Should I Refinance My Student Loans?
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Student loan refinancing means swapping your current student loans for a new loan with a lower interest rate. That could save you big money over time.
Whether you should refinance student loans depends on your situation. Consider refinancing your student loans if:
You have private student loans. Payments on federal student loans are paused and interest rates are set to zero percent until summer 2023. So try to wait to refinance federal loans and only refinance if you no longer need federal benefits like income-driven repayment or other forgiveness programs. You lose these benefits if you refinance your federal student loans. There is less risk with refinancing private loans since they're ineligible for federal programs.
Your finances are rock solid. It's best to refinance if you have a stable income. If there is a chance you won't be able to make payments consistently, reach out to your loan servicer instead of refinancing — or explore benefits like loan forgiveness and other student loan help if you have federal loans.
You would save money. A student loan refinancing calculator will give you an idea of how much you'll save by refinancing your student loans. Use the calculator below to see the impact of a lower interest rate or shorter loan term.
You can qualify. You generally need a credit score at least in the high 600s and enough income to consistently pay your debts and other expenses. If you don't meet those criteria, you could refinance with a co-signer who does.
How much will refinancing save?
You can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars throughout the life of your loan by refinancing. There are three main benefits to refinancing student loans:
You can get a lower monthly payment, freeing up cash for other expenses.
You can pay off your loan faster, saving you money in interest.
A lower monthly payment decreases your debt-to-income ratio, which can make it easier to qualify for a mortgage or other large purchase.
Unlike refinancing a mortgage, there are typically no origination, application or prepayment fees when refinancing student loans. But read your loan agreement carefully to make sure you understand any costs you could incur in the future, like late fees.
If you decide to refinance student loans, compare multiple lenders to see which one offers you the lowest interest rate. If you have similar offers, consider lenders with flexible repayment options, a refinance bonus and other perks.
Student loan refinancing calculator
Note: This calculator assumes that after you refinance, you’ll make minimum monthly payments.
Readers also ask
Will I qualify for student loan refinancing?
Student loan refinance lenders’ requirements vary, but you’ll have a good shot at qualifying if you:
Have good credit. At a minimum, you’ll need a score in the mid-600s. Many borrowers who are approved for refinancing have FICO scores in the 700s.
Have enough income to afford your expenses. You can refinance with low income, provided your debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is solid. DTI is the amount of money you owe relative to your income. The required debt-to-income ratio for student loan refinancing varies by lender. Many lenders look for DTIs at least less than 50%, but a DTI below 20% is excellent.
Attended an eligible school. Most refinance lenders require that borrowers attended a school authorized to receive federal aid dollars. Only a few lenders will refinance your loans if you don't have a degree.
If you don’t meet the credit and income requirements for refinancing, you may still qualify if you apply with a co-signer. Contact the lender to find out why your application was rejected, then take steps to meet that requirement, if possible. That may mean building your credit score or paying down other debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio.
Are my finances stable enough to refinance?
If you have federal loans and are struggling to make consistent payments, consider a federal student loan consolidation or income-driven repayment plan instead of refinancing. These options can lower your monthly loan payment and help you avoid default.
If you have private student loans, a stable income will help you qualify for better loan terms. And since private loans are not eligible for federal benefits, there's generally nothing to lose by refinancing.
To find out whether your current student loans are federal or private, log into studentaid.gov. This government website will have all of your federal loans. You can also check your credit report. Loans that are on your credit report but not on studentaid.gov are likely private.
» MORE: Can you refinance student loans?
Other student loan calculators
Student loan payoff calculator: Find your debt-free date and see how extra payments can make it arrive faster.
Student loan calculator: Determine your monthly student loan payment based on your interest rate, term length and the amount you borrowed.
Student loan consolidation calculator: Compare your payments under federal loan consolidation plans with your current bills.
Parent PLUS loan calculator: Find out how much you'll pay monthly on federal direct PLUS loans.
Discretionary income calculator: Determine what you would pay under federal income-driven repayment plans.
Weighted average interest rate calculator: Determine the combined interest rate on all your student loans. You’ll need that average to estimate your loan payments under federal loan consolidation programs or to compare student loan refinancing offers.
» See more of NerdWallet's loan calculators