Earnest student loan refinancing review

Take control of your student debt with Earnest.

You’ve graduated and on your way to building a great career for yourself. Or maybe your child has graduated and you’re looking to refinance, now that you’ve paid some debt down.

How about shaving off more than $21,000 off the overall cost of the loan with that refinance? That’s the average that Earnest claims its clients save.

Product NameEarnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
Min Loan Amount$5,000
Max. Loan Amountno maximum
Min APR From 2.57%
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term20 years
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card
  • Enrollment status is currently less than half-time or your degree will be complete at the end of this semester
  • Must not reside in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada, or Rhode Island
  • Must be requesting to refinance at least $5000 in student loans
  • Have a minimum credit score of 650
  • Must be employed, have a written job offer for a position that starts within 6 months, or have consistent income
  • Must not have a bankruptcy on your credit report or accounts recently in collection
  • Must be up to date on all mortgage or rent payments, with your student loan account in good standing
  • The refinanced debt is from paying for a Title IV-accredited school
  • Must be the primary borrower on the student loans you would like to refinance, and the debt is from your own education

What makes Earnest student loan refinancing unique?

Refinancing student debt with Earnest means refinancing with a lender that tailors your interest rate and repayment plan to you. But to get that plan, you’ll need to be financially fit.

It takes only two minutes to get an estimated rate. You’ll notice that it’s a range, and that’s a result of Earnest’s underwriting process. Earnest analyzes your career, income and credit score to see where you’ve made progress and whether it’d be a good fit for you.

What is Earnest student loan refinancing?

You can refinance private, federal and Parent PLUS loans through Earnest. The loans are unsecured, and Earnest prides itself on a technique called Precision Pricing to make your repayments fit your budget.

Refinancing starts at a variable 2.57% APR or fixed 3.25% APR with autopay, and terms run from 5 years to 20 years. Those terms can be broken down by month as part of Earnest’s Precision Pricing.

The minimum balance you’ll need to refinance is $5,000, topping out at no maximum with Earnest.

What are the benefits of Earnest student loan refinancing?

  • No fees for taking out a loan or making early payments. With no origination or prepayment fees, the only fee you might run in to is up to $8 for a missed payment.
  • Pricing just for you. You get to take control of your repayments by choosing the minimum monthly payment. From there, Earnest fits the rate and term to that amount.
  • Ability to skip a payment. Earnest gives you the ability to skip a payment and make it up later. You’ll need to be at least six months into your loan to request the first skip. During those six months, you must have paid all your payments on time. Skips are allowed every 12 months, must be requested five business days in advance and count toward forbearance limits.
  • Forbearance. Under qualifying circumstances, Earnest affords forbearance to those refinancing student loans. Deferment may also be available to you if you’re active duty military, serving with the Peace Corps or pursuing a graduate degree.

Compare Earnest to other online student loan providers

Rates last updated January 19th, 2018
Name Product Minimum Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
LendKey Student Loan Refinancing (with AutoPay)
From 2.74% (variable)
Find competitive rates and unmatched loan benefits from LendKey’s network of not-for-profit lenders.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
Good to excellent credit
full balance of your qualified education loans
From 2.815% (variable)
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
no maximum
From 2.57% (variable)
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
CommonBond Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
From 2.81% (fixed)
Finance your higher education or refinance existing student loans through a lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
From 2.57% (variable)
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
From 2.75% (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

Compare up to 4 providers

What to watch out for

Private student loan refinancing in general comes with drawbacks, and a few are specific to Earnest.

  • High standard. Though standards aren’t a bad thing, they can be a disadvantage for some. A near-spotless credit record is needed, and you’ll need to show signs of good financial health. If you’re not quite there, you can work on your credit score and go over the guidelines that Earnest suggests you meet.
  • Loss of federal benefits. You can lose income-based repayment plans, debt forgiveness and other benefits if you refinance your federal loans privately. Repayments may not be an issue for you, but it’s worth reviewing the benefits in full before going the private route.
  • Limited access. Earnest doesn’t lend to those who live in Alaska, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada or Rhode Island.
  • No incomplete degrees. Any debt accumulated for a degree you didn’t complete is ineligible for refinancing with Earnest.

Am I eligible?

You’ve got your finances on lock, and you’re ready to apply. First, you’ll want to make sure you meet the following criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be an American citizen or a permanent resident of the US.
  • The debt must be from a Title IV–accredited school.
  • The debt must be yours or your child’s.
  • The debt must be for a completed degree or one that will be completed at the end of the current semester.
  • If you are a student, you must be enrolled less than half-time if you will not complete your degree at the end of the current semester.
  • If you’re employed or have an employment offer that starts within six months, you may also qualify if you have sufficient income, as determined by Earnest.
  • The loan cannot be used for future schooling.
  • All existing student loans must be in good standing.
  • You must be and intend to remain the primary borrower on the loan.
  • You must not reside in Alaska, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nevada or Rhode Island.

Earnest provides guidelines on its website. They aren’t hard-and-fast rules but are heavily suggested if you want to improve your chances of application approval.

What do I need to apply?

Getting your rate should take about two minutes. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Visit Earnest’s website.
  • Choose either Student Loan Refinancing or Parent PLUS Refinancing.
  • Complete the required forms with your education, finance, contact and personal information.
  • Get your rate nearly instantly.

To continue with your application after you get your range of potential rates:

  • Connect your financial accounts through Earnest.
  • Submit any extra documentation.

I got the Earnest student debt refinancing loan. Now what?

On agreement, you should have been able to set up autopay to ensure that your payments are on time and get the rate discount. If you didn’t sign up then, you can enroll through your Earnest online account.

Simply log in to your account and click Loan details. Sign up from there, shifting your pay schedule to biweekly at the same time, if you’d like.

If your finances start getting rocky and you think you might not be able to make a payment, call Earnest’s customer support team right away. They’ll may be able to work with you to find an alternative solution.

Bottom line

Having a good grasp on your finances and good financial health could afford you a good rate if you decide to refinance with Earnest. The road to ridding yourself of student debt can be tricky, but refinancing could move you closer to the end of it even faster.

Even if you’re confident that Earnest is the lender for you, take the time to compare your options. You may be able to find a loan that better suits your needs.

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