BEST OF

4 Options for Student Loan Refinancing for International Borrowers

To refinance international student loans you must build U.S. credit, get a co-signer or qualify for a niche loan.

Apr 1, 2022

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Refinancing international student loans is more difficult for visa holders working in the U.S. who don’t have a credit history. There are private lenders that will refinance student loans, but you’ll have to do one of the following:

  • Build your U.S. credit history.

  • Have an eligible co-signer.

  • Qualify for a niche loan for international working graduates.

Refinancing means a lender will pay off your existing student loans with a new single loan at a lower interest rate. It can help you save money immediately and over time.

Below you'll find lenders that refinance international borrowers, plus more information about the refinancing strategies available to noncitizens who have built U.S. credit history, have a U.S. co-signer or have graduated and are working in the U.S. These lenders will only refinance student loans that were originally borrowed with a co-signer from U.S.-based lenders or from niche lenders for international students studying in the U.S.

Options for Student Loan Refinancing for International Borrowers

Our pick for

Borrowers with no co-signer

MPOWER Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
MPOWER Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

6.99-7.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for international borrowers working in the United States.

Pros

  • DACA and international students can qualify.

  • Can refinance an international student loan.

  • You can refinance your parent's loan in your name.

Cons

  • Borrowers incur a 2% origination fee on the refinanced amount.

  • Only one loan term available.

  • Few options for struggling borrowers.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: None.

  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $100,00.

Available Term Lengths

10

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Our picks for

Borrowers with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer

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

3.49-7.99%

Variable APR

1.74-7.99%
Check rate

on SoFi's website


Variable APR

1.74-7.99%

Key facts

Best for borrowers who want plenty of benefits with their refinanced student loan.

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 3.49% APR to 7.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates from 1.74% APR to 7.99% 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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Brazos Student Loan Refinance
Check rate

on Brazos's website

Brazos Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Brazos Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

690

Fixed APR

2.15-3.75%

Variable APR

1.87-4.79%
Check rate

on Brazos's website


Variable APR

1.87-4.79%

Key facts

Brazos is best for student loan borrowers who need a refinancing loan and live in Texas.

Pros

  • Offers more repayment terms than many lenders.

  • Offers greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.

Cons

  • Only available to borrowers in Texas.

  • Does not offer co-signer release.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 781 for primary borrower or 794 for co-signer (and 690 for primary borrower).

  • Minimum income: $60,000 for co-signer or primary borrower, or $30,000 for primary borrower if applying with a co-signer.

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to $150,000 for bachelors degree holders; $250,000 for graduate or professional degree holders.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

Disclaimer

1. Brazos Refinance Loan fixed rates from 2.15% APR to 3.90% APR (with Auto-Pay Discount). Variable rates from 1.83% APR to 4.75% APR (with Auto-Pay Discount). Interest rates on Brazos loans are capped at 9.90%. Lowest variable rate of 1.83% APR assumes a current Thirty-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) of % plus a 2.03% margin minus the 0.25% Auto-Pay Discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a Brazos loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the Brazos variable rate loan, the Thirty-day Average SOFR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Auto-Pay Discount. The interest rate in effect will be reduced by 0.25% if either the borrower or the cosigner authorizes automated (ACH) payments from any bank account. This ACH interest rate reduction, referred to as the Auto-Pay Discount, applies only when full principal and interest payments are automatically drafted from a bank account. This interest rate reduction will not continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment. The Auto-Pay Discount will terminate if the automatic bank account payments discontinue or there are any three instances of insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan. A borrower may requalify upon reauthorization of automatic payments from a valid bank account. 2. Refinancing Federal Loans. While refinancing government loans as well as private loans may help many borrowers, federal loans have certain benefits that can help borrowers who experience financial distress. Private loans typically don’t have the same benefits. Everyone’s situation is different, so think carefully about refinancing your government loans and talk about it with a trusted advisor. 3. Credit Review and Approval. If you choose to apply for a Brazos Student Loan, Brazos Parent Loan, or Brazos Refinance Loan and continue your application past the pre-credit eligibility stage, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for Brazos to be able to issue you a Brazos loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. The initial credit review is based on review of all the information you and your cosigner (if applicable) provide during the application process and the information obtained from your credit report(s). If you pass the initial credit review, you will need to provide acceptable documentation such as your income verification before the final loan approval. 4. Brazos Education Lending Corporation (Brazos) is a part of a group of several non-affiliated nonprofit companies that are all managed by The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc. and are commonly referred to as the Brazos Managed Companies. The first of the Brazos Managed Companies was organized in 1975 in Waco, Texas, as a secondary market for student loans. Since that time, the Brazos Managed Companies have, on a combined basis, served an estimated 2 million student borrowers and have helped fund an estimated $30 billion in student loans.

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Citizens Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Citizens Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

2.39-9.15%

Variable APR

2.24-8.90%

Variable APR

2.24-8.90%

Key facts

Best for existing Citizens Bank customers or borrowers who didn't graduate or aren't U.S. citizens.

Pros

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

  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Loyalty discount: Borrowers with a Citizens Bank account when they apply get an additional 0.25% interest rate discount.

Cons

  • Estate is still responsible for loans refinanced by parents if the borrower dies.

Qualifications

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

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $500,000.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.24%-8.90% (2.24%-8.90% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.39%-9.15% (2.39%-9.15% APR).

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Ways to refinance international student loans

Building a U.S. credit history

U.S. credit bureaus don't take into consideration credit history from other countries, so you’ll have to start from scratch. But as you live and work in the U.S. you can grow your credit profile.

Start building U.S. credit history. If you attended college in the U.S. and have student loans in repayment with a U.S. lender, you may already have some credit built. You can find out an existing credit history for free from one of the three major credit reporting bureaus — TransUnion, Experian or Equifax.

If you don't have a history or you want to continue building credit, apply for a credit card. Typically, credit lenders will want you to have a permanent address, a taxpayer ID number, income and a bank account. You might have to start with a secured credit card, which requires a cash security deposit.

Once you have a line of credit established, make payments each month, on-time and in full. Over time, you can build enough credit history to get your loans approved for refinancing by private lenders. Refinancing lenders look for borrowers with credit in at least the high 600s, a history of on-time loan payments and an income that is high enough to pay off the debt.

Refinancing if you have a visa

Some lenders may allow you to refinance, even if you have a working visa, as long as you have a co-signer who can meet credit history, income and payment history qualifications. Your co-signer will have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, as well.

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 April 1, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Options for Student Loan Refinancing for International Borrowers