Best student loan refinance lenders of 2023

Written by Dori Zinn / December 22, 2022
Reviewed by Jamie Young

Student loan refinancing is the process of combining all or some of your current loans into one new loan. This means you’ll have a single monthly payment. You might also get a lower interest rate than what you’ve been paying, depending on your credit.

Refinancing is only available through private lenders, and with so much competition, it might be hard for you to find the right one for your needs. Keep in mind that the best student loan lenders generally offer the lowest interest rates, multiple repayment options, and the fewest fees. To find these lenders, we also considered how easy it is to qualify, customer experience, ease of the application process, and more when determining the top lenders. 

Inside this article

  1. Best student loan refinancing lenders
  2. Best overall: Laurel Road
  3. Best bank lender: PNC Bank
  4. Best for non-graduates: Citizens
  5. Best for repayment options: College Ave
  6. Best for no fees: Discover
  7. Compare the best student loan refinance lenders
  8. Why some lenders didn’t make the cut
  9. Methodology
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

Best student loan refinancing lenders

  • Best overall: Laurel Road

  • Best perks: SoFi

  • Best bank lender: PNC Bank

  • Best for non-graduates: Citizens

  • Best repayment options: College Ave

  • Best with no fees: Discover

Best overall: Laurel Road

Why it’s the best

Out of all the companies we reviewed, Laurel Road scored highest because of its low-interest rates, high maximum loan term (up to 20 years), and quality of service. Refinancing student loans with Laurel Road also gives you the option for forbearance in some circumstances and ability to refinance in your final semester of school if you have a signed employment contract or offer.

Pros

  • Term lengths ranging from 5 to 20 years

  • Low interest rates

  • Can refinance before completing your degree

Cons

  • Charges a late payment fee

  • Co-signer release only available after 36 months

  • Does not disclose min. income needed to qualify

More details

  • Interest rate types: Fixed and variable

  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

  • Perks: Autopay discount (0.25%), forbearance in some cases

  • Fees: Late payment fee (5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less)

  • Requirements: You need to be in at least your final semester of associates (some professions), undergraduate or graduate studies or have already graduated to qualify. Parents who took out loans for their child’s school are also eligible

Best bank lender: PNC Bank

Not all traditional banks offer student loan refinancing. Of the ones that do, PNC Bank is one of the best. With competitive interest rates, a higher-than-normal autopay discount and multiple repayment terms, PNC can be a good option.

Pros

  • 0.50% autopay discount

  • Term lengths ranging from 5 to 20 years

  • No degree required

Cons

  • Co-signer release only available after 48 months

  • Does not disclose min. income needed to qualify

  • 20-year term only available to those with an undergraduate or graduate degree who borrow at least $75,000

More details

  • Interest rate types: Fixed and variable

  • Loan terms: 5, 10, 15 or 20 years

  • Perks: Autopay discount (0.50%)

  • Fees: Does not disclose

  • Requirements: A decent credit history along with two years of continuous income or employment is required to qualify

Best for non-graduates: Citizens

Not everyone who goes to school graduates but those who left school without a degree are still on the hook for paying off any student loans they might have taken out. If you’re looking to refinance your loans but don’t have a degree, Citizens might be a good option.

Pros

  • Term lengths ranging from 5 to 20 years

  • No degree required

  • Low min. income needed to qualify

  • Can refinance up to $750,000 for some degrees

Cons

  • Co-signer release only available after 36 months

  • Charges a late payment fee

  • Must refinance at least $10,000

More details

  • Interest rate types: Fixed and variable

  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years

  • Perks: Autopay discount (0.25%)

  • Fees: Late payment fee (5% of payment amount) and returned payment fee ($15)

  • Requirements: You must have at least $10,000 in student loans and have made at least 12 payments on those loans to be eligible for refinancing

Best for repayment options: College Ave

Many lenders on this list have a few different repayment options, but College Ave offers the most. You can choose any term between five and 15 years when you refinance with College Ave. This means tailoring your repayment options to best fit your budget and payoff timeline. 

Pros

  • Offers 11 different term lengths (between 5 and 15 years)

  • Can prequalify without affecting your credit

  • Certain doctorate degree types can refinance up to $300,000

Cons

  • Co-signer release available only after at least half of the original repayment term has passed

  • Degree required

  • Poor customer reviews on Trustpilot

More details

  • Interest rate types: Fixed and variable

  • Loan terms: Any term between 5 and 15 years

  • Perks: Autopay discount (0.25%)

  • Fees: Does not disclose

  • Requirements: You’ll need to have graduated and be the borrower on the loan in order to be eligible. A minimum of $5,000 is required to refinance student loans

Best for no fees: Discover

Many student loan refinance lenders don’t charge excessive fees—but the best ones offer loans without application, prepayment or origination fees. Discover rightfully boasts that it doesn’t charge refinance borrowers any fees. This can help you save money in the long run.

Pros

  • No application, origination or late fees

  • No degree required

  • Hardship assistance available

Cons

  • No co-signer release available

  • Only offers two loan terms (10 or 20 years)

  • Poor customer reviews on Trustpilot

More details

  • Interest rate types: Fixed and variable

  • Loan terms: 10 or 20 years

  • Perks: Autopay discount (0.25%)

  • Fees: None

  • Requirements: Applicants must have verifiable income and no more than $150,000 in student loan debt

Compare the best student loan refinance lenders

Variable APRFixed APRLoan terms (years)Autopay discountCan refinance without degree?
Laurel Road3.47% to 6.26%3.97% to 6.36%5, 7, 10, 15 or 200.25%Yes (must be in last semester of eligible degree program)
SoFi4.49% to 8.99%4.49% to 8.99%5, 7, 10, 15 or 200.25%No
PNC Bank4.89% to 10.74%4.99% to 10.84%5, 7, 10, 15 or 200.50%Yes
Citizens5.09% to 11.68%5.39% to 11.87%5, 7, 10, 15 or 200.25%Yes
College Ave 4.44% to 8.99%4.99% to 8.99%5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 or 150.25%No
Discover5.49% to 9.24%5.99% to 10.49%10 or 200.25%Does not disclose

Why some lenders didn’t make the cut

Of the 10 student loan refinancing lenders that we reviewed, only a fraction made the cut. The lenders that didn’t have high enough scores to be included received lower ratings due to higher interest rates and lower maximum loan terms as well as having no co-signer release and fewer customer service options.

Methodology

Our expert writers and editors have reviewed and researched 10 popular lenders to help you find the best lender to refinance your student loans. Out of all the lenders considered, the six that made our list excelled in areas across the following categories (with weightings): loan details (10%), loan cost (40%), eligibility and accessibility (30%), customer service experience (15%),  and ease of application (5%).

Within each major category, we considered several characteristics, including available loan repayment terms, APR ranges, and applicable fees. We also looked at minimum credit score requirements, whether each lender accepts co-signers and if they offer co-signer release. Finally, we evaluated each provider’s customer support options, borrower perks, and features that simplify the borrowing process like mobile apps.

All rates include autopay discounts were noted by the lender and are accurate as of Dec. 21, 2022. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth refinancing student loans right now?

The best time to refinance is when you can lower your interest rate and pay off your student loans sooner to avoid paying more in interest than you need to. There are also other benefits that could make refinancing worth it—but refinancing isn’t right for everyone. For example, refinancing federal student loans might not be a good idea.

“If you have federal student loans, you should consider the pros and cons of refinancing your loans with a private lender even if you get a lower interest rate,” says Saki Kurose, an associate financial advisor at Omega Wealth Management. “Federal student loans have special benefits, such as access to loan forgiveness programs, income-driven repayment plans, and forbearance/deferment options if you cannot make your loan payments". 

If you refinance your federal loans into a private student loan, you’ll lose out on these benefits.

What is a good credit score for refinancing student loans?
Is it hard to get approved for student loan refinancing?

About the Authors

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori has covered personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, TIME, Yahoo, and others.

Full bio
Jamie Young

Jamie Young

Jamie Young is an authority on personal finance who has been writing and editing for online media for 10 years. Her work has appeared on some of the best-known media outlets including Forbes, Time, CBS News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL, MSN, and more.

Jamie is passionate about finance, technology, and the Oxford comma. In her free time, Jamie takes care of her two crazy cats and ever-growing collection of plants. She’s also an avid gamer who watches way too many true crime documentaries. 

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