Student Loan Refinancing RatesEmail This Article
Refinancing your student loans is the only way to get a lower interest rate. Most refi lenders offer both fixed and variable interest rate options. The interest rates offered are based on a market index (such as the Prime Rate or LIBOR) and may be more competitive with one lender vs. another. In today’s marketplace, interest rates for student loan refinancing start at around 1.90%% APR (variable).
Federal Student Loan Consolidation Rate
The federal government does not offer a way to consolidate your loans and reduce your interest rate. When you consolidate your federal student loans with the federal program, your interest rate will be determined by the weighted average calculation. So, even if market interest rates go down, you cannot get a better rate with a Direct Consolidation Loan.
Requirements to Refinance Student Loans
There are 4 steps to refinance your student loans are pretty straightforward. Heads up: the process can sometimes take around 45 days, depending on the number of loans you are looking to include.
To qualify for a private student loan refinance, you typically need a minimum credit score (FICO Score®) of 680 with proof of income or employment that dates back two or more years. Every lender is different and the terms to qualify will vary. Lenders may show you the range of interest rates they are offering, but you won’t find out your actual interest rate until you apply for the loan and are approved. (We encourage you to window shop and compare your options before you commit.)
Many lenders will give you a better idea of what your interest rate will be after you complete their pre-qualification application. Borrowers and cosigners with good credit are typically offered the most competitive interest rates. Visit our lending partners page to compare current student loan refinance rates.
TIP: For a better understanding of how credit risk is determined check out “Credit Scores and Good Credit Explained."
Once you have passed the credit approval process, your lender may offer you a choice between a fixed or variable rate for refinancing your private student loan. Not sure what the difference is?
What is a Fixed Interest Rate
If you’re not much of a risk taker, a fixed interest rate is probably for you. More importantly, lenders tend to offer a range of fixed rates with the lowest rates being reserved for individuals with the best credit.
Fixed rates stay the same for the entire life of the loan, so the rate you start with is the same one you’ll have until you make your last payment. Unlike variable interest rates, which can change as you repay your loan, fixed interest rates make budgeting and planning your financial future easy, because your payments won’t change.
What is a Variable Interest Rate?
If you want to start out with the lowest rate available to you, a variable interest rate may be the way to go. Variable rates are typically lower than fixed rates, but they could increase substantially over time.
Because you are sharing some of the risk with your lender. If interest rates go up, you pay more (the terms and conditions of your loan will let you know the interest rate cap), and the lender receives more money. If interest rates go down, you pay less, and the lender receives less money. Someone who is planning to pay their loan quickly, may want to take advantage of the lowest interest rate possible.
Student Loan Fees
When comparing lenders, don’t forget to look at potential loan fees. Types of fees may include:
- application fees
- disbursement fees
- origination fees
- late payment fees
Most lenders offer private student loan refinancing with no origination, application, or disbursement fees. But, this does not mean that late fees are off the table. In other words, failure to make on-time payments could mean you are subject to penalties. And the lender could charge either a fixed percentage or a flat fee (usually no higher than $25).
Also, if your payments ever reject for insufficient funds, you could be charged a fee in those circumstances.
Be sure to consider these fees when comparing lenders.
Best Student Loan Interest Rate
Applying with a cosigner with strong credit history is the best way to qualify for a lender’s lowest interest rates. If you are thinking of applying on your own, keep in mind that you will need excellent credit and at least two years of steady income to qualify.
If you don’t have the credit history to qualify on your own, consider applying with a cosigner. Many lenders offer options to release your cosigner after you’ve made a set number of on-time payments (usually ranging from 12 to 48 months).
How Interest Rates and Repayment Terms Affect Loan Costs
The following tables are based on a hypothetical $25,000 private refinance student loan with no origination or application fees. Interest rates and repayment terms can have a bigger influence on the cost of your refinance loan than you might think, so compare carefully before signing on the dotted line!
(Rate fluctuates based on the index)
|Number of Payments||180||180||240||240|
|Minimum Monthly Payment||$175.55||$242.39||$141.67||$212.86|
|Total Interest Charges||$6,598.23||$18,630.14||$9,001.32||$26,086.28|
|Total Repayment Amount||$31,598.23||$43,630.14||$34,001.32||$51,086.28|
(Rate stays the same for the life of the loan)
|Number of Payments||180||180||240||240|
|Minimum Monthly Payment||$210.96||$264.84||$179.11||$237.13|
|Total Interest Charges||$12,973.56||$22,671.32||$17,985.86||$31,911.01|
|Total Repayment Amount||$37,973.56||$47,671.32||$42,958.86||$56,911.01|