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How medical resident student loan refinancing works
How to hold off on repayments or get a better deal during your residency or fellowship.
Refinancing could be a solution if you’re struggling to juggle student loan repayments and personal expenses while living off a small resident or fellowship salary.
Some lenders offer options to trade in your private student loans for a lower rate or repayment plan that fits your career path. But it might not be the best choice for your federal loans, and you could end up paying more in interest in the long run.
How does medical residency refinancing work?
Medical residency refinancing works a lot like any other type of student loan refinancing. You take out a new loan with a different company with different rates and terms.
But there’s one key difference: It allows you to make reduced repayments during your medical or dental residency or fellowship and up to six months after.
With minimum repayments typically clocking in at $100 per month, this option makes it easier to stay on top of your loans while you’re earning a low salary.
Compare lenders that offer medical residency refinancing
|Loan||Fixed APR||Loan amount||Terms||Eligibility||How it works|
|SoFi||Fixed rates: 4.149% to 8.564% with autopay|
Variable rates: 2.72% to 7.93% with autopay
|Starting at $10,000||5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years||Pay $100 a month while you’re in your residency or fellowship and 6 months after it ends.|
|Laurel Road||Fixed rates: 3.87% to 7.44%|
Variable rates: 3.61% to 7.11%
|Starting at $5,000||5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years||Pay $100 a month while you’re in your residency or fellowship and 6 months after it ends.||Read review|
|Link Capital||Fixed rates: 4.44% to 7.13% with autopay||$40,000 to $450,000||7, 10, 15, 20 years||Pay $75 a month while you’re in your residency or fellowship for up to 6 years.|
Can I qualify?
Each refinancing company has different eligibility requirements. Typically, these involve the following factors:
- Your specialization. Some lenders only offer medical residency refinancing to certain specializations.
- Your school. Typically, you must attend a Title IV school — which is any school that’s eligible for federal student aid — to qualify.
- How long you have left in the program. Most lenders have limits on how long you can hold off on repayments — often from one to six years. Some also might require you to be accepted into a program before you can apply.
- Your credit score. Medical resident refinancing providers generally require you to have good to excellent credit.
- Your DTI. Even lenders that don’t advertise it often check your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio when considering your application. You can use our DTI calculator to check yours — most accept anything below 43%.You can learn more with our article on DTI ratios and student loan refinancing.
- Your legal status. You generally must be a US citizen or permanent resident to qualify with most refinancing companies, though some like SoFi accept borrowers with a J-1, H-1B, E-2, O-1 or TN visa.
- Your age. Doogie Howsers are out of luck — you need to be at least 18 to qualify for medical resident refinancing in most states. The legal age is 19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 in Mississippi.
Is refinancing during my residency right for me?
Medical residency refinancing might be right for you if:
- You have private student loans. You likely won’t be able to defer your loans for the length of your residency and won’t have access to income-driven repayment plans or other federal loan benefits that could help reduce your repayments.
- You have a high debt load. You might end up paying more on forbearance if you have a high enough debt load.
- You want lower repayments. If an income-driven repayment plan gives you repayments higher than $100, a medical residency refinancing loan is more affordable in the short term.
What are the drawbacks of medical residency refinancing?
Medical residency refinancing might make it easier to pay off your loans in the short term, but there are several reasons why it might not always be the best financial decision.
Interest capitalization is when your lender adds any unpaid interest that accumulated while you were making reduced repayments to your loan balance. This increases your loan’s principal, and you’re effectively paying interest on interest. However, it’s possible to find lenders that don’t use this practice, like SoFi and Link Capital.
Lose eligibility for income-driven repayments
If you have federal student loans, you won’t be eligible for an income-driven repayment plan (IDR) if you refinance your loans with a private provider.
But if your spouse has a high salary, you might not be able to benefit much from IDR anyway — if you can even qualify. In that case, your loss of eligibility might not make much of a difference, unless you want to apply for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
Lose eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness
Refinancing your federal loans with a private refinancing company also means you won’t be eligible for PSLF. While there are other forgiveness programs available to medical professionals, this is the only one that entirely forgives your student loans after 10 years of repaying them on an IDR while working at an eligible public service position.
4 alternatives to a medical residency refinancing loan
A medical residency refinancing loan isn’t the only way to lower your repayments. You might want to look into one of these alternatives instead:
Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
Federal loan holders might want to consider signing up for an income-driven repayment plan. With most IDRs, your repayments are around 20% of your salary and your loans are completely forgiven after 20 or 25 years of repayment.
Your interest won’t capitalize after you finish your residency. And signing up satisfies one of the requirements to apply for PSLF.
Apply for deferment or forbearance
Got subsidized federal student loans? That’s one of the few cases where unpaid interest doesn’t add up while you’re in deferment, which can help you save. In fact, all federal loan holders are eligible for deferment or forbearance specifically for being a medical resident.
Even private lenders might offer deferment or forbearance to medical and dental residents — especially if you applied for financing designed for medical students. This gives you reduced repayments while you’re in your program without having to apply for another loan. Reach out to your lender to learn about your options before considering refinancing.
Sign up for an extended graduated repayment plan
Federal loan holders who don’t want to pay a full 20% of their salary might want to consider signing up for an extended graduated repayment plan. With this plan, you have 25 years to pay off your loan with repayments that start low and increase over time. Depending on your debt load, it might not save you much, but your interest won’t capitalize.
Refinance with any lender for a longer term
Private student loan holders might also want to consider just extending their loan term to lower monthly repayments. You’ll have more options to choose from if you don’t go with a medical residency refinancing provider specifically, and you might even end up getting more favorable rates.
Compare student loan refinancing options
Medical resident refinancing is one way to make your student loan repayments more affordable when you’re just starting your career. But you might want to look into other options if you have federal student loans — there might be a cheaper way to lower the initial cost.
Frequently asked questions
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