Student Loan Refinance Page
Below you will find helpful programs to Refinance Student Loans. I provide a brief description of each and the particular benefit that they may provide to you. I’ve separated them into loans that are specifically helpful for those in residency (affordable monthly payments during residency) and those that want to refinance after residency (usually provide lower rates).
A few comments before we get started:
These are affiliate links, which means that I have spent hours via email and phone working out specific deals with these lenders to get you a better bonus (money back) for you. [Seriously, I challenge you to find a site with better bonuses on a lot of these]. This is money for you that should likely put towards your loans, but “I ain’t yo’ daddy.” As long as it is spent intentionally to build wealth and wellness, I have no qualms. You could even apply The 10% Rule. As part of this I also get a kick-back (though on some of them I gave up the commission to give you a better deal) for you refinancing your loans through these partner programs.
Don’t forget, you can refinance your loans as many times as you want! So, you may consider using one program while you are in your internship, another while in residency, yet another once you are refinancing during your last year who honors contracts in hand, and then another after you finish for a lower rate if necessary. Or you can only do it once or twice. Do what works for you.
*One last note: Forbearance and Deferment are a last resort option. You should either make a plan to proceed with governmental programs and the PSLF (below) or private refinancing. Don’t choose the third option (forbearance or deferment) as they are by far and away the worst option.
Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF)
Before you refinance your loans privately, you should make sure that you know you are not going to do the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. In other words, make sure you don’t have a long training period (> 5 years), high debt (>200,000), and you aren’t planning to work at a 501(c)3 organization.
If you are planning on doing PSLF, you should likely refinance using the governmental REPAYE program during residency as this will give you the lowest possible governmental rate during residency and decrease the amount of interest you are paying. [This doesn’t always apply. If you are married to a high earner, REPAYE may not be a great option]. Then refinance AFTER residency to PAYE (capped payment, unlike REPAYE which gets expensive as an attending). 120 payments later and your debt is forgiven as long as you certify each year. You must certify each year! If you change your mind or determine you will not participate in PSLF, then proceed with the following excellent refinancing options.
How much you pay in the REPAYE program =10% of your discretionary income = 10% (AGI – 150% of poverty level). Therefore, if you are single or married to a non-working spouse, in your first year of residency, the REPAYE payment it often ZERO dollars, because you didn’t get paid during medical school. You even get forgiven 50% of your unpaid interest. However, REPAYE has no cap (10% of an attending’s discretionary income is a big bill), which is why REPAYE is not a good option as an attending physician.
Proceed to the private refinancing options below If you have determined that you
1) Don’t plan to work for a 501(c)3 organization
2) Don’t have a high amount of debt (>200,000)
3) Don’t have a long training program
4) Aren’t partaking in PSLF for any other reason
All advertised rates below are accurate as of 1/21/18
Student Loan Refinancing IN residency
One other comment: I recommend that if you are a resident (and have decided not to do PSLF) to apply to all of the programs below. The following rates are advertised rates, which doesn’t necessarily correlate to the rate you will actually get. The following is in order of bonus money back to you.
SoFi: $500 Back to you
Rates: starting variable 2.830%; fixed 3.5%. [Advertised rates, may be higher. Again, apply to them all].
Pro’s: SoFi is one of the most widely used refinancing programs. They advertise some the lowest rates of the four resident refinance programs (that said, I encourage you to apply and see actual rates for you). They will also refinance through fellowship (up to 54 total months per website). Low $100 monthly payment while your debt grows at a substantially lower rate than it was before. Also, interest will not compound while in residency (it will capitalize at the end of residency).
Con’s: You must be within four years (54 months total for refinance) of becoming an attending physician (may not be beneficial for longer training programs). The discharge of loans upon death and disability language online is not as strong as some others.
Commonbond $400 back to you
Rates: They refinance you at your future earnings potential, which will provide you the same rate you’d get as an attending physician. That said, Commonbond only allows residents to refinance during your last 12 months of training if you have a contract in hand.
Pro’s: Possibly the lowest rates because they refinance at your attending level pay. Lowest monthly payment (loans are deferred for last 12 months of residency, but you can pay on them if you want with no fees being applied). Great protection for your loans (strong language on discharge of loans with death or disability). Allows you to consolidate with your spouse’s loans.
Con’s: Only available in last 12 months of training. Interest accrues during that last year.
Splash Financial Bonus varies–see below:
Bonus Schedule: Splash’s bonus schedule is different than other refinance companies. Here is how the bonus deals work for you: Loans <100k is $250 back to you, loans $100,000-200,000 $500 back to you, loans >$200,000 is $1000 back to you.
Rates: 5.29% to 5.5% Fixed
Pro’s: Most bonus money back to you depending on your amount of loans being refinanced. Lowest monthly payment of any resident refinancing programs (only $1 per month). Longest low payment period during training; for up to 84 months (7 years) of training. Also, extends to fellowship. Loans discharged on death in resident product (but not attending product below). They also provide a calculator to help you determine whether you should refinance or not.
Con’s: Higher rates, but everyone gets the same (other sites can quote lower advertised rates because their rates vary unlike Splash where everyone’s rates are the same). Max loan amount of $350,000.
Laurel Road: $400 back to you
Rates: starting variable 4.52%; starting fixed 5.00%
Pro’s: Debt forgiven upon death. Also some or all forgiven if permanently disabled. You pay low $100 monthly payment during residency. Remains in effect throughout residency regardless of length of training. Can continue these monthly payments for six months after residency (though, we recommend you refinance again at a lower rate and start paying!). Similar to other programs interest does not capitalize while a resident. This is the only resident program that is offered via a bank, which means it is backed by the FDIC. Also, includes fellowship. May be able to apply for lower rate if contract in hand.
Con’s: Slightly higher rates. Co-signer (if one is placed) is not always released. Do not offer a 5 year rate; starts at 7 years. Max loan amount of $500,000.
Link Capital: $150 back to you
Rates: fixed rates at 5.6% (Contracted Rates are lower: Fixed 4.12%).
Pro’s: Complete loan forgiveness upon death or total/permanent disability. Lower monthly payment during training (only $75). Automatic interest rate reduction following training (unlike others that require you to refinance again). For contracted residents (those that have a contract in hand starting after training) rates are much lower, but would check commonbond as well. Includes fellowship.
Con’s: For standard payment, rates are higher than other sites. May have difficulty if training is longer than 6 years. Contracted rates do not apply for residents that have more than one year of training left. Also, least money back to you.
Student Loan Refinancing AFTER residency
Fortunately, after residency the decision gets a whole lot easier. Look for the policy with the features you need for the lowest interest rate. Do this by applying to multiple lenders and getting rates quoted to you based on your specific circumstances. If the rates are the same for the same term and type (fixed versus variable), choose the one with the best bonus back to you.
A few more comments. A variable rate is better than a fixed rate. Really a fixed rate is a variable rate plus an insurance policy by the refinance company that rates won’t change. Rates have to change a lot and fast for you to lose money with a variable rate. Variable rates are usually lower and are typically worth the (very small) risk.
Here are lenders in order of bonuses back to you with my referral links for various refinancing programs. Again, these are advertised rates and you should apply to multiple companies to see the real rate for you.
SoFi ($500 bonus for you)
Rates starting at 2.58% (variable) or 3.25% (fixed)
*See comments above in resident refinance section
*One of the biggest players in this market
*First to refinance federal and private
*First to receive AAA rating from major rating agency)
*Cannot consolidate loans with spouses
Commonbond ($400 bonus for you)
Rates start as low as 2.57% (Variable) or 3.18% (Fixed) or 3.86% (Hybrid, only possible at 10 year loan, hence higher rate than fixed rate above, which comes with shorter terms if desired)
*This is who I refinanced through and have had a great experience.
*Can consolidate your spouses loans (many do not offer this)
*Can go back into forbearance (12 months in a row, 24 max) for economic hardships; may also defer for 34 months (interest accruing at end of time) for going back into higher education
*Refinance for a cause: every loan that is refinance pays for one year of education for a child in Ghana. Have financed over 5,000 children’s educations already.
*Discharged upon death or permanent disability
Rates start at 2.57% (variable) or 3.25% (fixed).
*Discharged loans in case of death or permanent disability
*Cannot consolidate with spouse’s loans
*Monthly payments to fit your budget
*Can lend in all states except for AL, DE, KY, NV and RI
Rates start at 2.99% (variable) or 3.5% (Fixed) *Discharged upon death or permanent disability
*No unemployment protection
*See comments above in resident refinance section
(Products Coming Soon)
Splash Financial (Most $ back to you-see bonus below):
Bonus Schedule: Splash’s bonus schedule is different than other refinance companies. Here is how the TPP specific bonus deals work for you: Loans <100k is $400 back to you, loans $100,000-200,000 $650 back to you, loans >$200,000 is $1150 back to you.
*I was told on the phone that an attending package (with substantially lower rates) should be here sometime in February 2018.
*Not discharged on death or permanent disability
As time goes by I’ll update this with more lenders who you can use to refinance your student loans! The most important thing is to make a plan, because “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail!” (Benjamin Franklin)