9 Best Lenders to Refinance and Consolidate Student Loans in 2022

Lender Best for Loan amount Credit score required
Sofi Best overall for refinancing $5,000 Good or Excellent score needed
Splash Financial Best with a cosigner $5,000 650 for solo applicants, 660 with a cosigner.
Earnest Best for repayment flexibility $5,000 650
CommonBond Best for social impact $5,000 660
Laurel Road Best for borrowers sith savings $5,000 660
Lendkey Best for fielding loan offers $2,000 680
NaviRefi Best for a federal loan-like experience $5,001 650
Education Loan Finance Best for larger balances $15,000 680
PenFed Credit Union Best for spousal, parent loan consolidation $7,500 700 to refinance alone, 670 to refinance with a spouse or other cosigner
Methodology

Our recommended lenders allow you to check eligibility and view individualized fixed and variable rates without submitting to a hard credit check. They also advertise competitively low APRs, thanks to no-fee policies and autopay discounts. Other than what they have in common, these lenders are uniquely “best” for certain borrowers or situations.

SoFi: Best overall for refinancing

Loan amount $5,000
Credit score required Good or Excellent score needed
Key eligibility criteria U.S. citizens and permanent residents with at least an associate degree — but certain visa-holders could qualify with the aid of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner.

A pioneer in the refinancing of federal and private student loans, SoFi started the practice in 2012 and claims $30 billion worth of refinancing for 375,000 members. The online lender works with veteran servicer MOHELA to administer an unemployment protection program, plus 10 types of deferment and forbearance (in addition to unemployment protection) that allow borrowers to postpone repayment. These repayment safeguards, plus other perks, make SoFi our top-reviewed lender.

  • Transfer Parent PLUS Loans to your child or away from your parent
  • Minimum $100 monthly payments for doctors and dentists in training
  • Customer perks include career coaching, wealth management
  • Guaranteed Rate Match program allows you to shop for a lower rate elsewhere

  • Cosigner release not available

Splash Financial: Best with a cosigner

Loan amount $5,000
Credit score required 650 for solo applicants, 660 with a cosigner.
Key eligibility criteria Bachelor’s or higher degree — but associate degree-holders working in certain health care fields could still qualify

Launched in 2013, Splash Financial claims $6 billion in refinancing requests and 100,000 accounts. These days, the lender stands out for providing applicants with the opportunity to strengthen their application by including a cosigner, and applying to release that cosigner in as soon as one year.

  • Low $100 monthly payments for medical and dental school graduates during the residency or fellowship, and for an additional six months

  • Information on deferment and forbearance program cannot be found on website, varies by Splash Financial partners

Earnest: Best for repayment flexibility

Loan amount $5,000
Credit score required 650
Key eligibility criteria Degree from a Title IV accredited nonprofit institution — but you could qualify if you’re within a semester of graduation

Owned by industry stalwart Navient, Earnest has maintained its innovative student loan solutions since first introducing its refinancing product. The online company sets more accessible eligibility standards and provides a wider degree of choice in repayment terms than many of its competitors.

  • Flexible approval process that weighs factors like job and banking history
  • Pick one of 180 possible repayment terms spanning 5 to 20 years
  • Skip a payment once per year without penalty
  • Job loss protection if you lose your job involuntarily

  • Not possible to apply with a cosigner
  • Refinancing not available in Kentucky and Nevada

CommonBond: Best for social impact

Loan amount $5,000
Credit score required 660
Key eligibility criteria U.S. citizen or permanent resident — but holding a certain type of immigration visa could also make you eligible.

Like other online companies on this list, CommonBond offers the kind of sleek and streamlined user experience that borrowers might appreciate after troubleshooting federal loan servicer sites in the past. The New York City-based lender is also known, in part, for its social impact: A portion of funded loans is diverted to childhood education in developing countries like Ghana.

  • Hybrid loans if you want to mix the best of both fixed and variable APRs
  • Up to 24 months of forbearance over life of loan

  • Cosigner release isn’t possible until after 36 months of prompt payments
  • Refinancing not available in Nevada and Mississippi

Laurel Road: Best for borrowers with savings

Loan amount $5,000
Credit score required 660
Key eligibility criteria Bachelor’s or higher degree — but associate degree-holders working in certain health care fields could still qualify.

Formerly Darien Rowayton Bank, Laurel Road has proven staying power, claiming $9 billion in refinanced education debt since opening its digital doors in 2013. Now a KeyBank subsidiary, it provides cash bonuses and APR discounts of up to 0.80 percentage points for enrolling in autopay for your loans and opening a linked savings account; the more you deposit, the greater your discount.

  • Limit loan payments to $100 for medical professionals in residency or fellowship
  • Transfer Parent PLUS Loans to your child or away from your parent

  • Cosigner release isn’t possible until after 36 months of prompt payments
  • No in-school deferment is available

LendKey: Best for fielding loan offers

Loan amount $2,000
Credit score required 680
Key eligibility criteria You may have to join a credit union to accept its refinancing offer — but it’s typically at low or no cost

LendKey started out with the idea of connecting refinancing applicants with lesser-known lenders, such as community banks and credit unions, to find the most attractive terms possible. Its ability to potentially deliver multiple offers from its partner institutions makes LendKey worth at least considering as you shop around.

  • Cosigner release and forbearance policies are available (but vary by LendKey partner)

  • LendKey offers are limited to its partner lenders, so it’s still wise to shop around elsewhere

NaviRefi: Best for a federal loan-like experience

Loan amount $5,001
Credit score required 650
Key eligibility criteria NaviRefi loans were invitation-only, as of Dec. 8, 2021; U.S. citizen or permanent resident

The lone lender on our list that doesn’t offer prequalification (the chance to clarify eligibility and view personalized APRs without a hard credit check), NaviRefi is a new enterprise from industry veteran Navient. The company’s refinancing product resembles federal loans in a couple of ways: For instance, you’ll automatically be placed into a Standard Repayment Plan.

  • Navient customer service has consistently drawn among the most consumer complaints via Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) reporting

Education Loan Finance: Best for larger balances

Loan amount $15,000
Credit score required 680
Key eligibility criteria U.S. citizen or permanent resident — and have a bachelor’s degree or higher

Also known as ELFI, this SouthEast Bank subsidiary’s management team sports 30 years of industry experience and says its customers average savings of $18,699 after refinancing. It may be a worthwhile option for refinancing six-figure balances: While ELFI’s minimum borrowing amount of $15,000 could turn some customers away, it doesn’t impose a maximum borrowing requirement.

  • Transfer Parent PLUS Loans to your child or away from your parent

  • Cosigner release not available
  • No automatic payment discount

PenFed Credit Union: Best for spousal, parent loan consolidation

Loan amount $7,500
Credit score required 700 to refinance alone, 670 to refinance with a spouse or other cosigner
Key eligibility criteria Bachelor’s degree-holding U.S. citizen

Partnered with Purefy, Pentagon Federal Credit Union mostly manages financial accounts for government and military personnel, but you don’t have to identify with either group to refinance your loans with PenFed. Most notably, PenFed features the ability for borrowers to consolidate education debt with their spouse or away from their parents.

  • Be assigned a personal student loan advisor
  • Release a cosigner in 12 months (if applicable)

  • Credit union membership is required to refinance
  • Deferment, forbearance options are more limited than competing lenders
  • No automatic payment discount

Methodology

To judge the best qualities of student loan refinancing lenders and companies, we review data points across three categories: Accessibility, Rates & Terms and Repayment Experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.

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