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The Top 3 Times to Refinance Student Loans

If you’re making payments on private or federal student loans, or a combination of both, you may have considered refinancing or consolidating them. There can be numerous advantages, but when is the right time to refinance?

You generally need to be in grace or repayment on one or more student loans after graduation or separation from school in order to refinance. Once you’ve reached that point, here are a few specific opportunities to consider:

1. When interest rates are lower than your existing rate(s).

Rates are currently at historic lows, so you may want to lock in a better interest rate before they go up again. Check the rates on your current loans, as well as whether you have a fixed or variable rate. Many sites offer calculators to help determine what your savings could be long term.

2. When you want to shorten or extend the length of time you’ll be making payments.

Extending your repayment terms can lower your monthly required payment (though you’ll still be paying interest for the life of the loan and could pay more out of pocket in the long run).

Alternatively, you could choose a shorter repayment term to pay off your loans sooner, though this may also be possible if you make more than your minimum monthly payment on a current loan (assuming there are no pre-payment penalties).

3. When you want all your student loans under your own name.

Students often do not have the credit history necessary to qualify for a loan on their own. A co-borrower may sign for the loan, or a parent may take out a federal Parent PLUS loan in their own name. If your current loan doesn’t have a co-borrower release option, refinancing and consolidating your loans is one way to get all your student loans under your name and credit history.

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.