I was reminded once more this week while speaking to a group of physicians that there are many, many graduating residents out there who owe $300K, $400K, or even more in high-interest student loans. If you're not going to be going for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, then it would behoove you to refinance those loans and then live like a resident until they're paid off.
I've written before about student loan refinancing. You basically couldn't do it before 2013, at all. However, since then there have been a handful of players come into the market willing to take your 5-10% loans and turn them into 3-5% loans. Better than a kick in the teeth, right? I've been so happy to see these companies pop up, that I've tried to get as many of them as possible to advertise with me on the blog. Although every reader (especially residents) doesn't qualify to refinance their loans, many do and should. It's really a win-win-win situation. The companies make money, the doctors save thousands in interest, and I make a few bucks by selling ads or through affiliate agreements. [Full disclosure: I have a financial relationship with all of the companies mentioned on this page.]
One of those companies, Social Finance (SoFi), surprised me this last week when they announced they were lowering rates again. For the first time since 2003 or so, when my cohort got out of medical school, it is actually possible to refinance your loans to a rate under 2%, and I think that's pretty exciting. Sofi's new rates are as follows:
[Update 2/2017- These rates are now out of date on this nearly 2 year old post. You can find current SoFi rates here. Also, their disclaimer. All rates, terms, state availability, and savings calculations are current at the time this article was written. Rates, terms, state availability, and savings calculations may update in the future. For current rates and terms visit SoFi.com]
I was so excited I tweeted it out and even mentioned in the monthly newsletter. My contact at Darien Rowayton Bank quickly wrote back to let me know that they also had lowered rates recently. (No surprise as this marketplace is pretty competitive.) Here are their current rates:
|Term Option||Fixed APR*||Variable APR*|
|5 – Year||3.50% – 4.75%||1.92% – 3.68%|
|10 – Year||4.50% – 5.50%||2.63% – 3.88%|
|15 – Year||5.00% – 6.00%||2.98% – 3.98%|
|20 – Year||6.25%||3.98%|
Then, two days before this post was supposed to be published, I got an email from blog advertiser CommonBond. They've gone ahead and lowered rates too.
CommonBond also has the hybrid loans (fixed for 5 years, then variable) I wrote about recently and are now lending to a lot more physicians, dentists, accountants, engineers, attorneys, healthcare executives etc.
New Blog Advertiser CU Student Loans has also lowered rates recently. They only offer 15 year variable loans, but the rates for that particular loan are competitive with on the low end at least. (2.76%-8.01%.) They also work with a group that offers some other options, such as a 15 year fixed loan.
Although it sucks to have a savings account paying less than 1%, at least this era of historically low interest rates gives a chance for graduating docs with massive student loan burdens to lock in the low rates my classmates got back in 2003. Please don't miss it. Also keep in mind that YOUR rate may not be lower with any given lender than with the other lenders, so it pays to look at all of them. But nevertheless, this is a drop of up to 0.75% across the board. Take advantage while you can. Also, keep in mind if you refinance with SoFi or Common Bond through the links on this page, not only do I make some money, but they'll pay you $300. DRB will also match that $300. I suggest you put that toward the principle on the loan.
Refinance with DRB today!
Have you already refinanced your student loans? Why or why not? Are you glad you did? Which company did you use? How was your experience? Comment below!