Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Review: Choose Your Own Terms

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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Refinancing with Laurel Road

Refinancing rates from 1.89% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.

Check out Laurel road

Note that Earnest has temporarily stopped accepting employment offer letters for income verification, and for now, applicants must be currently employed to qualify. Self-employed applicants will be required to provide three years of 1040’s. For more details on how the coronavirus outbreak is impacting student loan refinancing and other issues, check out our Student Loan Hero Coronavirus Information Center.

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Earnest student loan refinance helps borrowers save money by considering more than just their credit score during the application process. Earnest refinance is also known for flexibility, allowing customers to choose their repayment term and payment due date.

Earnest is a good fit for borrowers with stable financial history who won’t need to apply for refinancing with a cosigner’s help — and who prefer setting the terms of their repayment.

What to like:What to keep in mind:
Prequalify and receive a rate quote in minutes
Be judged beyond your credit score
Pick your own repayment term
Skip one payment per year
Rest easy with unemployment protection
Credit score requirement of 650
No ability to apply with a cosigner
Can’t refinance Parent PLUS Loans into the child’s name
Poor mobile app experience

Earnest student loan refinance review: the basics

Earnest (which also does personal loans) offers student loan refinancing to college graduates who have their own college debt, as well as to parents who borrowed loans to pay for their child’s education.

Here are some features you can expect with Earnest student loan refinance:

  • Earnest loan rates: Variable starting at 1.99% and fixed starting at 2.98%
  • Receive a rate quote in two minutes
  • Autopay discount of 0.25%
  • The option to choose your minimum payment
  • Repayment terms of between five and 20 years
  • Deferment and forbearance options for borrowers who return to school or run into financial hardship
  • No set income requirements
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Minimum loan amount of $5,000 and maximum of $500,000
  • Earnest’s minimum credit score of 650

To refinance student loans with Earnest, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Your debt must also be from a Title IV accredited college or university, and you must have completed your degree or be set to do so in the current semester.

What we like about Earnest student loan refinancing

There’s plenty to love about Earnest if you plan to refinance student loans. Here are some of our favorite features:

Check Earnest loan rates in two minutes

If you’re wondering how long Earnest takes to review your fit for refinancing, keep in mind that you could apply for and receive a quote in two minutes. Just by entering some basic information and yourself, you could check whether the lender could be a fit for your repayment.

Does Earnest do a hard pull on your credit at this time? No, the company will perform only a soft check on your credit report to deliver quotes. The hard check that could temporarily ding your credit would only come during the formal application process.

Flexible approval process

One of the biggest advantages of Earnest refinancing loans is the fact that approval is possible even with a short or nonexistent credit history.

If you don’t have a strong credit history, Earnest could approve you for student loan refinancing based on several other factors (a particularly negative financial history, however, could prevent you from approval).

When you apply for Earnest student loans, you link your bank accounts to your Earnest profile. The process is similar to the way budgeting tools like Mint and Personal Capital work — that’s why Earnest’s asking for bank account information. It requires your username and password to access your account information.

While the lender does look at your credit report, it doesn’t rely entirely on this traditional method of assessing your reliability. Other aspects of your personal finances — including your checking, savings and investments accounts — are considered during the process.

Earnest’s approval process is unique because it looks not just at your income and current debt, but also other aspects, like your job history. Because of this, Earnest loans might offer an alternative for borrowers who can’t get a competitive rate with a more traditional lender.

If you’re looking to refinance without a degree, Earnest also opens refinancing to current students who are within six months of graduating and hold a job offer.

Flexible repayment options

Earnest also offers flexible repayment terms that you can customize before locking in your loan. Instead of picking a repayment term and automatically receiving an interest rate and monthly payment, you’re in control. For example, you can choose your monthly payment from a broad range of options that Earnest provides. In fact, with excellent credit, you might choose from one of 180 options spanning every month between five and 20 years.

You also can choose to skip one payment a year and make it up later. Additionally, Earnest offers forbearance if you unexpectedly lose your job, as well as deferment if you’re returning to school or serving active duty in the military. These options allow you to temporarily pause your payments, making it a little easier to manage your student loan debt. Just be aware that interest will continue to accrue onto your balance while you’re away from repayment.

What to keep in mind with Earnest loans

While Earnest offers certain advantages, there are some things to consider before you move forward with your application. The company doesn’t operate, for example, in Kentucky and Nevada. Other factors to keep in mind include:

Minimum credit score

Even though Earnest uses factors beyond your credit history to determine your eligibility, you must still meet the minimum credit score requirement. In fact, to get the best of Earnest, you’ll need a score of 650 or above.

As a result, Earnest loans might not be an option you’ve had financial problems in the past. For instance, you might not qualify to refinance your student loans through Earnest if those loans aren’t in good standing or if you have accounts recently in collection.

However, most lenders also have minimum credit score requirements, so if you do have poor credit, you’ll likely need to improve your financial situation anyway before applying elsewhere.

No cosigner option

With some lenders, such as SoFi and Citizens Bank, it’s possible to get a cosigner to help you qualify for student loan refinancing. Earnest student loans, however, don’t have a cosigner option for refinancing. So, if you don’t qualify on your own, you won’t be able to improve your chances by getting a cosigner to help you.

No changing ownership of a Parent PLUS Loan

While Earnest offers parents the ability to refinance Parent PLUS Loans borrowed from the federal government, it doesn’t enable you to refinance loans into your child’s name. If your family desires that option, check out CommonBond, which would allow you to transfer debt to your son or daughter.

Earnest app has received negative reviews

If you plan to manage your refinanced loan repayment on a mobile device, keep in mind that the Earnest app (available on iOS and ) has mostly received negative reviews — “Earnest app not working” is a common complaint. With that said, the company has said that the app allows customers to view your balance and submit payments, among other features.

Earnest: Paying with credit card not possible

For all of its flexibility elsewhere, Earnest doesn’t allow customers to make their student loan payments with a credit card. You could still pay digitally from your checking or savings account.

Refinancing federal student loans turns them private

Besides issues to consider that are specific to Earnest student loan refinancing, there are some general caveats to refinancing when it comes to federal loans.

Even though refinancing can help you reduce your interest rate in some cases, it’s important to understand that you will lose certain borrower protections if you refinance federal student loans.

Once you refinance with Earnest, for example, you’ll be ineligible for federal income-driven repayment plans and federal student loan forgiveness programs. Given this, you want to make sure you don’t need any governmental programs before you turn your debt private through refinancing.

Is Earnest refinancing right for you?

Now that you know Earnest is legit and, possibly, a great option for your repayment, you might raring for the next step. Before you decide, compare lenders who refinance student loans. Generally speaking, Earnest might be a good choice if you:

  • Have good financial habits, like saving money regularly
  • Can show regular income and can comfortably afford the monthly payments
  • Don’t plan to take advantage of income-driven repayment or student loan forgiveness for your federal student loans
  • Have higher interest rates on your current student loans than what’s offered for your refinancing loan

In the end, Earnest student loan refinancing offers flexibility and options that can work well for some borrowers. Carefully consider your situation and your financial needs as you make a decision about your student loans.

Rebecca Safier, Andrew Pentis and Eric Rosenberg contributed to this article.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to Earnest refinancing loans, which is current as of March 26, 2020, unless otherwise noted. Earnest has neither provided nor reviewed the information shared in this article.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
LenderVariable APREligible Degrees 
1.89% – 6.66%1Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Splash

1.89% – 5.90%2Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Laurel Road

2.25% – 6.09%3Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.99% – 5.64%4Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.98% – 8.55%5Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Lendkey

2.39% – 6.01%Undergrad
& Graduate

Visit Elfi

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.


2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.

KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

This information is current as of September 9, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
 


3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student loan Refinance: Fixed rates from 2.99% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.25% APR to 6.09% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.25% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.18% plus 2.32% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. See eligibility details. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. 

4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.

Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.79% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.64% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of July 31, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.

Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.

The information provided on this page is updated as of 7/31/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.

© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.


5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 10/15/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.98% APR to 8.55% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.