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Your guide to refinancing


Why refinance your student loans?

If you have trouble managing your debt payoff or can’t comfortably afford your loan payments, student loan refinancing could help. Here’s how it could simplify student loan repayment:

  • Potentially get a lower interest rate: If you have good credit and a reliable income, you might qualify for a lower interest rate on your newly refinanced loan. With a smaller rate, you could save thousands of dollars over the course of your loan’s lifetime.
  • Reduce your monthly payment: Refinancing also gives you the opportunity to lock in a smaller monthly payment. Reducing your interest rate can help lower your monthly costs, but you could also choose to lengthen your repayment term for a smaller payment.
  • Combine debts into one account: If you have more than one student loan, you might have multiple due dates and loan servicers to manage each month. Refinancing allows you to combine all or some of your student loans into one account, simplifying your debt management.
  • Get debt-free faster: If you’d like to more aggressively pay off your debt, you might choose to shorten your repayment term. While this means your monthly payment will increase, you’ll be debt-free sooner and will typically pay less in total interest.
  • Remove a cosigner: It’s common for college students to use a cosigner when they first borrow student loans. If your credit has improved since you first borrowed your loans, refinancing offers the opportunity to remove your cosigner and manage the loan in your name only.

When to refinance your student loans

Consider refinancing if:

  • You’re financially secure and have a reliable income.
  • You qualify for a lower rate.
  • You want to adjust your repayment term.

Rethink refinancing if:

  • You’re not financially secure.
  • You qualify for a federal forgiveness program.
  • You rely on federal protections, such as income-driven repayment.

How to refinance your student loans

  1. 1

    Find prequalified rates

    With Credible, you can prequalify for a refinanced loan with only a soft credit check. Simply input a few pieces of personal information and you can view the estimated rates and terms you may qualify for. This can help you better understand what each lender can offer.

  2. 2

    Research and compare lenders

    Compare the prequalified rates from lenders to find the right loan for you. Consider not only interest rates but also repayment terms and monthly payments. Fortunately on Credible, none of our student loan lenders charge origination fees or prepayment penalties.

  3. 3

    Pick your loan option

    After you’ve compared lenders, choose the loan option that best suits your needs. Also consider whether or not you will need a cosigner to include on the application.

  4. 4

    Complete the application

    Once you’ve picked a lender, fill out a full application and submit any required documentation, such as tax returns or pay stubs. 

  5. 5

    Manage your payments

    If you’re approved, continue making payments on your old loans while the refinance is processed. Afterward, you’ll start making payments on your new loan. You might also consider signing up for autopay so you won’t miss any payments in the future — many lenders offer a rate discount to borrowers who set up automatic payments.

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How Credible works

  • 1

    Fill out a quick form (2 mins)

    Answer a few quick questions. We’ll check for personalized rates from multiple lenders, without sharing your contact information.

  • 2

    Select an option you like

    Easily compare your options in one place. These are prequalified rates based on your credit profile — not estimates.

  • 3

    Finalize your loan

    Provide some additional details about you and the loans you want to refinance, and get your final offer in as little as 1 business day.

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Eligible loans

Federal student loans

Our lenders can refinance some or all of your federal student loans into a private loan.

Private student loans

Lenders also refinance private student loans from banks, credit unions or schools.

Parent PLUS loans

If you took out Parent PLUS loans for a student, you can refinance them through Credible.

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No service fee

Using Credible is 100% free. Get your actual prequalified rates and amazing customer support.

No origination fee

None of our partner lenders charge loan origination fees when you refinance.

No prepayment penalty

There's no prepayment penalty if you'd like to pay off your loans faster.

What our users are saying

Quick and easy process

This website was very helpful in finding me a lender who could refinance my private student loan. Very pleased with the quick process.

See Jessica’s review


The process was streamlined, easy, and quick...I could not be happier to finally see the end of my loan commitment in sight! Thank you!

See Michelle’s review

Very easy process

If you can read & follow instructions, this is a no hassle, no brainer choice for refinancing student loans. We cut our rates in half!

See Tammy’s review

Individual experience may vary.

Does refinancing makes sense for you?

Use our student loan refinancing calculator to see how different terms and interest rates can change what you pay over time.

1. Enter your current loan details


2. Choose a rate to compare

Our lender rates vary from 5.24% to 12.43% APR


3. Check the results

With an interest rate of 6.00% over 10 years, you will pay per month and in interest over the lifetime of your loan.

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Monthly payment:

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Student loan refinance FAQ

By Alicia Hahn

Written by

Alicia Hahn

Alicia Hahn is a student loans editor with more than a decade of editorial experience. She has worked with major finance and lifestyle brands including Mastercard, Forbes,, The Balance, and others.

ForbesStudent Loan HeroThe Balance
Reviewed by Kelly Larsen

Written by

Kelly Larsen


Kelly Larsen has written and edited content that spans many personal finance topics, including buying a home, saving for retirement, and paying off student loans. She first started learning about the world of finance through her work at In 2020, Kelly helped launch Paven, a financial well-being app.

Updated July 20, 2024

Editorial disclosure: Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as "Credible."

Refinancing your student loans is when you take out a new loan to pay off your old loans, leaving you with just one loan and payment to manage. Depending on your credit, you might be able to lower your interest rate through refinancing — which could save you money on interest and even help you pay off your loan faster.

Or you could opt to extend your repayment term through refinancing, which could reduce your monthly payments and lessen the strain on your budget. Just keep in mind that choosing a longer repayment term means you’ll pay more in interest over time.

There are several types of student loans that are eligible for refinancing, including loans for undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies. These loan types include:

  • Federal student loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education and have their interest rates set by Congress. They also provide benefits and protections that don’t come with private loans, such as access to federal deferment and forbearance, income-driven repayment plans, and student loan forgiveness programs.

  • Private student loans are offered by private lenders, including traditional banks and credit unions as well as online lenders. The interest rates on these loans vary by lender and are determined by market conditions. While private loans don’t offer federal protections, they do offer benefits like potentially higher loan amounts and the ability to apply at any time with no deadline to worry about.

  • Medical school loans are available to help students pay for medical school. You might be able to get a general student loan for this purpose or a specialized medical school loan from a private lender. Some lenders also allow students to defer payments until after residency.

  • MBA loans can be used to cover your expenses while attending business school. While you can use a general student loan for this, there are also private lenders that offer specialized MBA student loans.

  • Law school loans can be used to pay for a law degree. You can take out general student loans for this or apply for a specialized law school loan from a private lender. There are also lenders that offer bar study loans to help you cover your expenses while studying for the bar exam.

Keep in mind that while you can refinance both federal and private student loans, refinancing federal student loans will cost you federal benefits and protections — such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs. You’ll also no longer be eligible for the payment and interest suspension under the CARES Act.

Refinancing offers several potential benefits. Here are a few to keep in mind if you’re considering whether refinancing is a good idea for your situation:

  • Might get a lower interest rate: Depending on your credit, you could lower your student loan interest rate through refinancing. This could save you money on interest charges and might even help you pay off your loan faster.

  • Could reduce your monthly payments: If you choose a longer repayment term, you could reduce your monthly payments. Just remember that doing so means you’ll pay more in interest over time.

  • Can combine multiple loans: If you refinance your student loans, you’ll be left with just one loan and payment to worry about.

  • Can remove cosigners: If you’d like to remove a cosigner from your student loan, you can do so through refinancing as you’ll be paying off the old loan. This will release your cosigner from sharing responsibility for your loan.

While refinancing could be a smart move in some cases, there are also some potential downsides to consider:

  • Fewer options for bad credit: If you have poor or fair credit, it could be harder for you to get approved for refinancing. Additionally, you might not qualify for the best interest rates if you have less-than-perfect credit.

  • Loss of federal benefits: If you refinance federal student loans into a private loan, you’ll no longer have access to federal benefits and protections — such as student loan forgiveness programs and federal forbearance options. However, keep in mind that if you’re refinancing private student loans, you won’t have to worry about this risk.

  • Lack of repayment options: Private student loan repayment options are generally much more limited compared to federal loans. For example, private refinanced loans typically don’t offer income-driven or extended repayment plans.

Learn more: When Student Loan Refi Is a Good Idea and When to Reconsider

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The requirements to qualify for refinancing can vary by lender. However, there are a few common eligibility criteria you’ll likely come across, including:

  • Good credit: You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for refinancing — a good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. While some lenders offer refinancing for bad credit, these loans generally come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.

  • Verifiable income: Some lenders have a minimum required income while others don’t — but in either case, you’ll likely need to provide documentation showing proof of income.

  • Low debt-to-income ratio: Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount you owe in debt payments each month compared to your income. Lenders typically like to see a DTI ratio of 50% or below — though keep in mind that some lenders might require lower ratios than this.

  • Loan information: The lender will need information regarding each of the student loans you want to refinance, such as loan balances, your current lenders, and what schools you attended.

If you’re struggling to get approved for refinancing on your own, consider applying with a cosigner to improve your chances. A cosigner simply needs to be someone with good credit — such as a parent, other relative, or trusted friend — who’s willing to share responsibility for the loan.

Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

Whether or not refinancing student loans is worth it depends on your specific situation. Many people refinance their debt to secure a lower interest rate and save money in the long term. Others may want to refinance to a longer repayment period, which typically results in lower monthly payments, but may also come with more interest over time.

A student loan refinancing calculator can help you compare your options. Enter the details of your current student loans and the estimated terms of a refinanced loan. See how your costs change as you adjust the interest rates and repayment terms before you decide what’s best for your finances.

Refinancing and consolidation are both ways to combine student loans. However, they mean something different for federal and private student loans. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • Federal student loan consolidation: If you have federal student loans, you can consolidate them into a federal Direct Consolidation Loan. The interest rate on a Direct Consolidation Loan is the weighted average of the loans you consolidated. You also have the choice to extend your repayment term up to 30 years.

  • Private student loan refinancing: Private student loan consolidation and refinancing refer to the same process — paying off your old loans with a new private loan. Through refinancing, you might be able to get a lower interest rate or extend your term to reduce your monthly payment. Remember that you can consolidate both federal and private student loans, but doing so will cost you access to federal benefits and protections.

Learn more: Student Loan Consolidation vs. Student Loan Refinancing

When you’re refinancing a student loan, you’ll see a lot of numbers contained in your loan documents. One of these is your annual percentage rate (APR), which includes your interest rate as well as any fees that come with your loan.

Another number to be aware of is your interest rate. There are two types of interest rates available for refinanced loans:

  • A fixed interest rate will stay the same throughout the life of your loan. This also means your monthly payment won’t ever change. Fixed rates often start out higher than variable rates. However, they offer stability for your loan costs, which can make them a better choice if you plan to pay off your loan over several years.

  • A variable interest rate can fluctuate according to the market conditions — which means your payment could go up in the future. While a variable rate can be lower than a fixed rate to start, there’s no guarantee your rate won’t change as time goes on. However, a variable rate might be a good idea if you plan to pay off your loan quickly before the rate can change too much.

The average student loan refinance rate changes frequently, but it’s been trending upward since late 2021. As of Nov. 13, 2023, average rates on 10-year fixed-rate loans were 7.75% for borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher, and rates on 5-year variable-rate loans averaged 6.32%.

While these averages can be a useful benchmark when reviewing refinancing offers, the actual interest rate you qualify for could be higher or lower. Your credit history, loan amount, repayment term, and choice of variable or fixed interest rates can all affect the rate you receive.

Learn more: Average Student Loan Refinance Interest Rates for 5- and 10-Year Loans

Yes, there’s no limit to how often you can refinance a student loan. For example, you might choose to refinance again if your credit score has improved and you can get a better rate. Or you might refinance again to extend your repayment term and reduce your monthly payment.

Learn more: How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?

Yes, you might be able to refinance student loans with bad credit. While many lenders require good to excellent credit to refinance, others work with borrowers who have poor or fair credit — though keep in mind that you’ll likely be offered higher interest rates compared to the rates received by borrowers with good credit.

Another option that could help you get approved with bad credit is to apply with a creditworthy cosigner. Just remember that your cosigner will share responsibility for the loan — meaning they’ll be on the hook if you can’t make your payments. Depending on the lender you choose, you might be able to release your cosigner if you make a certain number of consecutive, on-time payments — usually for 12 to 48 months — and are able to meet the underwriting criteria.

If you can wait to refinance your loans, you might consider spending some time improving your credit before you apply to more easily qualify in the future. Some potential ways to do this include:

  • Making on-time payments on all of your bills

  • Paying down credit card balances

  • Becoming an authorized user on the credit card account of someone you trust

Learn more: 3 Ways to Refinance Student Loans with Bad Credit

Refinancing your student loans could hurt your credit, but the benefits of refinancing may outweigh a drop in your score. Generally, refinancing a loan can affect your credit in three ways:

  • Hard credit check: When you submit a refinancing application, the lender will complete a hard credit check to confirm your details. This can cause a small dip in your credit score, but for most people, one credit inquiry results in less than a five-point drop.

  • Multiple loan applications: To lenders, applying to open multiple new accounts is a red flag. If you submit a refinance application to more than one lender, it could hurt your credit. However, if you apply to more than one lender within a short time frame, it’ll be treated as a single inquiry. To minimize the impact, submit your applications within a 30-day period.

  • Closed account: When you refinance your student loan, your old account will be closed when the refinance lender completes the loan process. Just how much this can affect your credit depends on how long the account was open and the length of your credit history, among other factors. Generally, if you have a slimmer credit file, you’ll be more affected than someone with a more robust credit history.

While you could be affected by the above factors, a refinanced student loan can also improve your credit. If you can build a lengthy history of on-time payments or use the loan to improve your credit mix, for example, that could outweigh potential negative marks on your score.

Here are a few scenarios where refinancing your student loans could be the right move:

  • You can qualify for a better interest rate, which will save you money on your loan.

  • You need a lower monthly payment that fits more comfortably in your budget.

  • You have multiple student loans and want to combine them to simplify your repayment.

  • You have private student loans, so won’t lose any federal benefits by refinancing.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether refinancing your student loans is a good idea depending on your individual circumstances and financial goals.

How long it takes to refinance your student loan varies by lender and other factors, but generally, the process can take a few days up to several weeks. To minimize delays, be thorough when completing the application and attaching required paperwork. You should also respond promptly to any communication from the lender.

After you’ve compared lenders and submitted an application, the lender will review your details before making a final decision. If you have a cosigner or are missing documentation on your application, that may delay the process.

If approved, the lender will send you the final paperwork to sign. Once complete, the refinance lender will coordinate with your old lender and pay off your loans directly. After that, you’ll be notified that your old loan account has been paid off and you’ll begin making payments on your newly refinanced debt.

Yes — if you refinance your student loans, you can choose whether you’d like to refinance some or all of your student loan debt.

For example, if you have a mix of federal student loans and private student loans, you could refinance just the private student loans while leaving your federal student loans alone. This way, you could take advantage of refinancing for your private loans while maintaining the federal protections on your federal loans.

Just keep in mind that once you’ve refinanced, it can’t be undone — you’ll have to decide beforehand how much of your student loan balance you want to refinance.

To find the right lender for your situation, you should always compare loan rates and terms from multiple lenders. You should specifically look at the interest rate, length of repayment, fees, and any special repayment options each lender might offer (like deferment, forbearance, etc.). This way, you’ll know which lender will best help you pay off your student loan debt.

These are Credible’s best companies to refinance student loans:

Learn more: Comparing the Best Student Loan Refinancing Companies

Additional resources to help you refinance student loans:

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Today’s student loan refinancing rate trend

Student Loan Refinancing10 yearFixed ratesVery good (720-779) credit


Student Loan Refinancing

Loan term

10 year

Rate type

Fixed rates

Credit score

Very good (720-779)



  • Market rate