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How Does Student Loan Refinancing Work?

By Caroline Farhat

 

When you agree to take out a student loan, you also sign on to a specific set of terms and conditions that cover things such as your payment schedule and the interest you’ll pay on your loan. These terms represent the obligations of the borrower and cosigner until the loan is completely paid off. Interest rates for federal student loans are determined by the government, whereas private lenders will set their terms according to your credit score (or that of a cosigner).

Can I Change my Loan Terms?

Before graduating, you probably didn’t give much thought to student loan repayment terms. That being said, student loan terms that fit your needs and goals before starting school aren’t always ideal for you following graduation. For this reason, it is possible to change your loan terms after you graduate, and if you’re approved for a new loan, the new loan servicer pays the old loan servicer for the cost of the loan. The student loan debt is then transferred to the new loan servicer. With the new loan typically comes new and better student loan terms.

 

Why Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

Simply put, student loan refinancing works when you can take out a new loan in order to pay off the first loan with better terms. Here are four reasons why you might want to refinance your student loan:

Your Credit Score Has Improved Since College

Student loans provided by the federal government don’t take credit scores into account – every borrower is given the same interest rate regardless of credit history. If you have taken out a private loan, your interest rate could have been impacted by your or your cosigner’s credit score. After a few years in the workforce, your credit score usually improves. An ideal time to refinance your student loans is when your credit score exceeds 650. This should enable you to refinance your loan at a lower interest rate. Most student loan refinance companies will require a minimum credit score for refinancing approval, so be sure to seek that information out before applying.

A Longer Credit History Could Improve Your Interest Rate

Interest rates for private student loans are usually affected by your or your cosigner’s demonstrated credit history, and most student loan refinance companies will provide a minimum credit score to apply for refinancing. A refinancing company will also usually provide favorable terms to a borrower who has illustrated a financially responsible credit history – for example, by paying bills on time. An individual who has multiple defaults on their credit history is likely to receive less favorable terms or be turned down for refinancing.

Overall Interest Rates May Be Lower

Interest rates for student loans are tied to certain economic indicators at the time you applied for the loan. So, you may have a student loan with an above-average interest rate because you went to college when interest rates were high. When interest rates decrease because of changing economic conditions, you will almost certainly be able to refinance and get a better deal on your new loan.

Consolidation

Refinancing gives you the option of consolidating several loans with different interest rates into a single loan with a more favorable interest rate. One loan with one interest rate is much easier to manage.

 

Fixed and Variable Interest Rates

When you apply to refinance your student loan, you can choose between a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate doesn’t change unless you are refinancing again. A variable rate will fluctuate over time based on certain economic indicators. Variable rates coincide with low-interest rates across the economy, and they can sometimes fall to below 3%. If you find yourself with a high income and interest rates are declining, then it may be possible to get a great refinancing deal. This works by choosing a variable interest rate and paying off your loan entirely before interest rates start rising again, or by taking advantage of a low fixed interest rate and sticking with it.

 

Avoiding the Risks of Refinancing Student Loans

Refinancing your student loan can be a great choice, but there are some risks you want to watch out for:

  • High-interest rates. If interest rates are high, you might end up paying more over time than if you had stayed with your original loan.
  • Too many fees. Make sure that refinancing fees don’t outweigh the savings from your lower interest rate. Look for student loan refinancing that comes with no fees.
  • Unrealistic repayment schedules. Federal student loans provide you with access to repayment plans based on a low yearly income. Make sure that you can meet the monthly payments on your refinanced loan.

 

When Should I Refinance my Student Loan?

The primary reason to refinance your student loan is to shift into a much more favorable loan. That loan could have a lower interest rate and save you money. Additionally, if you qualify, you’ll have the flexibility to adjust the repayment terms. This means that you could pay the loan off with a shorter term or extend the term so it costs you less every month or is easier to manage.

Use ELFI to Refinance Your Student Loans

You may be pleasantly surprised at how easy it can be to repay your loan faster and more effectively. Doing so can help you avoid the stress of too much student loan debt and enjoy a more prosperous financial life. It can be hard to tell when the best time to refinance your student loan is, so click here for a handy student loan refinancing calculator to determine how much you might save. For a no-obligation consultation, call ELFI at 1.844.601.ELFI.

 

Learn More About Student Loan Refinancing

 

Terms and conditions apply. Subject to credit approval.

 

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9 Signs It’s Time to Refinance Student Loan Debt

When is it time to swipe right on a refinance of student loan debt? It can be a tough question because everyone’s situation is so unique, and your goals or your motivation might be totally different from someone else. That’s why we’ve put together a simple explanation of signs that refinancing might be a good option for you. Here are nine signs it might be time to refinance student loan debt:

 

You have a good credit score.

If you don’t have a good credit score, now is probably not the time to try to refinance. You will not get as favorable of interest rates and you might even be turned down outright. Check your credit score and go over your credit report asap. If there’s anything that needs to be fixed, do it. If your score could be better or if your credit history isn’t very long, look into ways to improve it. You can get your score up and clean up your report, but it takes work. That needs to be in order before you choose to refinance student loan debt.

 

You’re up to date on your loan payments.

Have you been making your payments no problem? Great! If not, now is probably not the time to refinance. You might need a new payment plan instead of refinancing, but you will not look like as good of a borrower if you are behind on payments or have had trouble paying. Get up to date and make your payments on time for a while before trying to refinance. If you’re having trouble coming up with the money, be sure to reach out to your servicer to see what your options are.

 

You are employed with a steady income.

If you are unemployed or your income is spotty, refinancing will likely be difficult or impossible. The best time to refinance is when you land a good main gig that has a consistent paycheck. You’ll have to report your income, so you may want to postpone your refinancing now if you aren’t already making a decent income. If you are self-employed, try giving yourself a few months of solid income before proceeding.

 

You have a good debt-income ratio.

This one can be kind of a bummer because a lot of millennials are saddled with a fair amount of student loan debt (and maybe other kinds of debt) along with being underemployed. To get a hold on some of this debt, you might be looking to refinance. The problem is rates may not be as favorable or you may not qualify—if your debt to income ratio is too high. Look at options for gaining more income or reducing some debts you currently have, like cutting out credit cards and paying down those other debts.

 

You are not planning on student loan forgiveness for public service work.

If you’re in public service and know you’ll qualify for loan forgiveness after the ten-year mark, refinancing can interrupt that and disqualify you for loan forgiveness. If you’re counting on loan forgiveness we’d recommend you don’t refinance your loan with a private vendor, but be sure to verify that you qualify for loan forgiveness.

 

You know which loans to refinance and why.

If you’re not sure about which loans you want to refinance and why check out our guide to student loan refinancing. We help explain why you might not want to refinance federal loans, and which private loans are best to be refinanced.

 

Loan benefits don’t apply to your situation.

If you are not going to qualify for loan forgiveness or if you don’t need benefits like income-based repayment plan options that you’re currently taking advantage of, it might be cool to refinance. Know what special plans you’re using with your current lender before you refinance because you don’t want to lose those in the process.

 

You could save a boatload on interest or loan terms.

People usually think about refinancing when they are looking at a super long-term payment plan that they want to shorten or when they realize that their interest rate is high and they might be able to do better. If you aren’t sure how good your interest rate is, ask a friend or Google current rates. Start comparing. You’ll get an idea. And that will help you understand whether you can keep the same payment and shorten the length of time you pay, too, because this is also tied to interest rates.

 

You know how to find a good lender.

Even if you don’t know how to find a good lender, you can figure it out! We encourage you to reach out and get in touch. With ELFI, applicants get their own Personal Loan Advisor who will stick with you throughout the application and setup if you decide to refinance, making the process simple and straightforward.

 

What To Know Before Refinancing Student Loans

Our Simplest Guide To Student Loan Refinancing – Part II

We covered some of the nuts and bolts of refinancing your student loans in Part I of this guide, but there’s still more to learn before you can confidently approach refinancing your loans. So strap yourself in for Part II of Education Loan Finance’s Simplest Guide to Student Loan Refinancing!

Refinancing Different Types of Student Loans

How and why you refinance your student loans depends a lot on what type of loans you have. Here’s why:

Private Loans

When considering refinancing private loans, it usually comes down to the math of how much you’ll save. Because there are so many private servicer options, you can take time to compare the customer service, terms, and interest rates. Since you’re refinancing a private loan, you probably aren’t losing any benefits moving from one servicer to another. Make sure you understand how much you’re saving because that will be a major factor in choosing the company, along with their service.

Federal Loans

Some people believe that federal loans can’t be refinanced, but they totally can. They’re actually the most common loans to refinance because so many people can get better rates now than they did with the federal loans initially.

You can easily find private companies that will refinance your federal loans. The reason why people don’t choose to refinance their federal loans is because you can lose benefits that are only available on federal loans if you refinance them. Federal loans might have more payment options or qualify for programs like loan forgiveness where private loans won’t have those same benefits. But if you’re not counting on loan forgiveness and you are set with private payment options, refinancing your federal loans might be a great financial choice for you.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to refinance all loans of either type. You might have one or two private federal loans that are a higher rate and you want to refinance those, but you keep others as-is because the rates and servicers still fit your needs. How you do it is up to you.

Other Loans

You can also refinance other kinds of student loans like PLUS loans. PLUS loans can be refinanced by the parent who holds them or can be transferred to the student/child from whom the money was borrowed. If the child recipient of these loans has a good credit score and good credit history along with sufficient income and an appropriate debt-income ratio, this might be a good solution. Just keep in mind that these new payments have to fit into the budget and you want to make sure you’re ready.

 

What to Consider When Refinancing Student Loans

Interest Rates

If you’re not going to save money (either monthly or by reducing the length of time you’re paying back your loans) then it usually doesn’t make sense to refinance. That’s why most people look first to interest rates to understand whether they should refinance or not. If you qualify for significantly lower interest rates than what you currently pay, then take a look at how much you’ll save and see if it makes sense to move forward. Online student loan refinance calculators can give you an idea of what difference those small percentages can make depending on how much time you have left to pay your loan.

Loan Terms

Another factor for student loan refinancing can be the terms of your loans or the amount of time that you’ll continue to pay these loans before they are paid off. For example, say you have ten years left to pay off your student loans, but you can refinance. When you refinance, you make the same payment amount but finish payments in seven years instead of ten—heck yes! That’s three fewer years that you’ll be making that payment. On the other hand, maybe you want longer terms to pay off your loan so that you can get a lower monthly payment. Some people refinance into the same length of time for their loan but take the savings from refinancing and use that to save for something else. This is why it might make sense to refinance even if your payment isn’t going down.

Servicer Considerations

You might find that more than one loan servicer can give you a good drop in interest rates or better loan terms—so how, then, do you decide between them? There are lots of things that matter to you that may not be apparent at first. How you pay, like whether you can pay online or make automatic payments, can be a big one. Customer service is crucial when you are dealing with something that can be difficult to navigate on your own or as a first-timer, too. Plus, not all servicers are equally reputable. Check out information about companies you’re considering and make sure you’re not signing up for a shady new student loan.

When is it time to refinance your student loans?

Understanding when is the right time to refinance is a whole other can of worms. There are several markers or goals you might want to reach before looking into refinancing. Check out our article on signs that it’s time to refinance.

Should I refinance?

It’s a personal decision to decide if now is the time to refinance. The best thing you can do is to understand your current situation and equip yourself with information on refinancing and personal finance. Look for help connecting your specific situation to good advice. Consult trusted sources and look at the big picture. How would refinancing help you hit your goals? Are you doing something right now that would make refinancing tough and maybe it could wait a month or two, or does it make sense to get started today?

You can always reach out to us and speak to an expert at ELFI. We help people with their unique refinancing situations every day. You’ll get connected with someone who can help you through the entire process so that you never get left in the dark. What could be simpler than calling your own personal advisor today?

 

10 Facts About Student Loans That Will Save Your Money

How to Pay Off Student Loans Faster

When you took out student loans for your degree, you likely envisioned a bright future full of exotic career options. And why wouldn’t you? You’d never go through all that trouble and years of hard work if you didn’t have big plans for your career. But now that you’ve started making monthly payments on those not-so-shiny student loans, you and yourself in a deserted breakroom screaming “Wiiiilson!” at the top of your lungs to an endless sea of ‘tick-tocks’ coming from the clock on the wall.

 

But before you do anything drastic, take a deep breath and remember – you’re not nearly as alone as you might feel. In fact, millions of recent grads are in the exact same situation, and each of you has the exact same question on your mind. “How can I pay off my student loans faster?”

 

If the thought alone of being debt-free is not enough to motivate you to pay off your student loans faster, consider what you could do with all that freed up money. You could finally afford that trip to Europe. How about a nicer car, you know, one that you actually enjoy driving? Whatever it is, life without debt opens up a world of financial possibilities, and there are a couple of (smart) ways to go about speeding up the process.

 

How Much Do You Really Owe?

It may seem obvious, but if you’re trying to pay off your student loans faster, the first thing you want to do is to take stock of your debt – not just your student loan debt, but any other loans you may have taken out during school (credit card, auto loans, mortgage, etc.). You need to have a clear understanding of how much you owe various lenders, and more importantly, the interest rates associated with each loan.

 

While it’s almost always in your best interest to pay off your student loans faster, there is one exception that may surprise you. For example, credit card lenders often charge much higher interest rates than student loan lenders. If you’re in a situation where you hold a large amount of credit card debt, it might be more beneficial to utilize the lower interest rates on your student loan debt. Instead, work towards paying off that credit card debt for the sole purpose of minimizing the amount of your hard-earned cash that is going towards interest.

 

Pay Off Your Student Loan Debt Faster by Refinancing

That being said, have you looked into refinancing your student loans? A whopping 62% of borrowers have yet to refinance their student loans, which is mind-boggling considering you can consolidate and reduce your monthly payments. ELFI customers on average have reported a savings of $309* a month and should see an average of $20,936 in total savings after refinancing their student loans with ELFI*! Student loan interest rates are currently dipping into historic lows. The sooner you refinance and pay off your student loans, the more money you can save.

 

Find My Rate

 

Make More Than the Minimum Payment

As you look into refinancing your student loan debt for lower interest rates, find a monthly payment that works with your budget. As you fine-tune your budget planning method, pay more than your minimum monthly payments whenever possible.
It’s imperative that you instruct your lender to apply any additional payments directly to your principal, as many lenders have found clever ways to maximize their profits by putting those extra funds towards your future interest.

 

Pay Off Student Loan Debt Faster by Applying Your Raises

As tempting as it may be to treat yourself with any raises, bonuses, or tax returns you are rewarded over the next several years, visualize a life entirely free of student loan debt! Any time you skip out on an opportunity to take a big chunk out of your principal, you’re essentially lengthening your debt sentence. Even if you don’t apply the entirety of your bonus income directly to your student loan debt, at least think twice before investing in a new big screen TV. Oh, by the way, that’s not an investment.

 

Avoid Income-Driven Repayment Programs

Most income-driven repayment programs offer lower monthly payments, which is great! Except they come at the expense of lengthening your repayment term. If you’re trying to pay off your student loans faster, it’s best to avoid income-driven repayment programs and explore other options like refinancing your student loans (which can also reduce your monthly payments without unnecessarily dragging on your repayment term for several more years).

There are plenty of articles out there about paying off your student loans, advising you to take a federal job that offers a loan forgiveness program. While it’s not the worst idea, you just spent 4+ years working towards a degree. Do you really want to spend another 5 years in a job you’re not thrilled about just so you can eliminate your student loan debt? Would it not be more fulfilling to get a job that can most fully prepare you for a long- term, purposeful career without sacrificing your current sanity?

 

Refinancing – The Smartest Way to Pay Off Your Student Loans Faster

The fact is – you’re no stranger to making sacrifices for your dreams. And while it may seem like you’re barely getting traction, you’re well on your way to the future you envisioned years ago. Obviously, there’s not a quick ’n’ easy way about it, but there IS a smarter way – by making sure you know your options. Regardless of how you choose to go about it, the smartest way to pay off your student loans faster is, without a doubt, to refinance for a lower rate.

 

What Could You Be Saving If You Refinance

 

*Average savings calculations are based on information provided by SouthEast Bank/ Education Loan Finance customers who refinanced their student loans between 8/16/2016 and 10/25/2018. While these amounts represent reported average amounts saved, actual amounts saved will vary depending upon a number of factors.

Consolidation Vs. Refinancing: Which is Right For You?

Updated November 13, 2019

Anyone who has taken out a student loan has probably been required to sign a promissory note, which confirms a borrower’s responsibility to pay back the money they borrowed to pursue higher education. Many colleges and universities require exit counseling to inform their graduates of the repayment options available through federal loan programs. However, with private financing companies now offering additional options that could possibly lower monthly payments or interest costs over time (also known as student loan refinancing), many financially savvy individuals seek to minimize and simplify their financial debts.

 

Choosing the right student loan repayment program can be confusing, and borrowers need to be aware that both federal and private lenders offer plans designed to match their budgeting capabilities and financial goals. In today’s financial environment, graduates may want to take advantage of lower interest rates while paying off their debt as soon as possible, or they may prefer to free up extra cash by choosing an extended term with lower payments.  

 

When is comes to changing your student loan repayment plan, two common terms that often get confused are “consolidation” and “refinancing.” While these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they actually represent two different options. This blog outlines the differences between student loan consolidation and student loan refinancing of both private and federal student loans, so you can know which is right for you.

 

Federal Student Loan Consolidation

Federal or Direct Loan Consolidation allows borrowers to combine multiple federally-funded subsidized or unsubsidized student loans, regardless of income or credit history, into one payment that uses a weighted average of all interest rates rounded up to the nearest 1/8th percent. This form of student loan consolidation is only available for federal loans – student loans acquired by a private lender are not eligible. The benefits of this form of consolidation include the ability to combine loans into one simple payment, the opportunity to switch from various variable rates to one fixed interest rate, and the ability to extend the life of the loan, thereby lowering the total of monthly payments. Borrowers in the federal program are also eligible to take advantage of programs such as deferments, forbearances, or grace periods that temporarily reduce or suspend monthly payments during times of financial hardship. These federal student loan repayment options are typically known as Income-Driven Repayment Plans such as Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). The downside is that borrowers can be less likely to save money or see drops in interest rates with these plans. Also, borrowers who extend the life of the loan to lower their monthly payment will likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan.

 

Private Student Loan Refinancing

Similar to student loan consolidation, refinancing student loans involves combining multiple student loans into one loan with one monthly payment. However, unlike Direct Loan Consolidation, this option is only offered by private lenders and includes the consolidation of both federal and private student loans. Student loan refinancing can reward borrowers who demonstrate responsible financial habits with rates and payment options not offered through the federal consolidation program. New interest rates are calculated based on the borrower’s credit history and overall financial health, as well as current financial market conditions, rather than the weighted average of the included loans. Student loan refinancing can offer the greatest opportunity for a borrower to save money on their student loans since the new rate is applied to every loan that is refinanced. However, it is important to note that when borrowers refinance with a private lender, they may lose the benefits associated with federal student loans, such as income-based repayment, loan forgiveness, deferments, and forbearances. Although not guaranteed, reputable private lenders are interested in the success of their clients and offer support services to help keep their borrowers in good standing during unexpected financial hardship, so be sure to consider the level of customer service available when choosing to refinance your student loans.

 

Which Is Right For You?

Choosing the financial path that is right for you and your budget is paramount. Compare the terms, interest rates, and benefits of your current student loans to a new potential lender and decide if the potential savings and the stability of your financial situation make the switch worthwhile. Then, figure out what you can comfortably pay each month and how long you intend to make payments on the loan (our loan payment calculator helps borrowers choose a loan term that fits different budgets). Finally, take a look at our application process or give us a call at 1-844-601-ELFI.* Whether you choose to consolidate federal student loans or refinance the combination of private and federal student loans, our team works as your advocate, steering you in the direction that is right for you and your budget.

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.