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3 Best Dental School Loan Refinance Lenders of December 2022

Dentists who have good credit and won't use federal loan benefits are prime candidates for student loan refinancing.

Jan 26, 2022

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Refinancing dental school loans can save you tens of thousands of dollars, get you out of debt faster, or both.

Dentists can refinance dental school loans during residency or wait until they're employed full-time. But don't do either if Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment will make sense for your career — refinanced loans aren't eligible for those programs.

Our picks for refinancing during or after residency are below, as well as information that can you help decide which option is right for you.

Best Dental School Loan Refinance Lenders

Our pick for

Refinancing during residency

Refinancing can save you money while you’re earning less as a resident, but your balance may increase by the time your residency ends.

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Check rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

650

Fixed APR

4.49-8.99%

Variable APR

4.49-8.99%
Check rate

on SoFi's website


Variable APR

4.49-8.99%

Key facts

Minimum payment during residency: $100/month.

Pros

  • 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.

  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.

  • Loan size minimum is higher than most lenders.

Qualifications

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

  • Loan amounts: $5,000, up to your total outstanding loan balance.

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

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Fixed rates range from 4.49% APR to 8.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 4.49% APR to 8.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 8.95% APR; 15- and 20-year terms are capped at 9.95% APR. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. 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. 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. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

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Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
Check rate

on Laurel Road's website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

4.24-6.65%

Variable APR

2.25-6.55%
Check rate

on Laurel Road's website


Variable APR

2.25-6.55%

Key facts

Minimum payment during residency: $100/month.

Pros

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Refinancing available for medical and dental residents.

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

Cons

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

Qualifications

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

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: At least an associate degree for select professions. Borrowers in their last year of undergrad can refinance. For parent PLUS loans, the child does not need to have graduated to refinance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

All credit products are subject to credit approval. APRs shown include a 0.25% interest rate discount for AutoPay. If the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic fund transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay/EFT Discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster. Variable APRs are subject to increase after consummation. The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) and changes in the SOFR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%. There is no limit on the amount your interest rate can increase at one time. The Index is currently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”). View payment examples here. KeyBank National Association reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice.

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Our pick for

Refinancing after residency

ISL Refinance Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
ISL Refinance Loan

Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

3.94-9.08%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

ISL Education Lending offers a $500 bonus to refinance dental school loans.

Pros

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

  • You can refinance without a degree.

  • You can refinance while in school or during a medical residency.

Cons

  • Interest rates vary by refi product.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Approximately 750.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $300,000. (Minimum for California residents is $10,000.)

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

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Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
Check rate

on Laurel Road's website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

4.24-6.65%

Variable APR

2.25-6.55%
Check rate

on Laurel Road's website


Variable APR

2.25-6.55%

Key facts

Minimum payment during residency: $100/month.

Pros

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Refinancing available for medical and dental residents.

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

Cons

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

Qualifications

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

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.

  • Must have a degree: At least an associate degree for select professions. Borrowers in their last year of undergrad can refinance. For parent PLUS loans, the child does not need to have graduated to refinance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

All credit products are subject to credit approval. APRs shown include a 0.25% interest rate discount for AutoPay. If the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic fund transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay/EFT Discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster. Variable APRs are subject to increase after consummation. The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) and changes in the SOFR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%. There is no limit on the amount your interest rate can increase at one time. The Index is currently published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”). View payment examples here. KeyBank National Association reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice.

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Should you refinance dental school loans?

The best reason to refinance dental school loans is to save money. When you refinance, your loans are replaced with a new loan with new terms, which typically include a lower interest rate. There are no origination or hidden fees.

Say you refinance $304,824 — the average dental school debt for the class of 2020 — from a 7% APR to a 5% APR. You’d save about $306 a month and more than $36,736 over 10 years.

Saving that much interest probably sounds pretty good. But refinancing won't be the right dental school loan repayment option for everyone.

If you have federal loans, refinancing will cost you benefits like income-driven repayment plans and Public Service Loan Forgiveness. You may want or need these options, depending on your career goals. For example, if you plan to work for a nonprofit that provides dental care to those in need, you'll probably want to pursue PSLF.

But federal benefits could also be important in less obvious situations. Say you want your own dental practice, for instance. An income-driven plan could cost you the least each month, giving you the financial flexibility needed to open or purchase a practice, as well as to manage start-up or operational expenses.

These aren't issues with private loans, as they lack similar repayment benefits. If you already have private dental school loans, refinancing makes sense whenever you can qualify for a better rate. Refinancing also makes sense if your primary repayment goal is to save on interest, pay off loans fast or both.

When to refinance dental school loans

If you’re doing a dental residency and want to refinance at some point, you generally have two choices: refinance during residency, or refinance after residency.

Refinancing during your residency

  • If your residency program offers a stipend: You can consider refinancing during residency. Two student loan refinance lenders — SoFi and Laurel Road — allow you to refinance as a resident and pay as little as $100 a month during your training. Alternatively, enter an income-driven repayment plan during residency and refinance afterwards, when your income is higher.

  • If your residency program charges tuition: Refinancing during residency may not be an option. With SoFi, dentists must prove that they’re not taking on additional debt to cover residency tuition. You may be able to defer dental school loan payments during residency, but interest will still accrue. Revisit refinancing once you’re employed.

Keep in mind that your loan balance will likely increase during residency. Whether you’re on income-driven repayment or paying $100 per month after refinancing, your payments likely won’t cover the interest as it accrues.

Refinancing dental school loans after residency

Dental school loan refinancing once you're practicing is a smart move if you have:

  • Good credit. You need a score at least in the high 600s to qualify.

  • Strong income. Dentistry is one of the highest-paying professions.

  • Private dental school loans. If you refinanced during your residency, you can refinance again.

  • Clear career goals. Consider refinancing federal loans if you don’t plan on needing income-driven repayment or working in the public sector.

How to refinance dental school loans

Compare refinance lenders to find the one that’ll offer you the lowest rate, and look for special deals for dentists. For example, members of the American Dental Association get a 0.25% interest rate discount for refinancing through Laurel Road, while members of the American Association of Orthodontists can get the same amount off by refinancing with SoFi.

Also, pay attention to lenders’ loan limits. A few lenders will refinance as much student debt as you have, a couple refinance up to $500,000 and others will refinance up to $300,000. But some lenders have loan limits that may be too low for the average dentist.

STUDENT LOAN REFINANCE RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and the top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 41 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Last updated on January 26, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Dental School Loan Refinance Lenders of December 2022

Frequently asked questions