Darien Rowayton Bank Student Loan Refinancing Review

Loans, Student Loans
darien-rowayton-bank-student-loan-review

Darien Rowayton Bank’s name tells only half the story. Yes, it’s a community bank with branches in Darien, Rowayton and Southport, Connecticut. But its student loan refinancing arm, DRB Student Loan, helps borrowers in all 50 states lower their student loan interest rates.

The bank offers comparatively low rates and doesn’t limit the amount of student loan debt that borrowers can refinance. It also offers a seven-year loan term in addition to the standard five-, 10-, 15- and 20-year repayment schedules.


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AT A GLANCE

  • Fixed: 4.20% and 7.20% APR. Variable: 3.64% to 6.29% APR.
  • Seven-year loan term available in addition to five-, 10-, 15- and 20-year terms.
  • Must make automatic payments from a DRB checking account to qualify for a 0.25% interest rate discount.

Darien Rowayton Bank started refinancing graduate degree holders’ student loans in 2013. In January 2015, it expanded its service to grads with bachelor’s degrees and parents with federal PLUS loans. The bank has worked with 12,000 borrowers since its refinancing program began, chief marketing officer Jenny Chou says.

Refinancing borrowers can postpone their payments to the bank in three-month increments, for a total of 12 months, if they have a financial hardship. That’s similar to most other student loan refinancing lenders, but not as generous as CommonBond or U-fi’s forbearance policies.

Additionally, parents can refinance PLUS loans or transfer PLUS loans to their children at Darien Rowayton Bank if the child qualifies to refinance on his or her own.

“For parents, it is a huge relief to know that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for these large loans, especially when they know that their child is capable of paying them off,” Chou says.

» COMPARE: Student loan refinancing options

Do you qualify?

 Minimum qualificationsThe typical borrower
Credit scoreHigh 600s750+
Annual income$60,000$100,000+
Debt-to-income ratio40% or less of annual income30% or less of annual income

Where Darien Rowayton Bank shines

Interest rates: Darien Rowayton Bank offers some of the lowest fixed interest rates in the industry. Like other lenders, the longer the loan term you choose, the higher the interest rate you’ll receive. For instance, rates for 20-year loans can be as high as 7%.

You can also choose a variable rate, which fluctuates according to market conditions. Because these rates could increase in the future, this option is best for borrowers who plan to pay off their loans quickly.

No loan balance maximum: Darien Rowayton Bank will refinance $5,000 or more in total student loan balances. That’s especially helpful if your loan balance is more than $150,000, the level at which some lenders will no longer refinance your total balance. Comparable companies include SoFi, which also doesn’t have a loan balance maximum, and CommonBond, which refinances balances of as much as $500,000.

Where Darien Rowayton Bank falls short

No co-signer release: Darien Rowayton Bank doesn’t let borrowers remove a co-signer from its refinanced loans. Lenders including U-fi and Citizens Bank allow borrowers to apply for co-signer release after 24 and 36 months, respectively, which means that the borrower alone will be responsible for repaying the loan. However, Darien Rowayton Bank will release a co-signer from the loan if the borrower who refinanced dies or is permanently disabled.

DRB checking account needed for interest rate discount: Darien Rowayton Bank requires customers to make automatic payments from a DRB checking account in order to qualify for a 0.25% interest rate discount. For comparison, most lenders — including CordiaGrad — offer a 0.25% discount for customers who make automatic payments from any checking or savings account. CordiaGrad provides an extra 0.25% off if the payment is made from a CordiaGrad account.

Next steps

If you’re ready to refinance with Darien Rowayton Bank, apply directly on its website. The bank will perform a soft credit pull — which won’t appear on your credit report — to estimate your interest rate if you were to refinance. Submitting a final application will lead to a hard credit inquiry, as it would with other lenders. However, it’s smart to compare refinance offers before choosing a lender.


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Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet. Email: bmcgurran@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @briannamcscribe.


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