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Five Steps to Student Loan Refinance

The idea of making fewer payments and possibly saving money on student loan repayment is appealing, but student loan refinance may seem complicated. Where should you begin? We’ve broken down what to expect in five basic steps to student loan refinance.

1. Compile a list of your current student loans, their balances, and interest rates.

Take stock of whether you have federal student loans, private student loans, or a combination of both, and who your servicers/lenders are. Make note of the current balances, the rates, and whether you have a fixed or variable rate. It may be a good idea to create a secure spreadsheet with the information for easy access later.

2. Explore current refinance rates and estimated payments.

Most lenders now offer an option to enter your information on their website to view potential rates and offers. By inputting some basic details, the lenders will perform a “soft credit check” which will not affect your credit score. While every lender is different, most will ask for items such as:

  • Name and contact information
  • Your college or university
  • Total of your student loan debt
  • Your current income

Your results will include a list of available terms (how many many years the loan is for); rates, which may be fixed or variable; and an estimate of your payments. Compare information from different lenders, and then select the offer that best suits your needs for terms and payments.

3. Gather the necessary information and apply.

Just as you did for your original student loans, you’ll need to provide documentation of your identity and income. In general you will need to provide:

  • A government issued photo ID
  • Social Security card or number
  • Proof of income such as paystubs
  • Statements and account information for your current loans

You will need the same information for a co-borrower if applying with one. Be sure to respond to any requests for additional information in a timely manner so the loan process isn’t delayed.

4. Continue making your loan payments until the refinance loan is finalized.

The new lender will notify you when the refinance process is complete, which may take several weeks. Until that time, you should continue to make any scheduled payments on your current loans.

5. Register for online account access for your new lender and make note of your payment date.

Setting up automatic payments is an easy way to be sure your payments are made on time, and many lenders even provide a rate discount for automatic payments.

Additional Considerations

It’s important to remember that every student loan situation is unique. There are many factors to consider when refinancing student loans, including a possible loss of loan benefits for any federal student loans you currently hold.

In addition, the CARES Act was passed in response to events related to the COVID-19 pandemic and includes broad relief measures for federal student loan borrowers, which are set to expire after August 31, 2022. If you are considering refinancing your federal student loans, please make sure to review these measures at to understand your options.

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*APR = Annual Percentage Rate

In order to apply for a loan, you must first pick an individual credit union from which you wish to borrow. You can apply for the loan without being a member of the credit union you select, but you will need to become a member of that credit union in order to receive a funded loan. Therefore, it's important that you select a credit union that you will be eligible to join. Credit union membership requirements can include where you live, work, or attend school. Results are based on membership criteria provided by individual credit unions and do not imply a guarantee regarding accuracy or eligibility to join the listed credit union(s).

Calculations are based on the lowest possible rate and available repayment terms per lender. Rate estimates are based on credit information entered by the user and will not impact your credit. During the application process, a hard credit inquiry will be performed to provide exact rate information. Repayment calculations assume immediate full repayment. View the full range of rates and terms by visiting your credit union's website using links listed for each credit union above.

Using the free student loan refinance calculator does not constitute an offer to receive a loan and will not solicit a loan offer. Any payments and savings will depend on the actual amounts for which you are approved, should you choose to apply. This calculator is provided for educational purposes only and should not be relied upon as financial advice. Always consult your credit union or financial advisor when making your decision.

IMPORTANT NOTICE for refinance borrowers: By refinancing federal student loans, you may lose certain borrower benefits from your original loans. These may include interest rate discounts, principal rebates, or some cancellation benefits that can significantly reduce the cost of repaying your loans. Please review this important disclosure for more information.

Your actual rate within the range stated will be disclosed upon approval. Student borrowers may apply with a creditworthy cosigner which may result in a better chance of approval and/or interest rate.