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When It’s Time to Refinance Student Loans: A Checklist

For many of people, student loan payments can drag on for many years after the diploma, taking all the fun out of reminiscing about grad school.

Student loan refinancing is often the best way to save money and pay your loans off faster. The sooner you refinance the sooner you start saving money. Borrowers who refinance their student loans with Earnest save an average of $17,936.1

If you’re ready to refinance, you might be wondering where to begin. Here’s a checklist of what you need to have in place in order to get started.

Have a regular paycheck or offer letter.

If you’re refinancing or consolidating your loans, a steady, dependable income shows a lender that you’ll be able to comfortably make the payments. Having a job — or a job offer — before you begin the process is essential. If your job situation isn’t rock solid yet, you might want to hold off. If, however, you’re reliably employed (or will start your job soon) and able to prove it, move on down the checklist.

Gather information about your current loans.

As part of the refinancing process, you’ll need to know exactly what you owe, and to whom. Fire up an Excel spreadsheet (or grab a pencil and paper) and make a list of amounts owed, rates you’re paying, loan servicers, and payment addresses. You’ll need easy access to all of these as you work through the refinancing process.

Gather information about your current finances.

Keep that pencil and paper or spreadsheet handy — now you’re going to add to your notes. It’s time to list all the ways you have been financially responsible, including where you’re saving money. This includes savings and checking accounts, your 401(k) account, other investments, additional income — basically, anything your new lender can use to give you the best possible APR based on your track record of financial responsibility.

Be aware of your credit score — but don’t worry about it.

Don’t pay interest based on your college-self’s creditworthiness, but your new professional-self’s credit profile. If you’ve graduated and have a job, chances are, your credit score has improved since college, which can help you get a better rate. But there’s still hope even if it hasn’t — there can be a lag between finishing your education and seeing your score go up. Earnest uses up to 100,000 data points to get a holistic picture of each applicant — beyond a traditional credit score — in order to give the most financially responsible people the lowest possible rates.

Budget exactly what you want to pay each month.

Ever find yourself anxiously refreshing your account balance at the end of the month, waiting for your direct-deposit paycheck to hit your checking account so you can pay bills before they’re due? When you refinance with Earnest, you can set your own payment date and amount due. We’re all about customizing your payments to fit your life, so you can breathe easier at the end of the month and get the best APR.

1Learn more about Earnest calculations in disclaimers available at


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