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Last update: January 18, 2024

4 minutes read

Earnest: Student Loan Refinance Review

Check out our in-depth look at Earnest's student loan refinancing. We'll check the interest rates, see what repayment choices they offer, look into who can apply, and point out any extra benefits.

By Yerain Abreu, M.S.

Edited by Brian Flaherty, B.A. Economics

Earnest Review Snapshot

Earnest logo

BEST FOR:

Those with a credit score over 650

Check rate

VARIABLE APR

5.49% - 9.74%

FIXED APR

4.96% - 9.79%

Thinking about refinancing with Earnest? In this review, we’ll explore how refinancing your student loans with Earnest can simplify your payments and save you money. Learn about how their interest rates, eligibility, repayment plans, and what makes Earnest special.

Our final verdict

Earnest is ideal for caters to financially responsible graduates in the U.S. It provides flexible loan options and employs an algorithmic model to determine borrower rates and terms. With competitive fixed rates and variable rates, Earnest appeals to a wide range of borrowers. The company emphasizes transparency with a soft credit check during rate checking and offers a 0.25% discount for auto-pay enrollment.

    About Earnest

    Earnest, a financial company founded in 2013 and located in San Francisco, California, specializes in helping people refinance their student loans. Earnest uses a special model to figure out the interest rates and terms for borrowers, and they require a minimum credit score of 650.

    They offer refinancing for different types of loans, like private student loans, private parent loans (where only the parent's name is on the loan), federal student loans, and Federal Parent PLUS loans (again, in the parent's name only).

    You can pick how long you want to pay back the loan, down to the month - although the term does need to be between 5 and 20 years. Earnest also makes things clear by doing a soft credit check when you check the rates, which doesn't affect your credit score. They even give you a discount for choosing auto-pay.

    And if you need a break from payments during your loan period for situations like going back to grad school, disability rehab, military duty, unemployment, financial hardship, or natural disasters, they've got deferment and forbearance options. You can also skip one payment every 12 months. And in really tough situations like death or disability, they offer discharge.

    TuitionHero tip

    Remember to borrow wisely and always explore federal loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study options before taking out a private student loan. Our user-friendly platform lets you explore and compare college financing options personalized to your unique situation.

    Undergraduate loan details

    Earnest provides loans that range from $5,000 up to $500,000 (aggregate) for undergraduate students. They offer fixed rates from 4.96% to 9.79% or variable rates from 5.49% to 9.74% (including the autopay discount!).

    Borrowers can rest easy knowing that there are:

    • No application fees

    • No origination fees

    • No late fees

    • No disbursement fees

    • No prepayment penalties

    Adding a cosigner to your loan, such as a friend or relative with strong credit, may also be an attractive option because you may likely get a lower rate and a higher chance of approval.

    Repayment options

    Earnest offers various hardship and other repayment options that provide borrowers with relief during times of financial stress. Some choices include deferring payments until after graduation, making interest-only payments while in school, or temporarily making partial payments.

    • Grace period: Earnest may honor an existing grace period of up to 9 months

    Earnest

    Best for: Those with a credit score over 650

    Earnest

    Check My Rate
    VARIABLE APR

    5.49% - 9.74%

    FIXED APR

    4.96% - 9.79%

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $5,000 - $500,000

    TERMS LENGTH

    5 to 20-year

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    680

    VARIABLE APR

    5.49% - 9.74%

    FIXED APR

    4.96% - 9.79%

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $5,000 - $500,000


    TERMS LENGTH

    5 to 20-year

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    680

    WHAT WE LIKE

    • 0.25% discount for enrolling in auto-pay

    • No origination fees

    • No late payment fees

    • No prepayment penalties

    • Can skip one payment every 12 months

    • Soft credit-pull for rate check

    WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

    • Earnest does not offer cosigner release

    • Unavailable in Nevada

    • Autopay discount: Earnest offers a .25% rate discount to students who enroll in Auto Pay.

    • Added benefit: Skip a payment once per year if conditions are met

    Eligibility

    Who can benefit from Earnest's loan options? Here are the core eligibility requirements for their private student loans:

    1. Age: You must be at least 18 years or the age of majority in your state of residence

    2. Class load: Your current enrollment status must be less than half-time and your student loans are in repayment, or your degree will be complete at the end of this semester

    3. Location: You must live in the District of Columbia or a state that Earnest lends in (all but Nevada) and have a valid U.S. address

    4. School attended: Your student loan debt must be for must be for a Title IV-accredited school

    TuitionHero tip

    If you're not eligible, try applying with a cosigner! Adding a cosigner to your loan application may help you get a lower interest rate and increase your chances of being approved.

    Compare Earnest to other lenders

    Unsure if Earnest is the right lender for you? Take a moment to check out some of their biggest competitors to see which lender works best for you.

    Our top pick

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.49% - 9.74%

    Fixed APR

    4.96% - 9.79%

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Forbearance
    • Military deferment
    • Death or disability discharge
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    • No late fees
    • No disbursement fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Added benefit: Skip a payment
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $5,000 - $500,000
    Term lengths: 5 to 20-year

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.49% - 9.74%

    Fixed APR

    4.96% - 9.79%

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Forbearance
    • Military deferment
    • Death or disability discharge
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    • No late fees
    • No disbursement fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Added benefit: Skip a payment
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $5,000 - $500,000
    Term lengths: 5 to 20-year

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.49% - 9.74%

    Fixed APR

    4.96% - 9.79%

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Forbearance
    • Military deferment
    • Death or disability discharge
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    • No late fees
    • No disbursement fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Added benefit: Skip a payment
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $5,000 - $500,000
    Term lengths: 5 to 20-year

    Citizens

    Citizens

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    7.05% - 12.40%*

    Fixed APR

    6.79% - 10.99%*

    Citizens

    Citizens

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    7.05% - 12.40%*

    Fixed APR

    6.79% - 10.99%*

    Citizens

    Citizens

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    7.05% - 12.40%*

    Fixed APR

    6.79% - 10.99%*

    CollegeAve

    CollegeAve

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    Fixed APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    CollegeAve

    CollegeAve

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    Fixed APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    CollegeAve

    CollegeAve

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    Fixed APR

    5.99% - 11.99%¹

    Ready to get started?

    Compare student loan rates from all the top lenders with zero impact on your credit score.

    Customer service

    Earnest has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (as of December 19, 2023).

    Earnest offers multiple ways to contact them.

    • Website: www.earnest.com

    • Email: hello@earnest.com

    • Phone: 888-601-2801

    • Hours: Monday – Friday, 5 am – 5 pm PST

    Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

    Here are some of the most common questions we get asked about Earnest.

    Graduates, both with undergraduate and graduate degrees, can apply for refinancing. While you can apply right after graduation, most people wait until their deferment period ends, especially for subsidized loans where interest doesn't accrue during this period.

    If you refinance your student loans early, you can save a lot of money. The longer you keep loans at a high-interest rate, the more extra money you end up paying, even during grace periods.

    To qualify for refinancing with Earnest, you need to have a job and meet certain income requirements. If your financial situation has gotten better since you first got your loan, you're likely to get better rates when you refinance.

    You can refinance student loans from Earnest or other private lenders. And you can refinance your student loans as many times as you like with Earnest.

    Yes! But if you're thinking about changing your federal student loans with Earnest, you should think about what you might lose compared to what you might gain. When you refinance, you turn your government education loans into private student loans, which gives you a new interest rate. It might be lower, but there are important things to consider. You need to be aware of the trade-offs and understand the changes to your loan terms before deciding.

    Final thoughts

    Earnest is a customer-friendly lender that offers a strong option for refinancing student loans. Their online application is easy, and you might get approved quickly. Earnest lets you customize your repayment plans, bringing together both private and federal loans. The interest rates are competitive, and there's a chance for a discount if you use Auto Pay, making it a smart choice for people wanting to cut down on interest.

    However, if you're thinking about refinancing federal loans, think carefully because you might lose some federal benefits. Overall, Earnest is a dependable choice if you want a straightforward and money-saving way to refinance your student loans.

    If you're considering refinancing your student loans, TuitionHero is here to help. In our guide to student loan refinancing, we explore and compare the essential characteristics, terms, and extra perks offered by the top student loan refinancing lenders in the market today.

    Sources


    Author

    Yerain Abreu avatar

    Yerain Abreu is a Content Strategist with over 7 years of experience. He earned a Master's degree in digital marketing from Zicklin School of Business. He focuses on college finance, a niche carved out of his journey through the complexities of academic finance. These firsthand experiences provide him with a unique perspective, enabling him to create content that's informative and relatable to students and their families grappling with the intricacies of college financing.

    Editor

    Brian Flaherty avatar

    Brian is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he earned a B.A. in Economics. After graduation, Brian spent four years working working at a wealth management firm advising high-net-worth investors and institutions. During his time there, he passed the rigorous Series 65 exam and rose to a high-level strategy position.

    At TuitionHero, we're not just passionate about our work - we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.


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