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5 Best Lenders to Refinance Vet School Loans of December 2020

Refinancing student loans may not be an option or make sense for many veterinarians.

Ryan LaneNovember 5, 2020
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Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate may help veterinarians who want to pay less each month or over the life of their loan. But meeting a lender’s qualifications without a co-signer could be difficult for many vets.

Veterinarians may finish school with debt that is more than double their salary. Most refi lenders want applicants whose debt-to-income ratio, or DTI, is less than 50%. If you can hit that number and don’t need federal student loan benefits — like making payments based on your income — consider how much you might save by refinancing vet school loans.

Here are our picks for the best refinance lenders for veterinary student loans, plus additional advice to help vets decide whether refinancing is right for them.

Summary of Best Lenders to Refinance Vet School Loans of December 2020

PenFed Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Purefy's website

PenFed Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
PenFed Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.99 - 5.15%

Variable APR

2.25 - 4.49%

Min. Credit Score

670

Check Rate

on Purefy's website


Variable APR

2.25 - 4.49%

Key facts

The maximum debt-to-income ratio for PenFed/Purefy borrowers with graduate loans depends on their income. If you earn between $50,000 and $99,999, your DTI must be 40% or less. For incomes above $100,000, the maximum increases to 45%.

Pros

  • Married couples can refinance student loans into a single loan.

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Estate is still responsible for the loan if the borrower dies.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 773.

  • Loan amounts: $7,500 to $300,000.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least a bachelor’s degree.

Available Term Lengths

5, 8, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Rates and offers current as October 1, 2020. Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit calculating the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of payments. Fixed Rates range from 2.99% APR to 5.15% APR and Variable Rates range from 2.25% APR to 4.49% APR. Both Fixed and Variable Rates will vary based on application terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. For Variable Rate student loans, the rate will never exceed 9.00% for 5 year and 8 year loans and 10.00% for 12 and 15 years loans (the maximum allowable for this loan). Minimum variable rate will be 2.00%. These rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
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Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Education Loan Finance's website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.79 - 5.99%

Variable APR

2.39 - 6.01%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on Education Loan Finance's website


Variable APR

2.39 - 6.01%

Key facts

ELFI has a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 55%.

Pros

  • You are assigned a personal loan advisor.

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

Cons

  • Payment postponement isn’t available for borrowers who return to school.

  • The minimum amount to refinance is more than many lenders require.

  • No co-signer release available.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 774.

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least a bachelor’s degree.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/
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Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Nelnet Bank's website

Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Nelnet Bank Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

2.99 - 6.70%

Variable APR

2.02 - 6.67%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on Nelnet Bank's website


Variable APR

2.02 - 6.67%

Key facts

Nelnet Bank has a maximum DTI of 45% for borrowers without a co-signer.

Pros

  • Offers longer-than-average forbearance length of 24 months.

  • You can see if you'll qualify and what rate you'll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • Below-average customer support compared with other lenders.

  • Loans aren’t available in Vermont.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 - $300,000.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10, 15 or 20 years for fixed rate loans or 5,10,15, 20 or 25 years for variable rate loans.

Disclaimer

The minimum rates include a .25% ACH deduction available to borrowers who enroll in auto-debit.
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College Ave Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
College Ave Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

3.34 - 6.54%

Variable APR

3.24 - 6.04%

Min. Credit Score

Upper 600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Variable APR

3.24 - 6.04%

Key facts

College Ave has a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%, but the average ratio for approved borrowers is less than 25%.

Pros

  • You can choose any loan term between five and 20 years.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.

  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.

  • Loans aren’t available in Maine.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Mid-700s.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $300,000, depending on the highest degree earned.

  • Must have a degree: Yes, an associate degree or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 20 years

Disclaimer

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. All rates shown include the autopay discount. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower who selects the Full Principal & Interest Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. (3)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $250,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
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RISLA Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

RISLA Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RISLA Student Loan Refinance

Fixed APR

3.49 - 8.14%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

680

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

RISLA has a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%. It also offers an income-based repayment program — a rarity among private lenders — making this a strong option for veterinarians concerned with their future earnings.

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 748.

  • Loan amounts: $7,500 to $250,000, depending on the highest degree earned.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years
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Debt-to-income ratio for refinancing vet school loans

Student loan refinance lenders consider many factors when evaluating applicants, including their credit scores, financial history and debt-to-income ratio. Meeting a lender’s DTI requirements may be the biggest hurdle for some veterinarians — the average vet school debt is $183,014, yet veterinarian salaries start at an average of $76,633.

Refi lenders determine DTI by comparing your gross monthly income to your monthly debt obligations. Here’s how this would work for a veterinarian who owes $183,014 and earns $76,633:

  • Her monthly loan payments would be $1,968 on a standard, 10-year repayment plan, assuming current federal student loan interest rates.

  • Her gross monthly income would be $6,386.

  • Her DTI would be 31% (1,968/6,386) — but that’s for student loan payments alone. Including rent, utilities and other obligations could easily push that number above 50%.

If you want to refinance veterinary school loans but can’t because of your DTI, finding someone to co-sign your loan could help. If you go this route, look for a refinance lender that offers a co-signer release program — not all do.

If your DTI is manageable, compare all refi options to ensure you get the best rate possible.

Should you refinance vet school loans?

With veterinary school costs typically exceeding $200,000, the majority of students take on debt for their doctor of veterinary medicine degree. The type of loans you borrowed to pay for vet school and your employer will play a big part in whether it makes sense to refinance.

  • If you have private student loans: There’s little downside to refinancing private vet school loans if you can qualify for a lower interest rate.

  • If you have federal student loans: Government options are the best student loans for vet school because of their repayment flexibility and protections. By refinancing, you give up access to options such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment.

  • If you work for an eligible nonprofit or government agency: Don’t refinance federal student loans if you will qualify for tax-free Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Most animal hospitals are privately owned, so this may not be a concern for many veterinarians.

Which option saves you more money?

The most important federal benefit for vets will likely be income-driven repayment, which can greatly reduce monthly payments depending on how much money you earn. These plans also forgive your remaining debt after 20 or 25 years of eligible payments, but that amount is taxed.

Vets aiming for income-driven forgiveness should compare how much they’d repay overall — including taxes — to how much refinancing would cost. Let’s again consider our example veterinarian who owes $183,014 and makes $76,633:

  • By choosing income-driven repayment. She would pay $206,098 over 20 years on the Pay As You Earn, or PAYE, plan with an additional $236,795 forgiven, according to the Department of Education’s Repayment Calculator. At a tax rate of 30%, the total repaid could be roughly $277,136.

  • By refinancing vet school loans. If our veterinarian qualified for an interest rate of 5% and chose a 20-year term — typically the longest refinance lenders offer — she would repay $289,874 overall. That’s roughly $12,730 more than under income-driven repayment.

Refinancing may not make sense for this veterinarian, but your numbers will depend on your personal situation. For example, you may face a larger bill if you earn too much money to qualify for PAYE.

If you have good credit and enough income to handle the 10-year standard plan, compare refinancing on those terms as well. For example, $183,014 of debt would result in a total repaid of $255,900, assuming the current graduate PLUS loan rate of 7.08%. Refinanced at 5%, that total falls to $232,938 — a savings of nearly $23,000.

Use the Repayment Calculator and a student loan refinance calculator to determine your savings.

Last updated on November 5, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Lenders to Refinance Vet School Loans of December 2020