Best Ways to Refinance Graduate Loans in 2021
Refi is a smart option to pay off your student loan debt. This article dives into the specifics of refi and grad school loans.
Taking out loans for graduate school is a calculated trade-off. You're taking on student loan debt - potentially on top of your existing undergraduate loan debt - in return for a degree that should increase your income potential.
Once you graduate and start making more money, you have the opportunity to save on those loans by refinancing. There are a number of reasons to refinance graduate student loans, and more than a few options to consider when doing so. Read on for a detailed breakdown.
Why Refinance Graduate School Loans?
There are two types of federal loans for graduate students: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS loans. As of August 2021, the interest rate for Direct Unsubsidized Loans is 5.28% and the rate for Direct PLUS loans is 6.28%.
Students who have already graduated may be able to refinance for lower rates, saving hundreds or even thousands in total interest. Let’s say you have $60,000 in graduate school student loans at a 5.28% interest rate and a 10-year term. You apply to refinance and qualify for a 2.5% fixed interest rate. In this example, you would save $9,483 in total interest.
Borrowers interested in refinancing graduate student loans can choose between a fixed-rate loan or a variable-rate loan. The interest rate on a fixed-rate loan remains the same throughout the loan term, while the rate on a variable-rate loan fluctuates based on market conditions.
The initial interest rate for a variable-rate loan is lower than a fixed-rate loan, so if you plan to pay off the loan quickly, a variable-rate may save you more money. Other borrowers prefer the consistency of a fixed-rate loan where the payments will stay the same.
When you refinance, you can also consolidate multiple loans into one. This will simplify your monthly payments and make them easier to track.
Graduate School Lenders
Ready to start the refinancing process? Juno partners with the following vetted lenders to offer the best deals on graduate student loan refinancing on the market:
Borrowers who use Juno to refinance with Earnest will receive an interest rate that is .25% lower than what Earnest offers the general public. The fixed interest rate starts at 2.25% APR and the variable interest rate starts at 1.64% APR. The Juno discount is already factored into both of these rates.
Earnest will only do a soft credit pull to show you possible rates, so your credit score won’t be impacted if you choose not to refinance.
Earnest does not currently allow cosigners when you refinance. If you don’t have a strong credit history or a stable income, you may need a cosigner to qualify for a graduate student loan refinance.
Splash is one of the best lending marketplaces that connects borrowers with other lenders, like banks and credit unions. You'll be able to compare across a variety of options easily and quickly.
Juno will offer a $500 bonus if you refinance between $50,000 and $150,000 with Splash and a $1,000 bonus if you refinance more than $150,000. This bonus is only available if you use Juno to refinance with Splash.
You can use this bonus for anything you want, like buying a new phone, saving for a down payment or putting extra money toward your loans. The current fixed interest rate starts at 2.49% APR and the variable interest rate starts at 1.88%.
If your parents helped you pay for graduate school by taking out Parent PLUS loans, Splash can help you refinance those loans in your name. This will remove the loans from your parent’s credit report and your parents will no longer be financially responsible for the payments.
To qualify for this option, you must have a 700 minimum credit score, a bachelor’s degree, a debt-to-income ratio of 40% or less and an annual income of $42,000 or more.
Juno partners with Laurel Road to offer graduate school refinancing to health professionals, including doctors, dentists, nurses, optometrists and physician assistants. Borrowers who are still in residency or fellowship will only have to make $100 payments - a huge benefit for a career stage where salaries are notoriously low.
The fixed interest rate starts at 2.75% APR, and the variable interest rate starts at 1.74% APR. Laurel Road allows borrowers to refinance graduate school loans with a cosigner.
Laurel Road offers Juno members a .25% interest rate discount, which is only available if you refinance with Laurel Road through Juno.
If your parents took out Parent PLUS loans to pay for graduate school, you can refinance them into your name through Laurel Road.
What You Need to Refinance Graduate Student Loans
If you’re interested in refinancing graduate student loans, you'll have to provide the following information:
- Full legal name
- Social Security Number
- Citizenship status
- Current income
- Rent or mortgage payment
- Graduation date
- Graduate school name
- Total debt balance
- Type of graduate degree
Juno may contact your employer to verify your salary. If you're self-employed, you may have to provide tax returns to prove your income.
When you apply to refinance graduate student loans, the application will show up on your credit report as a hard inquiry. This will impact your credit report for one year but will stay on your credit report for two years.
You can refinance graduate school loans as often as you want. There is no origination or prepayment fee, so it doesn’t cost anything to refinance.
Juno can help you find the most affordable possible rates on refinancing student loans. Juno negotiates on behalf of borrowers with partner lenders to help each student qualify for the best refinance rates they can given their financial situation.
Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins.
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