In the state of Washington, half of all graduates (50%) owe an average of $24,645 in student loan debt, according to data from The Institute for College Access and Success.
Dealing with such a high debt load and paying down student loan interest can be downright oppressive. That’s when you might consider refinancing your student loans.
In this guide, read more about Washington student loan refinance options as well as other private student loans and forgiveness options to make repayment more manageable.
Pros and cons of student loan refinancing
Student loan refinancing is a way to lower your interest rate and save money. When you take out a refinancing loan with a lender, it pays off your original student loans. Then, you’ll only have to repay your refinancing loan, but ideally, at a lower rate.
There are some major downsides to consider before refinancing. If you have federal student loans, you’re saying goodbye to all of those wonderful borrower protections, like student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment.
If you’re on steady ground financially, with good credit and stable employment, student loan refinancing might be beneficial for your particular situation.
Washington student loan refinance options
If you have student loan debt and want to refinance, compare all of your options. There are some Washington student loan refinancing options specific to where you live that might have better rates, like with a credit union.
Evergreen Direct Credit Union
The offer is one of the better Washington student loan refinance options as it has benefits like unemployment protection for 18 months — the longest amount in the market, according to the credit union. Plus, you can make interest-only payments for the first four years of repayment, a huge perk in difficult and uncertain times.
The student loan refinancing option is available to Washington residents. It doesn’t matter if you have federal or private loans, or whether those loans were for your undergraduate or graduate education. There are no origination fees or any penalties if you decide to pay off your loan early.
You can choose between fixed and variable refinancing rates. There are also flexible repayment terms of five, seven, ten, or 15-year repayment term options.
If you sign up for automatic payments, you can get a discount of 0.25% on your interest rate. The credit union offers the extra benefit of a cosigner release option after a year.
To get started, you can check your rate in just two minutes to see if you qualify, without hurting your credit. If you’re a Washington resident, this is a specific Washington student loan refinance opportunity for you, if you join the credit union.
Twin Star Credit Union
Another Washington student loan refinance option comes from Twin Star Credit Union. In partnership with LendKey, the credit union offers a student loan refinance loan with both fixed and variable rates which are very competitive.
The fixed interest option could be as low as 2.95%* APR and the variable interest option starts at 1.99%* APR (with autopay, which includes 0.25% discount).
Undergraduates are eligible to refinance up to $125,000 and graduates can refinance up to $175,000. If you apply with a cosigner, it’s possible to apply for cosigner release after a year of on-time payments. There are also no origination fees and the loan offers flexible repayment terms.
In order to qualify for the student loan refinancing loan, you must become a Twin Star credit union member, if you’re not already.
*Rates as of December 25,2020. Rates might include an autopay discount and are subject to change without notice.
Boeing Employees’ Credit Union
BECU offers student loan refinancing for graduates and parents of graduates (Parent PLUS borrowers can take note). It’s possible to refinance up to $125,000 through the credit union. There’s a minimum loan amount of $10,000 required. However, there is no origination fee and there are no prepayment penalties. The APR is fixed and starts at 4.49%.
Borrowers who sign up for autopay can reduce their interest rate by 0.25%. To qualify, applicants must’ve graduated from a qualified school and be a BECU member.
Cosigners aren’t required for student loan refinancing though they might help borrowers who have adverse credit. Fortunately, BECU offers a cosigner release option after two years of on-time payments.
*Rates as of December 25, 2020. Rates might include an autopay discount and are subject to change without notice.
CommonBond is another student loan refinancing option to consider. Though not exclusive to Washington residents, it’s a lender to consider. CommonBond offers fixed, variable and hybrid interest rate options.
It’s possible to get a cosigner release, but only after three years which is longer than other Washington student loan refinance options. One benefit is that you can get a deferment of up to 24 months, if you need to pause student loan payments. CommonBond is a particularly good option for six-figure borrowers and those with Parent PLUS Loans.
Washington student loans
If you need additional financial assistance after exhausting your federal loans, you can consider private student loans. Here are some Washington private student loan lenders to explore.
Sound Credit Union
Washington-based Sound Credit Union offers a private student loan option for undergraduates. You must be a member of the credit union to be eligible for funding. To qualify, you need to be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible four-year university. You also must be in good standing at school.
You can apply online and see your prospective rate. Sound Credit Union also offers in-school deferment as well as flexible repayment options.
Gesa Credit Union
Gesa Credit Union is based out of Washington. It offers undergraduate private student loans through its Student Loan Choice program. The education loan has no origination fees and offers competitive interest rates.
There’s an option to defer payments while in school and the credit union provides flexible repayment terms to choose from.
Washington State Employees Credit Union
Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU) partnered with Sallie Mae to offer the Smart Option Student Loan. The loans offer competitive rates that are either variable or fixed. There are no origination fees, and if you want to get out of debt faster, there’s no prepayment penalty to worry about. You can apply with a creditworthy cosigner, but a cosigner isn’t required.
When it comes to repayment, there are multiple options to help you pay back the loan. You can become a WSECU member easily by opening a savings account with $5, as long as you live or work in Washington.
Boeing Employees’ Credit Union
The Boeing Employees’ Credit Union, most often referred to as BECU, also has a private student loan option. You can get a loan between $2,000 and $100,000 to help you fill in any gaps in your financial aid. The interest rates are competitive and start at 5.81%.
The credit union has partnered with LendKey to offer the student loan. Borrowers can take advantage of low rates and payment plans that are flexible and geared to your needs. You must be a member to join.
Student loan forgiveness for Washington residents
Aside from Washington student loan refinance options, student loan forgiveness can help reduce your student debt faster. Here are a few loan forgiveness programs for eligible Washington residents.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Washington residents with federal student loans can take advantage of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF). Though not a Washington-specific program, PSLF is a great way to get all of your federal loans forgiven without any lingering tax liability.
You’ll need to work in the public sector for at least 10 years and make 120 student loan payments to qualify, among other requirements.
State Health Program and Behavioral Health Program
The State Health Program (SHP) and the Behavioral Health Program (BHP) are two loan forgiveness options offered to health professionals through the state.
Each program offers up to $75,000 in repayment assistance, and awards can’t exceed your student debt. You’d need to serve for a minimum of three years, and work at least 24 hours per week (40 hours per week for full-time employment).
Eligible employment sites include nonprofit organizations and Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). Sites need to apply and get pre-approved before providers can move forward with an application. Check out more on the Washington Student Achievement Council website.
Federal Health Program
Health professionals can also consider the Federal Health Program where federal funds match state dollars to award up to $70,000. There’s a minimum commitment of 2 years of work while working full-time for 40 hours.
This Washington student loan forgiveness option is available if you work in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) or nonprofit. Similar to above, sites need to apply and get pre-approved before providers can apply for an award. Check out more info here.
As you can see, there are various options for Washington student loan refinance loans and private loans in the state. To borrow responsibly, check interest rates and repayment terms across multiple private lenders for refinancing or a new student loan.
Be sure to understand the risks of refinancing federal loans. If refinancing makes sense for you, it could be a good money-saving move.