How to refinance student loans without a degree

Most lenders require a degree before they’ll refinance your student loans. Here are the few exceptions. (iStock)

Refinancing your student loans can be a smart way to secure lower rates, reduce your monthly payment, or even pay off your loan faster and save money.

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The only problem? Most student loan refinancing companies won’t let you do it until after graduation. That can be pretty frustrating given the market’s lower rates, which are expected to drop even more as the year goes on.

Fortunately, a few private lenders are an exception to the rule. Before you refinance private student loans, make sure you use Credible's online tools to find lower rates, and compare repayment options.

10 OF THE BEST STUDENT LOAN REFINANCING COMPANIES

If you’re specifically looking to refinance your federal or private student loans while still enrolled in college, here are some additional loan refinancing options:

RISLA

The Rhode Island Student Lan Authority (RISLA) offers student loan refinancing to in-school borrowers nationwide — even those not enrolled in a Rhode Island university.

Here’s what RISLA’s loan options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 3.49 percent for fixed-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $250,000
  • Eligibility: Minimum 350 credit score, $40,000 household income
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee
  • Other features: Income-based repayment options, cosigners can be released after 24 on-time payments. 0.25 percent discount on interest rates for setting up auto-pay

If you're looking to refinance your student loan debt, it’s wise to crunch the numbers into a student loan refinancing calculator, which uses your loan balance and new loan interest rate, to show your potential savings.

FIXED-RATE OR VARIABLE LOAN OPTIONS: WHICH IS BEST FOR YOU?

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a lender that will refinance your private or federal student loans even if you don't finish your degree. If you’re an existing Citizens banking customer, it can qualify you for reduced interest rates.

Here’s what Citizen’s loan refinance options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 3.49 percent for fixed-rate loans and 2.72 percent for variable-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $350,000
  • Eligibility: Minimum income of $24,000 per year, must have made at least 12 payments on previous student loans
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee
  • Other features: Cosigners can be released after 36 on-time payments, 0.25 percent discount on interest rates for existing Citizens Bank customers

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders and find rates you qualify for within minutes.

PNC

You can also refinance your student loans through PNC Bank, a national bank and student loan, mortgage, and auto loan lender.

Here’s what PNC’s loan options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 3.44 percent for fixed-rate loans and 2.61 percent for variable-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $75,000
  • Eligibility: Minimum 660 credit score, at least 24 months payment history on your previous loans, two years of continuous income or employment
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee
  • Other features: 0.50 percent off your interest rate for setting up auto-pay, cosigners can be released after 48 on-time payments

SHOULD YOU CONSOLIDATE OR REFINANCE YOUR STUDENT LOANS?

MEFA

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, or MEFA, will also refinance your student loans before you’ve finished your degree. You don’t have to be enrolled in a Massachusetts college either.

Here’s what MEFA’s loan options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 4.65 percent for both fixed- and variable-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $10,000 and up
  • Eligibility: Minimum 670 credit score, must have made on-time student loan payments for at least the last 12 months
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee

STUDENT REFINANCING RATES GOING DOWN - HERE'S WHY

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the biggest institutions that refinance student loans for non-degree holding borrowers. It’s an especially good option if you’re a Wells Fargo banking customer.

Here’s what Wells Fargo’s loan options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 3.74 percent for fixed-rate loans and 2.50 percent for variable-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $5,000 and up
  • Eligibility: Minimum credit score or income not disclosed
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee
  • Other features: Interest rate discounts available for existing Wells Fargo customers and borrowers who set up auto-pay, forbearance options for those facing financial hardship

Discover

You can also refinance your student loans early through Discover, which offers both fixed- and variable-rate loan options.

Here’s what Discover’s loan options look like:

  • Interest rates: Starting at 3.74 percent for fixed-rate loans and 2.99 percent for variable-rate loans
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $150,000
  • Eligibility: Minimum credit score or income not disclosed
  • Fees: Zero prepayment fee, zero origination fee
  • Other features: Several deferment and forbearance options for those facing financial hardship. 0.25 percent discount on interest rates for setting up auto-pay

STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES HIT HISTORIC LOWS — HOW TO SAVE MONEY BY REFINANCING

Help your chances

If you’re not able to qualify for a student loan refinance just yet, take some time to improve your credit score before applying. Pay down your debts, ask for a credit line increase (but don’t use the money), or see if you can be added as an authorized user on your parent’s credit cards.

Increasing your income even slightly — maybe through a gig job or side hustle — can also help your chances.

Finally, make sure you shop around when refinancing private student loans. Using an online tool like Credible to compare rates and terms can save you significant amounts of money over the life of your loan.