FROM OUR PARTNERS

Best Graduate Student Loan Refinance Options of 2022

Brenda Williams

Refinancing your graduate loan could save you money by lowering your interest rate, and help you pay off your debt faster. We’ve evaluated the best refinancing options based on rates, terms, process, fees, and overall quality.

No application, origination, or prepayment fees

640

Min. Credit Score

2.49% - 11.72%

Variable APR

2.59% - 8.49%

Fixed APR

Overview

Splash Financial partners with various banks and lenders to offer a competitive interest rate.

What we like

  • Quick online application process
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Easily compare lenders
  • Personalized customer support

What we don't

  • Terms and conditions differ by lenders
  • No options for deferment

Easy online application process

660

Min. Credit Score

2.81% - 7.21%

Variable APR

3.99% - 10.68%

Fixed APR

Overview

LendKey streamlined the digital application process to save you time and effort by comparing competitive rates from a smaller bank or credit union.

What we like

  • Competitive rates from smaller institutions
  • Streamlined application and repayment process
  • Longer forbearance periods
  • Cosigners are not required

What we don't

  • No full in-school deferment
  • Only a credit-based application available

Competitve rates with credit union membership

660

Min. Credit Score

N/A

Variable APR

3.30% - 7.15%

Fixed APR

Overview

First Tech Federal Credit Union provides competitive rates, but you'll require a membership to receive those benefits. To become a member, you'll have to meet some strict requirements.

What we like

  • Low refinancing rates
  • Flexible loan terms
  • Payment protection with DebtSafe
  • No application and orgination fees

What we don't

  • No temporary forberance option
  • No co-signer release
  • Parent PLUS loans can't be refinanced
  • Credit union membership required

Temporary forbearance available

650

Min. Credit Score

2.06% - 14.04%

Variable APR

3.47% - 13.05%

Fixed APR

Overview

SoFi provides an easy online application process, so you can receive a rate estimate in minutes without a hard credit check.

What we like

  • No prepayment fees, no origination fees, no late fees
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Exclusive membership perks
  • Borrow up to the total cost of attendance
  • Unemployment protection

What we don't

  • No borrowing below $5,000
  • Application process can take 4 - 6 weeks

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 3.47% to 12.55% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 2.26% to 13.54 % APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 12.55% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 2.96% to 13.54% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.48% to 13.05% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 2.06% to 14.04% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 06/08/2022.

Can you refinance graduate student loans?

Yes, it is possible to refinance your graduate student loans for federal and private. The only requirement is that you meet the lender’s eligibility criteria. As with any loan refinance, you will need a solid credit score and the ability to repay the new loan amount.

The good news is that several companies specialize in refinancing graduate student loans, and they’re often able to offer better rates than traditional lenders like banks and credit unions.

Should you refinance graduate student loans?

If you have graduate student loans, you may be able to save money by refinancing them. Student loan refinances companies typically offer better rates than you’d get directly from your lender or the federal government, but the federal student loan comes with benefits, such as income-driven repayment and flexible repayment options.

If you’re having trouble making your loan repayments, refinancing could be a good option because it means you’ll be able to afford the monthly installment payments on your new loan. This can give you some breathing space while you try to get back on track with repaying your original debt.

Keep to note, when you consolidate, you will do it through the Department of Education and maintain your federal benefits. When you refinance, you’ll do it through a private lender and lose federal benefits, but you’ll save money if you have a lower interest rate.

Which graduate student loans can you refinance?

Graduate students can take out various loans that are eligible for refinancing. The most common are federal and private loans:

Federal Loans

Federal loans are the most common type of graduate student loan. They’re available to students at all levels, including those pursuing doctorate degrees. A few examples of federal loans include:

  • GradPlus Loan: This loan is a credit-based loan offered by the Department of Education and guaranteed by the government. It’s designed for graduate students who need additional funds beyond their Stafford and loans to cover expenses like tuition, fees, and living expenses.
  • Stafford Loan: This is a need-based loan available to graduate students with no credit or established credit history. It must be repaid after graduation, but you can choose from multiple repayment options based on your income level.

Private Loans

Banks and other financial institutions offer private loans. These lenders offer flexible repayment terms and competitive interest rates on their private loans, making them an appealing option for many borrowers.

How to refinance graduate student loans?

To refinance your graduate student loan, you need to do the following:

  • Research lenders: Many different lenders offer student loan refinancing. Compare them based on fees, interest rates, and customer service ratings before deciding on one.
  • Get multiple rate estimates: The next step is to get a sense of how much you could potentially save by refinancing your loan. You’ll need to request information from several lenders and compare their offers.
  • Choose a lender and loan terms: Once you’ve identified the best interest rate, choose the lender you want to work with and get their loan terms in writing before proceeding further with the application process.

Can you refinance student loans while in graduate school?

The majority of the lenders will not allow you to refinance your student loans while you are still in school. If a lender will consider refinancing, you will more likely need to be close to graduating.

Pros and cons of refinancing graduate student loans

Refinancing your student loans can be smart, but it’s not suitable for everyone.

Pros

The pros of refinancing include:

  • Lower interest rates: Refinancing might save money by locking in a lower rate, and could help reduce your monthly payments.
  • Reduced monthly payments: Refinancing can put more cash in your pocket if you’ve had trouble making timely payments on your student loans.
  • Flexible repayment terms: If you refinance your graduate student loans, you can choose a shorter or longer repayment term. If you pick a shorter term, you’ll pay less interest over the life of the loan in return for making larger payments upfront.
  • Saving money over the loan: Many student loan lenders offer lower interest rates than federal loans, which can help cut down on how much interest you pay over time. Even if an interest rate is just one or two percentage points lower than federal loans, it could save thousands of dollars over time.

Cons

Here are the cons of refinancing your graduate student loans:

  • Private student loans do not offer income-driven repayment plans: Income-driven repayment plans make it easier for borrowers to pay off their student loans by capping monthly payments at a percentage of their income and forgiving remaining balances after a certain number of years of repayment. Private lenders often don’t offer these repayment options. If you refinance a federal student loan into a private loan, you’ll lose those benefits.
  • You don’t have the same consumer protections as federal loans: Federal loans come with several consumer protections designed to protect borrowers against unfair practices by lenders and servicers, including flexible repayment plans and income-driven repayment options, and an appeals process if your application is denied or your payments are being withheld due to a dispute. Private loans do not have these consumer protections, meaning it’s up to lenders to decide whether they will offer them.

How to choose the best graduate student loan refinancing options

Here are some tips on how to choose the best graduate student loan refinancing options:

  • Compare interest rates: The first step in finding the right refinancing program is comparing interest rates. A small difference in interest rate can add up to thousands of dollars over time. You’ll want to look at the loan fees and APR, and not just the interest rate alone. Some lenders will have a lower rate but their overall costs of originating the loan come make it more costly.
  • Repayment terms and conditions: Lenders usually have a standard set of requirements that they offer all applicants, but if you have any specific requests, you’ll have to speak with them, so they can give you advice based on what’s available for your situation.
  • Look at customer service: You’ll likely have questions about how much you owe and when payments come due during your education. A lender with good customer service can give you less headaches.