The best student loan refinance options for 2021

~3 minute read below

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Summary (TL;DR)

Student loan refinancing is common, especially for people with private student loans, with an estimated 50,000 professionals doing so each month. You take out a new student loan to payoff the existing debt you have, lowering your rate and overall cost.

There’s no one size fits all for student loan refinance – that’s why it’s important to shop around and see your options. Most of our picks allow you to see rates in less than 10 minutes with a soft credit check, so you can get customized quotes without affecting your credit score.

For medical professionals, Laurel Road is currently offering a 0.25%* rate discount in addition to already low rates when you become a Juno member (free!).

For everyone else, our deals with Earnest and Splash are worth comparing to see who can get you the best rates. Earnest is offering a 0.25% rate discount1 to Juno members and Splash is offering up to a $1,000 cash back signing bonus based on the loan amount when you go through our free 2 minute registration.

Why you should trust us

Our founders Nikhil and Chris started Juno a few years ago when they were shopping around for loans for Harvard Business School. Since then, they’ve been immersed in the student loan industry, regularly speaking with key players nationwide and researching the market.

Every year, we make all the lenders compete to offer the best deals to our community. In the process, we pore over dozens of rate tables, and stay up all night crunching spreadsheets to map out which lenders offered the most people the best rates. Through this data analysis, we're confident that our choices are the best for the community.

Since Juno members never pay us, we charge all lenders a set fee that is agreed before the negotiations begin. That way, we can’t be swayed by a larger financial incentive. The only way to be featured on our site is to offer our community the best deal.

By the numbers

  • $502,121+

    in cash back earned by our community

  • 82,000+

    members

  • $430M+

    in loans

How we save you money

Lenders spend lots of money on marketing. For example, one lender will spend $400M over 20 years for the naming rights to a stadium. In comparison, 80%+ of our members find out about us from a friend.

Instead, we pitch lenders an alternative: give our members better deals and avoid spending thousands of dollars per customer on marketing. It saves them time and money, and we end up getting our community better rates and cash back for free.

Reducing Student Loans 101 Webinar
Hosted by  Nick Talamelli
Get smarter in just 5 minutes about your student loan refinancing options that can help you reduce existing student loans with our 101 webinar. What we’ll cover: What is student loan refinancing and how to reduce your student loans. The benefits/drawbacks of refinancing your student loans. Things to consider when comparing options. Deciding when you should refinance. How Juno can help you with refinancing for free.

Who is refinancing for?

Refinancing is great for people with high interest student loans, especially private. Right now, federally held student loans aren’t incurring any interest until February 1, 2022. As a result, many borrowers with federally held loans are waiting until then before considering refinancing.

For private loan borrowers, there’s little downside associated with refinance, and a large potential upside in terms of savings, and reducing your monthly payment. If you have both federal and private, know that you could consider only refinancing private loans at this time, which is an option that many Juno members opt for. You're free to refinance whichever assortment of loans you choose without being forced to refinance all at once.

Note that you may lose benefits associated with your underlying federal and/or private loans if you refinance such as federal Income-driven Repayment Plans, Economic Hardship Deferment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, or other deferment and forbearance options common with federal loans. If you file for bankruptcy, you may still be required to pay back this loan.

That said, you should always consult a financial advisor before taking any action. This article is not intended to be financial advice, and we urge you to do your own research independently.

Can I refinance?

While we don't determine eligibility (our lending partners do) there are some basics that are usually needed.

At least $5,000 in student loan debt

No bankruptcies or defaults

Attended a Title IV-accredited non-profit school

Credit score above 650

Employed with a steady income in USD

U.S. Citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card

Note that while most lenders require a completed degree, one of our partners Earnest now has an option if you did not graduate. The last attending date needs to be longer than 6 years ago, and your credit needs to be above 700.

Got Federal Loans?

0% interest until February 2022? 10k of loan forgiveness from the government?

Sign up for the latest updates on 0% interest and loan forgiveness.

Best For Most - Earnest

Earnest is owned by one of the largest student loan servicers in America. While they operate as a separate unit, they have the backing and security of an established provider.

You may want to compare Earnest and Splash to see who offers you the best rates and cash back combination, especially since both let you view your rates without a hard credit check.

As a Juno member, you will receive a rate that's 0.25% lower than what you'd receive if you were to go directly to Earnest. Combined with their already low rates, this can make a significant difference in the amount you repay.1

Rates: Fixed starting at 2.19%2,3 APR, Variable starting at 1.63%2,3 APR including autopay and Juno discount.
Juno Benefit: Rate reduction of 0.25%1
Check: Soft Credit Check to get rates; Hard Credit Check to refinance
Cosigner: You cannot refinance with a cosigner with Earnest at the moment
Access the deal for free

Alternative Best for Most - Splash

Splash is not a lender, but a marketplace for lenders. By trying their service, you’ll be able to get quotes from a few different lenders, further helping you identify the best rates available.

Juno is offering up to $1,000 cash back based on the loan amount for those who refinance a loan with Splash. Depending on your preferences, consider taking a look at both Earnest and Splash to make the best decision for you.

Rates: Fixed starting at 2.49%4 APR, Variable starting at 1.88%4 APR. May include autopay discount.
Cashback: Up to $1,000 based on loan amount5

Loan Amount Your Reward from Juno
$50K to $150K $500
Above $150K $1000


Check: Soft Credit Check to get rates; Hard Credit Check to refinance
Cosigner: You may be able to refinance with a cosigner with Splash
Access the deal for free

Best for Medical Professionals - Laurel Road

Laurel Road has some perks for medical professionals that make it our choice for physicians, dentists, nurses, optometrists, and physician assistants.

As a Juno member, Laurel Road will offer you a rate reduction of 0.25%6. In addition, you may be able to pay back your medical school loans at only $100 per month while in residency or fellowship.6

Rates: Fixed starting at 2.75%6 APR, Variable starting at 1.74%6 APR
Benefit: Rate reduction of .25%6
Check: Soft Credit Check to get rates; Hard Credit Check to refinance
Cosigner: You may be able to refinance with a cosigner with Laurel Road
Access the deal for free

What happens when you refinance?

Usually after people refinance a loan, we hear “why was that so easy?” The truth is that the process is fairly straightforward.

On a basic level, you’re taking out a new loan to pay off your old loan.

Since you’re employed and are perceived as ‘less risky’, your new loan ideally has a lower interest rate, saving you money in the long run.

What are the typical questions?

If you can answer these ten questions, you can probably go get customized rates within 5 minutes:

  1. Name
  2. Email Address
  3. Citizenship status
  4. Degree
  5. Graduation date
  6. School name
  7. Student loan balance
  8. Income
  9. Rent/mortgage payment
  10. Address

Then you can use a calculator to decide if the amount you'd save is worth proceeding.

Why does the term refinance still give me the willies?

The likely culprit: home mortgage refinance – between closing costs, cash-out refinancing that involves moving other debt around, and potential loss of protections, this cousin of student loan refinance gives all refinance a bad rep.

In contrast, student loan refi through Juno doesn’t have any fees involved, and is basically a straight 1:1 refinance – that means you can only get a new loan covering the cost of your existing student debt. So no room to borrow too much or end up in a pickle about losing your house (since student loan refi typically doesn’t involve collateral, unlike home mortgage refi where your house can be foreclosed if you don't pay your bills). As always, please consult a financial advisor for additional context.

Remember, refinancing private student loan debt typically doesn't result in the loss of protections; refinancing federal student loan debt can result in the loss of certain protections (income-driven repayment, forbearance options, etc). You can always pick and choose what you'd like to refinance without affecting all your loans.

Is now a good time to refinance private student loans?

Rates are actually at historic lows, so now may be a great time to refinance. If rates go even lower, you may consider refinancing again which is usually an option. Some of our members refinance their loans once a year if they can get a better rate.

Refinance Rates Through Time

Can I refinance Parent PLUS loans?

Yes! All of our partners allow you to refinance Parent PLUS loans.

Sometimes people want to change the name of the loan holder. Depending on the partner, it may be possible to refinance the loan into your child’s name. Individual results may vary.

× With Earnest, you can only refinance loans already in your name as the primary borrower. If your parent is the primary borrower, the original lender may be able to transfer the loan from the parent to you, and then Earnest can refinance in your name.

With Splash, you can apply to refinance a Parent PLUS loan into the student’s name, as long as they have a credit score of 700+, a debt to income ratio below 40%, a bachelor's degree, and a job making at least 25k a year (co-signer) and 42k a year (solo).

Laurel Road does allow you to refinance a Parent PLUS directly into your name.

Hear from a Juno member!

“I was with Sallie Mae and my interest rate was 10.75%, but I refinanced with Earnest through [Juno] and not only got my rate down to almost 4%, but I also got $1000 cash.

I got paid. To save money.

So make sure as soon as you graduate and get your first paystub to refi. It's super easy and literally takes under 10 minutes, the hardest part is typing in how much you have saved in all our accounts to prove assets as well as entering your social.

Their system literally automates all the hard parts out of it. Not everyone will save as much as me because I'm kind of an extreme case.

I refinanced 170k at 10.75%V to 4.04%F, cutting my monthly payment from $2800 to $1250. This is totally free and you can still write off payments on your taxes. Hope this helps someone...

Of course, make sure you do plenty of research and ask tons of questions to the lender before you refinance any debt.

I applied for refi literally everywhere and this was the best deal by like 1.2% and was much easier to fill out the app than at other places.”

- Josh C. (individual results may vary)

Got questions?

Drop us a line at hello@joinjuno.com.

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