When is it time to refinance your student loans? 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 student loans. 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 student loans. 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 student loans. 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 your student loans. 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 student loan with a private lender, but be sure to verify that you qualify for loan forgiveness.
You know which student 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 student loans, 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. ELFI is one of the best student loan refinancing companies for customer service, being named NerdWallet’s Best Refi for Customer Service for 2019. ELFI also has some of the lowest student loan refinancing rates available and flexible terms to fit your goals.*
*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.
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