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Student Loan Refinancing

How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?

January 14, 2020

By Caroline Farhat

 

It comes each month like clockwork. You look at your monthly student loan statement and wonder how the balance just doesn’t seem to go down that much, despite your diligent payments. If you’re paying down your student debt, there’s a good chance you’ve also wondered if there is any way for you to reduce your monthly payments or the interest you pay on the loan. The good news is that there is — and it’s relatively simple for you to do. Student loan refinancing is one of the best ways to save money on your student loan debt. But what if you have already refinanced, should you refinance again? How often should you refinance student loans? Here are some things to consider when deciding whether refinancing is right for you, whether it’s your first time or you’re a seasoned refinancer. 

 

What is Student Loan Refinancing?

Refinancing your student loans means a lender pays off your current loan with a new loan you borrow. You can refinance with your current loan provider or refinance student loans with a new company. It is also possible to refinance multiple loans into one new loan. The major benefit of student loan refinancing is that typically the new loan has a lower interest rate, thereby saving you money over the lifetime of your loan. Just how much can you save? Take a look: 

 

A private student loan of $20,000 with an interest rate of 8% for ten years will require you to pay $243 per month. Refinance the loan to a ten-year loan with a 3.99% interest rate, and you could be saving $40 per month and $4,831 over the life of the loan.  

 

To find out how much you can save in your situation, plug your numbers into our student loan refinancing calculator. It’s easy and free to use.

 

So when should you look into refinancing? As soon as possible, depending on some factors discussed below. Interest rates change with the market, and the longer you wait, the more savings you could be missing out on. You can refinance student loans as many times as you find it beneficial, as long as your financial situation qualifies you for refinancing.  

 

>> Related: LIBOR: What It Means For Student Loans

 

What to Consider When Preparing to Refinance Student Loans

1. Your interest rate depends on your credit score, your income, and your history of on-time loan payments.  
  • In order for some lenders to consider refinancing your student loan debt, your credit score should at least be in the 600s. In order to get the lower end interest rates, most lenders will look for a credit score in the 700s or higher. Does your credit score need some help? Check out our guide for tips on building good credit.
  • In addition, your income must be high enough to be able to pay all your debts. Some lenders will consider your debt-to-income ratio. This is obtained by dividing the total of your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. For example, if your monthly student loan payment is $500, your car payment is $400, and you earn $3,000 per month, your total monthly debt payments are $900. Your debt-to-income ratio would be $900/$3000 = 30%. Generally, a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less is needed to refinance.  

 

If the credit score or income requirement is an issue for you, you may want to consider a co-signer on the loan that meets these requirements. If that is not an option, take the time to raise your credit score before refinancing. Otherwise, you may not be eligible for a much lower interest rate than your current rate.

 

2. Do your research about the best student loan refinancing companies. Some companies may offer the same borrower different interest rates, so shop around for the best rate and terms. Here are some things to look for in a good student loan refinancing company:
  • Free application and no added fees – With ELFI, you won’t pay an application fee, origination fee, or a penalty fee for prepayment*. Your focus and hard-earned money should go to paying off your student loan debt, not fees.
  • Low rates – This is a no brainer. Why would you refinance if you’re not getting a fantastic rate?
  • Expertise and/or a good reputation in the field – Be wary of companies that are new to the industry and have little information on them, outside of their own website. With student loan refinancing becoming more popular, it can be a target for scammers. ELFI has earned an “excellent” rating by review site Trustpilot and been awarded NerdWallet’s BEST Refi for Customer Service award for 2019.
  • Flexible payment options – Whether you’re looking for a variable or fixed rate or a shorter or longer-term payment plan, a good refinancing company will offer different refinancing options to suit your situation. Should you choose to refinance student loans with ELFI, you can choose from repayment terms of 5,7,10, 15, or even 20 years*.
  • Helpful advisors and good customer service – As you refinance, you may have questions or concerns come up that no chatbot can help with. Be sure the company you refinance with has a good support team who can advise you through the process. At ELFI, you would be connected to a Personal Loan Advisor who will guide you through every step of the way.

 

>> Related: What’s So Great About an ELFI Personal Loan Advisor?

 

Note: Be aware that when you are shopping around for rates at different companies, this could impact your credit score. When a company is requesting to view your credit report, this is known as a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries can impact your credit score. However, if rate shopping is done within a small time frame, it may only count as one inquiry and may not affect your score as much. Prequalifying for student loan refinancing, however, is considered a “soft inquiry” and will not affect your credit. 

 

How Often Can You Refinance Student Loans?

You can refinance student loans multiple times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Each time you refinance, you will be impacting your credit score, so make sure only to do so if you will be saving a significant amount of money. Here are some instances when you should consider refinancing your student loans again: 

  1. When you find a lower interest rate on student loans – Interest rates rise and fall with the market. If you initially refinanced when student loan rates were higher, check again when rates drop. It may be months or even a couple of years, but a lower interest rate is sure to save you money on your monthly payment.
  2. If your credit score has improved to qualify you for a lower rate – Did you clean up your credit and raise your score from when you initially refinanced? Having a higher credit score could make you eligible for a better interest rate.
  3. When your income has increased – Having a higher income can help reduce your debt-to-income ratio, thereby making lenders more willing to offer you a lower interest rate.
  4. If you have a variable interest rate and need steady payments – Refinancing student loans again to a fixed rate could provide ease of mind that your payment can’t go up because your interest rate goes up.

 

Bottom Line

Refinancing your student loans can be a great option to save money on your monthly payment and interest costs over the life of the loan. As you can see, there are many instances where it may be beneficial to try refinancing your loans again, but be sure to review all of the numbers and the impact it may have on your credit score before doing so. 

 


 

*Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan debt consolidation and refinance program offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist borrowers through consolidating and refinancing loans into one single loan that effectively lowers your cost of education debt and/or makes repayment very simple. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. The interest rate and monthly payment for a variable rate loan may increase after closing, but will never exceed 9.95% APR. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 6% would have 120 payments of $11.10 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

 

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young woman researching student loan refinancing requirements
2020-08-03
Income, Credit Score, and Credit History: Which is Keeping You From Refinancing?

If your goal is to become debt-free as quickly as possible, student loan refinancing can be a powerful tool for managing your loans. ELFI customers reported that they save an average of $272 per month, and should see an average of $13,940 in total savings after refinancing their loans with Education Loan Finance.1   By Kat Tretina   Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for refinancing the first time they apply. When you submit your loan application, refinancing lenders look at your income, credit score, and credit history to determine whether to issue you a loan. If you don’t meet their requirements in just one area, the lenders will deny your application.    If you aren’t quite eligible for refinancing quite yet, here’s what you can do to improve your application so you can get approved in a few months — and qualify for a lower interest rate.  

Student Loan Refinancing Requirements

Borrower requirements can vary from lender to lender, and some lenders are very vague about their refinancing criteria. However, ELFI is different and has transparent eligibility guidelines.    To qualify for student loan refinancing with ELFI, you must meet the following
student loan refinancing* requirements:
    • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • You must be the age of majority or older 
    • You must have at least $15,000 in student loans to refinance
    • You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher
    • You must have a minimum income of $35,000
    • You must have a minimum credit score of 680
    • You must have a minimum credit history of 36 months
    • Your degree must come from an approved post-secondary institution and program of study
 

Tips for Improving Credit Score

ELFI’s minimum credit score for refinancing applicants is 680. If your score is less than that, you’re not alone. According to Experian, about 33% of Americans have a credit score under 670. However, that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a poor credit score. By making some changes, you can boost your credit.    To improve your score, use these tips:   
  • Make all of your monthly payments on time: Your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. To raise your credit, pay all of your bills and minimum loan payments on time. When possible, sign up for automatic payments to minimize the risk of missing payments. 
  • Sign up for Experian Boost: Experian Boost is a free service you can use to get credit for your cell phone and utility payments. On average, users who sign up improve their credit scores by 13 points. 
  • Keep your credit card balances low: Your credit utilization — or how much of your available debt you use — accounts for 30% of your credit score. Pay down existing debt and use your credit cards sparingly to bring up your score. 
  • Don’t open new credit accounts: Every time you open up new accounts, your credit score will drop. New credit makes up 10% of your credit score, so only open up a new account when you really need it. 
  • Review your credit report and dispute errors: Review your credit report for free at AnnualCreditReport.com and look for errors, such as fraudulent accounts opened under your name. If you see any issues, dispute them with the credit bureaus and have them removed from your credit report. 
   

How to Increase Income

If you’re a recent college graduate, your income may be less than the minimum required for student loan refinancing. To boost your earnings, consider these strategies:   
  • Ask for a raise: If you’ve been at your job for over a year or more and have done good work and received positive feedback, it may be time to ask for a raise. The average raise is 3.3%, which could give you the additional income you need to qualify for a loan. 
  • Learn new skills: If a raise isn’t possible due to the economy or because your company isn’t performing well, try to learn new skills that would allow you to secure a promotion or a new position at another company. 
  • Take on consulting work: If you have some extra time, consult or freelance on a part-time basis for additional income. For example, you could lend your social media expertise to startups, design marketing plans for entrepreneurs, or do graphic design work for local businesses. 
   

How to Build Credit History

If you don’t have a lengthy credit history, it can be difficult to qualify for a loan. To start building your credit history, follow these steps:   
  • Ask a friend or relative to add you as an authorized user to their credit card account: If you have a parent, relative, or friend with good to excellent credit, ask them if they will add you as an authorized user to their credit card account. When you become an authorized user, you get access to their credit history and credit line, instantly lengthening your own credit history. Just make sure you set guidelines on how the credit card should be used and how you’ll repay them for any purchases. 
  • Apply for a credit builder loan: With credit builder loans, you take out a loan, and it’s held for you in a savings account. You make payments toward the loan each month. After the loan is paid off, the lender releases the money to you, so it can help you build your savings, as well. Many financial institutions offer credit builder loans.
  • Open a secured credit card account: Without an established credit history, you may not qualify for a traditional credit card, but you can get a secured credit card account. With a secured card, you put down a security deposit that serves as your credit limit. As you make payments, your payment history is reported to the credit bureaus, establishing your credit and improving your credit score. 
   

Refinancing Your Student Loans

Improving your credit history, boosting your credit scores, and increasing your income can take time. But within six to 12 months, you can see results and meet ELFI’s refinancing requirements. By refinancing your loans, you can save money and pay off your debt ahead of schedule.    When you’re ready, you can get a rate quote without affecting your credit score.*  
  1Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 2/7/2020 and 2/21/2020. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.   *Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
woman reading new about student loans
2020-07-31
This Week in Student Loans: July 31, 2020

Please note: Education Loan Finance does not endorse or take positions on any political matters that are mentioned. Our weekly summary is for informational purposes only and is solely intended to bring relevant news to our readers.

  This week in student loans:
white house

Trump: Student Loans May Be Suspended For “Additional Periods Of Time”

With a second stimulus package on the way, Trump has stated that student loan suspensions may be extended past the already in place deadline.  

Source: Forbes

 

GOP Coronavirus Relief Proposal

Here’s How the Latest GOP Coronavirus Relief Proposal Would Impact Student Loans

The GOP has released their coronavirus relief proposal, but experts claim that it is largely ineffective in helping student loan borrowers.  

Source: CNBC

 

student loan servicers

What to Know About Changes Coming to Student Loan Servicing

In an attempt to streamline student loan servicing, the US government has signed contracts with five companies to provide customer service and back-office support to federal student loan borrowers.  

Source: U.S. News & World Report

 

man researching whether to refinance student loans

Should You Refinance Student Loans? What to Consider as Legislators Debate New Stimulus Package

Refinancing rates are incredibly low, but due to the second stimulus package not yet being put in place, student loan borrowers are unsure of when the best time to refinance will be.  

Source: Newsweek

  That wraps things up for this week! Follow us on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or LinkedIn for more news about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.  
 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

2020-07-30
A Physical Therapist’s Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

As a physical therapist, you play a critical role in people’s lives. You help them manage their pain, improve their range of motion, and recover from serious injuries. It’s a serious profession that requires specialized education, so it’s no wonder that its job outlook is expected to grow much faster than the typical career.    By Kat Tretina   According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists' median salary is $89,440, far higher than the national median wage for all occupations. However, debt is a major problem for new physical therapists since the field requires advanced degrees and professional licenses.    The American Physical Therapy Association reported that nine out of ten physical therapy graduates have education-related debt, with an average balance of $116,000. Graduate and professional degree loans tend to have high interest rates. But since you have a higher-than-average income, you’re a prime candidate for student loan refinancing.   

Why student loan refinancing makes sense for physical therapists

While student loan refinancing* can be an effective tool for managing debt for many borrowers, it can be especially useful for physical therapists for the following reasons.   

1. You may not qualify for loan forgiveness

With Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), federal loan borrowers can qualify for loan forgiveness if they work for an eligible non-profit for 10 years while making 120 monthly payments under a qualifying payment plan.   While some physical therapists work for non-profit organizations or hospitals, many choose to work in private practice because it may offer more earning potential.    If you work for a private practice, you aren’t eligible for PSLF. Refinancing your loans would cause you to lose your eligibility for PSLF, but if you’re in private practice and ineligible for it anyway, that’s not a drawback you have to consider.   

2. You likely had to take out private student loans

With such an expensive degree, you likely hit the borrowing cap on Direct Unsubsidized Loans and had to take out PLUS Loans, which have higher interest rates, or you used private student loans to finance your education.    With private loans, you don’t have access to benefits like loan forgiveness or income-driven repayment plans. When you refinance private loans, you won’t lose any federal benefits. In fact, you may even get a servicer that offers more benefits. For example, ELFI offers forbearance for up to 12 months for borrowers facing financial hardships.   

3. You may have high-interest debt

Graduate and professional degree loans tend to have the highest interest rates. For example, Grad PLUS Loans issued before July 1, 2020, had an interest rate of 7.08%. Over time, that high rate can cause you to pay thousands more than you initially borrowed.   

Benefits of refinancing your debt

As a physical therapist, there are many advantages to refinancing your student loans.   

1. You can save money

Since you likely have a substantial amount of student loan debt, you can save a significant amount of money by refinancing your loans. If you have good credit, or a cosigner willing to apply for a loan with you, you can qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate. Over time, that lower rate will allow you to save thousands of dollars.    For example, let’s say you graduated with $116,000 in PLUS Loans at 7.08% interest and a 10-year repayment term. By the end of your repayment term, you will repay $46,198 in interest charges on top of what you originally borrowed.    If you refinanced your loans and qualified for a 10-year loan at 4.75% interest, you’d pay just $29,948 in interest charges. By refinancing your student loans, you’d save $16,249 over the life of your loans.    chart displaying original vs. refinanced loan   Use the student loan refinance calculator to find out how much you could save by refinancing your loans with ELFI.*   

2. You can pay off your student loans sooner

When you refinance your loans, you can choose a new loan term. In general, the lowest interest rates are reserved for shorter loan terms. If you want the lowest rate possible, opt for a rate of five or seven years rather than ten, 15, or 20 years.    With a shorter term and a lower rate, you’ll save more money over your repayment term. And, you’ll be out of debt years earlier. With your loans paid off, you’ll be free to pursue your other financial goals, like saving for a house or boosting your retirement nest egg.   

3. You can reduce your monthly payments

If you refinance your loans and qualify for a lower interest rate or extend your repayment term, you can significantly reduce your minimum monthly payment. If you’re struggling to make ends meet right now, especially when you’re just starting out in your career, the ability to get a smaller payment can be a significant relief. It can give you some breathing room in your budget for rent or other necessities.   As your career progresses and you get more financially secure, you make extra payments on your loans. Or, you can even pay them off early without a prepayment penalty.   

Managing your student loan debt

For a physical therapist, student loan refinancing can be a smart strategy for tackling debt. You likely had to take on six-figures of student loan debt to pay for school, so refinancing your loans can help you secure a lower rate and save money over time. You can use ELFI’s Find My Rate tool to get a quote without affecting your credit score.*  
  *Subject to credit approval.   Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.