Refinancing your student loans can seem onerous at times. After all, you might be paying a lot in interest and struggling to figure out how to pay off your student debt faster.
However, there are companies that specialize in helping you tackle your student loan debt in a way that’s more affordable.
Earnest student loans aim to streamline the refinancing process so borrowers have access to merit-based underwriting that takes into account many factors more traditional lenders don’t consider. As a result, more borrowers could be eligible to save money by refinancing their student loans.
This Earnest student loan refinancing review will cover how the application and approval processes work to help you decide if Earnest loans are right for you.
Earnest student loan refinancing review: The basics
Earnest offers both personal loans and student loan refinancing. For this review, however, we’ll focus on Earnest student loans. The lender offers refinancing loans to college graduates who have their own loans and to parents who borrowed loans to pay for their child’s education.
Here are some features you can expect with Earnest student loans:
- Interest rates starting at 2.47%
- Autopay discount of 0.25%
- The option to choose your minimum payment
- Repayment terms between five and 20 years
- Unemployment protection
- No set income requirements
- No origination fees or prepayment penalties
- Minimum loan amount of $5,000
- Minimum credit score of 650
To refinance using Earnest student loans, you must be at least 18 years old and a United States citizen or permanent resident. Your debt must be from a Title IV accredited college or university and you must have completed your degree, or you will do so this semester.
What we like about Earnest student loan refinancing
There’s plenty to love about Earnest loans if you plan to refinance. Here are some of our favorite features.
Flexible approval process
One of the biggest advantages of Earnest student loans is the fact that approval is possible even with a short or nonexistent credit history. If you don’t have a long credit history, Earnest could approve you for student loan refinancing based on several other factors. A particularly negative financial history, however, could prevent you from approval.
When you apply for Earnest student loans, you link your bank accounts to your Earnest profile. The process is similar to the way budgeting tools like Mint and Personal Capital work. It requires your username and password to access your account information.
While the lender does look at your credit report, it doesn’t rely entirely on this traditional method of assessing your reliability. Other aspects of your personal finances, including your checking, savings, and investments accounts, are considered during the process.
Earnest’s approval process is unique because it looks at your income, job history, and financial accounts. Because of this, Earnest loans might offer an alternative for borrowers who might not get a competitive rate with a more traditional lender.
Flexible repayment options
Earnest also offers flexible repayment terms you can customize before locking in your loan. You can choose your monthly payment from the broad range of options Earnest provides. Instead of picking a repayment term and automatically receiving an interest rate and monthly payment, you’re in control.
You also can choose to skip one payment a year and make it up later. Additionally, Earnest offers forbearance if you unexpectedly lose your job and deferment if you join the military or Peace Corps. These options allow you to temporarily pause your payments, making it a little easier to manage your student loan debt.
What to keep in mind with Earnest loans
While Earnest offers certain advantages, there are some things to consider before you move forward with your application.
Minimum credit score
Even though Earnest uses factors beyond your credit history to determine your eligibility, you must meet the minimum credit score requirement of 650.
If you’ve had financial problems in the past, Earnest loans might not be an option. However, most lenders have a minimum credit score requirement, so if you have poor credit, you’ll likely need to improve your financial situation before applying elsewhere.
Additionally, you might not qualify to refinance your student loans through Earnest if your loans aren’t in good standing or if you have accounts recently in collection.
No cosigner option
With some lenders, including SoFi and Citizens Bank, it’s possible to get a cosigner to help you qualify for student loan refinancing. Earnest student loans, however, don’t have a cosigner option for refinancing. If you don’t qualify on your own, you can’t improve your chances by getting a cosigner to help you.
Refinancing federal student loans
Even though refinancing can help you reduce your interest rate in some cases, it’s important to understand that you will lose certain borrower protections if you refinance federal student loans.
Is Earnest refinancing right for you?
Before you decide, compare lenders who refinance student loans. Earnest might be a good choice if you:
- Have generally good financial habits, such as saving money regularly
- Can show regular income and comfortably afford the monthly payments
- Don’t plan to take advantage of income-driven repayment or student loan forgiveness for your federal student loans
- Have higher interest rates on your current student loans
In the end, Earnest student loan refinancing offers flexibility and options that can work well for some borrowers. Carefully consider your situation and your financial needs as you make a decision.
Eric Rosenberg contributed to this article.
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|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.47% – 6.99%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.95% – 6.37%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.72% – 8.32%6||Undergrad & Graduate|