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5 Lenders to Refinance Student Loans With Low Income

To reduce student loan payments, consider refinancing if you have a low income and private student loans.

Cecilia Clark
By
Last updated on March 1, 2023
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Des Toups
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Lenders to Refinance Student Loans With Low Income

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Check rate
on Laurel Road's website
on Laurel Road's website
Best for No minimum income requirement

660

5.44-9.75%

5.49-9.95%

Check rate
on Laurel Road's website
on Laurel Road's website
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Check rate
on Education Loan Finance's website
on Education Loan Finance's website
COMPARE RATES
on Sparrow’s website
on Sparrow’s website
4.5
/5
Best for Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with a co-signer

680

5.48-8.69%

5.28-8.99%

Check rate
on Education Loan Finance's website
on Education Loan Finance's website

Our pick for

No minimum income requirement

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance
Check rate
on Laurel Road's website
on Laurel Road's website
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance

4.0
Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

5.44-9.75%

Variable APR

5.49-9.95%

Key facts

Laurel Road has no minimum income requirement and allows you to refinance a parent PLUS loan in your name.

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 bachelor's degree. For parent PLUS loans, the child does not need to have graduated to refinance.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
DisclaimerFull Laurel Road Disclaimers. Rates as of 3/18/24, rates subject to change. Terms and Conditions Apply. All products subject to credit approval. IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Please note that if you refinance qualifying federal student loans with Laurel Road, you may no longer be eligible for certain federal benefits or programs and waive your right to future benefits or programs offered on those loans. Examples of benefits or programs you may not receive include, but are not limited to, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, Income-driven Repayment plans, forbearance, or loan forgiveness. Please carefully consider your options when refinancing federal student loans and consult http://studentaid.gov/ for the most current information. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association. All products offered by KeyBank N.A. ©2024 STUDENT LOANS ARE NOT FDIC INSURED OR GUARANTEED. KeyCorp® All Rights Reserved. Laurel Road is a federally registered service mark of KeyCorp. 3 Corporate Drive, 4th fl, Shelton, CT 06484.
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Our pick for

Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with a co-signer

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance
Check rate
on Education Loan Finance's website
on Education Loan Finance's website
Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

5.48-8.69%

Variable APR

5.28-8.99%

Key factsBest for borrowers who value good customer service.
Pros
  • You are assigned a student 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: $10,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.
  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least a bachelor’s degree.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years
DisclaimerSubject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. https://www.elfi.com/terms/
College Ave Student Loan Refinance

College Ave Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

6.99-13.99%

Variable APR

6.99-13.99%

Key factsBest for borrowers who want a nonstandard loan term — six or nine years, for instance.
Pros
  • You can choose any loan term between 5 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.
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 Lengths5 to 15 years
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community 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. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 6/14/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance

Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

5.95-9.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsBest for borrowers who didn’t graduate.
Pros
  • You can refinance without a degree.
  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Cons
  • Loans aren’t available in Alaska, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, Washington D.C.
  • You cannot postpone repayment if you re-enroll in school.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $7,500. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.
Available Term Lengths10, 15 or 20 years

Our pick for

Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with no co-signer

Navy Federal Student Loan Refinance

Navy Federal Student Loan Refinance

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsAn option for members of Navy Federal Credit Union, especially those who have an associate degree.
Pros
  • Forbearance of 18 months is longer than many lenders offer.
  • Greater-than-minimum payments allowed via autopay.
Cons
  • Available only to existing Navy Federal Credit Union customers
  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • $7,500 minimum to $125,000 for undergraduates, or $175,000 for graduate students.
  • Must have a degree: Yes, at least an associate degree.
Available Term Lengths5, 10 or 15 years

How to refinance student loans with low income

Having a low income doesn’t mean you can’t refinance student loans, but it may be harder to qualify. Take the following steps to help prevent your salary from holding you back:

  • Make sure you meet the lender’s income requirements. Not all lenders share their income requirements publicly, but those that do often set their minimum income threshold at more than $24,000. You may need to earn more than that number based on different factors, though. For example, PenFed requires a higher income if you want to refinance more than $150,000.

  • Have good credit. You’ll typically need a FICO score in at least the high 600s to qualify for refinancing. But getting your scores into the mid-700s or above may improve your odds and help you get a lower interest rate. Plus, a higher score can show lenders you do a good job managing money and expenses at your current income level.

  • Manage your debt-to-income ratio. If your income is low, your biggest hurdle to refinancing may be your debt-to-income ratio. DTI compares your monthly debts — student loans, car payments, rent, etc. — to your monthly income. This helps lenders understand whether you'll have enough cash on hand to afford your loan payments. Most lenders want a DTI below 50%.

Even if you can’t increase your income, you can take steps to make yourself a better candidate for student loan refinancing. For example, you can build credit faster by making payments on time and minding credit limits, or you could improve your DTI by paying off your credit cards (but leaving the accounts open) before you apply.

If low income still prevents you from being approved, consider refinancing with a co-signer. That person will be equally responsible for your loan. You won’t want them to be on the hook forever, though, so be sure to review potential lenders’ co-signer release policies.

Other repayment options if you have low income

Some private lenders may let you pay less or pause repayment temporarily. But refinancing is the best way to lock in a smaller payment that doesn’t cost you more long-term. Be sure to compare offers from multiple refinance lenders to get the best interest rate — and lowest bill.

Federal student loans have more repayment options if you don’t make a lot of money — particularly income-driven repayment plans. These plans tie payments to a fixed percentage of your discretionary income, usually 10%, and are the best option if you have federal student loans and a low income. Payments can be as low as $0, though you'll likely pay more overall.

Refinancing federal student loans costs you access to income-driven plans, as well as other repayment benefits like loan forgiveness programs. Even if you’re positive your earnings will grow — for example, you’re a medical resident — you may want to wait until your income actually increases to refinance federal loans.

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 March 1, 2023

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Lenders to Refinance Student Loans With Low Income

  • Laurel Road Student Loan Refinance: Best for No minimum income requirement
  • Education Loan Finance Student Loan Refinance: Best for Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with a co-signer
  • College Ave Student Loan Refinance: Best for Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with a co-signer
  • Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance: Best for Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with a co-signer
  • Navy Federal Student Loan Refinance: Best for Annual incomes of less than $30,000 with no co-signer

Frequently asked questions

  • Minimum income requirements vary by lender, and many don’t share this information publicly. Those that do usually require an income of at least $24,000 to refinance student loans.

  • Borrowers whom lenders approve for student loan refinancing often have an average income that’s at least six figures. You can refinance if you earn less, but it may be harder to qualify.

  • Enroll in an income-driven repayment plan if you have low income and federal loans. Private loan borrowers typically don’t have that option, but refinancing may make payments more affordable.

  • The majority of private lenders don’t offer plans that base student loan payments on your income. RISLA and iHELP are exceptions, as both offer income-driven repayment for refinanced loans.

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