The bottom line:
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, offers student loan refinancing for its members. It's best for married couples who want to refinance their student loans into a single one.
Pros & Cons
Married couples can refinance student loans into a single loan.
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.
Estate is still responsible for the loan if the borrower dies.
Compare to Other Lenders
Until June 17, 2022, online lender Purefy was the exclusive provider of PenFed student loans. Purefy was previously part of the Bank of Virginia, issuing student loans under the name CordiaGrad. It became a separate company in 2016. Purefy currently offers a student loan marketplace.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, known as PenFed, offers student loan refinancing for its members. PenFed stands out because it allows married couples to refinance student loans together.
PenFed also lets you release a co-signer after 12 on-time payments. That's much faster than many lenders offer, making PenFed a good option if you can't qualify to refinance on your own. However, spouse co-signers are ineligible for this option.
PenFed student loan refinancing at a glance
Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.
Married couples can refinance together.
Borrowers can refinance their parents’ PLUS loans.
How PenFed could improve
Like other five-star lenders, PenFed isn't perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:
Discharging loans if the borrower dies or becomes disabled.
Offering military deferment, as well as academic deferment for borrowers returning to school.
Refinancing loans for lawful permanent residents of the United States.
PenFed student loan refinancing details
Before refinancing with PenFed
Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple 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 borrowers who are struggling to make payments.
If you aren’t eligible to refinance with PenFed
If PenFed denies your refinance application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other lenders, including those that allow 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.
Frequently asked questions
Purefy is an online lender. It was originally named CordiGrad and was part of the Bank of Virginia. Purefy has been an independent company since 2016 and refinances loans for PenFed.
PenFed began as a credit union for the military, but that affiliation is no longer required. You can refinance student loans with PenFed if you meet the lender's financial qualifications.
PenFed does not offer private student loans, referring borrowers to Sallie Mae instead. PenFed does refinance existing student loans via a partnership with the online lender Purefy.
NerdWallet rates PenFed as a five-star student loan refinancing lender based on more than 50 data points. PenFed is especially good for married couples who want to combine their loans.