If you’re like the 65% of 2018 U.S. graduates who left college with a degree and an average of $29,200 in student loan debt, you may be wondering which low-rate student loan refinance options are available to you. While there are likely plenty of companies eager to refinance your student loans, not every refinancing option is created equal. Research is your best bet at finding the perfect fit. Banks that offer student loan refinancing options are one viable choice, but that’s not the only route to go. The following steps can help ensure that you pick the right refinancing option for your particular financial scenario.1
Step 1: Gather all of your debt information.
With the high cost of college these days, it’s likely that you borrowed from multiple places to help pay for your advanced education, and you may hold both federal and private loans. Start by tracking down the companies that hold your loans and gathering all the pertinent information for each one — including the balance, fees and terms — to get your full debt picture. When you begin the student loan refinancing process, it’s important to have a full understanding of exactly how much you’ve borrowed, as well as what types of loans they are and the terms, so you can determine where there are better refinancing opportunities.
Step 2: Consider your overall financial situation.
After collecting your student loan information, take some time to also get other pertinent financial data, such as your credit score, salary and employment history, as well as any additional liquid savings you have available. As with most loans, the more you’re able to prove that you’re financially stable, the better a candidate you’ll be for the best refinancing products. If any of the above factors are less than desirable — if you have a poor credit score, for example, or if you haven’t held a solid job for a couple of months — you may consider waiting until you can increase your score or find a more stable job before you apply for a refinance. You can also use a student loan refinancing calculator to help you determine how much you can save on your student loans based on your current loan situation and other financial factors.
Step 3: Determine the best place to refinance.
You may be familiar with the major student loan refinance companies, but traditional banks also offer refinancing for student loans. Below are some of the pros and cons for each type of refinance opportunity.
- Banks with student loan refinancing options. Both national and regional banks offer student loan refinancing options, so there could be a number to pick from. Whether or not you decide to go this route will include weighing the positives and negatives.
- Pros: Many traditional banks that refinance student loans can offer above-average customer support, dedicated in-house experts and multiple points of contact for your refinancing needs. Some banks even have experts who offer in-person services so you can build a relationship over time. If you’re hoping to expand your financial portfolio in the future — with a house, for example, or additional financial accounts — a bank can offer a wide range of financial products under one roof that other companies might not offer. They may even offer additional advantages or discounts for using multiple products with one bank.
- Cons: The eligibility requirements to refinance with a bank may be higher than with the big student loan refinancing companies, so make sure you take a look at your credit report and ensure that you’re in good financial standing before applying for refinancing with a bank.
- Online-only lenders. Lenders that provide their services only through the Internet — without a brick-and-mortar location — are popping up everywhere these days, but how do their refinancing options stack up?
- Pros: Going through the refinance process without interacting directly with a banker may make the process less intimidating for some.
- Cons: Although they tend to offer online customer support and call-in services, there usually isn’t a way to meet with an expert in person to discuss your particular needs or concerns. Additionally, some of these options have only been around for a few years, meaning they don’t have a solid track record of service that other more established institutions do.
- Credit union with student loan refinancing options. Some credit unions may provide refinancing opportunities, but you’ll want to get all the details before proceeding.
- Pros: Since credit unions don’t have to worry about shareholders, they can sometimes offer higher-than-average rates on certain products. They also tend to offer good customer service while still being a low-touch option.
- Cons: A lower-touch service model can sometimes translate into less varied offerings, as well as a delay in the development of useful technology — like app services — for customers. Credit unions may not have as many branches available for in-person opportunities.
Picking the best company to refinance your student loans ultimately boils down to a number of factors. While interest rates and term lengths are important, so are customer service and a proven track record. Banks that refinance student loans can often offer a longer proven portfolio of helpful service than some of the newer companies that are popping up, along with competitive interest rates and more opportunities for personalized help.
Get more information on choosing a student loan refinance company, or reach out to a dedicated First Republic Bank expert to discuss your specific situation and find the best refinancing option for you.
- Terms and conditions apply. The terms of this loan may differ from your current loan(s). For example, this loan does not contain special features such as forbearance periods or income-based repayment plans available for some student loans. This loan may not be dischargeable in bankruptcy. This product is not available in all markets. For a complete list of locations, visit firstrepublic.com/locations. This is not a commitment to lend or extend credit. Contact your legal, tax and financial advisors for advice on deciding whether this is the right product for you.