25 Best Companies to Refinance and Consolidate Student Loans 2016

“Knowledge is power” and student loans enable you to improve your mind, while adding valuable human capital, wisdom and critical thinking skills to society. When you take out your school loans, you are usually about to start college or in the midst of your studies. You really don’t understand everything that goes into repaying this debt. I know I was clueless.

Thankfully, nearly all student loans will give you a “grace period” before required repayment starts, of about three months to a year after graduation. You might take on numerous education loans, simply to get through the college and survive. In the midst of juggling your social life and your studies, it probably rarely occurred to you that at some point you would have to pay these loans back. And if you were that forward thinking, very few people ever truly sat down and calculated what that would look like each month.

Once you start working, you will be flooded with other bills, including credit card, automobile and housing debt. I like to call this the American Dream. You might fall behind in your bills and wonder how you could repay your education loans on time. You might have had quite high hopes for your career; but if the job market is poor, then what can you do? Or maybe you are completely unable to pursue your dreams and passions because of the financial impact your loans have.

The answer could be student loan refinance or consolidation. This allows you to create a more manageable repayment schedule, which fits your present budget. Of course, many of these loans were made before you found a real job; now, things are different. I am about to reveal to you the top 25 financial institutions, which can be of assistance.

Should I Refinance or Consolidate My Student Loan?

First of all, you might not fully understand the difference between refinance and consolidation. Generally, both are used to help you reduce your monthly payments – by extending the amount of time required for the repayment. The refinance will usually involve a bank buying out your old student loan, replacing it with a new refinance loan with better terms and conditions. Refinance might only include your student loans.

Secondly, the finance industry considers the consolidation loan to be optimal for combining different types of loans together – credit cards, automobile, housing, education, you name it. It can be difficult to remember when each payment is due. The consolidation of your student loans can give you one easy single monthly payment.

Thirdly, a note of warning to those receiving “needs-based” public student loans – because these are “needs-based,” your act of refinancing could cause you to lose the special benefits associated with said loan. It can be difficult to combine private and public student loans.

There are many refinance terms, including APR and autopay. The APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate and might include fees, along with the interest rate. The autopay feature basically deducts the payments automatically from your banking account in exchange for a discount on your loan. Here are the 25 best financial companies to refinance or consolidate student loans [interest rates are subject to change]:

1. Alliant Credit Union

Alliant Credit Union offers consolidation or refinance for private or public student loans. Applicants must have a minimum income of $40,000 and employment of 2 years to qualify.

  • Starting at 3.41% APR Variable
  • Minimum Loan is $10,000
  • Maximum Loan is $75,000 for undergraduate or $100,000 for graduate
  • No Application Fee

Only graduates of non-for-profit colleges are eligible. Also, you must be a member of the Alliant Credit Union to qualify.

2. Best Egg

Best Egg offers personal loans, which can be used to refinance or consolidate your private or public student loan. The brand is focused on empowerment, having disbursed more than 2 billion dollars already. The Best Egg loan amounts range from $2,000 to $35,000 with 3- and 5-year plans.

  • Fixed APR from 5.99% to 29.99%
  • Minimum Loan is $2,000
  • Maximum Loan is $35,000
  • Origination Fees

You must have a minimum Credit Score of 700 and minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for the lowest loan rate. A fast online application process is available. Customer service is 24/7.

3. Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank (backed by RB) has a wealth of capital allocated for the disbursement of consolidation or refinance, undergraduate or graduate, or private or public student loans. Applicants can choose between 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year repayment schedules.

  • Interest Rates are 2.10% to 9.39% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $10,000
  • Maximum Loan is $90,000 for undergraduate, $130,000 for graduate or $170,000 for professional
  • No Application, Disbursement, Origination or Prepayment Fees

The process to apply for an “Education Refinance Loan” at Citizens Bank might take only two minutes or so. The bank will require a minimum income of $24,000 and a good Credit Score. Citizens Bank has a list of eligible schools for determining who qualifies.

You can get the autopay and co-signer release discount. There is also a loyalty reduction. Citizens Bank has received many positive reviews.

4. College Ave

College Ave offers 5-, 10- or 15-year loans and a fast online application process of only a couple of minutes.

  • Interest Rates for Variable are 2.50% to 8.50% and Fixed are 4.74% and up
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • Maximum Loan is $150,000 for undergraduate or $250,000 for graduate
  • No Application or Origination Fees

Applicants must have a minimum household income of $75,000 (or cosigner) to qualify. Autopay is available too.

5. CommonBond

CommonBond offers a nice range of undergraduate or graduate, private or public student loans spanning 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

  • Interest Rates are Variable 2.14% to 12.99% or Fixed 3.5% to 7.74% Fixed
  • No Minimum Loan
  • Maximum Loan is $500,000
  • No Application, Disbursement, Origination or Prepayment Fees

Applicants must have a minimum income of $50,000. The fast seven-minute application process is attractive. Autopay is available. There is also economic hardship deferment. This program covers more than 2,000 colleges. A referral bonus is available.

A nice fringe benefit of this refi loan is access to the CommonBond community with numerous events, networking and lifestyle perks. Your repayments will also fund the “Pencils of Promise” charitable organization.

6. Purefy

Purefy (formerly CordiaGrad) offers refinance for private or public student loans with terms of 5, 8 or 12 years. The website is really easy to navigate and makes refinancing fun.

  • Interest Rates from 3.0% to 6.75% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan of $20,000
  • Maximum Loan of $350,000
  • Fees may apply

In order to qualify, you must be 23 years old, have a strong Credit Score, 2 years of work history and a Purefy Checking Account.

Autopay is available. You can also refer a friend (or enemy) and get even more savings.

7. Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB)

Darien Rowayton Bank is one of the industry leaders, offering a range of ways to refinance or consolidate your undergraduate or graduate, private or public student loans for period of 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years. Some of the programs covered, include the following: bachelors or graduate MBA, Law, Medical, Physician Assistant, Nursing, Pharmacist, Engineering and PhD. DRB allows for refinancing of up to 100% of outstanding loans.

  • Interest Rates 3.64% to 7.20% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan
  • Maximum Loan
  • No Origination or Prepayment Fees

DRB has been promoted at the Huffington Post, The Wall Street Journal and Time. Customers praise the helpful staff. Autopay and unemployment assistance are available.

8. Discover

The Discover brand has a certain panache as the card that pays you back. Now you can refinance or consolidate your public or private full-time, undergraduate Discover student loans.

  • Interest Rates Variable 3.37% to 7.49% or Fixed 5.99% to 9.49%
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • Maximum Loan is $150,000
  • No Application, Origination, Late or Prepayment Fees

You can apply in less than 15 minutes. After the application, it might take 30 to 45 days to process. You must be more than 18 years old and meet income and Credit Score standards to qualify. Autopay is available too.

9. Earnest

For those who might need a unique alternative lender for refinance of consolidation of your undergrad or grad, private or federal student loans, Earnest might be the answer. Choose from periods ranging from 5 to 20 years. Earnest has no strict Credit Score level, so those with bad credit might still be able to qualify. Thousands of data points are used to determine who qualifies for these merit-based loans.

  • Interest Rates 2.20% to 12.00% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • Maximum Loan is $50,000
  • No Application, Origination, Prepayment or Refinance Fees

The application process only takes a few minutes. You must live in an eligible state. Autopay is an option. The tremendous flexibility of Earnest is a key benefit.

Set your own exact minimum monthly payment. You can switch between variable and fixed rate types. You can change your payment dates. Earnest is one of the most understanding banks, even allowing you to skip a payment once a year, as long as you make it up later.

The Earnest “Client Happiness” team will continue to service your loan (it won’t hand you off to a third-party firm). Earnest has been featured on New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg.

10. EdvestinU

Refinance or consolidate your private or public student loan from the New Hampshire Education Loan Corp for 15 or 20 years.

  • Interest Rates Variable or Fixed 3.17% to 8.24%
  • Minimum Loan is $7,500
  • Maximum Loan is $200,000
  • No Application, Deferment, Origination or Prepayment Fees

Qualifications include an income of $30,000 for loans below $100,000 and $50,000 for loans above $100,000. You must have gone to an accredited school. Co signer release and economic hardship are options. Autopay is available.

11. Elfi

Elfi has a number of great option to refinance and consolidate your student loans. Through fixed or variable rates, they have innovative option that suit most people’s needs.

  • Interest Rates Variable is 2.14% to 5.95% + Prime or Fixed 3.49% to 7.74%
  • Minimum Loan is $15,000
  • Maximum Loan is at the lender’s discretion based on a number of variables
  • No Application, Disbursement, Origination or Prepayment Fees

In order to qualify, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree or approved post-secondary institution.

12. iHelp

You can find a good range of consolidation and refinancing for private and public student loans at iHelp. Choose from 10, 15 and 20 year time frames.

  • Interest Rates Variable is 3.25% to 9.25% or Fixed starts at 4.75%
  • Minimum Loan is $10,000
  • Maximum Loan is $250,000
  • No Origination or Prepayment

Qualification requires that you have a $24,000 minimum income ($18,000 with cosigner) and acceptable Credit Score. You must have graduated from an eligible school. Co signer release and economic hardship are available.

13. Kemba

The Kemba Financial Credit Union is another option for refinance or consolidation for time frames of 10 or 15 years. Its motto is “Student Lending Solutions.”

  • APR Variable 5.25% to 15.0%
  • Minimum Loan
  • Maximum Loan is $125,000
  • No Origination Fees

You must join the Kemba Credit Union and have a minimum share deposit to qualify. Kemba will use your Credit Score in its decision-making process. It also has auto pay. There are more than 2,000 approved schools.

14. First Republic Bank

Firs Republic offers phenomenal rates to consolidate and refinance student loans.

  • Interest Rates (or APR) Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $60,000
  • Maximum Loan is $300,000
  • Fees

With Rates as low as 1.95% First Republic Bank is a hot choice for many looking to consolidate and refinance. What’s the catch? The consolidation process needs to happen in a First Republic location. Visit them below to see if there is a branch near you. If you are outside of California or Massachusetts this may be more difficult.

15. Lending Club

You can cut out the “middle man” and try to get better rates at the Lending Club. This innovative financing system provides peer-to-peer personal loans; you might find a wealthy grad or alumni willing to help you balance your budget.

  • APR from 5.99% to 35.89%
  • Minimum Loan is $1,000
  • Maximum Loan is $40,000
  • Fees may apply

Your Credit Score will be reviewed. You can get funding within days.

16. LendKey

Refinance or consolidate your public or private, undergraduate or graduate student loan for time frames of 5, 10, 15 or 20 years with LendKey. LendKey has not-for-profit credit unions and community lenders providing the funds. Thus, you might qualify even if you have bad credit.

  • Interest Rates Variable 2.13% to 8.97%
  • Minimum Loan is $7,500
  • Maximum Loan is undergraduate $125,000 or graduate $175,000
  • No Origination or Prepayment Fees

The two-minute, one-form application process is attractive. You must have a minimum income of $24,000 per year to qualify. LendKey has interest-only repayment terms too.

LendKey will continue to service your debt throughout its span. Autopay is available. You can also get cosigner release.

17. Link Capital

Medical school graduates are usually heavily loaded down with debt. Link Capital offers refinance or consolidation for medical school graduates, specifically.

  • APR 2.91% to 6.26% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $15,000
  • Maximum Loan is $450,000
  • Fees may apply

You can be in or out of residency and still qualify. The loans have a 3-month grace period. Autopay is available.

18. Navy Federal Credit Union

You might have heard some commercials for the Navy Federal Credit Union on football broadcasts. This financial institution continues to expand its loan portfolio for those in the Armed Forces. You can choose consolidation or refinance of your private student loans for 15 years.

  • APR Variable starting at 3.61%
  • Minimum Loan is $7,500
  • Maximum Loan is $125,000 undergraduate or $175,000 graduate
  • Fees may apply

Autopay and co signer release are available.

19. Pave

Pave offers 2- to 3-year personal loans to pay off your student debt.

  • APR 6.02% to 21.67%
  • Minimum Loan is $3,000
  • Maximum Loan is $25,000
  • Origination Fee between 1% and 6%

You must have a Credit Score above 660 and reside in a qualifying state.

20. Prosper

Prosper is an alternative lender offering personal loans of 3 or 5 years to help you pay of your student debt.

  • APR are from 5.99% to 36.0%
  • Minimum Loan is $2,000
  • Maximum Loan is $35,000
  • No Prepayment Fee and Closing Fee of 5%

Your Credit Score will be a key factor for loan qualification. The Prosper Daily app is available, so you can track your finance using your smart phone.

21. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA)

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) offers consolidation or refinancing services for private student loans. You can choose terms of 5, 10 and 15 years. Despite the name, RISLA works with all 50 states.

  • APR Fixed 4.24% to 6.99%
  • Minimum Loan $1500 per year
  • Maximum Loan $40,00 per year
  • No Origination or Prepayment Fees

Autopay is available.

22. SoFi

SoFi is one of the top student loan refinance firms, due to its flexibility. If offers undergrad or grad, private or public loans with terms of 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.

  • Interest Rates 2.20% to 7.74% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • No Maximum Loan
  • No Application or Origination Fees

SoFi has a fast online pre-approval process that only takes about two minutes. SoFi might not concentrate on your Credit Score as much as other firms.

Taking out a SoFi loan, makes you a member, which means invitations to SoFi events, career strategy services and entrepreneur program. You can also talk to wealth advisors.

Autopay is an option. The customer support is 7 days a week via phone, email, chat or Social Media. There is loan deferment for those who return to school. Unemployment protection is available.

23. Upstart

Upstart offers consolidation or refinance for your private student loans.

  • APR starting at 4.66%
  • Minimum Loan is $3,000
  • Maximum Loan is $35,000
  • Origination Fee of 1% to 6% and No Prepayment Fee

You must have a minimum Credit Score of 640 to qualify, along with proof of income. Upstart has a fast loan disbursement of only a couple of days after application acceptance.

24. Bright Peak Financial

Bright Peak Financial offers public or private consolidation loans.

  • Interest Rates Variable 2.5% and up or Fixed 3.99% and up
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • Maximum Loan is over $200,000
  • No Application, Origination or Prepayment Fees

To qualify you must have attended an eligible undergraduate or graduate school and earn steady income. You also are required to have a credit score minimum of 660 and up to date on you current student loan payments. The only other qualification is that you cannot be eligible for student loan forgiveness. This typically means that you are not employed by the government or nonprofit organizations.

25. Wells Fargo

One of the largest global banks – Wells Fargo – has also offered a solid student refinance and consolidation program. The Wells Fargo Private Consolidation Loan is for 15 or 20 years.

  • APR 6.24% to 10.99% Variable or Fixed
  • Minimum Loan is $5,000
  • Maximum Loan is $120,000
  • No Origination or Prepayment Fee

Wells Fargo has autopay and co signer release. There is also a Wells Fargo customer loyalty discount.

Additional Resources:
Student Loan Consolidation Guide
Student Loan Forgiveness
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