8 Best Student Loan Refinance Bonus Offers (Up to $1,275)

Refinancing student loans can get you a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, or both. If you refinance through this site, you'll get the best student loan refinance bonus too.

The six lenders in the table below offer the lowest interest rates more than 95% of the time. If you want to make sure that you've found the best rate, you'll see the full list of eight refinancing companies further down the page.

SoFi Splash Earnest Laurel Road Education Loan Finance Credible


splash logo


laurel road

education loan finance

credible logo

6.24 – 9.99% APR*1
5.28 – 10.24% APR2
5.99 – 9.74% APR3
5.49 – 9.95% APR4
5.28 – 8.99% APR5
5.28 – 12.41% AR6
5.24 – 9.99% APR*1
5.19 – 10.24% APPR2
5.19 – 9.74% APR3
5.44 – 9.75% APR4
5.48 – 8.69% APR5
5.48 – 10.98% APR6
*Includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. For 100k or more. 1
For 100k or more. $300 for 50k to $99,9992
For 100k or more. $200 for 50k to $99,9993
For 100k+, $300 for 50k to 99k.4
For 150k+, $300 to $575 for 50k to 149k.5
For 100k+, $350 for 50k to 100k. $100 for 5k to 50k6
Visit Sofi Visit Splash Visit Earnest Visit Laurel Road Visit ELFI Visit Credible


5.24 – 9.99% APR*
*Includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. For 100k or more.
Visit Sofi

splash logo

5.19 – 10.24% APPR
For 100k or more. $300 for 50k to $99,999
Visit Splash


5.19 – 9.74% APR
For 100k or more. $200 for 50k to $99,999
Visit Earnest
Laurel Road

laurel road

5.44 – 9.75% APR
For 100k+, $300 for 50k to 99k.
Visit Laurel Road
Education Loan Finance

education loan finance

5.48 – 8.69% APR
For 150k+, $300 to $575 for 50k to 149k.
Visit ELFI

credible logo

5.48 – 10.98% APR
For 100k+, $350 for 50k to 100k. $100 for 5k to 50k
Visit Credible

Here's how we determine what student loan refinance companies to feature and where:

Should I refinance student loans in 2024?

You can refinance your private student loans as many times as you want, as long as you find a lower interest rate. Anyone with private student loans should apply to refinance every one or two years to see if there's a better rate out there.

Of course, if you refinanced in the past couple years, it's unlikely you'll find a lower rate in the current rate environment unless your credit dramatically improved.

You could refinance federal student loans if you receive little to no interest subsidy and if you're positive you won't pursue any forgiveness plans.

How the income driven repayment recertification extension impacts refinancing

While the student loan pause has long been over, the Department of Ed announced recently that no borrower will be asked to recertify their IDR payment until September 2024 at the earliest.

What that means is that many borrowers will have low income driven payments possibly even into mid-2025.

If you're using the SAVE repayment plan, that could mean huge interest subsidies if your payment does not fully cover the interest.

Any borrower with a very small payment on the SAVE might currently might consider waiting to refinance until they lose most or all of their interest subsidy.

This happens when your required payment almost or fully covers your calculated interest.

What Impact Does the New SAVE Plan Have on Refinancing?

If you decide to refinance your federal student loans, you'll need to justify giving up the SAVE income-driven repayment plan.

This plan subsidizes all your interest that your required payment does not cover.

That said, if your income is at least $50,000, you work in the private sector, and you earn more than what you owe, student loan refinancing is probably the smartest decision.

Make sure you get at least a 1% lower rate or better on your refinancing offer compared with your federal loan.

What is a student loan refinance bonus?

Most websites do not offer any student loan refinance at all.

That's because it's more profitable to retain 100% of the advertising commission a site earns when you shop rates through them.

Sites like Student Loan Planner take a reduced advertising commission to provide a bonus on our end as well as giving lenders enough economics to offer a bonus in many cases on their end as well.

Refer a friend bonuses are not the same as a student loan refinance bonus

You can also get bonuses for referring friends from lenders once you're a customer.

This is not the same thing as getting a student loan refinance bonus though.

A referral bonus depends on what you do after a refinancing.

A student loan refinance bonus depends on where you refinanced your own loans.

How to get the best student loan refinancing deal

Here's why you will get the best refinancing deal when comparing lenders on Student Loan Planner®.

  1. We encourage you to shop around, since it's tough to predict who will offer you the lowest student loan refinance rates.
  2. Our partner lenders account for the vast majority of the student loan refinancing market.
  3. We take lower advertising fees, in order to offer you a bonus that you can't get elsewhere.

If you find a better student loan refinancing deal somewhere else, please let us know, because that should be pretty close to impossible.

YouTube video

Get the best student loan refinance bonus along with a lower interest rate

If you've already started an application with any of the companies above, you can still get the bonus if you apply with a new email that you haven't used before.

The paid referral relationship we have with our partners does not affect the rate you're offered, which means that you get a better offer than if you applied directly.

Some websites that show up at the top of the Google search results try to hide that they offer no student loan refinance bonus to their readers at all. They highlight refer-a-friend bonuses that you'll still qualify for after going through our site.

Don't fall for promotional gimmicks when looking for a bonus

Many websites try to make a bonus look larger than it actually is or obfuscate that they're not giving you cash.

For example, a site might promise a bonus of thousands of dollars but only cover a fraction of the refinancing market and not offer good rates.

Other sites might assign an arbitrary value to a free course or service in order to make their bonus numbers appear large because they don't want to have to pay cash to you.

Companies like this choose to keep the higher profit margin for themselves. We'd prefer to take a lower commission so that you get the best overall deal.

Notice that for some of these companies, you need to refinance a minimum amount with that lender to get that bonus.

If you're refinancing a six figure loan amount that's large enough to receive a $1,000 or higher student loan refinance bonus, reach out to us as soon as you are done applying, so that we can track your bonus.

Send an email to sierra@studentloanplanner.com to verify that your loan shows up as being credited to Student Loan Planner® prior to signing the refinancing documents.

If you're not sure which company to start with, take our quiz below to get a personalized recommendation.

Not sure what to do with your student loans?

Take our 11 question quiz for a personalized recommendation on whether refinancing is right for you.

refinance student loans without a degree

When to refinance federal loans and private student loans

After advising over $3.4 billion dollars in student debt, here's what I tell borrowers when they ask if they should refinance federal and private student loans.

At this time,

  1. Refinance federal student loans if you:
    • Work in the private sector
    • Have a solid emergency fund
    • Expect to owe federal debt less than your income
    • Are ready to give up forbearance/deferment, forgivenessincome-driven repayment plans, and potential eligibility for the PSLF program
    • Are willing to give up the potential promise of any new student loan programs that a future administration might try to enact
  2. Refinance private student loans if you:
    • Can find a lower rate than your current loans
    • Want a lower or higher monthly loan payment
    • Have not checked current offers in the last six months
    • Have had an increase in your credit score or income

Remember, you can refinance private loans two, three, four or more times. The only thing that matters is that you find a better rate.

Choosing the best student loan refinance company

We've done surveys of thousands of professionals with six figure student debt. Only 10% of these borrowers check more than three lenders. That means higher profits for student loan refinance companies. Since it only takes two to five minutes to get a rate estimate from a company, you should at least check a few different options.

You'll be asked for basic information, and the company will give you a rate estimate if you could potentially qualify. This is called a “soft credit check,” which does not impact your credit score.

Once you've identified one or two companies that offer excellent rates, you can submit to a “hard credit check,” which has a very small, temporary, one-time impact on your credit score (often 5 to 10 points). This is similar to applying for a credit card, so it's not something to be concerned about unless you're applying for a mortgage in one or two weeks after applying for your student loan refinance.

Some student loan refinance lenders, like EarnestELFISoFi and Laurel Road offer rates directly.

Others, like Credible and LendKey, connect you to a network of lenders on their platforms that you probably wouldn't check on your own.

Note that you can apply to as many companies as you want. If you do so within 30 days, then it's considered “rate shopping” and only counts against your credit score one time.

What are current student loan refinancing interest rates for the best qualified borrowers?

Your interest rate on a refinanced student loan depends on your credit profile, income, debt-to-income ratio, and many other factors.

The table below shows the lowest fixed interest rates that are available nationwide that readers have reported to us in winter 2024. Variable rates are also available, but most of our readers choose fixed-rate loans.

You should not necessarily expect to get a rate as low as what's listed below. The table merely shows the current state of the refinancing market for the best-qualified borrowers so that you can gauge if you should apply or not.

If you refinance at current rates, expect to check back in within a few months to see if you can refinance again — particularly due to the economy having higher than typical interest rates right now.

5-Year Fixed7-Year Fixed10-Year Fixed15-Year Fixed20-Year Fixed

All 8 student loan refinancing companies compared

Compare the eight student loan refinance lenders below to get the lowest interest rate. We highlight the top reasons you would consider using each lender, the cash bonus terms available (some are specific to the amount refinanced), lender-specific reviews if you want to learn more, as well as a star rating, reflecting long term feedback we receive from our readers.


4.5 out of 5

SoFi: Best if you're unsure where to apply

  • Positives: Competitive rates, flexible terms and view rates in just two minutes
  • Allows cosigners: Yes, but no cosigner release offered
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, in limited situations
  • Interest rates: Fixed rates 5.24 – 9.99% APR; Variable rates 6.24 – 9.99% APR (rates include optional 0.25% AutoPay discount)
  • Bonus: $500 for refinancing 100k or more.

Splash Financial

splash logo
4.5 out of 5

Splash Financial: Best for easy application

  • Positives: Compares multiple lenders, good customer service available
  • Allows cosigners: No
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, length varies based on lending partner
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 5.19% APR; Variable starting at 5.28% APR
  • Bonus: $300 for 50k to 99k or $1,000 when you refinance $100,000 or more


4.5 out of 5

Earnest: Best for flexible repayment

  • Positives: Flexible repayment terms, custom loan payments
  • Allows cosigners: Yes
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, up to 36 months
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 5.19% APR; Variable starting at 5.99% APR
  • Bonus: $200 for refinancing 50k to $99,999; $1000 for refinancing 100k or more.

Laurel Road

laurel road
5.0 out of 5

Laurel Road: Best for medical professionals

  • Positives: Flexible repayment terms, profession based discounts
  • Allows cosigners: Yes, cosigner release available after 36 months
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, up to 12 months
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 5.44% APR; Variable starting at 5.49% APR
  • Student Loan Planner® bonus: $300 for refinancing 50k to 100k, $1,050 for refinancing over 100k, OR interest rate discount if applicable.


elfi logo
4.5 out of 5

ELFI: Best for customer service

  • Positives: Highly competitive fixed rates
  • Allows cosigners: Yes, but no cosigner release
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, up to 12 months
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 5.48% APR; Variable starting at 5.28% APR
  • Bonus: $300 for refinancing at least $50,000. $575 for 100k to 149k, and $1,275 for refinancing 150k+.


credible logo
4.5 out of 5

Credible: Best for comparing multiple lenders

  • Positives: Strong application experience
  • Allows cosigners: Yes
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes with some lenders
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 5.28% APR (with autopay)*; Variable starting at 5.28% APR (with autopay)*
  • Bonus: $1,250 bonus for loans over $100k, and $350 for loans $50k to $100k


Lendkey logo
4.0 out of 5

LendKey: Best for community banks and credit unions

  • Positives: Compares many smaller lenders you might not apply to
  • Allows cosigners: Yes
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 7.11% APR; Variable starting at 5.54% APR
  • Bonus: $100 for refinancing up to $20k, or $200 for $20k to $100k, or $400 for over $100k, or $1,250 for $150k or more


Citizens Bank logo
4.0 out of 5

Citizens: Best traditional bank with refinancing

  • Positives: Can refinance Parent PLUS loans in child’s name, possible to refinance without degree
  • Allows cosigners: Yes, cosigner release available after 36 months
  • Deferment or forbearance available: Yes, with limitations
  • Interest rates: Fixed starting at 6.49% APR; Variable starting at 7.02% APR
  • Bonus: $350 to $1,250 depending on amount refinanced (bonus paid through Credible + Student Loan Planner®).

Best student loan refinance company by profession

In January 2024, we surveyed over 3,900 of our readers, who tend to have higher incomes and higher debt than the typical student loan borrower. We did a similar survey in April 2022, which received over 6,200 responses.

We list the first place lender below for each profession in our 2024 survey compared to our 2022 survey, so you can see how much market share the number one lender in each profession captured over time.

The lower the market share of the number one lender in your profession, the more companies you need to apply with to get the best rate.

Occupation2024 Market Share2022 Market Share
Corporate EmployeesSofi (63%)Common Bond (29%)
DentistsLaurel Road (43%)Laurel Road (58%)
LawyersEarnest (22%)Earnest (31%)
NursesLaurel Road (22%)Citizens (25%)
OptometristsLaurel Road (83%)Laurel Road (64%)
PharmacistsLaurel Road (25%)Earnest (32%)
Physical TherapistsLaurel Road (30%)Earnest (24%)
Physician AssistantsLaurel Road (55%)Laurel Road (40%)
PhysiciansLaurel Road (45%)Laurel Road (49%)
VeterinariansSoFi (36%)SoFi (23%)

Source: Student Loan Planner Audience Surveys, January 2024 and April 2022

Keep in mind, in 2023, Laurel Road maintained aggressive pricing for certain healthcare professions such as dentists, physicians and optometrists, when compared with other lenders.

They're far less aggressively priced in 2024. So even if you're an optometrist, and you notice one lender in the table above captured 83% of your profession's market share, that might not be true currently.

Outside of those three professions, student loan refinancing market share is significantly more diffuse. If your occupation is not on the list above, you should be prepared to apply widely, since for most professions, no one lender dominates.

Note that one company, Commonbond, appeared in previous surveys, but no longer refinances student loans.

3 Companies tend to dominate the student loan refinancing market

We found that one of EarnestSoFi, or Laurel Road captured the plurality of the student loan refinancing volume for each job category we looked at. If you only search three companies, those would be excellent places to start.

Why you should still compare rates at several companies

Even so, notice that no one company captured more than half of a profession's student loan refinancing volume. For most jobs, the most popular company captured less than one third of the market.

That means that it still pays to check at least three to five lenders to see how low of an interest rate they could offer. You can also compare repayment options, possible interest rate reductions and other loan terms.

For example, companies will sometimes offer temporary interest rate discounts that are far superior to the top three student loan refinance companies. You never know when that will happen, so it pays to shop around.

Student loan refinancing guides for professionals

Dentists have very different student loan refinancing considerations than lawyers do. Check out some of our most popular profession-specific student loan refinance guides below.

Use a Refinance Calculator, See Potential Savings

To refinance student loans, you need to choose a repayment term (usually 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years).

It's common to start with a 10, 15 or 20 year term, make a bunch of extra payments above what you owe, then refinance again in a couple years to a 5 or 7 year. This is the student loan refinancing ladder strategy of paying down debt, which Student Loan Planner® popularized.

The 20 year fixed-rate option has been significantly more popular as of late, given many borrowers seek the longest repayment term possible with short term rate offers not being very good with the current rate environment.

Regardless of which strategy or loan term you choose, these student loan refinancing calculators can show you how much money you could save:

Common Refinancing FAQs

Here's a list of some of the most common questions we get from readers who are thinking
about refinancing.

Simply apply through Student Loan Planner® using the links present in this article. If you have a large enough loan size, you'll get a cash bonus shortly after your loan funds. In some cases, Student Loan Planner® offers an additional $500 student loan refinance bonus on top of what a lender offers, to combine for the maximum student loan refinance bonuses you see above.

Many borrowers will not be able to secure a rate lower than what they currently have on their federal loans. However, highly qualified borrowers with rates in the 7% to 8% range could expect to lower their rates by 1% to 2% in the current rate environment depending on what term you choose (10 year, 20 year, etc.)

Yes, you can combine federal and/or private student loans into one new loan with a private lender. We would not recommend including federal student loans until you're certain you won't benefit from PSLF or an IDR repayment strategy.

Your credit score might decline by approximately five to ten points or less when you refinance. This is a temporary impact. If you are ever denied for a mortgage or business loan because of your student loans, it will be because your monthly payment is too high, not because of a hit to your credit score from refinancing.

For federal student loans, aim for at least a 1% lower rate than what you have now to justify giving up income-driven repayment plans and forbearance options. For private loans, a rate at least 0.25% below what you have justifies refinancing.

Yes, you can transfer a Parent PLUS or private cosigned loan to your name alone. Laurel Road is one lender that will do this.

Variable interest rates are not a good idea in the current interest rate environment given that they're based on short term rates set by the Fed. Only consider variable rates if you could afford to pay off your student loan rapidly and you get a rate offer at least 1% below the fixed rate offer. Most borrowers opt for the fixed rate and should continue to do so until the interest rate environment changes.

Yes. You should refinance your loans as many times as you can find a lower interest rate. You should check competing lenders at least once a year to see if you can lower your interest costs further. Many borrowers refinance two, three, four, or even five times.

To qualify for a refinance loan, borrowers generally need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have qualifying educational debt from an accredited college or university, a credit score of at least 650, and less than 36% of your income going to debt payments.

Most private lenders allow up to three months of forbearance. Check your promissory note to verify. Forgiveness of private student loan debt due to death or disability could be considered taxable income, so make sure you have good term life and disability coverage.

The borrower whose name is on the loan is on the hook for all of the debt. Cosigning a student loan for a spouse is a risk, in case of divorce. Additional considerations may apply in community property states.

Most student loan refinancing denials happen due to a low credit score, high debt-to-income ratio, or an ineligible institution you attended. If you improve your credit score or debt-to-income ratio, you can reapply as soon as 30 days later so that this positive change shows up in your credit profile.

A good time to refinance is when you've determined student loan forgiveness will not benefit you, your career is stable, and you have an emergency fund.

Student loan consolidation means combining multiple federal loans into a single new Direct Consolidation loan through studentloans.gov. Refinancing means moving your loans to a private lender for a lower interest rate or lower payment, or both.

Generally, any federal or private student loan you took out during school is eligible. Credit card debt, personal loans, residency relocation loans, or other debt you might have incurred during your education is not eligible for student loan refinancing.

As often as you can find a lower interest rate. This is especially true when you receive a student loan refinance bonus each time you refinance with a new lender.

You can still refinance with bad credit, as long as you have a qualifying co-signer. If you want to refinance in your own name, you should apply to a large number of lenders as some have looser underwriting requirements. You should also make efforts to increase your credit score by paying your loans on time and eliminating credit card balances.

You can refinance as soon as you have graduated and can prove your income, usually through a signed offer letter or contract showing your salary. Certain professionals like dentists and physicians may be able to refinance several months ahead of their higher post-training salaries with signed offer letters.

President Biden or a future President could create a new student loan pause if there's a new national emergency (see HEROES Act of 2003). That said, Congress will likely not tolerate an additional pause for several years. If you know you want to be debt-free in that time frame, then refinancing still makes sense if you're saving money on interest.

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) has been amended to give 100% interest subsidies on all unpaid interest that your required monthly payment does not cover. This change went into effect on July 30, 2023. The lower payments available on SAVE are available now (the lower payments for undergrad only borrowers go into effect in mid-2024). This new payment plan will make refinancing significantly less attractive for borrowers whose payments do not fully cover the interest.

You should not refinance federal loans unless you're ready to give up all potential future cancellation. President Biden is again trying for student loan relief after losing at the Supreme Court. We would expect such relief would mostly be targeted towards the lowest income borrowers. So if your income is higher than your debt, you would be unlikely to benefit from any future cancellation efforts besides the new SAVE IDR plan.

Testimonials from readers who refinanced

These readers refinanced through Student Loan Planner® and picked up a cash-back bonus. We wanted to share some real world examples so you'll feel confident that yes, refinancing and getting paid to do it is a real thing.

Experience getting a lower interest rate through Student Loan Planner®

blonde female outside in lab coat smiling

Marisa, Dentist:

“Student Loan Planner® gave me the best companies to look into and then after I did my research I chose which company worked best for me!! I am so glad that I did it and the cash back was a nice bonus too!”

TJ and Lauren on the water

TJ and Lauren, Physicians:

“TJ and I were able to refinance with Student Loan Planner®. We each received a $500 bonus…an extra $1000 for something we were going to do anyways!”

Start applying and find the lowest rate

Please share these deals with your friends who are thinking about refinancing. Maybe they'll take you out to dinner with part of the bonus. Better yet, maybe they could put it toward their principal and get out of student loan debt even sooner!

Other questions? Send us an email.

Table of Contents

Not sure what to do with your student loans?

Take our 11 question quiz to get a personalized recommendation for 2024 on whether you should pursue PSLF, Biden’s New IDR plan, or refinancing (including the one lender we think could give you the best rate).

Take Our Quiz


  1. SoFi: Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. See disclosuresSoFi disclosuresStudent Loan Planner® disclosures.

  2. Splash: If you refinance over $100,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner®. Lowest rates displayed may include an autopay discount of 0.25%. Splash disclosures.

  3. Earnest: If you refinance $100,000 or more through this site, $500 of the $1,000 cash bonus is provided directly by Student Loan Planner®. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO MAKE ANY PAYMENT OR TAKE ANY OTHER ACTION IN RESPONSE TO THIS OFFER. Full Earnest disclosures.

  4. Laurel Road: If you refinance more than $100,000 and Student Loan Planner® receives credit, we will provide a $500 cash bonus directly to you. If you are a member of a professional association, Laurel Road might offer you the choice of an interest rate discount or the $300, or $550 cash bonus mentioned above. Offers from Laurel Road cannot be combined. Rate range above includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Rates as of 3/18/24. Rates Subject to Change. Terms and Conditions Apply. All products subject to credit approval. Laurel Road disclosures.

  5. Education Loan Finance: If you refinance over $150,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner®. Elfi disclosures.

  6. Credible: If you refinance over $100,000 through this site, $500 of the cash bonus listed above is provided directly by Student Loan Planner®. All bonus payments are by e-gift card. See terms.


  1. Howard July 18, 2018 at 10:38 AM

    I just refinanced my student loan and make a monthly payment of $1648 (4.98% 15 year loan) directly deducted from my bank account. What is the best way to make an additional “apply to principal only” payment online?should I make the interest only payment right after the regular payment is deducted? Interest of $28 accrues daily and I would 100% of my added payment to go directly towards principal reduction. My regular payment gets deducted on the 15th of the month automatically. Please advise and thank you!

    • Travis July 18, 2018 at 4:13 PM

      Sure so each payment has a portion of interest and principal based on a standard amortization table. If you make extra payments, it should all go to principal reduction and any interest you pay down would probably just be an accounting convention. One best practice is to make extra payments every 2 weeks to pay off the loan faster, and also to refinance that 15 year loan to a 10 year loan after a year or two, in which case you could possibly get a lower interest rate and another cash back bonus.

  2. Ross August 23, 2018 at 5:05 AM


    My wife and I applied and were approved for a refi using the link to one of the lenders above!
    How do people typically receive the cash bonus?

    • Travis Hornsby August 23, 2018 at 4:07 PM

      Usually the company will reach out with info to get you paid via PayPal. I believe some use Giftly, which is a money transfer platform. Others I think still want to mail you a check. But I’ve had hundreds of folks go through those links and it’s worked out pretty well for most all of them. Id suggest waiting at least 2 weeks until after the loan disburses before you start worrying any. To make sure you get tagged correctly, if you’ve ever started an application somewhere you might need to click on the link and use a new email address.

  3. Nadya Nenadich November 16, 2018 at 1:26 PM

    When I consolidated my loans I was already 5 years into the 10 year PSLF. After 5 more year of repayment I inquired why the debt was not being forgiven and was told I had lost those initial 5 years when I consolidated. I was not aware of this! Is there anything that can be done?

    • Travis Hornsby November 16, 2018 at 7:02 PM

      Consolidating is very different from refinancing. Clearly anyone going for PSLF should not be refinancing. That said, there are bills in Congress that would add back those 5 years of credit. However, currently there’s nothing you can do.

  4. Dane McFarland November 22, 2018 at 8:42 PM

    Hey Travis,

    I have a client who I will be working with pro bono for experience. The short of it is this: they are currently filing for Chapter 11 due to a number of medical bills. He is a teacher, and has been so for about 20 years. He has somewhere between 10k-20k left in loans. I am wondering if, having been a teacher for 20 years, he would qualify for PSLF, or if there is anything else we can look into to get some of the loans forgiven or reduced? Or would simply refinancing be the best option? Thanks, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Travis Hornsby November 25, 2018 at 8:32 PM

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too Dane. Refinancing in a case like this is probably going to be limited benefit for a couple reasons. First, if he has a Ch 11 on his file then he would definitely need a cosigner to be able to qualify at all. Second, he should look into teacher student loan forgiveness before refinancing. That program can give you up to $17,500 if you serve in a qualifying job and at a qualifying employer. PSLF is definitely not on the table in a case like this. Assuming teacher loan forgiveness isn’t an option after looking into it and he has a cosigner, then you could try refinancing.

  5. Carol Lockwood January 24, 2019 at 11:46 PM

    My question would be: If I refinance my loan would I still be eligible for PSLF? Does it matter which Bank holds your loan to be eligible for PSLF? If I would be eligible for PSLF would it be better to refinance my loan?

    • Travis Hornsby January 25, 2019 at 12:10 AM

      Great question Carol. A lot of people use the words refinance and consolidate interchangeably. I use refinance to mean when you transfer your loans to a private lender because you want to pay them back in full. So if you want income driven payment options, forbearance, and PSLF, you should definitely not refinance. If you want to do PSLF, as soon as you graduate consolidation (meaning keeping your loans with the federal government as a Direct Consolidation loan) can be a good option. Refinancing is only for folks who plan to pay off their debt completely on their own and just want a lower interest rate to get there faster.

  6. Meed March 20, 2019 at 2:22 PM

    Are there any places that give a bonus without requiring a minimum amount to refinance?

    • Travis Hornsby March 20, 2019 at 9:45 PM

      They’re out there Meed, the ones on our site require a minimum though so we can protect those bonuses to keep them as high as possible. Obviously, paying out a 500 bonus for a 5000 dollar refinance would be a money losing proposition. Most borrowers who owe student debt owe more than 20k though.

  7. Orlando April 15, 2019 at 8:10 PM

    My loans have been consolidated I owe 16k. My question is, if my minimum payment is $70/ month and I give $200, would more go to the principal or it would just go to fees for the consolidation? Thank you in advance.

    • Travis Hornsby April 16, 2019 at 6:34 AM

      Extra payments generally pay down accrued interest first. There are no fees for a consolidation unless it happened due to a negative credit event. After accrued interest is paid, any extra payments are going to mainly go to principal.

  8. Jim April 29, 2019 at 2:35 PM

    If I refinance and then pay off the balance, or refinance and then refinance again in a short period, will I lose my bonus?

    • Travis Hornsby April 29, 2019 at 4:30 PM

      Most of the lenders disburse the bonus from 2 to 6 weeks after the loan funds. I personally wouldn’t do it immediately like that, but I know people who’ve done that over a 6 month time frame and have been in the clear. So if it’s less than a 6 month window that you’re holding onto the debt I can’t guarantee anything.

  9. Paul May 15, 2019 at 10:21 AM

    Does point #11 still apply if you are in a community property state and the refinance was done after marriage?

    • Travis Hornsby May 15, 2019 at 1:59 PM

      I would argue the debt was already existing so it wasn’t debt added in the marriage, but obviously check w an attorney bc community property rules are very complicated

  10. Paul May 15, 2019 at 10:24 AM

    In my point comment above, I meant to say if the spouse has not co-signed the refinancing of the loan, would they be responsible in the case of divorce? The original private loan would have been taken our prior to marriage.

    • Travis Hornsby May 15, 2019 at 1:59 PM

      Generally debt is considered totally separate if your spouse is not cosigned on it. For example I know a case where a husband helped pay off a lot of the wife’s 200k+ of debt but it didn’t matter, they split the assets evenly. You have to consult an attorney in the state where you live of course but I believe you’d be in the clear as long as your name isn’t on it. That’s true even if the person took the debt out during the marriage in most cases I think.

  11. Cathy June 1, 2019 at 8:34 AM

    How do career breaks or working part time in order to raise a family affect payments made under an IDR plan?
    What guarentees exist that the government will honor debt forgiveness in the PAYE or REPAYE IDR plans twenty or twenty five years down the road?

    • Travis Hornsby June 1, 2019 at 5:07 PM

      I get that question a lot. There aren’t guarantees any more that there are guarantees the govt will honor social security. It’s a 1.5 trillion dollar problem the only question is how generous the IDR terms will be. That said 1.5 DTI ratio and below in the private sector refinancing makes sense.

  12. Becca June 16, 2019 at 9:34 AM

    As far as time tables, is it generally acceptable to refinance approximately six months prior too shopping for a mortgage? Would it generally be better to wait until after mortgage approval to refinance, although this would cost 8-12 months of refinancing rate/pay off benefits?

    • Travis Hornsby June 17, 2019 at 10:06 PM

      I would say getting the right house is more important than getting the right student loan refinance. But the main thing is actually required income going to debt that can pose a problem so just dont sign up for a 5 year refi right before buying a house

  13. Geraldine July 15, 2019 at 11:02 AM

    I am a public school teacher who is close to retirement. I’ve taught 34 years! I have $114,000 in Parent-Plus loans and would like to pay them off as quick as possible. Are their any forgiveness loans for Parent-Plus loans? Or would refinancing them at a lower interest rate be best?

    • Travis Hornsby July 16, 2019 at 3:05 PM

      You might want to listen to our podcast show https://www.studentloanplanner.com/student-loans-over-50/

      There are some strategies thatll help you a bunch in terms of getting your payment low so you can enjoy retirement. Also studentloanplanner.com/help if you need a custom plan

  14. indebted September 4, 2019 at 8:22 PM

    Umm…. is there anything stopping me from refinancing every few months with the different lenders listed and taking the sign on bonuses with each one. Probably too ridiculous and time consuming to deal with…but I am getting pretty similar rates with each one, and assuming rates stay low for the next 6 months?…

    • Travis Hornsby September 5, 2019 at 12:54 PM

      There’s nothing stopping you from doing that (note that most of our lenders have a minimum size loan that needs to be refinanced to get the bonus). Usually people find there’s better uses of your time than refinancing that often, but it is an easy way to get a cash bonus if the rates are the same or better. I wouldn’t do it more frequently than every few months.

  15. Heather September 11, 2019 at 6:24 PM

    I currently accepted a position, as a PA, that is eligible for NHSC Loan Repayment. Are you able to consolidate or refinance prior to starting the loan repayment program? Have you had or heard of any experiences with this?

    • Travis Hornsby September 15, 2019 at 12:13 AM

      From the nhsc website https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/loan-repayment/qualifying-educational-loans.html

      “Are consolidated or refinanced loans eligible?

      We may consider consolidated or refinanced loans for repayment, as long as they are from a government (federal, state, or local) or private student loan lender and only include your qualifying educational loans.

      For loans to remain eligible, you must keep your eligible educational loans separated from all other debts.”

  16. Shannon October 10, 2019 at 7:47 AM


    My husband has about 31k in loans from a private lender. He has multiple loans at varying high interest rates (7.7-9.5%). I know we can get a better deal through refinancing. However, my husband has an annual income of 28k and I have an income of 58k. I know I will need to co-sign on his refinancing but I have federal loan debt of nearly 90k for graduate school. I plan to use the PSLF so I’m not worried about my debt but I want to pay his off in the next 5 years. Both our credit scores are above 750. Do you think we will have a problem refinancing his loans? And which lender would you recommend?

    • Travis Hornsby October 17, 2019 at 3:46 PM

      Hmm I think you’ll be successful with one of the lenders. I’d try Credible or maybe LendKey because of the ease of adding a cosigner to the application for small amounts.

  17. Kelly Ravenscraft October 17, 2019 at 2:48 PM

    I am a 2nd-year grad student with $83k in student loans planning on going into ministry (aka I’m not eligible for loan forgiveness without a career change.) Is it best to consolidate/refinance while I’m still in school? Currently my loans are about half and half, public and private, and I’m currently only making the required interest payments and am working multiple part-time jobs. Help!

    • Travis Hornsby October 17, 2019 at 3:03 PM

      Hi Kelly! You probably qualify for a super low payment under PAYE or REPAYE for your federal loans if you’re making a ministry level salary. For example 30k income would result in a payment around $100 a month on your federal loans. You can also file taxes separately if you’re married to get a very low payment. That low payment on the federal loans should be used strategically so you can pay off the private loans first. That’s because private loans do not allow for super low monthly payments. You might look at refinancing the private loans now if you can qualify. Keep in mind you might need a cosigner!

  18. Michael Clark CLU, ChFC, CFP October 23, 2019 at 1:54 PM

    I am a financial planner in the Chicago area. I have inquiries from individuals with strong incomes with large student loan obligations about refinancing the debt. I would like to talk with someone today if possible to get a better understanding of how your organization works.

    • Travis Hornsby October 24, 2019 at 9:30 AM

      Hi Michael feel free to email us at help@studentloanplanner.com. Basically if your clients want to refinance, they need to have impeccable finances and have a debt to income ratio below 1.5 to 1 while being committed to a job in the private sector. If that’s all true, then just have them apply to all the lenders on the table at the top at least and you’ll have an extremely high chance of finding the best deal out there.

  19. Nicole November 5, 2019 at 11:14 AM

    Hi Travis,
    Thank you for this article! I currently am looking to refinance about $105,000 in loans from SallieMae. I’ve been shopping the internet and Citizen’s Bank and Earnest have caught my eye. Any recommendations? My credit score is in the 750 range, but I’m looking to have a cosigner to get an even better interest rate. I want to refinance with a five year repayment plan. I make about $50k a year. Thanks in advance!

    • Travis at Student Loan Planner November 7, 2019 at 10:34 PM

      I’m glad you want to add a cosigner Nicole because most lenders won’t want to give you a great rate because your debt to income ratio is above 2 to 1 and your income is five instead of six figures. I think Earnest won’t do cosigners, but you should try at least all the other lenders in the table at the top as a starting point to see who would have the lowest rate. Citizens is actually offered on Credible’s website w a significant bonus if you qualify.

  20. Doug March 3, 2020 at 6:56 PM

    I’m trying to re-fi 2 Student Loans that I took out for my sons, they are also on the loans as co-signers. One is a Private Sallie Mae and the other I’ve consolidated.
    I’ve tried a few loan companies and after filling out the forms, credit checks, etc. they won’t accept & offer me a better rate due to my debt to income ratio.
    My sons pay me about half of what’s owed monthly (I’ve told them this), my credit score is good – 735. I have not relayed to them my assets but don’t think it would make a difference.
    Any ideas?

    • Travis Hornsby March 4, 2020 at 9:17 AM

      I’d be surprised if you didn’t find a deal after checking all the 12 lenders on this page. I’d focus on Laurel Road, Commonbond, and Citizens Bank, which usually have the best Parent PLUS lending setups. You might want to see if one or both of the sons makes a high enough income to take over the loan. That’s possible at Commonbond and Laurel Road, and that mgiht lower your DTI enough to refinance the other one. Let me know if you had other questions Doug!

  21. Melissa March 5, 2020 at 8:40 PM

    Which company did your friend get a rate of less than 1%?

    • Travis Hornsby March 5, 2020 at 10:28 PM

      Earnest. They seem to be lowering rates the fastest right now with the drop in interest rates in the economy in general.

      • Mark March 5, 2020 at 10:41 PM

        His final rate was around 3% though, correct? Not “less than 1%”


        • Travis Hornsby March 13, 2020 at 9:01 PM

          Sorry yes. I should’ve made that clearer.

  22. Jackie March 5, 2020 at 8:50 PM

    Hey Travis, I’ve visited and revisited several of these loan companies over the past year or two, and still can’t decide if it’s worth refinancing. I know SLP is a big advocate for refinancing for many reasons, but the rates I’m getting offered seem nominally better over a 10 year terms. Refinancing means sacrificing the benefits of government loans like deferment, changing payment plants etc, and I’m thinking of starting a family, buying a house etc. It scares me a little knowing I don’t have the “fall back”.

    I owe $250,000 from graduate school and my average interest rate now for my federal loans is 6.0. The lowest rates I was offered was 5.3-5.4%. Would you do it?

    • Travis Hornsby March 5, 2020 at 10:27 PM

      That’s the lenders probably telling you that it’s not compelling enough yet. I like to see borrowers get at least 1% lower to give up those protections you mentioned when refinancing federal student loans. I think your debt to income ratio might be above 1.5? If it is, then I’d suggest holding off until you’re confident your income will remain at a level that will give you a ratio above that. Of course, if you had private loans and only saw a 0.7% improvement, that would be worth it to refinance those. Federal you want to be more conservative since you can’t undo it.

  23. Jess March 15, 2020 at 8:05 PM

    Hi Travis! My husband and I refi’d a ton of our student loans with your help and CommonBond this same time last year (you may remember – we ended up with two separate loans due to the overall amount to refi, 4.4% and 4.3% @ 10 years). Looking to take advantage of now this second drastic rate drop today. Is there any one of the lenders that seems to be giving the lowest rates? I saw you previously mentioned your friend went with Earnest. Does that still ring true? Laurel Road maybe? Also, would CommonBond consider just lowering our rate so we don’t have to hop around? Thanks!

    • Travis Hornsby March 25, 2020 at 11:22 PM

      Laurel Road right now seems to be giving the best rates (during COVID crisis) because they have access to cheaper capital as a bank. So I’d apply with them for starters Jess. Refinancing private loans is a great idea during this crazy time we’re all living through right now.

  24. Mathew March 27, 2020 at 1:04 PM

    Hi Team,

    My best two offers thus far are:

    1) SoFi = 5 Year term / 5.97% / $480 monthly payment / $4K total interest
    2) Laurel Road = 10 year term / 4.55% / $261 monthly payment

    Although we would pay off the loans faster with option 1, wouldn’t it make sense to go with option 2 since it has a better interest rate and lower monthly obligation meaning more flexibility. Wouldn’t we save more in total interest overall going with option 2 and just putting $500 towards that instead of the minimum? Let me know if I’m missing something.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Travis Hornsby March 27, 2020 at 5:36 PM

      Yeah go with option 2. That’s not as low as I’d like it to be, but you can always refinance again later. Also, note that you should only be refinancing private student loans right now until September bc of the COVID 0% interest on federal student loans.

      • Mathew March 27, 2020 at 8:03 PM

        Yea this is Salle Mae – private loan.

        Also, I know it depends – but on average how much of a better interest rate would we get if I cosigned the loan? The loan is for my wife, but thinking about cosigning it since some sites are asking.

  25. Marc March 29, 2020 at 11:57 AM

    Just refinanced my wife’s loan a month ago with Earnest.
    Should we be shopping around with other private loan companies for better interests rates now?
    Is it expected that they will be offering better rates than they would have a month ago?

    • Travis Hornsby March 29, 2020 at 5:10 PM

      No rates a month ago are the best they’ll be until covid is over. That said, if you had an older private loan than that, you might find a better deal now. So I’d stick w what you have currently.

  26. Doug Olson April 7, 2020 at 11:08 AM

    Travis…where can I send (electronically) the signed Federal Direct (Wm Ford) Consolidation Loan for to? Can I send electronically or d I have to fax??

    • Travis Hornsby April 7, 2020 at 2:58 PM

      You can if they allow you to do it via studentaid.gov/idr when you apply for the consolidation. Just keep in mind that’s not the same thing as refinancing with a private lender.

  27. Mark Cummings April 14, 2020 at 8:12 AM

    Really appreciate the links on this site. Hope you get your share from all these referrals!!

    With the money saved from refinancing, how to best save? People tell me Vanguard is the way to go, but after looking at their site, I can’t tell which ones are index funds? Is this better than a target retirement fund? Really want to use the money I saved through refinancing to do something!

    • Travis Hornsby April 14, 2020 at 9:11 AM

      For retirement accounts like IRAs and 401ks I recommend their target date funds. For taxable accounts like a brokerage, I suggest VTSAX and VTIAX for stocks and VBTLX for bonds. I generally tell people 120 minus your age in stocks and the rest in bonds. So a 40 year old would be 80% stocks 20% bonds.

  28. Jackie May 6, 2020 at 10:06 AM

    I have private and federal loans. I am thinking to go ahead and refi my private loans and then refi fed loans when the cares act ends. Will this hurt my credit, having a hit now and then in Sept? Or should I wait until Sept to refi all together? For some reason I am scared doing all this refinancing will hurt my credit score.

    • Jackie May 6, 2020 at 10:07 AM

      (And what if house prices go down this fall and I want to buy a house, that would be 3 hits)

      • Travis Hornsby May 7, 2020 at 5:31 PM

        When you apply your credit is only off like 5 to 10 points. That’s really not going to make a difference on a mortgage application unless your credit isn’t good already.

    • Travis Hornsby May 6, 2020 at 3:52 PM

      It won’t hurt it in any way that matters. I applied for the PPP funds for small business and that “hit my credit score.” So did applying for a credit card. But it was a hit of like 5 points that I recovered from within a month or so. If you’re applying for a mortgage next month maybe wait but if you’re not definitely refinance the private student loans right now if you can find a lower rate.

  29. Ty June 3, 2020 at 12:28 AM

    Hi Travis,

    Can a grad student with an undergrad private loan refinance with a co-signer while in grad school and also have it deferred? Or is the only option to wait until grad school is completed? I just recently thought about this but wasn’t sure if it was even possible or a good idea. My current interest rate is high (10%) even with a co-signer probably because of the high debt-to-income ratio. Thank you.

    • Travis Hornsby June 3, 2020 at 11:14 AM

      It’s a great idea you should be able to refi if you have a cosigner. Would definitely encourage that w such a high 10% interest rate that you have

      • Ty June 3, 2020 at 12:55 PM

        Thanks for the reply, Travis. Do you think right now it’s better to try to choose a fixed rate or variable rate?

  30. MaineCoast June 18, 2020 at 9:20 PM

    Hello – I have two questions.

    I have been approved for a mortgage loan at a great rate and a decent house price. I currently live in a cheap rental unit, but want to get the house. The mortgage will be $1,350 and my rental is $785. My credit is good and my mortgage broker has told me that I have a good DTI and the added higher mortgage payment will not have that negative an effect on my DTI.

    First – Despite the broker’s advice, should I be concerned that a higher DTI due to the mortgage payment may prevent me from obtaining student loan refinancing?

    Second – If I do get the mortgage first, how long after the mortgage is in place should I wait to refinance?


    • Amy at Student Loan Planner June 30, 2020 at 10:19 AM

      There is no minimum time to wait after getting a mortgage to refinance. But if you apply to refinance before getting a mortgage, you could negatively impact your ability to qualify for a mortgage. Your DTI is your total debt payments divided by your monthly income. Jumping from $785/month to $1,350 is a 72% increase in your housing cost, which will affect your DTI.

  31. Genesis June 19, 2020 at 12:28 PM

    I have 2 Sallie Mae loans (a total of $106k) from and international medical school with an interest rate of almost 9%. I transferred from that school and recently graduate from a US medical school with additional Fed loans of $110k. Most of these lenders do not accept my sallie mae loans from the international med school. Laurel Road doesn’t say anything until pulling a hard credit. My salary will be approximately $50k for 3 years of residency program and my Fico score is 770. What do you recommend?

    • Amy at Student Loan Planner June 30, 2020 at 10:14 AM

      Pursuing forgiveness for your $110k of federal loans might be your best option, but it depends on your plans after residency. As for Sallie Mae, your only option is to pay it off, unfortunately. 9% is really high, though, so try a few different lenders to find one that accepts your loans from the international med school.

  32. Jackie July 21, 2020 at 10:47 AM


    I utilized your site and just finished finalizing my loans through ELFI. They are saying I am not getting a cash bonus and to go through you. What is the process for getting my cash bonus?

    Thank you.

    • Amy at Student Loan Planner July 22, 2020 at 4:51 PM

      Hi Jackie – I’m sorry to hear that. Can you send an email to help@studentloanplanner.com with your name and the email address you used to apply?

  33. LRS July 21, 2020 at 5:50 PM

    Will any banks permit consolidating loans if you are currently unemployed? Approval without a co-signer?

    • Amy at Student Loan Planner July 22, 2020 at 4:52 PM

      It’s unlikely unless you’re on Social Security or disability or have some other source of income.

  34. RA July 24, 2020 at 10:42 AM

    Hi Travis,

    Thanks for the great read. I have med school loans with Navient. I keep getting emails saying “Congrats your great payment history qualifies you for a NaviRefi quote”. Explain to me why Navient would want me to pay them less. What’s their benefit? My benefit I am guessing is possibly paying less on my student loans. Thanks.

    • Travis Hornsby July 24, 2020 at 4:22 PM

      It depends. If the loans are federal then they’re just getting servicer revenue instead of interest revenue which would be a lot more. If they’re private and not owned by Navient same thing. And if they are owned by Navient then they just want to reach out and let you know because they know if they dont then others will and they’d rather keep your business

      • Frankie November 4, 2020 at 4:53 AM

        You are correct Travis. I received the same email from Navient last year and they have a new devision called Navient Refi. I had my undergrad loans with the original Navient, but my Medical school loan was with Sofi. I refinanced my private med school loans with Navient Refi and reduced my interest rate from 4.7 to 3.5%. Now my undergrad loan with the original Navient was at 2.625% so I left that with the original Navient. I’m now looking to refinance the whole lot for 2.5%. Haven’t seen it yet though.

  35. Christine Turner August 2, 2020 at 10:11 PM

    I was told that possibly loan forgiveness is
    An option I should be looking in to due to
    My health and told I would never re-enter
    the workforce. I have numerous health issues which overwhelms me with medication alone. I am receiving Social Security which is $940 after Part B and taxes are withheld. My husband is retired and receives $ 2600 year and will be several years before he can draw SS and the funds he was able to draw went to pay credit cards, medical plus a hefty penalty for withdrawing. But given the situation we wanted to pay all we could with everything we could use. But I didn’t see any loan forgiveness for my situation. Suggestions?

    • Amy at Student Loan Planner August 8, 2020 at 2:54 PM

      You could still qualify for loan forgiveness, but it depends on a few things. If you owe at least $20k, I’d suggest a consult to make sure you’re getting the most out of your income.

  36. Brandi August 22, 2020 at 12:49 AM

    I refinanced my student loan last year which was great I went from 10% interest rate to 5.51%. The original lender sent me tax documents about my refinance. When I took it to my tax person they said that because I refinanced my student loans it was made to look like income. Like I made a profit from the refinancing. Sorry if I’m sounding lame. I still really don’t understand what happened. Will I be dinged again by the IRS if I refinance again? Is this normal?


    • Amy at Student Loan Planner August 28, 2020 at 12:05 PM

      Student loans aren’t considered income, so that doesn’t sound right. I’d get a second opinion from a different tax person. Reach out to these guys https://studentloantaxexperts.com/ and mention SLP as the referral source for a discount if you decide to hire them.

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