If you’re looking for a more modern student loan refinancing experience than traditional lenders offer, Earnest’s use of data and technology, and their comprehensive underwriting, might make it the lender for you. But before jumping in, it’s worth reading reviews about the pros and cons of refinancing with Earnest, as well as an Earnest review.
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Pros of Earnest student loan refinancing
Earnest takes pride in offering highly flexible student loans
Unlike most lenders, which require borrowers to choose a set term for repaying their loans (typically somewhere between five and 20 years in five-year increments), Earnest borrowers can choose their exact loan term — and exact monthly loan payment.
Earnest offers borrowers Precision Pricing, a sliding scale that allows them to choose the dollar amount they’d like to pay each month. This can be advantageous for borrowers with a strict monthly budget, but regardless of budget can cut down the total cost of the loan.
In addition to Precision Pricing, Earnest offers:
- No fees for extra or early payments;
- the option of bi-weekly payments, which can save money on interest;
- the option of skipping a payment and making it up later;
- a mobile app for tracking and managing loan payments;
- a 0.25 percent interest rate discount for borrowers enrolled in autopay;
- the ability to switch between fixed and variable rates once every six months.
Another Earnest hallmark is that the loans are serviced in-house
Borrowers who opt for Earnest student loan refinance options can call and speak with an Earnest employee, rather than someone at a third-party servicer, to resolve any questions or issues that may arise.
Most lenders pass their clients to a third-party after thirty days, but Earnest pledges not to do so. This ensures that borrowers will always have direct access to the source of information about their loan, which can often result in faster resolution times.
Lastly, Earnest utilizes some non-traditional underwriting techniques
This may help borrowers who have trouble getting approved from other lenders.
While credit history is certainly one factor that Earnest evaluates, the company claims to focus on merit and financial responsibility over solely relying on generic numbers like a credit score — for example, a borrower’s education, work history, and other financial assets can help them to get approved.
Cons of Earnest refinancing
More information requested than average lender
While in-depth underwriting can help some borrowers secure better rates, it also means that Earnest requests more information than most lenders, including asking for access to applicants’ online bank, investment, and retirement accounts.
Doing so grants Earnest read-only access to the transaction data in those accounts, meaning the company cannot deposit or withdraw from the account — but some people are still uncomfortable sharing this amount of data with a lending company.
Some limitations based on where you live
Earnest offers student loan refinancing to residents of most states, but unfortunately residents of Nevada, South Dakota, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Alabama cannot yet apply to refinance with Earnest. This may change in the future, so keep an eye out.
Earnest’s eligibility requirements reflect their focus on merit rather than credit
- Have debt that has been accrued by paying for education at a Title IV accredited school.
- Have completed their degree, or be in their final semester of school.
- Be employed, have an offer letter, or be able to show consistent income that can be put towards loan payments.
- Be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Be the primary borrower on their loans (i.e. a co-signer cannot apply to refinance on their behalf).
- Have debt from their education or their child’s.
- Not simultaneously take out loans for future schooling.
In additional to hard requirements, Earnest offers eligibility guidelines based on what their typical borrower profile looks like
Borrowers whose profiles fit within the guidelines are more likely to get approved, and receive better rates. These guidelines include factors such as other types of debt, savings, spending patterns, and payment history. You can check them all out here.
How to find the best student loan refinancing rates
Whether you love the idea of Earnest’s modern features or their in-depth approach to underwriting appeals to you, Earnest can be a great student loan refinancing option. But each refinancing lender determines the rate they’ll offer a borrower on a case-by-case basis — so it’s impossible to know your lowest possible rate without applying to multiple banks.
To learn more, read Credible’s reviews of other top student loan refinancing lenders:
Compare the best options and save with Credible
With Credible, it’s easy to compare the best available rates from Earnest and other top student loan refinancing lenders with just one application. You can even check your prequalified rates without a hard credit pull, so it won’t affect your credit.
Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Rate Disclosure:
*Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of January 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.51%. Variable interest rates range from 3.01%-9.75% (3.01%-9.75% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower's loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.90%-9.99% (3.90%-9.99% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.