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Student Loan Refi Basics

We’ve gathered some frequently asked questions and common terms to help you navigate the process of refinancing your student loans.
Apr (Annual Percentage Rate)
An annual percentage rate refers to the comprehensive annual interest rate charged for borrowing, including any fees or additional costs associated with the transaction.
Weighted Apr
A single APR that represents the average APR of several loans with varying balances and APRs. Loans with a higher balance have more ‘weight’ on the final APR.
Minimum Monthly Payment
The payment required by your loan servicer in order to pay off the loan by the contracted term, found on your monthly statement.
Making extra payments or monthly payments higher than the required minimum in order to pay off a loan faster.
What is the difference between consolidating and refinancing student loans?

Consolidation simply combines multiple student loans into one. That means one monthly payment instead of having to juggle many different ones, sometimes with multiple servicers. When you consolidate, your interest rate will be a weighted average of the interest rates on the loans you combine. You won’t save money on interest rates — but it can make life easier by reducing the amount of time you spend managing different payments.

Refinancing can be done with one loan or several, and involves getting a new loan with a different (usually lower) rate than before, due to changes in your financial situation. When you refinance, you typically work with a company to pay off the original loan(s) and get a new unified loan at a lower rate.

Do I have to refinance all of my loans, or can I refinance only the high-interest ones?

Once you’re approved, you are automatically approved for the total eligible student loan amount listed on your credit report. When you’re ready to accept your loan, you can choose to refinance less than the requested amount (as long as it’s above $5,000) or up to 105% of your approved amount.

During the agreement process for your Earnest loan, you will list the exact loans you would like Earnest to pay off. If there are any loans you wouldn’t like us to pay off, you will be able to indicate which ones to omit. Once you've done this, we will manage the payoff process with your loan servicer(s).

How do I decide between a fixed interest rate and a variable interest rate loan?

When choosing between a fixed or variable interest rate loan, you should consider the length of the loan, how much you value predictability in your budget, and the current interest rate environment.

A fixed rate loan has the same interest rate throughout the life of the loan. One reason borrowers, especially those with long-term loans, like fixed rate loans is that they provide a kind of “interest rate insurance” — they cost a little more, but that premium protects you against price changes down the road.

A variable interest rate loan’s APR will fluctuate over time based on an interest rate index known as 1-Month LIBOR. This means that your monthly payment can also change as interest rates change. You can view historical 1-month LIBOR rates here. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 8.95%, 9.95%, or 11.95% depending on the term of your loan and state Regulations.

Is it possible to refinance both federal and private student loans?

Absolutely. When considering refinancing your federal student loans, it is important to review the current protections and benefits you are granted with those loans and understand which of those you may be giving up when refinancing with a private lender like Earnest.

When should I refinance my student loans?

The short answer is, the sooner you refinance the more you could save. The longer you hold your loan at a higher rate, the more interest you are accruing, even if you are in a grace period. Not only will we honor your existing grace period up to nine months, but, with no origination fee, there is no cost to refinancing with Earnest.

If you have loans accruing no interest until after graduation, then you would save money by waiting. Furthermore, if you do not yet have a job/job offer or income that supports payments for your loan, it is recommended that you do not apply yet. For more details, check out our Eligibility Guidelines.

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