Student Loan Refinancing & Consolidation Guide
Tools and Advice to Help you Refinance and Consolidate Your Student Loan Debt
Student loan debt is increasingly becoming a contributor to stress, burnout, and even suicide in doctors and other high-income professionals. Refinancing private student loans is a no-brainer anytime you can lower your interest rate, even as an intern. Direct federal student loans can be refinanced as soon as you know you will not be trying to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and can get a lower rate than the effective rate after the REPAYE subsidy is applied. Refinance your student loans early and often. If you go through the links on this page, you will get a cash bonus. As you pay down your loans, your credit score and debt to income ratio will improve, possibly lowering your rate. Of course, sometimes interest rates just drop or you discover another company is offering a lower rate than your current lender.
Why Refinance Your Student Loans
When I graduated in 2003, most of the members of my class refinanced their loans at 1-2% per year. That became impossible during the Global Financial Crisis and for years afterward. When I started this blog in 2011, you couldn’t refinance your student loans at all. In 2013, companies started refinancing again and now there are a dozen or more doing so. The competition between student loan refinancing companies has helped lower rates and increase cash bonuses. Thanks to the number of WCI readers refinancing large student loans, I have been able to negotiate the best deals available on the internet with these lenders, including cash back bonuses ranging from $250 to $2000 if you use the links on this page. Yes, I get paid too, but this is truly a win-win-win-win for you, me, the lender, and even the taxpayer. Low rates, cash back, better service…what’s not to like? Join thousands of WCI readers who have refinanced their loans through these links and put themselves on the path to financial success.
Splash Financial – $500* back to you
Splash Financial is a leader in student loan refinancing for doctors. Hundreds of you check your rate with Splash each month. It only takes minutes to do so and won’t impact your credit score! No application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties. Splash loans are funded by banks and credit unions, who they’ve negotiated with on your behalf to ensure market leading rates. Splash also helps residents and fellows refinance and pay only $100 a month during training.
There is no maximum borrowing amount. The minimum amount is $5,000 but you must refinance over $100,000 to receive the $500 cash bonus. The bonus will be paid between 90-120 days after the loan closes and is available for first time customers only. Special offer for WCI readers only if you use our link.
Earnest – $500* back to you
Save money on your student loans by refinancing with Earnest. Choose custom terms to fit your budget – like picking your exact monthly payment or selecting fixed and variable rates. Earnest’s Precision Pricing matches your custom term with a custom interest rate — saving you even more money when refinancing. You won’t be passed off to a third-party servicer nor penalized for making payments early. Your family is always protected with loan forgiveness in cases of death and dismemberment. The minimum amount to refinance is $5k and maximum is $500k. Get $500* when you sign a loan with Earnest using links on this page and refinance loans >$50K. (Can lend in DC and all states except DE, KY, NV. They can only offer fixed rates in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX.)
Client Welcome Bonus Disclosure*
Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for this signup bonus offer: 1) you must submit a completed student loan refinancing application through the WCI link; 2) you must provide a valid email address and a valid checking account number during the application process; and 3) your loan must be fully disbursed. 4) your loan must be larger than $50K. Bonus will be automatically transmitted to your checking account after the final disbursement. Limit one bonus per borrower. This offer is not valid with any other bonus offers received from Earnest.
Laurel Road – $300 back to you
Laurel Road (formerly DRB) is another huge player in this market and is a long time advertiser with The White Coat Investor. Hundreds of WCI readers have refinanced with them, often reporting they offered the lowest rate of all companies. If you apply via the links on this page and close a loan, you’ll get paid $300. They also have a resident refinancing program with $100 per month payments during residency. Laurel Road has a very flexible total allowable residency/fellowship period, allowing for residency periods up to 8 years depending on specialty – may allow for longer if the loan repayment term is 15 years or shorter. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association. All loans are provided by KeyBank. There is no maximum borrowing amount. The minimum amount is $5000.
ELFI – $350 back to you
ELFI (Education Loan Finance from Southeast Bank) — Education Loan Finance has come highly recommended from readers for low rates. Education Loan Finance offers student loan refinancing and consolidation to both recent graduates as well as parents with Parent PLUS and private student loans. Education Loan Finance offers low rates even without the automatic payment discount that many lenders offer. Loan amounts start at $15,000 and up for qualified borrowers. Education Loan Finance offers repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years. These wide range of options provide borrowers with the flexibility they need to choose the optimal product to fit their budgets. Those with high income may opt for a shorter repayment term, saving them money over time. Those who want lower monthly payments, on the other hand, can choose a product with lower rates than they are currently paying. The minimum to refinance is $15,000. There is no maximum. For parents, ELFI offers repayment terms of 5, 7, and 10 years. Education Loan Finance also offers Personal Loan Advisors who are dedicated to each borrower providing individual assistance throughout the refinancing process.
SoFi – $300 back to you*
Hundreds of WCI readers have refinanced with SoFi over the years. If you apply via the links on this page, not only will I get paid if you close a loan, but you’ll get paid too- $300. If you’re smart, you’ll just have them apply that to your loan balance, but I suppose you could use it to buy a frosty at Wendy’s every day for 10 months too if you want. SoFi is now lending to medical and dental residents with $100 monthly payments. Minimum loan amounts for residents of the state of California is $10,000. Disclaimer.
Credible – $400-750* back to you
Credible is not a lender, but a marketplace where lenders compete for your business. They’ll show you actual rates from up to a dozen lenders without impacting your credit score, and they don’t share your information with lenders until you choose the specific lender you want to pursue. Even if you think you’ve found a good rate, definitely take the 2 minutes to shop it against the offers available on Credible so you are confident you are getting the best rate. There are no fees and no max balances. For medical residents, Credible also partners with multiple lenders that offer graduated repayment plans – that means you can defer full payments until you complete your residency or fellowship. The minimum amount to refinance is $5k and with most companies there is no maximum. Use the link above and receive a $750 WCI bonus when refinancing through Credible. (*To receive $750 welcome bonus, WCI readers must refinance a balance equal to or greater than $100K. If refinancing a balance below $100K, readers are eligible for a $400 welcome bonus. Payment of any Welcome Bonus will occur either via a credit through TangoCard.com sent to the email address provided by Referrer or Referee, as applicable, or by any other means determined by Credible.)
CommonBond – $550* back to you
CommonBond is proud to partner with WCI to help you save more than $50,000, on average, on your medical school loans. Refinancing with CommonBond will simplify your loans and could lower your monthly payments, helping you achieve your life goals faster. Applying is straightforward and getting an initial rate estimate only takes a few minutes. You can even temporarily postpone payments if you run into financial difficulties. The minimum amount to refinance is $5k and maximum is $500k.
CommonBond is also the only lender to have a “1-for-1” social model—for each loan they fund, they help fund the education of a child in need. Your loan will truly make a difference.
Use the link on this page to start your application today. As a WCI reader, you get an extra $550 in your pocket when you refinance a loan over $75K with CommonBond. For loans between $40K-$74K you receive $300.
First Republic Bank – $300 back to you
Reviewed here, First Republic offers the lowest rates I’ve seen yet, with fixed rates starting at 1.95% (as of February 2019.) Unfortunately, they only lend to folks who live near their branches- in California, New York City, Boston, Greenwich CT, Portland OR, and Palm Beach FL. But if you live in those areas, take advantage! There is a liquidity requirement of 10% of the amount of the loan. As a WCI reader, if you use the links on this page, you get an extra $200 when you refinance with First Republic.
LendKey – $300-$750* back to you
At LendKey all loans are funded by community lenders, like credit unions and community banks. You can consolidate and refinance federal and private student loans, including undergraduate and graduate school debt for 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms. Recently, they upgraded their experience and now have even lower rates and more options (over 300) for lenders who will refinance your loans. You can compare hundreds of lenders in 2 minutes with no impact on your credit score, and your information isn’t shared with any lender until you select a loan product. Lastly, there are no handoffs, ever. LendKey originates and services all loans on behalf of their lenders so you get to work with the same customer care team from application all the way until you pay your loan back. Simple, consistent, and transparent. The minimum amount to refinance is $5k and maximum is $300k. As a WCI reader, if you use the links on this page, you get an extra $300 when you refinance with LendKey for loans up to $150k and $750 for loans over 150K.
Figure – $200 in an Amazon gift card back to you
Figure offers the fastest, easiest way to refinance your student loans. With a 100% online process, there are no documents to find, scan or upload. Figure has automated the application process, just simply link your accounts and we take care of the rest. Complete your application in minutes and you’re refinanced in days – not weeks. Terms are fixed rates with 5, 7, 15, or 20 year loans. Minimum amount to refinance is $5K and maximum is $250K. No origination or prepayment fees. No late fees or NSF fees. Use the link on this page to receive a $200 Amazon gift card for refinancing your loan with Figure. Figure is available to refinance students loans in every state and DC except Mississippi. The borrower must be at least 18 years of age or the age of majority in the state of residence. The borrower must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident with 10-year non-conditional Permanent Resident card. Not available for NY residents.
Brazos Higher Education – $600 back to you
Start your Brazos refinance application through this page and you will get a $600 cash bonus after your loan funds! Texas residents only. Brazos is a nonprofit with over 35 years of experience with student loans. As a nonprofit, Brazos’ rates can be better than the national lenders. You can refinance up to $150,000 with a bachelor’s degree and up to $250,000 with a graduate, law, medical or other professional degree. The minimum amount to refinance is $10,000. If you’re a Texan, visit studentloans.com now and start saving. Disclaimer.
The Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans
Some doctors wonder if they should drag their educational debt out for years in order to invest instead. While it can sometimes make sense to do that if you have very low interest rates and still have tax-protected investment accounts that have not yet been maxed out, I have found that doctors who pay off their student loans within 2-5 years of completion of training (by living like a resident, refinancing, and making large payments) not only don’t regret doing so but also seem to accumulate wealth more rapidly. The freedom that comes from getting the student loan monkey off your back cannot be overstated. Many borrowers describe it as a weight being lifted from their shoulders that they didn’t even realize was there. Once it is gone, they are happier and feel more comfortable taking personal and professional financial risks that in turn lead to even more wealth. While just refinancing doesn’t eliminate your student loans (you still have to make four to five figure monthly payments for a few years), the cash back and lower interest rate certainly speed up the process. Learn more about how to refinance your student loans with these resources:
Top Picks (Blogs) and Most Popular Related Blogs
Student Loans 101 – Guide to Consolidation
Knowing what to do with these loans can be tricky and will vary depending on what stage you are at in your career. Get your plan wrong, and it can cost you thousands. We’ve put all the information you need in one place to manage them from undergraduate until payoff. We’re talking private & federal loans, IDR and forgiveness programs (PSLF, REPAYE, PAYE, IBR, ICR), refinancing, and how to pay off quickly. You can access this The Ultimate Student Guide to Student Loan Debt Management for Doctors as either a blog post or video — your choice! Just click below:
Best Student Loan Resources & Tools
In 2018, the average indebted graduating MD student reported $200,000 in total educational debt. Graduating DO students reported $255,000 in medical education debt alone. It can be even worse for dentists. 2017 graduates reported an average debt of $240,000 at public schools and $341,000 at private schools. Of course, these numbers are only averages—half of graduates owe more than these figures, and that’s before the compound interest runs wild during residency. It is imperative to your financial future to understand, manage, and crush that debt as soon as possible. Start by reading or watching The Ultimate Guide to Student Loan Management for Doctors, then take a deeper dive into the topics below:
Federal Income-Driven Repayment and Forgiveness Programs