10 of the best student loan refinance companies

Credible identified 10 of the best student loan refinance companies using 12 different categories of data. Here are our picks based on student loan refinancing rates and more. (iStock)

Choosing the best student loan refinance companies can be complicated. However, based on an analysis of 12 different data categories — including student loan refinancing rates — Credible's resident experts have come up with picks for some of the best student loan refinance companies available currently.

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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.

1. Advantage Education Loan

Kentucky residents who are U.S. citizens or who have proof of residency may be able to refinance with Advantage Education Loans. This lender offers fixed-rate loans only. There are no fees to apply and borrowers can refinance up to $500,000 in educational debt with a 10, 15, or 20-year repayment term. Parents can also apply for a refinance loan.

Pros: Advantage Education Loans come with ample benefits including forbearance options, refinancing solutions for those who haven't completed their degree, and the opportunity to qualify for a loan with no prepayment or origination fees.

Cons: Unfortunately, the downside is there are no variable rate options. Advantage does also not disclose the minimum credit score to qualify and a hard credit check is required for would-be borrowers to determine eligibility and loan repayment terms.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like Advantage Education Loan — and refinance rates within minutes.

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

2. Brazos

Texas residents with an income of at least $60,000 may be eligible to refinance up to $149,000 of undergraduate debt or $249,000 in graduate student loans with Brazos. Both variable and fixed rate loans are available.  Borrowers have a choice of repaying their new loan over five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years and economic hardship forbearance offers the option to pause payments for up to 12 total months if needed.

Pros: Benefits to borrowers include no origination or prepayment fees and the choice of variable or fixed rate loan options.

Cons: But borrowers need to have a high minimum annual income to qualify, which is a big disadvantage. Cosigner release also is not available, which is another downside of refinancing with this lender.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like Brazos — and refinance rates within minutes.

SHOULD YOU CONSOLIDATE OR REFINANCE YOUR STUDENT LOANS?

3. Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank refinance loans are available nationwide to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and resident aliens with an eligible cosigner. Borrowers must have at least $10,000 in student loans to refinance with this lender and can refinance up to $149,000 in undergraduate loans or $150,000 in graduate loans. Fixed-rate loans are available. Loans can be repaid over five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years and cosigner release is available after 24-36 months of on-time payments.

Pros: Borrowers benefit from the choice of variable or fixed rate loans, the opportunity to refinance without first completing a degree, and no prepayment or origination fees.

Cons: But there are some disadvantages including the fact that a disability discharge option is not offered and no minimum credit score is disclosed. The good news is, would-be borrowers can find out eligibility with only a soft credit check.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like Citizens Bank — and refinance rates within minutes.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DEFAULT ON A STUDENT LOAN?

4. College Ave

College Ave offers loans to U.S. citizens and permanent residents except for people residing in Maine. Fixed-rate and variable loan options are available. Borrowers have a choice of a five, seven, 10, 12, 15, or 20-year repayment term and forbearance is available in case of financial hardship. It's possible to apply with a soft credit check and refinance up to $149,000 in undergraduate debt or $150,000 in graduate debt.

Pros: The big pros of borrowing with College Ave include no prepayment or origination fees, the choice of variable or fixed rates, and the chance to apply for a loan with only a soft credit check.

Cons: Unfortunately, the downsides include the lack of availability for Maine residents and the fact the lender doesn't disclose the minimum credit score required to gain approval.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like College Ave — and refinance rates within minutes.

STUDENT REFINANCING RATES GOING DOWN - HERE'S WHY

5. EdvestinU

Residents from any state can apply for student loan refinance loans through EdvestinU, although the loans are offered through the non-profit New Hampshire Education Assistance Foundation. The maximum you can refinance for undergraduate loans is $249,000 and the maximum graduate loan balance is $199,000. Borrowers have a choice of a fixed-rate loan or a variable rate loan.

Pros: EdvestinU comes with several benefits including the choice of fixed or variable rate loan options, the opportunity to apply while still enrolled in school, and the chance to refinance without finishing a degree. There is also no origination fee or prepayment penalty.

Cons: Unfortunately, borrowers need two personal references to get approved and an 800 credit score is required to qualify for the lender's most competitive rates.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like EdvestinU — and refinance rates within minutes.

6. ELFI

ELFI loans are available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have earned a degree and who have at least $15,000 in student loan debt. Borrowers need a credit score of at least 680 to qualify and can choose between a variable or fixed rate loan. Loans can be repaid over five, seven, 10, 12, 15 or 20 years and forbearance is an option for up to 12 months in case of financial hardship.

Pros: The benefits of choosing ELFI include the choice of variable or fixed rate loan options, the fact the lender charges no fees, forbearance options in case of hardship, and the opportunity to earn a referral bonus.

Cons: However, the downsides of this lender include the absence of discounts or options for cosigner release.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like ELFI — and refinance rates within minutes.

7. MEFA

MEFA loans come from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority but are available to residents of any state. Variable and fixed rate loan options are available and borrowers can repay loans over seven, 10, or 15 years. MEFA requires a minimum of $10,000 in student loans to refinance with them, as well as a minimum credit score of 670. There's no loan maximum limit, making this lender a good choice for borrowers with ample student debt.

Pros: Benefits of borrowing with MEFA include refinance options for people who haven't completed a degree, the choice of variable or fixed rate loan options, and the fact there aren't any origination fees or prepayment fees when applying with this lender.

Cons: But the lack of any discounts, including a reduced APR for autopay, is a big downside, as is the fact MEFA doesn't allow cosigner release or provide any forbearance or deferment options.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like MEFA — and refinance rates within minutes.

8. PenFed

PenFed refinance loans are available to student loan borrowers who have credit scores of at least 670 and at least $7,500 in outstanding educational debt. It's possible to pre-qualify with only a soft credit check and to refinance up to $500,000 in student loans. The new PenFed refinance loan can be repaid over five, 12, or 15 years. If borrowers are not current members, they can easily join.

Pros: The advantages of choosing PenFed include the absence of origination fees or prepayment penalties, the option to apply to refinance loans with a spouse, and a choice of fixed or variable interest rate loans.

Cons: However, there are downsides including the lack of any discounts, the fact there are no options for deferment or forbearance in times of hardship, and the requirement to become a credit union member in order to borrow.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like PenFed — and refinance rates within minutes.

STUDENT REFINANCING RATES GOING DOWN - HERE'S WHY

9. RISLA

The Rhode Island Student Loan authority allows borrowers from any state to refinance with them, provided eligibility requirements are met including having a minimum income of $40,000 and owing at least $7,500 in outstanding student loans. Up to $249,000 in educational debt can be refinanced and the new loan can be repaid over five, 10, or 15 years.

Pros: The big advantage of RISLA is that the minimum credit score requirement of 680 is low, so more borrowers can qualify. The lender also makes refinance loans available even without a completed degree and there are no prepayment or origination fees.

Cons: However, the disadvantage of choosing this lender is that cosigner release is not available.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like RISLA — and refinance rates within minutes.

10. SoFi

SoFi refinance loans are available to permanent residents, citizens, and visa holders. Borrowers can choose from fixed-rate loans or variable rate loans with rates with the rate received depending on credit. SoFi does not state a maximum refinance balance or a minimum credit score but it's possible to prequalify and find out loan terms with just a soft credit check. Borrowers can repay their SoFi refinance loan over five, seven, 10, 15, or 20 years.

Pros: The option to select a varaible or fixed rate loan, along with the absence of origination fees or prepayment penalties, are upsides of SoFi.

Cons: However, the downside is that cosigner release isn't an option.

With Credible's free online tool, you can compare multiple lenders — like SoFi — and refinance rates within minutes.

Bottom line

If you have the financial means to refinance student loans right now you could save money in the longrun.

In spring 2020, the Federal Reserve announced two major rate cuts to provide relief for Americans suffering economic hardships due to the coronavirus pandemic. The interest rate cuts (the first emergency move since 2008) has benefitted student loan borrowers who may not have been able to meet their monthly loan repayment deadlines.

"When the Fed lowers interest rates, banks can borrow at lower interest rates which, hopefully, will entail them lowering interest rates for borrowing for their customers," Clint Haynes, a Certified Financial Planner, financial advisor, and owner of NextGen Wealth in Kansas City, Missouri, previously explained to FOX Business.

So, if you have private student loans (rate cuts don't impact federal student loans, which have fixed rates) and want to save some cash, it's worth weighing your refinancing options.

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

Finally, Credible also noted a series of other (non-affiliated) student loan refinancing lenders to consider. These include CommonBond, Discover, First Republic Bank, iHelp, Laurel Road, LendKey, PNC, splash financial and Wells Fargo. Some of these lenders (like CommonBond and First Republic Bank) have undergrad max loan balances up to $500,000. And all, except Splash Financial which hasn't disclosed, offer at least 10-year loan terms (amid others).

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