Can I Refinance My Student Loans?: When you refinance your student loans, you take out a new loan to pay off the ones you already have. Like consolidating federal loans, refinancing combines your current loans into one simple monthly payment. You may be able to get a better interest rate or better terms on your loans, which will make your student loan debt easier to handle.
If you decide to refinance, check your credit, learn about the lenders, and compare rates from different places. By doing these things, you can find out which lenders will work with you and get the best deal for your money. You could save a lot of money on interest if you can get a loan with a lower rate.
1. Figure out if refinancing is the best choice.
It’s possible that refinancing your student loans could help you pay them off faster and lower your monthly payments, but only if you can get a good deal.
First, get a sense of where you stand by looking at your credit record and credit score. If you want to refinance your student loans without a cosigner, you usually need to have good credit, which is generally defined as a FICO score of 670 or higher. You can work to improve your credit before you try to refinance if you find that it’s not in great shape.
It’s important to think about the type of loan you have, how long the loan time is left, the interest rate, and your monthly payment. When choosing if refinancing is right for you, here are some of the main pros and cons to think about.
- Lower Interest rate: Most people refinance to get an interest rate that is lower. It’s possible to pay less interest over the life of the loan if you don’t extend the time you have to pay it back.
- Lower monthly payments: If your monthly payment is too high for you to handle, refinancing is a good thought. If you extend your repayment time, you may end up paying more in interest, but your monthly bill will go down.
- It’s possible to refinance your federal loans through private lenders, but if you do, you’ll lose federal protections like federal forbearance and income-driven payback plans.
- Costs of loans have gone up: If you refinance and get a longer loan term, the interest you pay on it might go up. It might be cheaper to keep the loan you already have if it’s almost paid off. But if you’re just starting to pay off your loan, refinancing might not have as much of an effect on you. If you go from a fixed-rate loan to a variable-rate loan, you may also have to pay more to borrow money.
- A student loan calculator can help you figure out which loan is best for you if you’re not sure.
- If you have government student loans and aren’t sure if you want to refinance them, be careful. There is a warning from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that says once you take out a private loan, you can’t go back to a government student loan to get the main benefits they offer. To make sure you’re making a smart financial move, do your research.
2. Look into lenders
Next, make a list of companies that might be able to help you if you decide to refinance your student loans. You should think about the following when looking into lenders:
- What kind of interest rate you are being given—fixed or changeable.
- If the lender lets you, getting a co-signer can help your chances of getting approved.
- If the interest on the new loan would be simple or compound.
- If the company gives you a bonus or other incentive to refinance.
- What kinds of payment methods are there, and do they fit your budget?
- If you can change the due dates or skip a payment, that would be great.
- How do the lender’s fees compare to those of other lenders?
- How past and current borrowers perceive the lender.
- What reviews say about how quickly the lender answers questions and how happy customers are.
3. Look around for the best loan deals
One important thing you can do to successfully refinance your student loans is to look into student loan refinancing rates and call at least three companies on your shortlist to find the best rate.
Each loan has their own rules for figuring out if you can borrow money and how much interest you will pay. Your rate will probably be different from one lender to the next. Your credit background, the length of time you choose to pay back the loan, and whether you choose fixed or variable interest on the loan are all things that can affect your rate.
That being said, you should compare rates whenever you want to get a new loan or credit card. The higher your rate, the more you’ll have to pay each month. Your monthly payments can go down, though, if you can get a loan with a lower rate.
If you want to refinance your loans, you can look at lending rates and fees online first. If a lender has a prequalification tool, use it. These tools only require a soft credit check, which means they won’t change your credit score.
By getting prequalified, you can see what rates and loan terms you might be able to get if you decide to refinance. Check this out to see if refinancing would lower your monthly payment or lower the total amount of interest you pay.
4. Fill out an application for a loan
Once you’ve chosen your favourite lender and loan deal, you need to fill out an official loan application. No matter if you were pre-approved by a lender, you still need to do this before your loan can be accepted.
It’s likely that the lender will do a hard credit inquiry to see your full credit record. The lender will also want to see other documents that you didn’t send with your prequalification form. You’ll also need to give their information if you’re filing with a co-signer.
Some things you might need to give the lender are copies of these things:
- A Social Security number, or SSN.
- ID from the government or a driver’s license.
- Loan payoff records from lenders or servicers of student loans that are already in place.
- Proof that you graduated.
- Proof that you have a job (pay stubs, W-2s, etc.).
Most lenders make it easy to apply for student loan refinance online. It only takes a few minutes. You might also hear back the same day or the next work day. But funding times vary by company, so it’s a good idea to check before you apply.
Once you’ve been approved, the last thing you need to do is read over and sign your loan papers. This step is a lot easier now that we have technology. You used to have to sign loan papers in person, by fax, or by mail.
Now, most student loan companies handle the whole process online, which is much more convenient.
5. Send your payments to your new lender
You will start making payments on your new loan the same way you did on your old one once the deal is done. But your new lender might not pay off your old loans right away. It may take a few weeks at times. Don’t stop making payments on your student loans that are due until then. If you don’t, you could face late fees or bad credit reports.
After the debt has been moved and your student loans refinanced, you should get a letter from your old lender telling you that the debt has been paid off. You will need to make a new account with your new loan servicer so that you can start making payments on your refinanced loan.
Keep an eye out for mail from your new lender that tells you when your first bill is due. A lot of lenders let you pick the payment date that works best for you and your budget each month, and some will even lower your rate if you set up autopay.
- Refinancing involves taking out a new loan to pay off existing student loans, simplifying payments.
- Potential benefits include a lower interest rate and more manageable loan terms.
- Assess your credit score, aiming for at least 670 for better refinancing options.
- Evaluate current loan type, remaining time, interest rate, and monthly payments.
- Create a list of potential lenders.
- Consider interest rates, co-signer options, loan types, bonuses, payment methods, flexibility, fees, and customer reviews.
- Research and compare student loan refinancing rates from different lenders.
- Use prequalification tools for a soft credit check to see potential rates.
- Complete an official loan application with the chosen lender, including required documentation.
- Receive approval from the lender and sign loan papers, typically done online.
- Loan funding times vary, so check with the lender.
- Continue making payments on existing loans until the refinancing process is complete.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Refinance My Student Loans:
Q1. What is student loan refinancing?
Answer: Student loan refinancing involves taking out a new loan to pay off existing student loans. This is often done to secure better interest rates or more favorable loan terms.
Q2. Is refinancing the right choice for me?
Answer: It depends on your individual financial situation. Consider factors such as your credit score, current loan terms, and your ability to secure a better deal through refinancing.
Q3. What are the potential benefits of refinancing?
Answer: Refinancing can lead to lower interest rates, reduced monthly payments, and simplified loan management. It may help you pay off your loans faster and save money on interest.
Q4. What are the drawbacks of student loan refinancing?
Answer: Refinancing federal loans through private lenders may result in the loss of federal protections, such as forbearance and income-driven repayment plans. Additionally, extending the loan term may increase overall interest costs.
Q5. How can I determine if refinancing is the right choice for me?
Answer: Assess your credit score, current loan terms, and financial goals. Use a student loan calculator to compare potential savings and evaluate if refinancing aligns with your needs.
Q6. Can I refinance federal student loans?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to refinance federal student loans through private lenders. However, be cautious as you may lose certain federal loan benefits.
Q7. What factors should I consider when choosing a lender?
Answer: Consider interest rates (fixed or variable), co-signer options, bonuses or incentives, payment methods, flexibility in due dates, fees, and customer reviews.
Q8. How do I compare loan deals from different lenders?
Answer: Research and compare student loan refinancing rates from multiple lenders. Contact at least three companies to get personalized rate quotes and choose the best deal.
Q9. What documents do I need to provide when applying for a loan?
Answer: Typically, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number, government-issued ID, loan payoff records, proof of graduation, and proof of employment (pay stubs, W-2s, etc.).
Q10. How long does the refinancing process take?
Answer: The timeframe varies by lender, but it generally involves applying, receiving approval, signing loan papers, and then the transition of payments to the new lender. Some lenders offer online processes that expedite the timeline.
Q11. Can I change the due dates or skip payments after refinancing?
Answer: Check with the lender to understand their policies. Some lenders may offer flexibility in due dates or the option to skip a payment, providing greater control over your repayment schedule.
Q12. What happens after my loans are refinanced?
Answer: Once the refinancing is complete, you’ll receive a letter from your old lender confirming the payoff. Create a new account with the new lender and start making payments on the refinanced loan as per the terms provided.