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If you’re wondering what the eligibility requirements to refinance student loans are, you’ve come to the right place! In this guide, we’re going to take a closer look at how to qualify for student loan refinancing. If you don’t meet the criteria yet, keep reading for some pro tips on how you can boost your chances.
- 4 requirements to refinance student loans
- Possible additional criteria
- Can’t qualify yet? How to improve your chances
- Remember to check your rates with multiple lenders
Here are the most common requirements to get approved for student loan refinancing, though specific criteria may vary from lender to lender.
Before approving you for any type of loan, private lenders want reassurance that you’ll be able to pay it back.
To get this reassurance, they take a look at your credit score. Your credit score is influenced by these factors:
- Payment history on your debts (35%)
- Amounts you owe on loans, credit card balances, etc. (30%)
- Length of your credit history (15%)
- New credit (10%)
- Mix of credit (10%)
Credit scores range from 300 to 850. Lenders don’t tend to advertise a specific minimum credit score to refinance student loans, but they’re typically looking for a score of 650 or higher.
Those with the highest scores will snag the best rates.
If you don’t have a great score, don’t despair. You have two possible workarounds:
- Take steps to increase your credit, whether that means reviving delinquent accounts, paying down debts or other strategies.
- Apply with a “creditworthy” cosigner. If you can add a cosigner with strong credit to your application, you’ll boost your chances of getting approved and/or qualifying for the best rates.
A note about adding a cosigner to your application:
Asking someone to cosign a loan is a big ask, since this debt will appear on their credit report and could increase their debt-to-income ratio. This person’s credit could also get hurt if you fall behind on payments or default on your loan.
Make sure your cosigner is aware of the potential consequences of sharing your debt, and have a conversation about expectations around paying back this loan.
As long as everyone is clear and on the same page, having a cosigner could make sense for your situation.
Along with checking your credit, lenders also want to make sure you have the cash flow to pay back your refinanced student loan.
They check this by asking for proof of an income (pay stubs, for example) or a job offer letter.
Some may also take into account your bank account balance and major monthly bills.
As long as you (or your cosigner) can meet this cash flow requirement, you shouldn’t have an issue.
If you can’t, it’s probably not the best time to refinance anyway, since you want to make sure you’ll be able to keep up with your monthly student loan payments.
Most lenders require that you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and are the “age of majority” in your state, which is 18 in most states.
When you submit a full application, you’ll probably need to provide your Social Security or government ID number, as well as a copy of your driver’s license or passport.
Note that you don’t need this information to check your rates online. It only comes into play if you choose an offer and fill out a full application.
Finally, most lenders want to see that you graduated with your Associate’s degree or higher from a Title IV school.
That said, a few lenders will approve you for refinancing even if you haven’t graduated. If that describes you, it’s worth checking with,
- Citizens Bank
- Wells Fargo
These lenders may refinance your student loans even if you didn’t graduate with your degree.
While the above are the most common requirements to refinance student loans, some lenders will have additional criteria, such as,
- Refinancing a minimum amount of student loans. SoFi, for example, requires a minimum loan amount of $5,000.
- Not having loans in default or delinquency. A lender might not refinance your student loans if you’ve fallen behind on payments.
- Residency in a certain state. Some lenders are only authorized to lend in certain states. Some credit unions, furthermore, require you to live somewhere or be part of an organization to become a member and access their services.
Again, each lender sets its own requirements to refinance student loans, so make sure to read over the details to ensure you can qualify.
If you can’t qualify due to your credit or income, don’t worry — there are steps you can take to boost your credentials.
As mentioned, you can apply with a creditworthy cosigner, such as a parent or other adult. Some lenders even offer “cosigner release,” which means they’ll remove your cosigner from your debt after a period of on-time repayment (usually 1-3 years).
Alternatively, you can take steps to build your credit and improve your chances for the future. The following steps, for example, could increase your credit score:
- Pay your bills on time. Late payments will drag down a score, but on-time payments improve it. If you have any loans in delinquency or default, try your best to get them back into good standing.
- Pay down your debts. If you can afford to, lowering your balances could boost your credit score.
- Keep balances low on your credit cards. Lenders usually like to see that you’re using less than 30% of your available credit.
- Don’t close old credit cards if you don’t have to. Length of credit history plays a role in your score, so closing old accounts could hurt your score. If you’re trying to avoid an annual fee on a credit card, ask the company if you can downgrade your card to a no-fee option, thereby keeping your account open and protecting your credit score.
- Dispute any mistakes on your credit report. Download a free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you see any errors, dispute them so you can get them removed from your credit report.
- If you’re building credit from scratch, consider opening a secured credit card and making on-time payments to improve your score. Once it’s stronger, you’ll be able to open an unsecured card.
According to CommonBond, improving your credit score is one of the best ways to make yourself eligible for refinancing. The lender says many of its initially rejected customers work on their score and are able to get approved within a year or less.
As far as stabilizing your income goes, you might need to keep plugging away at the job hunt until you get your break.
Focus on getting your resume and cover letter in great shape, and make efforts to grow your network — LinkedIn says that 85% of jobs are filled via networking.
You might also consider taking a continuing education course to enhance your skillset and build out your resume.
Treat the job search like a full-time job in itself, and you’ll soon find doors opening up in your industry.
Once you’ve gotten your finances into better shape, you can try applying for refinancing again, hopefully with better luck the next time.
And remember, you can always check your refinancing rates online with no impact on your credit score. In fact, it’s a good idea to shop around, since each lender sets its own eligibility requirements and rates.
For those of you who do qualify, congrats! Enjoy the savings that come with lowering your interest rate. Maybe you’ll even save so much that you can make extra payments and get out of debt ahead of schedule.
Want better rates? Here are the best banks to refinance student loans:
|Variable rates start at...||Fixed rates start at...||Repayment terms||Welcome bonus||Check your rates|
|4.54%||4.49%||5 - 20 years||$200||Visit LendKey|
|4.99%||4.47%||5 - 20 years||$200||Visit Earnest|
|4.22%||3.97%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$120||Visit Laurel Road|
|4.53%||4.40%||5 - 20 years||$100 or $200, depending on the amount you refinance||Visit Credible|
|5.09%||4.74%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$100||Visit SoFi|
|4.53%||4.83%||5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years||$100||Visit ELFI|