If you have student loans with Navient, you might be surprised one day soon to get a little envelope from a company called NaviRefi in the mail. This envelope contains an exclusive offer that’s only made to a select group of people right now.
Sadly, it’s not as exciting as finding a Golden Ticket. Instead, if you have loans with Navient and receive an offer in the mail, you may be eligible to refinance your Navient student loans with NaviRefi for a cheaper rate.
Refinancing can be a great way to save money on your student loans. But before signing on the dotted line, there are details you should know. We’ll walk you through them to help you decide if refinancing your Navient student loans with NaviRefi — or any lender at all — is right for you.
What is NaviRefi?
Most people are familiar with Navient as a student loan servicer, and indeed, that’s most of its business. But Navient also owns several other companies that deal with various aspects of student loans, including student loan refinancing.
Navient already owns Earnest, another student loan refinance company. However, it also recently created NaviRefi, a new refinance brand. Refinanced Navient loans under NaviRefi actually goes through Earnest. “NaviRefi” is simply a brand label that they use, but you’re essentially getting an Earnest refinancing loan.
Once your loan is refinanced through NaviRefi (or Earnest, as it technically will be), the loan goes back to Navient for loan servicing. So, you’ll still end up working with Navient either way to repay your loans, if you choose to refinance them through NaviRefi or continue paying your loans as-is.
The only thing that’s different is the Navient parent company will own your loans now, not whoever owned your loans before. If you were working with Navient to pay off your federal loans, then the new loan’s owner will be Navient itself, not the federal government.
What to consider before refinancing federal student loans
First and foremost, NaviRefi is a private student loan lender. You can refinance your existing federal and private student loans with NaviRefi, but weigh this decision carefully, especially if you’re considering refinancing federal student loans.
As soon as you refinance federal student loans, they become private student loans. And private student loans come with less protections and options for repayment and forgiveness. For example, if you’re trying to get PSLF, avoid refinancing at all costs because this program isn’t available for private student loans.
If you have federal student loans, our rule of thumb is to consider refinancing once you meet two conditions:
- You’re solidly employed in the private sector.
- The total amount you owe is less than two times your annual income.
For example, let’s say you’re working as a software engineer for a private company making $100,000 per year. If you owe $75,000 in federal student loans, now would be a good time to consider refinancing because you owe less than two times your annual income (that would be $200,000 in this case).
In this case, it’s unlikely you’ll even need those handy protections that federal student loans offer. You’ll gain more by refinancing your loans.
Nitty gritty details: Refinancing student loans with NaviRefi
Here are the basic details you need to know to make an educated decision about whether it’s a good idea to refinance your student loans with NaviRefi.
As of late February 2019:
- Variable Interest Rates: 2.874%* – 7.239%* APR
- Fixed Interest Rates: 3.480%* – 7.350%* APR
If you sign up for autopay, you’ll also get a 0.25% interest rate discount. This is pretty standard for most private student loan lenders.
*Rates may change and are determined by your credit.
NaviRefi doesn’t charge any origination fees for taking your loan out. It also doesn’t charge any fees for paying off your loan early.
There may be other fees involved, such as late payment fees, but these aren’t listed on its site.
Student loan refinance amounts
NaviRefi can refinance student loans between $5,001 to $150,000.
If you went to a professional school (medical, dental, veterinary, or pharmacy school), you can refinance loans between $5,001 to $250,000.
You can refinance your loan term anywhere between 5 to 20 years, with one-year increments in between. For example, you could refinance your student loans for 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, etc… years.
The only exception to this rule is for borrowers who live in Kentucky. NaviRefi only allows Kentucky residents to refinance loans for up to 10 years if your student loans are $15,000 or less.
Who can refinance student loans with NaviRefi?
Right now, NaviRefi is pretty exclusive in that it’s only available to existing Navient customers by invitation only.
This point is worth noting and is a little unclear to us.
Navient may have a small business granting its own private student loans. But by far and away, the largest chunk of Navient’s business is servicing student loans from other lenders. If you took out federal student loans and are working with Navient to repay them, then Navient is your student loan servicer, not your lender.
In this case, you’re not a Navient customer — your lender is. They hired Navient to do all the customer service work on your loan. By this definition, only borrowers with loans that were originated — not merely serviced — by Navient are eligible to refinance with NaviRefi.
We reached out to the company for clarification on this point, but it did not respond to our request for more information.
How to get approved to refinance Navient student loans
Assuming you do get a letter in the mail inviting you to apply to refinance Navient student loans with NaviRefi.
In order to be eligible to move forward with the application, NaviRefi requires you to check several boxes:
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must live in an eligible state. NaviRefi is currently not available in California, Delaware, or Nevada.
- You also must have attended a school that receives Title IV federal student aid. You’re not required to have graduated from the school, but you must have received your loans from attending an eligible school.
- You must be employed or have at least some other source of income. If you’re a stay-at-home spouse, for example, you can list your spouse’s income.
Pros of refinancing with NaviRefi
Checking your rate and even completing the application are lightning-fast. In fact, the company claims it only takes three minutes for you to complete an application.
That’s probably because the company already has most of your information since you have existing Navient loans. All it has to do is pull some extra information, like your credit score and history.
Another benefit is that you can refinance your private and your federal loans together. That’s not uncommon among student loan refinancing companies, but it’s worth noting.
Finally, Navient does offer a student loan discharge in case of death or disability. If you can’t make your payments because you’ve passed away or are permanently and completely incapacitated, Navient will release the loan. You might think that’d be standard, but it’s not among all student loan servicers.
Cons of refinancing with NaviRefi
There are several factors to consider that might sway you away from NaviRefi, even if you do get this offer.
NaviRefi isn’t available in all states. Residents of California, Delaware, and Nevada are just plain out of luck. Even if you do live in a state where NaviRefi offers refinancing, you may not get the full suite of options advertised on its website.
If you want to refinance for a variable-rate loan, you’re out of luck if you live in one of the following states:
- New Hampshire
If you live in one of these states, your only option is a fixed-rate loan.
Residents of Kentucky also can’t refinance their loans for more than 10 years if they owe less than $15,000.
NaviRefi is also tight-lipped about a lot of details. For example, they don’t specify:
- Whether you can apply for refinancing with a cosigner (important if you have bad credit)
- Whether you can refinance your parents’ PLUS loans along with your own loans
- What their forbearance program look like
- What documents are required for self-employed people
This also points to another disadvantage of refinancing Navient student loans — Navient’s reputation is just plain bad. It’s consistently rated as one of the worst student loan servicers. If you’re looking to avoid working with Navient, consider avoiding NaviRefi since your student loans will end up right back with Navient again.
That said, this reputation is primarily due to their handling of federal student loans, not a private refinancing product that would be limited to borrowers with higher than average credit scores.
Consider other lenders too when you refinance Navient student loans
Just because you get an offer in the mail inviting you to NaviRefi doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t do it.
Instead, consider student loan refinancing as a part of your overall financial plan. Tread wisely by shopping around for the best refinancing offer so you get the most value.
You can fill out the application that NaviRefi sends you since it’s just a rate check, not a complete application. You have to accept the terms before it’s final. Then repeat this process and check your rate with other companies to see which one offers the best rate.
By shopping around with multiple lenders, you can be assured you’ll get the best refinancing deal possible. This keeps more money in your pocket and allows you to pay off your student loans even faster.