You went to college to get a degree and set yourself up for a bright, lucrative future. The thing is, college isn’t cheap. If you’re not on a scholarship, you have to pay for that bright, lucrative future yourself. One way to do that is with student loans.
Many college students leave school with a degree and a mountain of debt. It can take 10 to 20 years to pay it off.
So, why not consolidate your student loans with one of the best student loan consolidation and refinance companies? If you have student loans, refinancing with a good company could end up saving you a lot of money.
In this article, we’re talking about the best companies for getting help with your student loans. No one wants to keep paying on those loans for decades.
The key is to choose a reputable company to refinance through. If you’re looking for the best student loan consolidation and refinance companies, read on because we’re discussing them right here.
What Is Student Loan Consolidation?
Let’s start by defining what is meant by student loan consolidation. These companies take your student loans, consolidate them into one lump sum, and then refinance them at a lower interest rate.
Instead of having several different payments to keep up with, you have one lower payment spread across the debt total.
How Does It Work?
The consolidation company pays off your loans with all of the lenders you owe. Then, they review your credit. They’ll issue a new loan with an interest rate based on what they determine from the credit review.
If all goes well, you’ll pay your debt off faster. You’ll save a lot of money. You’ll have a lower monthly payment, as well.
Best Student Loan Consolidation and Refinance Companies
Consolidate your student debt with a reputable company. Most of them have online tools for seeing if you’re pre-qualified.
The tools give you an idea of what rates are available to you. You don’t have to apply to find out. You can do this several times and compare results to choose the best option.
Now, let’s look at some of the best in the business.
SoFi is a good overall choice for many students. They don’t require a minimum credit score or a minimum income amount. Borrowers are allowed to have a co-signer.
SoFi offers refinancing and consolidation on Federal, graduate, undergraduate, and private loans. They also cover Parent PLUS loans and those for dental and medical residency.
- Fixed rates start as low as 2.99%. Variable rates start from 2.24%. The loan terms range from 5 to 20 years.
One of the things that sets SoFi apart from other lenders is it’s easy to get qualified for a loan. There is only a soft credit pull, and there’s no penalty for prepayment.
The best part, though, is SoFi offers many other benefits to its borrowers, like a Career Advisory Group, financial advice, and career coaching.
Earnest is a good option for those with fairly good credit. They require a minimum credit score of 650 but no minimum income. Earnest doesn’t allow for a co-signer.
Earnest provides consolidation for both graduate and undergraduate loans, as well as both Federal and private loans. Unlike SoFi, they do not offer refinancing for residency loans or Parent PLUS.
- Their variable rates start at a low 1.99% and the fixed rates at 2.98%.
- While SoFi has fixed loan terms, Earnest offers flexible loan terms of anywhere from 5 to 20 years. The minimum loan amount starts at $5,000 and maxes out at $500,000.
There are no origination fees with Earnest, along with no prepayment penalties. Earnest also offers loan customization. You set the payment you want to make based on your income level.
You can adjust the amount and timing of your payment when you need to, as well. If you ever need to skip a payment, you’re able to do that once every 12 months and pay it back later.
Laurel Road is one of the best options for those with medical school loans. They cover Federal, private, graduate, and undergraduate loans.
They also cover all residency and fellowship loans. Borrowers working in the medical or dental field can qualify for special rates and pricing.
Applicants qualify by meeting the conditions of the company, not by credit review.
- Anyone with an Associate’s degree loan must be in the healthcare industry and can only borrow up to $50,000. Those with bachelor’s degrees or above must have a minimum of $5,000 in student loan debt.
Laurel Road specializes in medical school debt. While in residency years or fellowship years, these students may make payments of $100 per month. This company also offers a referral program where borrowers can get up to $400 for referring a friend who qualifies and accepts a loan.
Those with student debt who want to have a co-signer for their refinance have a good option in CommonBond. Unlike many of the other companies, CommonBond allows for a co-signer and offers a co-signer release option. The borrower must make 24 payments in a row on time first.
Another option they offer that others do not is a hybrid loan. You can choose a fixed rate that lasts for 5 years that then switches to a variable rate for the remainder of the loan term.
- CommonBond doesn’t charge prepayment penalties or origination fees. You can prequalify with only a soft credit pull. You do have to qualify with a minimum credit score and minimum income level, though those are undisclosed.
This company is partnered with Pencils of Promise. Every refinanced loan they issue results in a donation that pays for children in developing countries to get an education.
College Ave is another company that offers good student loan consolidation and refinancing overall. They do require a minimum credit score but it’s not disclosed. The credit check is a soft pull, so there shouldn’t be much impact on your credit.
You can apply with a co-signer and there is a co-signer release option. Once you’ve made consecutive payments on time for 24 to 36 months, your co-signer may be ok for release.
- The loan maximums aren’t very high relative to the maximums that companies offer for medical student loans. Undergraduate loan debt can only be covered for up $149,000, while the maximum for graduate student loans is $300,000.
College Ave offers good protection for military members who need to defer payments. There are also options for forbearance and the discharge of loans due to disability or death.
Should I Have My Student Loans Refinanced?
How do you know if consolidation and refinance are right for you? The answer is not as difficult as you may think. Refinancing student debt has benefits for most people.
You’ll likely save a bit of money by combining all your student debt into one tidy package.
Remember, you don’t have to apply for a refinance loan to see what it could do for you. Most of the companies we mentioned above have pre-qualifying quote pages where you can enter your information to see the rate.
You should check your status with several companies and compare the results. Then, you’ll know which is the best choice to apply for.
How Can I Prepare for a Consolidation/Refinance?
Though some student loan consolidation companies don’t require a minimum credit score. It’s best if your credit is in decent standing when you apply.
Even if your credit score isn’t required to meet a minimum level. It will be used to determine your interest rate. The better your credit is, the better your interest rate will be.
Here are some things you can do to prepare for a student loan consolidation and refinance.
- Increase your credit score.
- Be ready to show proof of a stable income.
- Stay current on all of your bills.
- Be paying a high interest rate.
Be Careful with Refinancing Federal Student Loans
Federal student loan borrowers are afforded some special perks from the government. Many protections are offered along with these loans.
You may be benefiting from the income-driven payment plan. They also have plans for loan forgiveness. Recently, there’ve been programs offered because of Covid.
If you refinance with a private lending company, you will lose those protections. That’s not to say private companies don’t offer their own protection plans.
Some of them do. You should look into what is offered and compare it against the Federal programs.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Consolidation and Refinance Company?
The most important factor to consider is the interest rates offered. You’re consolidating your student debt to save money and pay off your loans faster.
- Make sure to compare rates between all the lenders you’re considering.
- Next, look at the loan conditions and terms available. If you want to consolidate all of your debt, choose a loan company with a maximum loan amount that allows that. You also need to look for a company offering terms to accommodate your needs.
- Flexibility and protection are highly important, too. If you’re met with something which causes you financial hardship, you need to know your consolidation company has programs in place to help you.
- Your overall experience should be pleasant. Check into the customer service of each company. Look at what other benefits you get along with your loan. Make sure you get the most bang for your buck.
The Bottom Line
The best student loan consolidation and refinance companies can help you get that mountain of student debt under control.
The companies we shared with you in this article all have good reputations for helping people pay their debt off with less money and in less time.
Choose the right company for your situation, so together, you can move mountains.