Tag: Refinancing

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Review: LendKey Private Student Loan

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Updated July 13, 2017

Most private student loans can’t compete with Federal loans when it comes to interest rates. Private loans are typically more expensive, especially if longer repayment periods are offered. (You’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan.)

However, LendKey provides a different solution. It’s a marketplace that offers you a chance to browse private student loans offered by credit unions and community banks. These institutions usually have better interest rates than big banks. As another bonus, credit unions offer a more personalized banking experience, and tend to be more lenient when it comes to credit history.

If you’ve had a rough time finding a private student loan lender who will work with you, then you should give LendKey a shot.

How Does LendKey Work?

It’s important to understand that LendKey itself is not a lender. It’s a portal you can use to find a lender. Filling out one application (on LendKey’s website) enables you to view all the private loans you’re eligible for from community banks and credit unions that have partnered with LendKey.

Unfortunately, because there are hundreds of banks listed with LendKey, it’s impossible to say what the specifics of each loan are. On its website, LendKey says interest rates start as low as 2.98% APR.

Eligibility Requirements

You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply for a private student loan through LendKey. You must also be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree at an eligible school. You can check to see if your school is eligible in the first section of the application.

Be prepared to join a credit union or community bank if you choose to move forward with a loan offered. Most institutions require that you become a member during the application process. This is standard for credit unions and community banks that have specific membership requirements.

Application Process

The LendKey application process has three steps:

  1. Check your eligibility: You can fill in preliminary information to see if you’re eligible to apply for a loan.
  2. Apply for a loan: If you want to move forward with any loan option presented, you can do so in this step. This requires you to fill out personal information such as your Social Security number and identification information.
  3. Submit documents: LendKey requires you to submit proof of identity (photo ID, such as a Driver’s License), your school transcript, and other documents as needed.

Overall, the application process should take around 15 minutes or less to complete. LendKey will then review the information you’ve provided and give you a decision.

If your credit history isn’t the best (or isn’t very lengthy), you can apply with a cosigner. This gives you a better chance of getting the best interest rates possible on your private student loan. Some lenders affiliated with LendKey may actually require you to apply with a cosigner. Be aware that a hard credit inquiry will be used when you apply.

[What happens when a borrower defaults on a co-signed loan?]

The Fine Print

LendKey claims that there are no origination fees associated with any of the private loans offered by the credit unions or community banks it has partnered with. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any fees; late fees may still apply.

Additionally, a search for credit unions that use the LendKey application revealed one that does charge an origination fee. On The Great Lakes Credit Union page, a 2.5% fee is listed. It states there is an “upfront fee” which “is charged one time at loan disbursement.” As you can see on the page, “Powered by LendKey” is at the bottom.

We strongly recommend reading through the fine print of the organization you choose should you find a loan through LendKey. Don’t be afraid to ask about fees before signing anything.

The disclaimers are also nearly hidden at the bottom of LendKey’s site as you need to click on “Some Disclaimers” to review them.

Pros and Cons of LendKey

There are many advantages to applying for a loan through LendKey:

Pro: After paying back 10% of your loan principal, you’ll be eligible for a 1% interest rate reduction. This is only applicable to those who have entered full repayment status (after your grace period has ended).

Pro: You’re also eligible for a 0.25% interest rate deduction if you enroll in automatic payments. Most lenders offer this.

Pro: Most of the lenders that partner with LendKey don’t charge origination fees for private loans.

Pro: If you apply with a cosigner, a release is available after a certain amount of consecutive payments have been made. For most lenders, this period is between 24 to 48 months.

Pro: Most loans offered through LendKey seem to come with a 30-day return if you decide you don’t want to take the money. No fees or interest will be charged.

Pro: The application process is simple. Instead of having to shop around for loans individually, you have one company that will do it for you. This is much more convenient for you and takes less time.

Pro: LendKey has extensive customer service hours. You can call 888-549-9050 Monday through Friday from 9AM – 8PM ET.

There are several disadvantages to LendKey as well:

Con: You’re dealing with a number of different lenders, and it may be difficult to choose the best from a large list. You should do your own research on the banks LendKey matches you with.

Con: There are possible origination fees even though LendKey claims its lenders don’t charge upfront fees. You should call and confirm if you go with a loan that says its origination fee is 0%.

Con: Many of the individual lenders have loan pages that state the only options for repayment are interest-only or a minimum of $25 per month while in school. This means your loans are never in deferment, unlike Federal student loans.

Con: One large negative to consider with any private student loan is the lack of inherent benefits that come with them. Federal student loans give you more options when it comes to repayment plans and flexibility during tough financial times. It’s worth calling and asking if repayment assistance is offered before you go through with any of these loans.

Con: Some institutions may not offer fixed rates. Variable rates may be lower, but they’re subject to change, which can make it difficult to budget for your student loan payment in the future. Fixed rates offer stability as they’re locked in for the life of your loan.

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Other Private Student Loan Alternatives

Some states may not have as many private student loan choices as others. If you can’t find a loan that fits your needs, you may have to look elsewhere.

Citizen’s Bank: Fixed APRs range from 5.76% to 11.51%, and variable APRs range from 2.69% to 9.15%. You can choose to repay your loans on terms of 5, 10, or 15 years, and the maximum amount you can borrow is $90,000.

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SunTrust Custom Choice Loan: Fixed APRs range from 4.751% to 10.415% and variable APRs range from 3.21% to 8.672%. A 7 and 10 year repayment term is available, and if you borrow over $5,000, you can choose a 15-year term. The minimum amount required to borrow is $1,001 and the maximum amount is $65,000. SunTrust also offers a 1% reduction on your principal loan balance if you graduate with (at minimum) a Bachelor’s degree.

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It’s worth mentioning that you should exhaust your federal loan options before considering private student loans. Fill out the FAFSA and see how much you’re eligible for. Private student loans should only be used to bridge the gap if federal loans aren’t enough to cover your tuition.

Conclusion

LendKey is a great tool to use if you want to see what your local credit unions and community banks can offer you in terms of private student loans. There’s no application fee, but you should double check origination fees on any loan recommended to ensure you’re not left paying extra for a loan.

It’s also a good idea to shop around for private student loans as you want to get the best rates available. As long as you apply to multiple lenders within a 30-day period, the credit bureaus will count those inquiries as one inquiry. There’s no reason not to apply with more than one lender as one could offer you better rates, saving you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Student Loan ReFi

11 States That Make It Easy to Refinance Student Loan Debt

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Of the $1.3 trillion in unpaid student loan debt circulating in the U.S. today, a whopping $211 billion of those loans should be eligible for refinancing, according to a recent report by Goldman Sachs. Refinancing student loan debt can be best way to lower your interest rate or achieve more affordable payments.

There are a handful of private companies and banks that offer student loan refinancing options today. These companies may offer tantalizing rates of 2-7%, but they also make it exceedingly difficult for borrowers to qualify. For example, the average SoFi borrower is in far better shape than most college graduates. She earns $142,414 per year and has a credit score of 776, according to a report by credit ratings industry analyst DRBS. Meanwhile, the average 2015 college graduate earns just over $51,000 and 40% of people under the age of 30 have credit scores under under 600.

The good news is that an increasing number of states are getting into the business, providing more competition for existing refinance lenders.  This is a relatively new trend. When the federal government began issuing student loans directly back in 2010, most states got out of the student loan business altogether. Today, 11 states offer programs that allow borrowers to refinance their student loans, with about a dozen more programs in the works  Many of these refinancing programs are still in their infancy. As of December 2015 — 18 months into its launch — Rhode Island’s refinance program had only refinanced loans for 349 borrowers, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Are state-run refinance programs worth it?

We decided to take a deeper look at the programs that exist today. What we found is a mixed bag of opportunities. While some states do have more relaxed standards than private lenders, many offer the best refinancing rates to borrowers who have the best credit. Most of the programs we reviewed required FICO scores of at least 670-700. The best rates are reserved for those who either have a cosigner or a top notch FICO score. And a borrower’s FICO score is just the beginning. Many programs won’t extend loans to borrowers who have a history of missing student loan payments or who have filed bankruptcy in the past. Other programs require a cosigner or ask that borrowers meet a minimum annual income threshold.

Whether borrowers are considering refinancing student loan debt through a commercial lender or a state-run program, it’s important to realize there is no silver bullet for student debt.

“Just because a loan is made by a state lender doesn’t mean that it is better or worse than a loan from a commercial lender,” says Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert and publisher of Cappex.com. “Borrowers should shop around, applying to several loans to see which lender will offer them the lowest cost loan.”

Refinancing federal student loan debt is an especially tricky decision to make, whether you’re considering private commercial or state-backed refi loans. College students who borrowed federal loans in the late 90s and early 2000s could easily find themselves stuck with interest rates as high as 8%. As it stands, the only way to refinance those loans to get a better rate is to apply for a federal direct consolidation loan. This loan does allow borrowers to refinance, but it merely takes the average of the interest rates of all their loans in order to determine your new rate. If their loan rates are all similar, a direct consolidation loan really won’t make all that much of a difference in the long-run.

There are other stakes to consider when it comes to refinancing federal student loan debt. When a borrower refinances their federal student loans, they are essentially swapping out federal loans for a private loan. That means they will forfeit all of the protections they have as a federal student loan borrower. They won’t be able to take advantage of flexible repayment options like PAYE, income-based repayment plans or public service loan forgiveness.

Timing is important, too. Borrowers are usually better off waiting a few years until after they graduate to pursue refinance options, Kantrowitz says. Many borrowers may need time after college to build up their credit before refinance becomes a viable option.

“It takes a few years after graduation of managing one’s credit responsibly for a borrower’s credit score to improve enough that they will qualify for a better rate,” Kantrowitz says.

Lastly, refinance or consolidation loans are not always the best ways to save money in the long-term. If borrowers choose to take on loan with a longer repayment period, while their monthly payments and interest rate may be lower, they could end up paying more in total interest over time.
We’ve identified all of the states that offer refinancing programs in the U.S. in the map above. Below, we offer details on each state’s program, from what it takes to qualify to what rates they offer. Because some states are in the process of launching refinancing programs, we have included those as well.

Don’t see your state on the list?  Don’t give up just yet. Some states allow any borrower — regardless of their home state — to apply for refinancing.

(The information below is current as of Aug. 5, 2016.)

Iowa: Reset Loans

Iowa’s refinancing program, Reset Loans, is run by a non-profit called Iowa Student Loan. The organization is overseen by a board of directors appointed by the state’s governor.

This program is still technically in pilot mode until lawmakers in DC offer some more clarification on the full extent of allowable uses of tax-exempt bonds, but don’t let that stop you from applying. For a pilot program, it’s robust.

Eligibility: Anyone from any state in the U.S. can apply, but Iowa residents are eligible for slightly lower interest rates.

Repayment terms: They offer 5-, 10- and 15-year loan terms.

Interest rate: See a full list of rates here.

The lowest available rates for a credit score of 830 or higher are:

  • 5-year term: 4.24% (residents) and 4.49% (non-residents)
  • 10-year term: 5.30% (residents) and 5.55% (non-residents)
  • 15-year term: 5.69% (residents) and 5.94% (non-residents)

What you need in order to qualify: 

  • An annual income of at least $25,000.
  • A FICO score of at least 720.
  • No more than two accounts reporting 30-day delinquencies during the previous two years.
  • No delinquencies of 60 days or more during the previous two years.
  • No charge-offs, repossessions, collection accounts, judgments, foreclosures, garnishments by credit providers or tax liens.
  • No previous bankruptcies.

How it’s funded: The pilot program is currently funded through internal sources. Future program funding is expected to come from tax-exempt bond proceeds.

Where to learn moreReset Loans

Massachusetts: MEFA

Massachusetts Educational Finance Authority (MEFA) offers the MEFA Educational Refinancing Loan to all U.S. Residents.

Eligibility: All U.S. permanent residents, regardless of state.

Refinance terms: MEFA offers only 15-year repayment terms.

Interest rate: With excellent credit, rates can be as low as 4.95% fixed and variable interest rates as low as 3.28% APR. Fixed Rates 4.95% – 6.85% APR; Variable Rates 3.28% – 6.12% APR.

What you need in order to qualify: 

  • Minimum 670 FICO score.
  • At least $10,000 worth of loans you are seeking to refinance.
  • No past default history on your student loans (more than 270 days behind on payments)
  • No history of bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past 60 months.

How it’s funded: Taxable bonds.

Where to learn moreMEFA

Rhode Island: RISLA Refinance Loan

Eligibility: Borrowers may reside in any U.S. state.

Refinance terms: 5-, 10-, and 15-year loans. It should be noted that RISLA Refinance Loans do allow for twelve months of forbearance, but that this option pales in comparison to federal forbearance options that you will be giving up when you refinance federal student loans.

Interest rate: To get the best possible rates, you will need a cosigner. The lowest-possible rate for a 15-year term loan without a cosigner is 7.24%. That rate falls to 5.99% if you have a cosigner. You can also shave 0.25% off your rate if you agree to set up auto-pay. (See full rate details here)

What you need in order to qualify: 

  • If you and your cosigner reside at the same address, you must earn a combined income of at least $40,000 per year. If you live at different addresses, then either the borrower or the cosigner must make $40,000 individually.Where to learn moreRISLA

How it’s funded: Taxable bonds.

Kentucky: Advantage Education Loans

Eligibility: Only available to residents of Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

Refinance terms: 10, 15, 20, or 25 years.

Interest rate: They offer fixed rate loans. Rates range from 3.99% to 7.99%.

What you need in order to qualify: 

  • A minimum 670 FICO score for both the borrower and co-signer
  • To get the best rates, you’ll need a cosigner.
  • At least $7,500 in loans to refinance.

Extra perk: Kentucky’s refinance program will forgive your loan if you die or become disabled. Your cosigner will be relieved of his or her duty to pay as well.

How it’s funded: Excess agency assets, including governmental, fiduciary and proprietary funds. You can see a breakdown of the agency’s assets for 2015 here.

Where to learn more:  KHESLC

Alaska: Alaska Refi

Alaska Refi will offer a fixed interest rate of 5.20% on 5-, 10- and 15-year loans. *Update: Alaska’s program officially launched Aug. 1, 2016.

What you’ll need in order to qualify:

  • At least $7,500 in qualifying education loans in good standing
  • Have a FICO score of 720 or higher, or a cosigner who meets the FICO score requirement
  • Be employed or have other regular source of income
  • Open only to Alaska residents

The program is brand new and funding is on a first come, first served basis. You can sign up here.

How it will be funded: The Alaska Student Loan Corporation

South Carolina: PAL ReFi

South Carolina offers low-rate refinance offers through the Palmetto Assistance Loan (PAL) ReFi program.

Eligibility: You must be a South Carolina resident.

Refinance terms: 5-, 10, or 15-year terms.

Interest rates: South Carolina’s loan program is unique in that it offers just three different fixed rates for its loans. Those rates vary depending on which loan term you sign up for. For example, a five-year loan carries a 5% rate. A 10-year loan carries a 5.75% rate. A 15-year loan carries a 6.25% rate. You can take an additional 0.25% off that rate by enrolling in auto payments.

What you need in order to qualify:

  • A FICO score of 675 or higher.
  • You must be employed.
  • A debt-to-income ratio of 30% or less.
  • If you use a cosigner, he or she must be at least 24 years old.

Fine print: Borrowers with $20,000 or less in loans may only select a 5- or 10-year repayment term. Borrowers with more than $20,000 in loans may opt for the 15-year term.

How it’s funded: South Carolina Student Loan is a private non-profit that currently funds their PAL ReFi loans with their own assets. For now, that funding is more than sufficient. It is possible that they will look to bonds in the future, though.

Where to learn morePAL ReFi

Connecticut: Refinance CT

Eligibility: Must be a Connecticut resident or have attended an eligible Connecticut college or university. Those refinancing a CHELSA loan do not need to be a Connecticut resident.

Refinance terms: 5-, 10- or 15-year terms.

Interest rate: This program offers only fixed rates ranging from 4.25-7%. They  offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction for scheduling auto-payments.

Qualifications:

  • Monthly installment payments most be 43% or less of monthly gross income.
  • Maximum amount you can refinance: $100,000

How it’s funded: An initial $5 million was provided through the assets of a subsidiary organization in much the same way as Kentucky’s program currently receives funding. When the initial funds are exhausted, this program will be funded by a mix of taxable and tax-exempt bonds, depending on market conditions.

Where to learn moreCHESLA.org

Minnesota: SELF Refi

Eligibility: Minnesota residents only.

Refinance terms: 5, 10, and 15-year loans on sums of $10,000 or more.

Interest rate: Fixed rate loans vary from 4.5% to 6.95%. Variable rate loans vary from 3.2% and 4.55% (Beware: variable interest rates are capped at a whopping 18%).

Qualifications:

  • A 720 credit score or higher, though you may still qualify if you have a co-signer.
  • You need at least $10,000 in student loan debt to refinance.

How it’s funded: Funding comes from excess assets of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. Some of those assets come from the interest paid on student loans, making at least a portion of the program self-funding. A full explanation of 2015 finances for the agency can be found here.

Where to learn moreSELF Refi 

North Dakota: Deal One Loan

Eligibility: North Dakota residents who lived at a physical address in the state for the past six months.

Qualifications: The borrower is required to have a minimum FICO score of 700 or a cosigner with a minimum FICO score of 650 is necessary. Other factors will also be considered.

Refinance terms:  Terms are based on how much you want to refinance.

Under $10,000: 10-year repayment term
$10,000 – $20,000: 15-year repayment term
$20,001-$30,000: $20-year repayment term
$30,0001 and up: 25-year repayment term.

Interest rate: Rates are determined by the term of your loan. The fixed rates APR is 4.33%. The variable interest rate APR is 2.15%, with a lifetime cap of 10%.

How it’s funded: The program is administered by Bank of North Dakota (BND), the only state-owned Bank in the country. All tax revenue is deposited at BND and is repurposed for a number of loan programs, including student loans.

Where to learn moreDeal One Loan 

Maine

Maine’s student loan refinance program is different from that of any other state. The Finance Authority of Maine backs loans issued by private lenders who offer student loan refinancing or consolidation. That way, consumers can pick from different local financial institutions competing against each other. The lenders are able to offer lower rates because of the insurance provided by the state agency.

Eligibility: Set by individual financial institutions, in collaboration with FAME.

Refinance terms: Set by individual financial institutions, in collaboration with FAME.

Interest rates: Set by individual financial institutions, with final approval from FAME. The entire point of this program is to keep rates competitive, so if you’re unhappy with the first rate you see, shop around.

Qualifications:

  • Minimum 680 FICO credit score for the borrower and cosigner (if applicable)
  • $24,000 minimum annual income for borrower or cosigner (if applicable). If there is a cosigner on the loan, the cosigner must have a minimum of two years of work history.
  • Minimum/maximum loan balance: $10,000/$240,000

How it’s funded: Maine runs this program similar to the way they run their commercial loan insurance program. In order for a loan to carry the insurance, guarantee fees must be paid. Financial institutions have the option to cover these fees themselves, or pass the cost on to consumers. Either way the fees get paid to the Finance Authority, and are then managed to build reserves in the event of a claim.

How to apply: Before taking out one of these loans, you will be required to take a ten-minute course on loan counseling online. A list of the current participating lenders includes: Infinity Federal Credit Union; Maine State Credit Union; Maine Savings Federal Credit Union; Seaboard Federal Credit Union; and University Credit Union.  Apply at any lender’s website or visit the www.theloanforme.com for the links to the lenders.

New Jersey: NJCLASS Consolidation Loan

New Jersey currently allows borrowers to consolidate their loans through the NJCLASS Consolidation Loan. An NJCLASS loan will allow you to refinance two or more loans by bundling them into a single loan and restructuring your repayment period and your interest rate. The rate for your new loan will be determined by taking the weighted average of the interest rates for each individual loan.

Eligibility: NJCLASS consolidation loans are offered to New Jersey residents attending an eligible in-state or out-of-state school and out-of-state students attending a school in New Jersey.

Qualifications:

  • Must consolidate a minimum of $30,000.
  • Must have 2 or more NJCLASS loans.
  • NJCLASS Loans must be current.
  • Borrowers must meet a minimum annual income requirement of $40,000.

Refinance terms:

  • 25-year term: Total loan balance of $30,000 to $60,000
  • 30-year term: Total loan balance of $60,000 or greater

Interest rate: The interest rate on a NJCLASS Consolidation loan will be determined by taking the weighted average of the interest rates for each individual loan minus 0.25%.

Other fees: There is a 1% administrative fee tacked on to all loans.

Coming Soon…

Some states are on the cusp of providing student loan refinancing options. These states may have passed the necessary legislation, but are still working on getting their programs ready to open to applicants. That means we aren’t able to link to any specific websites for more information. But we’ve shared what we know so far:

The NJCLASS Refi+ Loan

In the Fall of 2016, New Jersey will launch the NJCLASS Refi+ loan. This program will allow borrowers to refinance even individual loans, removing the requirement for consolidation.

Eligibility: NJCLASS Refi+ will require applicants to either be state residents at the time of application, or to have been state residents when they originated the loan they are attempting to refinance.

Qualifications:

  • Must earn an annual income of $40,000
  • Must have a minimum FICO score of 670
  • Debt-to-income ratio must be less than 40%.

Interest rates: The NJCLASS Refi+ will determine your loan rate based on your credit score.

  • Scores of 780+ will merit an interest rate of 4.90%.
  • Scores of 720-779 will merit an interest rate of 5.70%.
  • Scores of 670-719 will merit an interest rate of 6.90%.
  • Those with scores below 670 may qualify with a parental cosigner.

How it’s funded: NJCLASS Refi+ will be funded through tax-exempt bonds.

Where to learn moreHessa.org

Maryland (Montgomery County)

Montgomery County, Md. will establish the Montgomery County Student Loan Refinancing Authority by April 2017. Unfortunately, only residents of Montgomery County can apply.

Virginia

Virginia lawmakers have proposed a student loan refinance program, but have yet to vote on the bill. To follow along as it moves through the state legislature bookmark the bill’s page.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s SB 194, which would have established a State Loan Refinancing Authority to provide a means for borrowers to refinance student loans at lower rates. It was voted down in April 2016.

Nevada

Nevada’s SB 215 also would have allowed for state refinancing of student loans. It was heard, but no action was taken.

Missouri

Missouri’s HB 2432 has reached the house floor but has not yet been voted on. It isn’t looking good.

California

California actually did pass legislation that would have opened the door for a student loan refinancing program. However, the program never received funding from the state, rendering it useless.

Brynne Conroy
Brynne Conroy |

Brynne Conroy is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Brynne at brynne@magnifymoney.com

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Reviews, Student Loan ReFi

Review: First Republic Eagle Gold All-in-One Student Loan Refinancing

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

First Republic Eagle Gold All-in-One Student Loan Refinancing

First Republic offers a way for professional graduates to refinance large amounts of student loan debt on fairly low interest rates through its Eagle Gold All-in-One program. The downside is you must apply in person at a branch, and branch locations are limited throughout the United States. If you live near an office, read on to find out the details of how you can refinance your student loans with First Republic.

Details of First Republic’s Eagle Gold All-in-One Student Loan

You can refinance $60,000 to $300,000 worth of student loans on 5, 7, 10, and 15 year terms.

The APR on fixed rate loans is as follows (as of January 3, 2017):

  • 2.25% for 5 year term
  • 2.95% for 7 year term
  • 3.75% on 10 year term
  • 4.10% on 15 year term

The APR on variable rate loans is as follows at time of writing:

  • 2.43% for 5 year term
  • 3.08% for 7 year term
  • 3.78% for 10 year term
  • 4.23% for 15 year term

First Republic has a calculator on the front page you can use to estimate your payments.

Be aware that you have to open a First Republic ATM Rebate Checking account with automatic loan payment, direct deposit, and online banking to receive the rates quoted above. This account will be used to pay your loan, although it has a $500 minimum to open, and you must maintain a $3,500 balance to avoid the $25 monthly fee.

If you don’t open this account, according to First Republic, “rates will be 5.00% per annum greater than the rate quoted.” If you qualify for a 1.90% APR on a 5 year term, your APR would then be 6.90%.

Eligibility Requirements

For such low interest rates, it’s not surprising to see that a 750 credit score and two years of experience in your current industry is required to qualify for refinancing with First Republic. This refinance program is mainly intended for professionals who took out large amounts of student loan debt, have a good career, a good credit history, and are looking to save money over the life of their loan.

That said, First Republic allows co-signers, so if you don’t think your credit is substantial, you may want to apply with one.

[Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief Scams]

Application Process and Documents Needed

Unfortunately, the application process requires you to meet with a First Republic personal banker in person at a local branch. You must meet with them first to begin the process.

First Republic isn’t offered in many areas of the country. Offices are mostly located in California, New York, and Massachusetts, with a few other locations in Florida and Oregon.

There’s no phone number listed on the All-in-One loan page, but you can call 855-829-0692 for the First Republic Eagle Lending team. You can also get the contact information of a banker near you by clicking on “See what it takes” under the repayment calculator. Alternatively, you can click “Have us contact you” at the top of the page to have First Republic email or call you.

First Republic has the documents needed to apply listed on its website, and it’s a good idea to gather these ahead of time if you want to go through the student loan refinance process:

  • Most recent tax return or W2
  • Photo ID
  • Most recent pay stub
  • Signed 4506T form (Request for Transcript of Tax Return)
  • Proof of liquid assets

You’ll also want to have the information ready to go for the loans you plan on refinancing. Have the most recent statements available, and make sure the account number and contact information for your current lender is on there.

First Republic will take around one to two weeks to review documents and process the refinance. A cashier’s check is sent to your current student loan servicer to pay off the loans.

The Fine Print

There is no origination, prepayment, or annual fee.

First Republic is very clear in its FAQ that you might be giving up Federal student loan benefits by refinancing your loans through its program. In case you aren’t aware, Federal student loans come with many repayment options, including Income-Driven Repayment Plans, deferment, forbearance, loan forgiveness, cancelation, or discharge, and more.

While we mentioned it a few times in this review, don’t get caught by surprise: you have to open a checking account with First Republic to receive the APRs listed on the website. Otherwise, they’ll be 5% more, bringing the rates in-line with what you’re probably already paying.

[Creating an Emergency Fund While You’re Saddled with Student Loan Debt]

 

Repayment Assistance Options

First Republic is upfront about what it doesn’t offer. According to the product details page, you can’t request deferment, forgiveness, or income-driven repayment plans. Additionally, the interest you pay on this loan isn’t tax deductible. There are no options for forbearance, either.

Pros and Cons of the Gold All-in-One Student Loan

Pro: If you’re able to pay your loan off within 48 months (4 years) of refinancing, then you’re eligible for a rebate of up to 2.00% on the interest you’ve paid against your loan. If you paid $4,300 in interest toward your loan, that would mean getting $86 back, assuming you got the full 2.00% rebate.

Con: At the very bottom of the website, First Republic notes that applicants must complete the application in person at a branch. There are many other refinance options available where you can complete the entire process online. This is more convenient for those with a busy schedule who can’t make time for an appointment or don’t live near a First Republic branch.

Pro: By clicking on “See what it takes” at the bottom of the calculator, First Republic will eventually show you the contact information of the associate that can help you through the loan process. Their cell phone, LinkedIn account, and email will be available.

Con: To receive the lowest interest rates, you must open a checking account with First Republic. The checking account in question isn’t very consumer friendly, as you need $500 to open the account, and need to maintain a monthly balance of $3,500 to avoid the $25 monthly maintenance fee.

Alternative Refinancing Student Loan Options

Don’t want to be bothered with opening another bank account just to receive the discounted rates First Republic offers? You don’t have to! Here are other private student loan refinance programs you can apply to that have competitive interest rates with no extra strings attached:

SoFi: You can refinance a minimum of $10,000 and there’s no maximum amount you can refinance. 5, 10, 15, and 20 year terms are available. Fixed APRs start at 3.35% and variable APRs start at 2.795% with autopay. There is no origination fee or prepayment penalty, and SoFi offers forbearance and unemployment assistance if you hit a rough spot with your finances.

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Earnest: There’s no maximum amount you can refinance, and Earnest has some of the most flexible terms out there. Fixed APRs start at 3.35% APR and variable APRs start at 2.79%. You can choose your repayment term and monthly payment; this loan can be customized to fit your needs. Earnest also offers forbearance, and if you make six on-time payments, you can skip a payment once every 12 months in case of economic hardship (though interest will continue to accrue).

You can view our other recommended options on this page and compare them side-by-side. Shop around to get the best rates, as your credit won’t take as large of a hit provided you apply within a 30-day window. The credit bureaus will count all inquiries made during that time as one single inquiry. It’s worth applying to several lenders to see which one can offer you the most savings.

Customize Your Student Loan Offers with MagnifyMoney Comparison Tool

Erin Millard
Erin Millard |

Erin Millard is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erinm@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, News

18 Common Student Loan Terms, Explained

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Whatever stage of the student loan process you’re in — whether you’re a seasoned pro with years of payments under your belt, or you’re just starting off with the research to find the right one for you — there are a ton of terms that you’ll need to be familiar with during the long process of getting and paying off those loans.

To help, we’ve come up with a glossary of 18 commonly used terms that you should be familiar with. Learn what these words mean with regards to your student loan, and it’ll help you stay educated along the way.

Acceleration: A borrower may be required to pay an acceleration — or demand for immediate repayment — on their loan under certain circumstances, like if they receive loan money but do not enroll for at least part-time student status, or if the loan money is used to pay for expenses other than those determined as educational expenses.

Accrue: The accumulation of interest on a loan.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): The rate that you will be charged annually for borrowing your money, including fees or additional costs.

Capitalized Interest: Unpaid interest on your behalf that has been added to the principal balance of your student loan is known as capitalized interest. For example, the interest that accrues during your grace period will be capitalized when the period ends and added to the principal balance of your loan. This generally increases the overall amount you owe.

Consolidation: The act of combining two more loans into a single loan. (Find out more about when you should consider consolidation of your loans here.)

Co-signer (or Endorser): In certain situations, someone with excellent credit history may be asked to sign a form agreeing to repay your student loans should you not be able to. This person is referred to as a co-signer or an endorser. (You can find out more about what happens when a borrower defaults on a co-signed loan here.)

Deferment: A federal student loan benefit that allows students to temporarily stop making payments under certain circumstances. The government may also subsidized your interest while in deferment if the loans are Federal Perkins, a Direct Subsidized Loan or a Subsidized Federal Stafford Loan.

Financial Aid Package: Federal and non-federal aid a student may be offered by their school to help pay for educational costs.

Forbearance: A federal student loan can also be postponed using forbearance, but interest will be most likely be accruing during this time. You can learn more about the difference between deferment and forbearance here.

Grace Period: Certain loans afford students a period of time — generally beginning once the school declares you’ve graduated, you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment status and usually ending six to nine months later — during which payment is not expected on loans. This is referred to as a grace period. (Find out more about the ins and outs of a student loan grace period here.)

Income-Driven Repayment Plan: If your debt is high compared to your overall income level, you may qualify for an income-driven repayment plan. Federal student loan borrowers are eligible for this type of repayment plan based on certain factors like income, family size, state of residence and type of loan. 

Interest: Calculated as a percentage of your unpaid principal balance, interest is the additional cost of borrowing money.

Loan Forgiveness: The remaining balance of a loan that gets discharged (forgiven) after a borrower fulfills certain obligations. An example would be the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). A borrower works in public service 10 years and makes 120 payments, and then his or her remaining balance would be forgiven.

Principal Balance: Your current loan amount, plus your capitalized interest on that loan. (See also capitalized interest.)

Refinance: To refinance your student loans means to use a new loan (hopefully with a lower interest rate) to pay off your existing debts. Refinancing could save you thousands of dollars over the long run, but remember that refinancing a federal loan to a private one may mean losing certain protections, like special repayment plans. Find out more about refinancing options here.

Servicer: A loan servicer will assist you with tasks related to your student loan such as billing, repayment plans and loan consolidation. 

Subsidized Loan: A type of Federal loan where the borrower is not responsible for paying interest accruing on the loan while in an in-school, grace or deferment period. The government pays interest for subsidized loans during these periods.

Unsubsidized Loan: A type of Federal loan where interest accrues on the loan while you’re in school or deferment.

Cheryl Lock
Cheryl Lock |

Cheryl Lock is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Cheryl at cheryl@magnifymoney.com

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College Students and Recent Grads, Consumer Watchdog, Pay Down My Debt

Consumer Watchdog: Consequences of Refinancing Federal Student Loans

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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A majority of today’s college graduates exit college with a diploma and a significant chunk of student loan debt. It’s become an assumption that everyone under the age of 30 carries (or carried) debt at some point. While this isn’t true, the vast number of graduates struggling with student loans are looking for every chance to offload the burden. Lowering interest rates and digging out of debt sooner is exactly what makes consolidating and refinancing so appealing. While refinancing federal student loans may seem tempting, this action could carry irreversible consequences. 

Crunching the Numbers

Refinancing can make a lot of sense, especially if it results in a significant drop in your interest rate(s). Federal student loans disbursed before July 1, 2014 ranged in fixed interest rates from 3.86% to 5.41% to 6.41% depending on the type of loan.

One loan with an interest rate of 3.86% may not be worth refinancing because the most competitive fixed refinancing rates are at 3.50%. Revoking your federal loan status for 0.36% probably isn’t worth the cost.

However, refinancing loans at 5.41% (or higher) could be worthwhile.

For the sake of argument, let’s say you’re paying $270 a month on $25,000 worth of federally funded direct unsubsidized student loans on a 10-year term at 5.41%. In that time, you’d pay $7,409 in interest.

Pay the same amount on $25,000 of refinanced loans at 3.50% and you’ll only fork over $4,183.56 in interest.

$3,225.44 is a pretty significant difference.

Who Should Consider Refinancing Federal Student Loans?

You should only be refinancing federal student loans if you have the following:

  • A high credit score – so you can get the most competitive interest rates
  • A stable job
  • Money stashed away in case an emergency or job loss occurs
  • Wouldn’t qualify for forgiveness programs anyway

Here Are Perks You’ll Be Giving Up 

By consolidating debt and refinancing federal student loans to a private loan, you’ll be walking away from certain benefits the government offers. 

Income-Based Repayment, Income-Contingent Repayment and Pay As You Earn Plans

Income-Based Repayment Plans allow you to prorate your student loan payments based on your income. After 20 (for PAYE) to 25 (IBR and ICR) years of qualifying payments, depending on the plan, any remaining balance on your loan will be forgiven. There is also an interest subsidy if your monthly payment is less than the interest accruing on your loan. The government will pay the difference for the first three years.

Fine Print Alert: The loans discharged after 20-25 years could count as income and require you to declare it to the IRS and pay taxes.

Student Loan Forgiveness 

The government backs a variety of student loan forgiveness programs for professionals. These include:

  • Equal Justice Works (Lawyers)
    This forgiveness program is offered at select law schools and is used to provide financial aid to law school graduates working in low-paying legal fields such as government or the public interest sector.
  • Teacher Loan Forgiveness (Teachers)
    You need to teach at specifically designated elementary and secondary schools for five consecutive years to be eligible. If you began teaching after 2004, you’re eligible for up to $5,000 in loan forgiveness if you were a “highly qualified” teacher, and you can receive up to $17,500 if you’re a “highly qualified” math or science teacher in a secondary school, or special education teacher.
  • Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
    Employees of the government, non-profit organizations, and other public workers may qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. You need to be employed full-time by a public service organization. You also are required to make 120 payments on your loans before being eligible for forgiveness.

[Read more about Student Loan Forgiveness here]

These programs are not eligible to those with private loans, so by refinancing federal student loans you’d be forsaking eligibility for forgiveness programs. If you have a handle on your debt and feel it can be paid off in less than 10 years, go ahead and refinance. But this could be hard to pass up if you’re drowning in debt and eligible for a forgiveness program. 

Discharge Benefits in Case of Disability or Death

Federal loans are discharged in the case of death and in certain instances of disability.

If you’re the borrower and die, your federal student loans will be discharged. If you’re a parent PLUS loan borrower – the loan may be discharged if you die or the student whose behalf you obtained the loan passes away.

Disability discharge occurs if you can prove that you are totally and permanently disabled through one of three methods:

  1. You are a veteran and have documentation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs stating you are unemployable due to a service-connected disability.
  2. You’re on Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income and submit documentation stating your next scheduled disability review is within five to seven years from the date of your most recent SSA disability determination.
  3. You have a certification from a physician that you’re totally and permanently disabled.

Read the fine print when you consider refinancing student loans. If you need a co-signer on the loan, he or she may be liable for the loans in the case of your death or disability, which is why you should have life insurance if your debt could be transferred to someone else. Be 100% sure of what will happen to your repayments in the case of disability or death.

Deferring Payments 

Federal loans are eligible for deferment or forbearance, meaning you can delay or make a temporary stop to student loan payments based on circumstances. These circumstances may include enrollment in college or career school, a period of unemployment, economic hardship, participation in an approved graduate fellowship program.

Private loans are notoriously less lax about deferment or forbearance.

There are student loan refinance options that offer unemployment protection (like SoFi* and CommonBond*. You need to explore the options for handling hardships before refinancing federal student loans.

Doesn’t Hurt to Check Your Options

Certain student loan refinancing providers like SoFi* offer the ability to check your rate without hurting your credit score (the provider performs a “soft pull” of your credit report). It won’t hurt to check your rates and then do the math to see if refinancing federal student loans makes financial sense for you.

Find our list of top student loan refinancing options here.

* We’ll receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.

Erin Lowry
Erin Lowry |

Erin Lowry is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Erin at erin@magnifymoney.com

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