If you’re in the market to refinance your student loans, then you know that there are a lot of lenders out there to choose from–some great, some not so great.

So how do you know which one to choose?

Luckily for you, we’ve done some research to help make this process a bit easier and we have put together a list of our top 3 picks for student loan refinance and consolidation.

Best Banks and Lending Companies

  RatesTermsEligible DegreesEligible Loans 
earnest_logo_trans2.76% + variable
3.37% + fixed
5 to 20 years (flexible)Undergrad & GradFederal & PrivateLEARN MORE ›
lendkey-logo-500px-trans2.22% + variable
3.25% + fixed
5, 10, 15 yearsUndergrad & GradFederal & PrivateLEARN MORE ›
credible-logo-blue2.34% + variable
3.43% + fixed
5, 10, 15, 20 yearsUndergrad & GradFederal & PrivateLEARN MORE ›
drb-logo-trans3.64% + variable
4.20% + fixed
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 yearsUndergrad & GradFederal & PrivateLEARN MORE ›

Top 4 Refinance Companies

Here’s a breakdown of each lender/company on our list and what makes them among our favorites.

1. Earnest


  • 2.76% starting interest rates on variable loans
  • 3.37% starting interest rates on fixed loans
  • Extremely flexible loan terms allow you to pick your payment and repay anywhere from 5 to 20 years
  • Consolidate federal or private loans
  • Non-traditional credit check considers a broader range of factors
  • Lifetime loan servicing (no third parties)
  • 12 months of unemployment protection (3 months at a time)
  • Ability to skip a payment every 12 months, after 6 months of payments
  • Minimum $5,000 balance to refinance
  • No origination, prepayment, or other hidden fees


Earnest offers rates that are among the lowest in the industry, and they are known for offering incredibly flexible repayment terms, plus added protections and top-notch customer service. Earnest also gets extra points for offering lifetime loan servicing, meaning your loans won’t be re-sold to a third party.

As a new lender in the market, Earnest offers flexible underwriting that is based on a number of factors not generally included in a traditional credit check.

Get a no-obligation rate quote from Earnest


2. Credible

  • Compare rate offers from about 10 lenders
  • 2.34% starting interest rates on variable loans
  • 3.43% starting interest rates on fixed loans
  • 5, 10, and 15-year terms available
  • Consolidate federal and private loans
  • $7,500+ balances for refinance
  • No origination, prepayment, or other hidden fees


Credible operates as a comparison tool for student loan refinance options. In just a few minutes, students can get rate offers and compare loan terms from multiple lenders.

But, that’s where Credible’s role ends. Once you’ve completed your loan, it will be serviced by the lender that you’ve chosen which may mean your loan is sold off to third parties in the future. So, be sure to do your research into all aspects of the loan.

Despite that, the service is incredibly valuable in allowing borrowers to quickly and easily compare rates and terms from multiple lenders and then choose the right one.

In addition, Credible offers top-notch customer support by phone, email, or live chat. If you’ve got questions about your student loan refinance, they can help you answer it.

Get rate offers from Credible



3. LendKey


  • Marketplace of not-for-profit credit unions and community bank lenders
  • 2.22% starting interest rates on variable loans
  • 3.25% starting interest rates on fixed loans
  • 5, 10, and 15-year terms available
  • Consolidate federal and private loans
  • Flexible underwriting from credit unions and community banks
  • Lifelong loan servicing (no third parties)
  • 18-month unemployment protection (6 months at a time)
  • $7,500 – $125,000 balances for refinance ($175,000 max for graduate degrees)
  • No origination, prepayment, or other hidden fees


LendKey offers a network of not-for-profit local and regional credit unions and community banks for students looking to refinance theirs student loans.

They act as a marketplace, allowing borrowers to get pre-qualified rates from multiple local and regional lenders and then choose the best fit.

Once your loan is approved and processed by the credit union of your choice, LendKey does act as your loan servicer–and they stick with your loan for life, rather than selling it off to a third-party. They also offer some of the lowest rates in the industry

Get rate offers from LendKey



4. Darien Rowayton Bank (DRB)

  • Private lender for high-debt students
  • Refinancing available for both graduate and undergraduate degrees
  • 3.64% starting rates on variable loans
  • 4.20% starting rates on fixed loans
  • Consolidate private and federal loans
  • 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms available
  • Also offers refinance programs for parents who borrowed to finance their child’s education
  • Fixed cap on variable-rate loans
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty


DRB is an established lender and is historically known for working with students refinancing graduate degrees and high debt amounts.

They generally are best suited for graduated with degrees and careers in high-paying fields (physician, advanced nursing, engineering, etc.).

For students who qualify, DRB offers the same competitive rates as many other lenders and 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20-year loan terms. They also offer a cap on variable rate interest and no origination or prepayment fees.

Get rate offers from DRB


Ranking criteria

We evaluated dozens of student loan lenders on a number of important factors to decide which ones were chosen as being among the best.

Our ranking criteria included:

Interest rates

The first thing most people want to know about student loan refinance is what interest rate they’ll be paying. And rightfully so, because a great rate could save you tons of money on your student loans both by lowering your monthly payment and making it easier for you to pay off your loans more quickly, saving you money on interest over the life of your loan.

We ranked lenders on their rates and how they compare to others in the market.

Repayment flexibility

One scary thing about student loan refinance is choosing the terms of your repayment. Should you commit to paying more each month in order to pay them off more quickly? Or should you spread out your repayment schedule to give your monthly budget some wiggle room?

Ultimately, this decision depends on your financial situation, but having flexible options can be a lifesaver if your situation changes or you need to adjust your payment schedule a few years down the line.

We ranked the lenders based on the available repayment terms and also flexibility to change terms after refinancing.

Application process

Once you’ve nailed down the specifics of refinancing your student loan, you’ll still be facing a process of applying, being approved, and receiving the funds. Some lenders have an easier process than others.

We ranked lenders based on our understanding of their application process, how simple it is to complete the application process, and the time it takes to process your application.

Customer service

We’ve all heard (or lived) horror stories about terrible customer service from some student loan lenders. Fortunately, not all of them provide terrible service.

We investigated the service offered by each lender, reading user reviews, and also looked at whether the lender keeps student loan refinance loans in-house or sells them to other servicers.

Borrower protections

Stuff happens. As a general rule, it’s nice to have a backup plan whenever possible. Many lenders offer protections against unemployment or other financial hardship, which can bail you out in case you are having trouble making your student loan payments.

Lenders were ranked based on the protections they offer and the terms they provide to qualify for the protection.

Author: Tyler Hakes

Tyler Hakes
Tyler Hakes is the Director of Marketing at College Raptor. He writes about topics related to the college search, admissions and financial aid. He's always looking to tell great stories about students discovering their perfect school.

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