Compare your options for student loans, refinancing and consolidation

Don’t sacrifice your financial future to pay for an education. Borrow smart to save money.

Starting school can feel like dunking your head in ice water. Aside from culture shock, there’s adjusting to a new way of living. The last thing you need when you’re adjusting to everything is to struggle with paying tuition. Likewise, getting out of school brings a whole other set of alien experiences.

When you’ve got a fresh career and another shift in how you live, you may find that how you’ve borrowed needs an adjustment. Refinancing or consolidating are two ways that you can make those adjustments. Whether you’re starting school or post-graduation, here’s what you need to know to manage your student debt.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

Refinance your student loans and pay them off sooner at fixed rates through this highly rated lender.

  • Recommended Credit Range: Good to excellent
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $5,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: full balance of your qualified education loans
  • Loan Term: 5 to 20 years
  • Turnaround Time:
  • Total Costs: Depends on your credit score.

    Compare lenders for student loans and refinancing options

    Rates last updated September 25th, 2017
    Name Product Minimum Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
    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.
    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.
    College Ave Student Loan Refinancing
    Good to excellent credit
    From 4.13% (variable)
    Refinance your student loans with flexible terms. Make full monthly payments right away or interest-only payments for the first 2 years.
    Credible Student Loan Refinancing
    Good to excellent credit
    From (variable)
    Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
    LendKey Student Loans
    From (variable)
    Refinance or consolidate your student loans to reduce your interest, lower your payments — and potentially save thousands.
    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.
    Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing
    From 2.99% (variable)
    Refinance all of your student loans, with no maximum limit, at competitive rates.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    I’m paying for school. What are my student loan options?

    There are two types of student loans you can take out to pay for higher education: private and public.

    • Public loans are loans funded by the federal government to cover education-related costs. Students usually turn to these first because they tend to have lower interest rates. After all your school’s tuition and expenses are paid for, any remaining money typically comes to you. They offer the added benefit of a grace period before you’re required to begin repayment. However, there are limits to how much you can borrow.
    • Private student loans are generally used to cover education expenses after you’ve maxed out public loans. You can get a private student loan from a bank, a state agency, a school or even a credit union. Private student loans also can pay postgraduate expenses that federal loans won’t such as those that come with studying for the bar or residency.

    Student loans can be tax deductible + more loan tax tips

    Could a personal loan help me cover extra costs at school?

    If you’re having a hard time qualifying for a federal loan or your federal loan has run out, you may want to consider taking out a personal loan. Personal loan amounts can range from $1,000 to $100,000 based on your eligibility and creditworthiness. A private student loan may not cover all of the expenses you have while in school, because they’re limited to education costs (with the possible exception of housing). By getting a personal loan, you would be able to use the funds as you need.

    Pros and cons of personal loans for education expenses

    • Loans of up to $100,000 are available for qualified applicants.
    • Interest rates are comparable to private student loans.
    • You can use the funds for any legitimate purpose.
    • No grace period before payments start.
    • A better credit history may be required.

    Compare personal loan options

    Rates last updated September 25th, 2017

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    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Requirements
    Prosper Personal Loan
    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements, special occasions and more — with APRs based on your credit score.
    From 5.99% (fixed)
    Must be 18+ years old, an American citizen or US permanent resident and have a 640+ credit score.
    Laurel Road Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with no application or origination fees and a rate discount for autopay.
    From 5.5% (fixed)
    Must be a US citizen or permanent resident with a valid I-551 card
    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)
    Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.
    Good to excellent credit
    From 5.49% (fixed)
    You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and 18 years or older.
    LendingPoint Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with reasonable rates even if you have a fair credit score in the 600s.
    From 15.49% (fixed)
    Must have a fair credit score of 600 or better and verifiable income. Must live in a state where LendingPoint services.
    Lending Club Personal Loan
    Borrow up to $40,000 with rates from 5.99% to 35.89% APR based on your credit score.
    From 5.99% (fixed)
    You must be over 18 years of age, a permanent resident of the US or an American citizen and have a steady source of income.
    Even Financial Personal Loans
    Get matched to the best loan offer instantly from top online consumer lenders.
    From 4.99% (fixed)
    Must have a minimum credit score of 580+. Must be 18+ years old and be an American citizen or permanent resident.
    Payoff Personal Loans
    Pay down your debt with a fixed APR and one monthly payment.
    From 5.94% (fixed)
    You must have a FICO score of 660 or higher, at least 3 years of credit history and a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 50%. You must live in a state where Payoff offers loans; check availability.
    OneMain Financial Personal Loans
    Get a personal or auto loan with a quick and easy application and dedicated customer support.
    From 12.99% (fixed)
    Eligibility for a loan is determined by your financial history, credit history, income and expenses, and whether or not you have ever filed for bankruptcy.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How do I compare my loan options as a student?

    Federal student loanPrivate student loanPersonal loan
    PurposeEducation-related expensesEducation costs, includes postgraduate expensesAny legitimate costs
    Funds disbursementSent to the school; any remaining funds are sent to you laterSent to the school; any remaining funds are sent to you laterSent directly to you
    Interest rates3.76% to 6.31% fixed APR, depending on loan and borrower typeVaries but can reach over 12%, depending on the lenderVaries but can go up to 36%, depending on the lender

    Just some of the top student loan providers we’ve reviewed

    Sofi logoLendEDU logoLendKey logoLaurel Road logo

    Consolidating multiple loans

    In this section, we’ll talk about federal loans. If you’ve only got private student loans, you can skip down to refinancing (unless you’d like to learn a bit more). Not everyone is lucky enough to get out of school with just one loan, much less no loans. If you’ve got multiple federal loans you’re trying to pay off from various agencies, you may have a hard time keeping track of all of them. Consolidation is the process of taking one or more of your federal loans and combining them into one. You can apply for a direct consolidation loan through the Federal Student Aid (FSA) website. The application requires you to sign in with an FSA user name or email address.

    Pros and cons of student loan consolidation

    • Repayment plans are available, including income-based plans.
    • You have a 60-day window before your first repayment due date is set.
    • You can be approved for lower monthly payments and potentially extend your repayment term.
    • An extended loan term could result in paying more interest over time, increasing the overall cost of your loan.
    • Benefits from your initial funding — such as discounts or rebates — may be cancelled.

    Refinancing loans for a lower interest rate

    Whether nearing the end of school or already out, you may be looking for a way to lower the overall cost of your debt. Refinancing could be just what you need if you have private student loans. Refinancing involves replacing your open debts with a different loan, hopefully one with better terms. To refinance, you apply through a private lender that offers student loan refinancing services. When considering a loan, compare the interest rate, loan term, risk and overall monthly payments. Done right, you could potentially get all of your loans under one payment with terms that better suit your needs.

    Pros and cons of student loan refinancing

    • Potentially lower your monthly payments.
    • Reduce the number of debts you have to manage.
    • Possibly benefit from a reduced interest rate.
    • A higher credit score may be necessary.
    • You won’t be eligible for federal repayment or forgiveness programs.
    • You may pay fees associated with refinancing.

    Bottom line

    No matter where you are in your schooling, there’s a loan to fit your needs. Federal loans are good for those who qualify. If you don’t qualify or you’ve run out, personal loans and private student loans may be valid options.

    Your schooling is in your hands. Before making any big financial decisions, consider your specific personal and financial situation. Go over all of your options, compare loans and seek advice or research anything that’s not perfectly clear.

    Frequently asked questions about student loans

    The standard repayment plan involves fixed payments and a term up to 10 years (or 30 years for consolidation loans). Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans offer a grace period of six months, whereas PLUS loans do not offer a grace period but may be eligible for deferment. Federal Perkins Loans offer varying grace periods based on the school you’re attending.
    • Direct subsidized loans. Designed for undergraduate students and requires a demonstration of financial need.
    • Direct unsubsidized loans. Designed for undergraduate, graduate and professional students and does not require a demonstration of financial need.
    • Direct PLUS loans. Designed for graduate and professional students, or parents of dependent undergraduate students. These loans pay for expenses not covered by other financial aid.
    • Direct consolidation loans. Used to combine all eligible federal student loans.
    • Federal Perkins Loan Program. Designed for undergraduate and graduate students with significant financial need. Funding is loaned by the school itself.
    • Direct subsidized loans. Annual limit is $5,500, depending on grade level and dependency status.
    • Direct unsubsidized loans. Annual limit is $20,500, depending on grade level and dependency status.
    • Direct PLUS loans. Maximum annual amount is your tuition and other school fees, minus any other aid received.
    • Federal Perkins Loan Program. Annual limits are $5,000 for undergraduate students and $8,000 for professional degree and graduate students.
    Unless you have an established credit history, you’ll most likely need a cosigner.
    Each lender will offer a different maximum loan amount. Check out different personal loan lenders to see which ones can offer a loan in the amount you’re looking for.
    For federal student loans, if you notify your school you can cancel all or part of your loan before the money is disbursed. If the money is already disbursed, there are certain time frames in which you can cancel all or part of your loan. Private loans and personal loans have varying protocols. Contact any lenders you’re interested in working with to find out their cancellation policy.
    Federal student loans have the possibility of being forgiven under certain conditions. Private and personal loans don’t have come with this arrangement.
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    Prosper Personal Loan

    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements, special occasions and more — with APRs based on your credit score.

    Lending Club Personal Loan

    Borrow up to $40,000 with rates from 5.99% to 35.89% APR based on your credit score.

    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

    Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.

    Upstart Personal Loans

    This newer service looks beyond your credit score to match you with accredited investors for low-rate personal loans.