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Refinance Medical School Loans: Compare Options for Doctors

Teddy NykielMay 29, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Refinancing medical school loans is a no-brainer for physicians who won’t use federal loan benefits and have good enough credit to qualify for a lower interest rate.

Our picks 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

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Fixed APR

3.49-8.07%

Variable APR

2.43-6.59%

Min. Credit Score

650

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.
Read full review

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 from 3.69% APR to 8.074% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.43% APR to 6.65% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.43% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.43% plus 0.04% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR 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 LIBOR 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. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, 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 SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

Fixed APR

3.50-7.02%

Variable APR

2.43-6.65%

Min. Credit Score

660

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.
  • No option to make greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.
Read full review

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: Yes, a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer: FIXED APR Fixed rate options consist of a range from 3.50% per year to 5.55% per year for a 5-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.00% per year for a 7-year term, 4.30% per year to 6.40% per year for a 10-year term, 4.60% per year to 6.80% per year for a 15-year term, or 5.05% per year to 7.02% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. The fixed interest rate will apply until the loan is paid in full (whether before or after default, and whether before or after the scheduled maturity date of the loan). The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.75% per year to 5.80% per year for a 5-year term would be from $183.04 to $192.40. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.14% per year to 6.25% per year for a 7-year term would be from $142.00 to $147.29. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.24% per year to 6.65% per year for a 10-year term would be from $107.24 to $114.31. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.30% per year to 7.05% per year for a 15-year term would be from $80.65 to $90.16. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.61% per year to 7.27% per year for a 20-year term would be from $69.41 to $79.16. However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account. VARIABLE APR Variable rate options consist of a range from 2.50% per year to 6.05% per year for a 5-year term, 3.75% per year to 6.10% per year for a 7-year term, 4.00% per year to 6.15% per year for a 10-year term, 4.25% per year to 6.40% per year for a 15-year term, or 4.50% per year to 6.65% per year for a 20-year term, with no origination fees. APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rate will change on the first day of every month (“Change Date”) if the Current Index changes. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes. The variable interest rates are calculated by adding a margin ranging from 0.98% to 3.80% for the 5-year term loan, 2.35% to 3.85% for the 7-year term loan, 2.40% to 3.90% for the 10-year term loan, 2.65% to 4.15% for the 15-year term loan, and 2.90% to 4.40% for the 20-year term loan, respectively, to the 1-month LIBOR index published on the 25th day of each month immediately preceding each “Change Date,” as defined above, rounded to two decimal places, with no origination fees. If the 25th day of the month is not a business day or is a US federal holiday, the reference date will be the most recent date preceding the 25th day of the month that is a business day. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 3.49% per year to 6.31% per year for a 5-year term would be from $181.87 to $194.77. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.86% per year to 6.36% per year for a 7-year term would be from $140.68 to $147.82. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 4.91% per year to 6.41% per year for a 10-year term would be from $105.63 to $113.09. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.16% per year to 6.66% per year for a 15-year term would be from $79.92 to $87.99. The monthly payment for a sample $10,000 loan at a range of 5.41% per year to 6.91% per year for a 20-year term would be from $68.28 to $76.99. However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.

Our picks for

Refinancing after residency

You may get a lower interest rate by waiting to refinance until your income increases after your residency.

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Fixed APR

3.36-8.07%

Variable APR

2.43-6.59%

Min. Credit Score

660

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
  • 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

  • Loans aren’t available in Mississippi, Nevada or Vermont.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $500,000.
  • Must have a degree: Yes.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. ‍ All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.45% effective May 10, 2019.

Earnest Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Fixed APR

3.48-7.82%

Variable APR

2.43-7.21%

Min. Credit Score

650

Pros

  • Customizable payments and loan terms.
  • Option to skip one payment every 12 months.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • You can’t apply with a co-signer.
  • Loans aren't available in Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $500,000.
  • Must have a degree: No, but must be within six months of graduation.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 20 years

Disclaimer: Specific Annual Percentage Rate (APRs) offered within these ranges will depend on a variety of factors including your creditworthiness and other application details. Annual percentage rates (APRs) reflect 0.25% discount for optional enrollment in autopay. Your approval for an Earnest Loan is subject to the full underwriting of your loan application. Read more about qualifying for a loan with Earnest here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility.

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Fixed APR

3.39-6.69%

Variable APR

2.80-6.01%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Above-average customer support compared with other lenders.
  • You are assigned a dedicated banker.
  • 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.
Read full review

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. http://www.elfi.com/terms/

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Fixed APR

3.49-8.07%

Variable APR

2.43-6.59%

Min. Credit Score

650

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.
Read full review

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 from 3.69% APR to 8.074% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.43% APR to 6.65% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.43% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.43% plus 0.04% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR 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 LIBOR 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. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, 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 SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

Discover Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on Discover's website

Check Rate

on Discover's website

Fixed APR

5.74-8.49%

Variable APR

4.74-7.74%

Min. Credit Score

Does Not Disclose

Pros

  • No late fees.
  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Only 10- and 20-year repayment terms available.
  • No co-signer release available.
  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Must have a degree: No.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $150,000.

Available Term Lengths

10 or 20 years

Disclaimer: Get a variable interest rate from 4.74% APR to 7.74% APR (3-Month LIBOR + 2.12% to 3-Month LIBOR + 5.12%) for either a 10-year or 20-year repayment term. Or lock in a fixed interest rate from 5.74% APR to 8.49% APR for a 10-year repayment term or from 5.99% APR to 8.49% APR for a 20-year repayment term. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.63% as of April 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the "interest rate change date"), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. The lowest listed APRs include a 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments. Visit discover.com/student-loans/consolidation for more information, including up-to-date interest rates and APRs.

Summary of Refinance Medical School Loans: Compare Options for Doctors

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
SoFi Student Loan Refinance

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

3.49-8.07%

2.43-6.59%

650

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

3.50-7.02%

2.43-6.65%

660

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

3.36-8.07%

2.43-6.59%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

3.48-7.82%

2.43-7.21%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

3.39-6.69%

2.80-6.01%

680

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Discover Student Loan Refinance

Discover Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Discover's website

5.74-8.49%

4.74-7.74%

Does Not Disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

3.64-7.50%

2.44-6.87%

660

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

PenFed Student Loan Refinance

PenFed Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Purefy's website

3.87-7.03%

3.05-7.79%

670

Check Rate

on Purefy's website

Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

3.59-9.99%

2.63-9.67%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
SoFi Student Loan Refinance

SoFi Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

3.49-8.07%

2.43-6.59%

650

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

3.50-7.02%

2.43-6.65%

660

Check Rate

on Laurel Road's website

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance

CommonBond Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

3.36-8.07%

2.43-6.59%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

Earnest Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

3.48-7.82%

2.43-7.21%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

3.39-6.69%

2.80-6.01%

680

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Discover Student Loan Refinance

Discover Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Discover's website

5.74-8.49%

4.74-7.74%

Does Not Disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

LendKey Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

3.64-7.50%

2.44-6.87%

660

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

PenFed Student Loan Refinance

PenFed Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Purefy's website

3.87-7.03%

3.05-7.79%

670

Check Rate

on Purefy's website

Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

Citizens One Student Loan Refinance

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

3.59-9.99%

2.63-9.67%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Refinancing during residency

Refinancing is one of several strategies for paying off medical school debt. A few lenders have student loan refinancing programs specifically designed for medical residents. These programs allow residents to pay as little as $100 a month and begin making full payments once their residency is over.

This strategy can ease your financial burden while you’re making less money as a resident.

But interest likely will accrue faster than you can pay it, so you may end up with a balance at the end of your residency that's bigger than what you started with. Make sure the low payments are worth it to you before taking this route, or make larger-than-minimum payments to keep the interest at bay.

You'll likely qualify for an even lower rate once you complete your residency or fellowship, so consider refinancing again as an attending physician.

» MORE: Still need to borrow? Compare medical school loans

Refinancing after residency

A second medical school loan refinancing strategy is to use a federal income-driven repayment plan during residency and refinance after you complete your training. Of the four income-driven plans, many physicians use Pay As You Earn (PAYE) or Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE).

This is a good strategy for doctors who don't qualify for a lower rate as a resident but need lower monthly payments. In this case, work on building your credit during residency so you can get the lowest possible rate in the future. You'll have more options for refinancing medical school loans once you have a higher income as an attending physician.

» MORE: PAYE vs. REPAYE: How to choose

How to refinance medical school loans

1. Confirm that refinancing is right for you. Before refinancing federal student loans, triple-check that you are comfortable giving up federal loan benefits including access to Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. If you have a mix of federal and private student loans and want to maintain access to those programs, refinance just the private loans.

2. Check if you qualify. You generally need a credit score that's at least in the high 600s to qualify for student loan refinancing. The higher your score, the lower the rate you'll likely get. Some lenders have pre-qualification processes that allow you to see a personalized rate before you officially apply — they'll do a soft credit pull, which won't hurt your credit score, to determine your rate.

3. Shop around and apply. Get rate estimates from multiple lenders and choose the one that offers you the lowest rate.

Other medical student loan questions

Going to medical school means taking on a lot of medical school loans. The average medical school debt among the class of 2018 was $196,520. Here are some common questions medical students have about managing this debt.

How should I pay off medical school debt?

There are many tactics for paying off medical school debt, including refinancing medical school loans, seeking loan forgiveness for doctors and making payments on an income-driven repayment plan. The best strategy for you depends on factors including the types of loans you have — federal or private — and your career goals.

Is doctor loan forgiveness right for me?

Loan forgiveness for doctors typically requires that you practice in the public sector or in an underserved area for a certain period of time. If your career plans align with a program’s requirements, forgiveness may be worth pursuing.

How can I get medical school loan forgiveness?

There are several federal and state medical school loan forgiveness programs. The best program for you depends on your career plans and whether your have federal or private student loans.

Last updated on May 29, 2019

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Refinance Medical School Loans: Compare Options for Doctors