Brazos Review: Refinancing Student Loans and Private Student Loans

Brazos offers private student loans to borrowers from Texas and non-resident students attending college in the state. It offer refi and parent loans for Texas residents only.
Cecilia Clark
By
Last updated on January 5, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Des Toups
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Student loan ratings

Brazos Private Student Loan
Brazos Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating
The Nerdy headline:

Brazos offers undergraduate, graduate and parent loans and student loan refinancing to borrowers from Texas. Non-Texas residents who go to school in the state can also qualify for undergrad and grad loans. Brazos refinancing is best for student loan borrowers who need a refinancing loan and live in Texas. Brazos parent loans are best for parents who live in Texas and want to finance undergraduate or graduate education for their children. Brazos private student loans are best for borrowers from Texas with strong finances or a qualified co-signer.

Brazos Private Student Loan review

Brazos Private Student Loan
Brazos Private Student Loan

4.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
680
Fixed APR
2.77-6.96%
Variable APR
5.00-9.44%
on Brazos' website

Pros

  • May offer lower rates for graduate students than what are available through the federal government.

  • Applies extra payments to the loan principal by default.

  • Offers five loan terms, which is more than most lenders.

Cons

  • Not available to borrowers enrolled in two year programs at community colleges.

  • Biweekly payments via autopay is not available.

Best for Texas residents and students of Texan colleges with strong financials or a qualified co-signer.

Full Review

Brazos Higher Education started offering student loans to in-school undergraduate and graduate students in 2022, building on its longtime business of refinancing student and parent debt.

Brazos private student loans are available to Texas residents studying at one of 2,000+ approved U.S. schools and non-resident students attending Texan schools. This can include online schools and satellite campuses.

A non-profit organization, Brazos is notable for its low interest rates and lack of origination fees. This combination makes Brazos a particularly good option for graduate students. For the best-qualified borrowers, Brazos graduate student loan interest rates are lower than those charged by the federal government. The federal government also charges an origination fee, while Brazos does not.

Brazos student loans don’t come with the same protections as federal student loans do, however. If you think you’ll need income-driven repayment or will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, it’s better to go with the federal loan — even if the interest rate is higher.

To qualify for a Brazos private student loan, you must be a resident of Texas or attend a school based in Texas, be enrolled more than half-time at a qualifying school, and have a credit score of at least 680. If you don’t meet the credit requirement, you’ll need a co-signer who does.

Brazos at a glance

  • Ideal for Texas residents studying at an approved U.S. school and non-resident students at Texan schools who have strong finances or a qualified co-signer.

  • Interest rates may be lower than what is offered by the federal government for graduate borrowers.

  • No origination fee.

How Brazos could improve

Brazos private student loan details

    • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No. However, if you already know your credit score, you can use it to check the rate you'll qualify for, without affecting your credit.

    • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

    • Loan amounts: For Texas residents, loans range from $1,000 up to the cost of attendance, minus other aid. For non-Texas residents attending college in Texas, the minimum loan amount is $2,001.

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: Yes.

    Compare Brazos' range of interest rates with other lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors that include your — or your co-signer's — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Brazos will offer you, apply on its website.

  • Financial

    • Minimum credit score: 680.

    • Minimum income: $35,000, or apply with qualified co-signer.

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

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 85%.

    • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after seven years.

    Other

    • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a non-U.S. citizen with a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

    • DACA borrowers: Yes, with a citizen or resident co-signer.

    • Location: Available to residents of Texas and students attending schools based in Texas.

    • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.

    • Loan can be used for past-due tuition: Yes.

    • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend an institution that awards four-year degrees or higher.

    • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Does not disclose.

  • In-school repayment options:

    • Immediate repayment: Yes. Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.

    • Interest-only repayment: Yes. Pay interest every month you’re in school and during the grace period.

    • Full in-school deferment: Yes. Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.

    Post-school repayment options

    • Grace Period: 6 months.

    • Income-based repayment option: No.

    • In-school deferment: Yes.

    • Military deferment: Yes.

    • Forbearance: Borrowers are eligible for 12 months of forbearance in total.

    • Co-signer release available: Yes. Release available after prepaying an amount equal to 12 months of principal and interest payments or after 48 on-time payments.

    • Death discharge available: Yes.

    • Disability discharge: No.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

    Repayment Preferences

    • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

    • Loan servicer: AES.

    • In-house customer service team: Yes.

    • Process for escalating concerns: No.

    • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

    • Average time from approval to disbursement: Up to two weeks.

    • 0.25% interest rate discount for autopay.

Before applying for a Brazos loan

Before taking out a Brazos student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible for a Brazos student loan

If Brazos denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider lenders that don’t require co-signers or those that specialize in bad-credit or no-credit student loans.

STUDENT LOAN 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 top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 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.

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Brazos Student Loan Refinance review

Brazos Student Loan Refinance

4.5
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
690
Fixed APR
4.40-7.25%
Variable APR
4.99-8.79%
on Brazos' website

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.

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

Full review

Brazos Higher Education, a non-profit, offers refinancing student loans to borrowers in Texas. Borrowers can see what rate they would qualify for without a hard credit check.

You must have a minimum income of $60,000 and a 720 credit score to qualify. If you don’t meet those criteria, you’ll need a co-signer who does, as well as an income of $30,000 and a credit score of 690 on your own.

Brazos refinancing student loans at a glance

  • Available only to student loan borrowers who are residents of Texas.

  • Brazos, unlike most private lenders, is a non-profit.

  • Borrowers must be employed even if applying with a co-signer.

How Brazos could improve

Brazos, like other five-star loans, isn't perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Longer than 12 months of forbearance.

  • Academic deferment for borrowers who return to school.

  • Co-signer release.

Brazos student loan refinancing details

    • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.

    • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

    • Loan amounts: $10,000 to $400,000.

    • Can transfer a parent loan to a child: Children can refinance parent PLUS loans in their own name.

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: Yes, 5% of the monthly payment or $7.50, whichever is greater. Maximum fee is $35.

    Compare Brazo’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Brazos will offer you, apply on its website.

  • Financial

    • Minimum credit score: 720, or 690 with a qualified co-signer.

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

    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 781 for borrowers without a co-signer or 793 for co-signers.

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: $172,579.

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40%.

    • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Must not have had a bankruptcy within the past 7 years.

    Other

    • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If applying with an eligible co-signer, a non-citizen with a work or student visa can qualify.

    • Location: Borrowers must be a Texas resident.

    • Must have graduated: Yes. Undergraduate degree is required.

    • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes.

    • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 13.2%.

  • Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

    • Academic deferment: No.

    • Military deferment: Yes for up to 36 months.

    • Hardship forbearance: Yes, borrowers are eligible for 12 months of economic hardship forbearance, in three-month increments, over the life of the loan.

    • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers affected by a natural disaster may request a forbearance of up to 12 months in three-month increments.

    • Co-signer release available: No. Applicants may reapply individually to release co-signer.

    • Death discharge: Yes, but only if there is no co-signer. If the primary borrower dies, the co-signer is still responsible for paying the loan.

    • Disability discharge: No.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No. If the cosigner dies, the cosigner is removed from the loan, and the borrower continues to be responsible for repayment on the loan for the remainder of the repayment term.

    Repayment Preferences

    • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

    • Loan servicer: Firstmark.

    • In-house customer service team: Only for application process.

    • Process for escalating concerns: Yes, through Firstmark.

    • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

    • Average time from approval to payoff: Information unavailable. Contact lender for details.

Before refinancing with Brazos

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer for borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

If you aren’t eligible to refinance with Brazos

If Brazos denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders or need a co-signer.

NerdWallet recommends prequalifying with multiple refinance lenders before you apply. This will let you know which lenders you may be eligible with, without affecting your credit.

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.

Brazos Parent Loan review

Brazos Parent Loan

4.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
720
Fixed APR
2.75-6.48%
Variable APR
4.99-8.89%
on Brazos' website

Pros

  • Borrowers can finance undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

  • Students do not have to attend college in Texas to qualify.

Cons

  • Available only to parent borrowers in Texas.

Brazos is best for parent loan borrowers who live in Texas and want to finance undergraduate or graduate education for their children.

Full review

Brazos Parent Loans are available to Texas residents whose children attend one of 2,000+ approved schools in the U.S. Thee loans can be used to finance the costs of undergraduate education, and unlike federal direct parent PLUS loans, can also pay for graduate and other professional degree costs.

Consider a parent loan only after your child has maxed out all federal student loan options and only if your own finances are strong. A parent loan will be your responsibility to pay unless your child refinances the debt with a private lender in their own name.

Brazos parent Loans private student loans at a glance

  • Available to Texas residents only.

  • Can finance undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

  • Children don't have to attend college in Texas.

  • No origination fee.

How Brazos parent loans could improve

Brazos could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Longer than 12 months of forbearance.

  • Academic deferment for parents while their children are in school.

Brazos Parent Loans private student loan details

    • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.

    • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

    • Loan amounts: From $1,000 up to the cost of attendance minus other financial aid.

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: Yes, 5% of the monthly payment or $7.50, whichever is greater. Maximum fee is $35.

    Compare Brazo's range of interest rates with other parent lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer's — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Brazos will offer you, apply on its website.

  • Financial

    • Minimum credit score: 720, or 690 with a qualified co-signer.

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

    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: N/A.

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: $141,000 for borrowers or $124,560 for co-signers (co-signers may apply with less income for the purpose of helping the borrower receive a better interest rate if they have a higher credit score).

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40%.

    • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Must not have had a bankruptcy within the past 7 years.

    Other

    • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If applying with an eligible co-signer, a non-citizen with a work or student visa can qualify.

    • DACA borrowers: Did not disclose.

    • Location: Borrower parent must be a Texas resident, but students do not have to attend college in Texas to qualify.

    • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes.

    • Loan can be used for past due tuition: Yes.

    • Types of schools served: Must attend a school authorized to receive federal aid.

    • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 19%.

  • In-school repayment options:

    Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

    • Immediate repayment: Yes, it begins 30 days after disbursement.

    • Interest-only repayment: No.

    • Full in-school deferment: No.

    Post-school repayment options

    • Grace Period: No grace period.

    • Academic deferment: No.

    • Military deferment: Yes for up to 36 months.

    • Hardship forbearance: Yes, borrowers are eligible for 12 months of economic hardship forbearance, in three-month increments, over the life of the loan.

    • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers affected by a natural disaster may request a forbearance of up to 12 months in three-month increments.

    • Co-signer release available: No. Applicants may reapply individually to release co-signer.

    • Death discharge: Yes, if the benefiting student dies the loan is discharged for the parent borrower and the co-signer, if there is one. If the parent borrower dies and there is no co-signer, the loan is discharged. If the parent borrower dies and there is a co-signer, the co-signer is still responsible for paying the loan.

    • Disability discharge: No.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No. If the cosigner dies, the cosigner is removed from the loan, and the borrower continues to be responsible for repayment on the loan for the remainder of the repayment term.

    Repayment Preferences

    • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

    • Loan servicer: Firstmark.

    • In-house customer service team: Only for application process.

    • Process for escalating concerns: Yes, through Firstmark.

    • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

    • Average time from application to approval: Initial approval is online and takes only a few minutes. Brazos verifies income, debt-to-income ratio and other requirements prior to final loan processing.

Before applying for a Brazos Parent Loan

Before taking out a Brazos Parent Loan or any other parent student loan, your child should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, and max out their federal loan options. And make sure the loan payments won't stop you from reaching other financial goals, like saving for retirement.

Compare federal and private parent student loans to make sure you’re choosing the right option and getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments. [h3] If you aren’t eligible for a [lender name] student loan

If Brazos denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other parent loan options or, if you haven’t already, try applying with a co-signer.

STUDENT LOAN 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 top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 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.

Find the Right Student Loan

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Frequently asked questions

  • No. Only Texas residents are eligible.

  • The minimum amount to refinance is $10,000. The maximum is $150,000 for borrowers with a bachelor's degree; $250,000 with a graduate or professional degree (law, medical).

  • To refinance with Brazos you may need a co-signer. The lender says 14.30% of approved borrowers use a co-signer. With a co-signer you'll need at least a 690 credit score and your co-signer will need at least a 720 credit score. The minimum income to apply is $30,000 with a co-signer and your co-signer must have a minimum income of $60,000.

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