which expenses each person will pay.

•   Combined accounts may not suit your big-picture financial needs and money goals. Before you decide that a combined bank account is your goal, you might want to have a big-picture conversation about what each partner brings to the table.

For instance, what if one partner is entering the marriage with student loan debt, past loans, or other financial burdens? Will the new shared account be used for those payments? Or is it up to the individual to pay off their own debts?

•   A joint account could also become a problem in some states if the relationship ends, because without any other agreement in place, that shared money might get split up evenly in a divorce. Or, even worse, one spouse might clear out the account, leaving the other without money.

If you’re concerned about only having a joint account, you could open a joint account specifically for shared bill management with each person depositing a specific amount every month.

You could even have three separate checking accounts — yours, mine, and ours — maybe if one person is a spender and one is a saver. That way, both people manage their checking accounts on their own.

Opening a Bank Account With SoFi

Whether you decide to combine bank accounts, keep them separate, or something in between, it’s important to choose an account that meets your needs. SoFi offers a checking and savings account with a competitive annual percentage yield (APY) and no account fees, which can help your money grow faster.

Plus, with a SoFi Checking and Savings Account, you can save, spend, and earn all in one place. Plus, joint accounts are available with SoFi.

Bank smarter and simpler with SoFi.

FAQ

Can you merge two bank accounts together?

Yes, you can combine bank accounts. You might be able to transfer an account into another existing one or open a new account to accomplish this.

When should you combine bank accounts?

You can combine bank accounts when you marry, if that suits your and your spouse’s financial needs and style. You might also merge accounts if you find you have multiple accounts and want a simplified financial life.

How do you link two bank accounts from different banks?

You can link accounts between two different banks without merging them. Typically, you can do this on your financial institution’s website or app. You’ll look for the option that says “link external accounts,” and you’ll need the bank routing and account numbers handy.


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SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


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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