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If you’re applying for a new loan, you’ll often need good credit to get approved. This is also true if you’re looking to refinance your student loans.
But minimum credit score requirements for refinancing can differ from one lender to the next.
Here’s what you should know about the minimum credit score needed to refinance student loans:
- Credit score needed to refinance student loans
- Eligibility requirements to refinance student loans
- How to qualify for student loan refinancing
- What you can do if you don’t meet qualifying requirements
- Alternatives to refinancing a student loan
- Student loan and credit score FAQs
Credit score needed to refinance student loans
The exact credit score you’ll need to refinance your student loans will depend on the lender. Most lenders require borrowers to have good to excellent credit. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. Your credit score will help determine your interest rate, too — in general, the higher your credit score, the better your interest rate.
Several lenders also offer refinancing for bad credit, but these loans typically come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, it’s important to compare as many lenders as possible. Consider not only their interest rates, but also eligibility criteria (such as minimum credit score requirements), repayment terms, and any fees the lender charges.
The student loan refinance companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders. Because they compete for your business through Credible, you can request rates from all of them by filling out a single form. Then, you can compare your available options side-by-side. Requesting rates is free, doesn’t affect your credit score, and your personal information isn’t shared with our partner lenders unless you see an option you like.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan terms (years)||Loan amounts||Offer Cosigner Release?|
|4.85%+||5.3%+||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 up to $250,000|
(depending on degree)
|6.8%+1||7.06%+1||5, 7, 10, 15, 20||$10,000 to $500,000|
(depending on degree and loan type)
|Yes, after 36 months|
|6.99%+2||6.99%+2||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$5,000 to $300,000|
(depending on degree type)
|Yes, after 24 months|
|6.0%+5||8.03%+5||5, 10, 15, 20||$1,000 to $250,000||Yes, after 36 months|
|5.08%+3||5.28%+3||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||$10,000 to $250,000||No|
|5.9%+4||8.12%+4||5, 10, 15, 20||$5,000 to $250,000||Yes, after 48 months of on-time payments|
|6.94%+ 7||N/A||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20||Up to $300,000||Yes, after 24 months|
|4.49%+||5.02%+||5, 7, 10, 15||Up to $300,000||Yes, after 12 months|
|5.75%+||N/A||7, 10, 15||$10,000 up to the total amount of qualified education debt||No|
|5.79%+||N/A||5, 10, 15||$7,500 up to $250,000|
(depending on highest degree earned)
All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 7ISL Education Lending Disclosures | 8Nelnet Bank Disclosures
|Compare personalized rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!
Eligibility requirements to refinance student loans
While eligibility criteria — including minimum credit score requirements — can vary by lender, here are a few common conditions for student loan refinancing that you’ll likely come across:
|Eligibility criteria||Min. requirements|
(amount you owe in monthly debt payments compared to your income)
Because your credit history and each lender’s offerings are unique, it’s smart to research multiple lenders to find the option that best suits your needs.
How to qualify for student loan refinancing
If you’re ready to refinance your student loans, follow these four steps:
- Check your credit score. When you apply for refinancing, the lender will review your credit to determine your eligibility — so it’s a good idea to check your score first to see where you stand. You can use a site like AnnualCreditReport.com to review your credit reports for free. If you find any errors, dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau to potentially boost your credit score.
- Gather income documents. Lenders typically ask borrowers to submit recent pay stubs or tax documents to verify income as well as calculate DTI. Some lenders have a specific minimum income requirement you’ll need to meet while others don’t — but in either case, they’ll want to see that you can afford to repay the loan.
- Research and compare lenders. Be sure to shop around and compare as many student loan refinance companies as possible to find the right loan for you. Many lenders provide a prequalification option without a hard credit check so you can see your personalized loan offers before completing a full application. For example, with Credible, you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders after filling out a single form — without affecting your credit.
- Pick your loan option and complete the application. After you’ve done your lender research, pick the loan option that best suits your needs. You’ll then need to fill out a full application and submit any required documentation. If you’re approved, continue making payments on your old loans while the refinance is processed — this could take one to two billing cycles to complete.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, remember to consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for you. This is easy with Credible — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in just two minutes.
What you can do if you don’t meet qualifying requirements
If you don’t meet the qualifying requirements for refinancing, here are a few options to consider:
Add a cosigner — and find a lender that offers cosigner release
Having a cosigner with good credit could help you get approved for refinancing if you have poor or fair credit. A cosigner can be anyone who is willing to share responsibility for the loan, such as a parent, other relative, or trusted friend.
Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify for refinancing, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.
If you’re thinking about refinancing with a cosigner, here are some pros and cons to keep in mind:
|Might help you get approved if you have bad credit||You might not know anyone who has good enough credit to cosign (or who is willing to do so)|
|Could get you a lower interest rate||Your cosigner will be on the hook if you don’t make your payments (this could also damage their credit)|
|Might be able to release the cosigner from the loan in the future (depending on the lender)||If your lender doesn’t offer a cosigner release option, you’ll have to refinance again to remove your cosigner from the loan|
Check Out: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?
Improve your credit score
If you have poor credit and can wait to refinance, it could be a good idea to spend some time improving your credit score first. This way, you’ll likely have an easier time getting approved — as well as have a better chance of qualifying for a good interest rate.
You can potentially build your credit in several ways, including:
- Making on-time payments: Your payment history is one of the biggest factors that make up your credit score. Paying all your bills on time could help you build a positive payment history and improve your credit over time.
- Paying down credit card balances: Another major component of your credit score is your credit utilization ratio — this is the amount you owe on revolving credit lines (such as credit cards and lines of credit) compared to your total credit limits. Paying down your balances can lower your credit utilization, which might boost your score.
- Becoming an authorized user: One of the easiest ways to build your credit is to become an authorized user on the credit card account of someone you trust. By doing this, you can benefit from the card owner’s good credit habits without even needing to use the card.
Alternatives to refinancing a student loan
Refinancing is a good idea in some cases, but it isn’t right for everyone. Additionally, it can be hard to qualify for refinancing if you don’t have good credit or stable income (or someone willing to cosign your loan).
While the options for private student loans outside of refinancing are limited, here are a few alternatives to consider if you have federal student loans:
Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan
On an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, your payments will be based on your income and household size — typically 10% to 20% of your discretionary income. Additionally, any remaining balance will be forgiven after 20 to 25 years, depending on the plan.
The Department of Education offers four main IDR plans to choose from:
- Pay As You Earn (PAYE)
- Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)
- Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
- Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
Pursue student loan forgiveness
Several student loan forgiveness programs are available to federal student loan borrowers. Most of these programs require you to work in a certain field and make qualifying payments for a specific amount of time.
For example, if you work full-time for a not-for-profit or government organization and make qualifying payments for 10 years, you might be eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Learn More: Private Student Loan Consolidation
Consolidate your loans
If you have multiple federal loans, you can consolidate them into a Direct Consolidation Loan. With a Direct Consolidation Loan, your interest rate will be the average of your old loans, but you might be able to extend your repayment term up to 30 years — this could greatly reduce your monthly payments but also means you’ll pay more in interest over time.
Student loan and credit score FAQs
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about student loans and credit scores.
What is the lowest credit score accepted for student loan refinancing?
Borrowers with poor, limited, or no credit history may find it difficult to independently refinance their student loans. Most lenders will require a minimum credit score of 650 to extend a refinancing loan.
If your score is below 650, they may require a cosigner on the loan. Each lender is different, so it’s important to research multiple lenders and consider their minimum credit score requirements to qualify for student loan refinancing.
Before applying for a refinancing loan, check your credit profile to see if you can remove any discrepancies from your credit report or improve your credit score.
What is a credit utilization rate?
Your credit utilization rate, sometimes referred to as a credit utilization ratio, is how much credit debt you currently owe divided by your credit limit. For example, if you have a $2,000 limit on your credit card and your current balance owed is $1,000, then your credit utilization rate is 50%.
While factors like your debt-to-income ratio don’t directly affect your credit score, your credit utilization rate is one of the most influential factors; it accounts for 30% of your score.
How can I check my credit score?
Each of the three main credit-reporting bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — can provide you with an annual free credit report and potentially a free credit score check. It’s important to note that your credit report won’t include your credit score.
You can also request free copies of your credit report from the three main bureaus by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Equifax: To get your free credit score from Equifax, you’ll need to create a myEquifax account. Its free plan provides a monthly one-bureau credit score on your myEquifax dashboard.
- Experian: To get a free credit score from Experian, you’ll need to register a free account, which will provide you with a free FICO score that refreshes every 30 days.
- TransUnion: Although TransUnion offers a free credit report, its plans to access your credit score start at $29.95 per month.
Here are some other ways that you can check your credit score:
- Purchase your score through a credit reporting company. For example, you can buy your FICO credit score from myFICO.com.
- Get your credit score from a credit card or loan company. Some credit card companies, lenders, and financial institutions provide credit scores on statements or online for free.
- Ask a nonprofit credit counselor to provide you with your credit score. Organizations like HUD-approved housing counselors can provide you with a free credit score.
What credit score gets the best rate?
A borrower with an excellent credit score is most likely to get the lowest rate on a refinanced student loan. Excellent credit scores range from 800 to 850.
Refinancing your student loan is still possible, even if you have a lower credit score. If you believe that refinancing is the best way to pay off your student loans, shop multiple lenders through the Credible marketplace to find the right option that fits your unique needs.
Nick Dauk contributed to the reporting for this article.