13 Best Loans for Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner

refinance student loans without cosigner
refinance student loans without cosigner

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This article first appeared on the Credible blog.

Refinancing your student loans with a cosigner could improve your approval chances as well as possibly get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

However, you don’t have to refinance with a cosigner if you meet the lender’s underwriting criteria on your own.

You can learn more about student loan refinancing and compare refinance rates from multiple student loan lenders with Credible.

Best lenders for refinancing without a cosigner

If you’re thinking about refinancing your student loans without a cosigner, it’s important to compare as many lenders as possible first. This way, you can find the right loan for your situation.

Keep in mind: You’ll generally need good to excellent credit to get approved for refinancing — especially if you don’t have a cosigner. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. There are also some lenders that offer student loan refinancing for bad credit. But these loans typically come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.

Here are Credible’s partner lenders that don’t require a cosigner for refinancing:

Advantage

Best for: Parents who want to transfer PLUS Loans to their children

With Advantage, you can refinance loan amounts from $7,500 to $500,000 (depending on your degree and loan type) with repayment terms from 10 to 20 years.

Advantage is also one of the few lenders that allow parents to refinance Parent PLUS Loans into their child’s name.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Can transfer Parent PLUS Loans to student

  • Graduated repayment plan offered

Cons

  • $18,000 minimum income requirement

  • Doesn’t offer variable rates

  • Long cosigner release period (36 months)

Brazos

Best for: Borrowers who live in Texas

If you’re a Texas resident, Brazos could be a good option for refinancing. With Brazos, you can refinance $10,000 to $400,000 (depending on your degree) with terms from five to 20 years.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Variety of repayment terms offered

  • Forbearance options available for economic hardship, active-duty military service, or natural disaster

Cons

  • Only available in Texas

  • Could be hard to qualify if you don’t have good credit

  • $60,000 minimum income requirement without a cosigner

Citizens

Best for: Borrowers who already have an account with Citizens

With Citizens, you can refinance loan amounts from $10,000 to $750,000 (depending on your degree and loan type) with terms from five to 20 years.

Additionally, if you already have an account with Citizens, you could get a 0.25% rate discount — plus another 0.25% off your rate if you sign up for autopay.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • 0.25% loyalty discount

  • Degree not required

Cons

  • Doesn’t disclose minimum credit score or income requirements

  • Long cosigner release period (36 months)

  • Cosigner release not available on the Education Refinance Loan for Parents

College Ave

Best for: Variety of repayment terms

College Ave offers refinancing on loan amounts from $5,000 to $300,000 (depending on degree type). Additionally, borrowers can choose between 16 repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years, making it easier to fit your payments into your budget.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Variety of repayment terms available

  • Cosigner release offered after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments

Cons

  • Doesn’t disclose minimum credit score or income requirements

  • Undergraduate or graduate degree required

  • Parents can’t transfer Parent PLUS Loans to student

CommonBond

Best for: Borrowers who plan to pay off their loan quickly

With CommonBond, you can refinance loan amounts from $5,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms from five to 20 years.

CommonBond also offers a unique hybrid loan option that starts with a fixed rate for the first half of the repayment term before switching to a variable rate — this could help you save money if you plan to pay off your loan quickly.

Pros

  • Offers a hybrid loan option that starts with a fixed rate for the first half of the repayment term before switching to a variable rate

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Up to 24 months of forbearance available over the life of the loan

Cons

  • Must be have graduated from an eligible Title IV accredited university or graduate program within CommonBond’s network

  • $65,000 minimum income requirement for 15- and 20-year products

  • Not available in Mississippi or Nevada

EDvestinU

Best for: Borrowers who didn’t graduate

EDvestinU offers refinancing on loan amounts from $7,500 to $200,000 with terms from five to 20 years. Unlike many lenders, EDvestinU doesn’t require borrowers to have graduated to be eligible.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Degree not required

  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees

Cons

  • Could be hard to qualify if you don’t have good credit

  • Long cosigner release period (36 months)

  • $30,000 to $50,000 minimum income requirement (depending on loan amount)

ELFI

Best for: Borrowers with high loan balances

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) doesn’t have a maximum loan amount — you just need at least $15,000 in student loans to refinance. You can choose between repayment terms from five to 20 years — though keep in mind that 15- and 20-year terms aren’t available for parent borrowers.

Pros

  • No maximum loan amount

  • Variable rates capped at 9.95% APR

  • Up to 12 months of forbearance available to borrowers facing financial hardship

Cons

  • Must have at least $15,000 to refinance

  • Cosigner release not offered

  • $35,000 minimum income requirement

INvestEd

Best for: Borrowers who might need access to forbearance

With INvestEd, you can refinance $5,000 to $250,000 with terms from five to 20 years. Additionally, borrowers can access up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of the loan, which could be helpful if you experience financial hardship or unexpected circumstances.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Up to 24 months of forbearance available over the life of the loan

  • Degree not required

Cons

  • Charges late and returned payment fees

  • Long cosigner release period (48 months)

  • $36,000 minimum income requirement

ISL Education Lending

Best for: Borrowers who want to refinance while they’re in school

ISL Education Lending offers refinancing on loan amounts from $5,000 to $300,000 ($10,000 minimum for California residents) with terms from five to 20 years. Unlike many other lenders, ISL Education Lending doesn’t require you to have graduated — in fact, you can refinance while you’re still in school.

Keep in mind that if you’re still in school, you can refinance a maximum of $200,000.

Pros

  • Degree not required

  • Graduated repayment plan offered

  • No minimum income requirement

Cons

  • Variable interest rates not offered

  • Could be hard to qualify if you have poor credit

  • Lower maximum loan amount if you want to refinance while still in school

LendKey

Best for: Borrowers who graduated with at least an associate degree

Unlike other refinancing companies, LendKey isn’t a lender itself — instead, it partners with community banks and credit unions that offer student loan refinancing. With LendKey, you can refinance $5,000 to $300,000 (depending on the lender and your degree) with terms from five to 15 years.

Keep in mind that you must have completed an associate, bachelor’s, graduate, or doctorate degree from an eligible school to qualify through LendKey.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount

  • Some LendKey partners offer cosigner release after just 12 months of consecutive, on-time payments

  • Many LendKey partners provide forbearance options

Cons

  • Must have graduated with at least an associate degree to be eligible

  • Can’t refinance Parent PLUS Loans in student’s name

  • Some LendKey partners charge fees for late payments and insufficient funds

MEFA

Best for: Borrowers who attended a public or nonprofit university

With the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA), you can refinance $10,000 up to the total amount of your qualified education debt. Repayment terms range from seven to 15 years.

Keep in mind that you must have attended a public or nonprofit university to refinance with MEFA — for-profit schools aren’t eligible.

Pros

  • Might be able to refinance up to the total amount of your qualified education debt

  • Degree not required

  • No fees

Cons

  • Not available for borrowers who attended for-profit universities

  • No discounts offered

  • Limited repayment terms (7, 10, or 15 years)

PenFed

Best for: Spouses who want to refinance their loans together

With PenFed, you can refinance $7,500 to $300,000 with terms from five to 15 years. PenFed is also the only major lender that allows spouses to refinance their loans together.

Pros

  • Spouses can refinance their student loans together

  • Cosigner release offered after 12 months of consecutive, on-time payments

  • No fees

Cons

  • No discounts offered

  • $42,000 to $50,000 minimum income requirement (depending on loan amount)

  • Must have bachelor’s degree or higher

RISLA

Best for: Borrowers looking for income-based repayment options

Most private student loans don’t offer the repayment options that federal student loans do. However, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) offers an income-based repayment (IBR) plan to borrowers facing financial hardship. Like the federal IBR plan, your payments will be 15% of your discretionary income, and RISLA will forgive any remaining balance after 25 years.

With RISLA, you can refinance loan amounts from $7,500 to $250,000 (depending on the highest degree you’ve earned) with terms from five to 15 years.

Pros

  • Offers an income-based repayment plan to borrowers facing financial hardship

  • Can defer payments for up to 36 months if you return to graduate school

  • Degree not required

Cons

  • Variable rates not offered

  • $40,000 minimum income requirement

  • Cosigner release not offered

You can compare rates from these lenders when you use Credible. It’s 100% free and checking your rates won’t affect your credit.

Methodology

To find the “best companies,” Credible looked at loan and lender data points from 12 categories to give you a well-rounded perspective on each of partner refinancing lenders.

Here’s what editors considered:

  • Interest rates

  • Repayment terms

  • Repayment options

  • Fees

  • Discounts

  • Customer service availability

  • Maximum loan balances

  • Willingness to refinance parent loans

  • Eligibility criteria

  • Cosigner release options

  • Whether the minimum credit score is available publicly

  • Whether consumers could request rates with a soft credit check

Other student loan refinancing lenders to consider

These lenders are not offered through Credible, so you won’t be able to easily compare your rates with them on the Credible platform. But they may be worth considering if you need to refinance a student loan without a cosigner.

How to refinance student loans without a cosigner

If you’re ready to refinance your student loans without a cosigner, follow these four steps:

  1. Check your credit. When you apply for refinancing, the lender will evaluate your credit to determine your creditworthiness — so it’s a good idea to check your credit beforehand to see where you stand. You can use a site like AnnualCreditReport.com to review your credit reports for free. If you find any errors, dispute them with the appropriate credit bureaus to potentially boost your credit score.

  2. Compare lenders and pick a loan option. Be sure to shop around and compare as many student loan refinance companies as you can to find the right loan for you. Consider not only interest rates but also repayment terms, any fees charged by the lender, and eligibility requirements. After you’ve done your research, pick the loan option that works best for your needs.

  3. Complete the application. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you’ll need to fill out a full application and submit any required documentation, such as tax returns or pay stubs. Also be prepared to provide information regarding the loans you want to refinance.

  4. Manage your payments. If you’re approved, continue making payments on your old loans while the refinance is processed. Afterward, you could consider signing up for autopay so you won’t miss any payments in the future — many lenders offer a rate discount to borrowers who opt for automatic payments.

Keep in mind: While you can refinance both federal and private loans, refinancing federal student loans will cost you access to federal benefits and protections — such as income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.

Depending on your credit, you might qualify for a lower interest rate through refinancing. This means you could save money on interest and potentially pay off your loan faster. You can use a student loan refinance calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.

Pros of not using a cosigner when refinancing

Refinancing without a cosigner could be the right option for some borrowers, but it isn’t right for everyone. Here are a few potential benefits to keep in mind:

  • No need to find one: In some cases, borrowers might not know anyone with good enough credit to act as a cosigner. If you refinance without a cosigner, you won’t need to worry about this.

  • No risk to your relationships: A cosigner shares responsibility for the loan — which means they’re on the hook if you can’t make your payments. If this happens, it could severely strain your relationship with your cosigner. By refinancing without a cosigner, you won’t risk potentially alienating any friends or family members.

  • Only you are responsible for the loan: Without a cosigner, you’re the only one responsible for your refinanced loan. This means you can focus on repaying your loan without worrying about negatively affecting a cosigner along the way — which might feel financially empowering for some.

Cons of not using a cosigner when refinancing

  • Could be hard to qualify on your own: If you have less-than-perfect credit, you might have a hard time getting approved for refinancing without a cosigner.

  • Might not get the best rates: Even if you don’t need a cosigner to get approved, having one could get you a lower rate than you’d get on your own. Unless you have excellent credit, you might not qualify for the lowest rates advertised by lenders without a cosigner.

  • Less motivation to stay on top of your payments: Some borrowers might need the extra motivation of having a cosigner to make on-time payments.

How cosigner release works

Some lenders offer a cosigner release option — so if you already have a cosigner, you might be able to remove them from the loan after meeting the requirements. Generally, you’ll have to make consecutive, on-time payments for a certain period of time and also meet the underwriting criteria on your own to qualify for cosigner release.

Here are Credible’s partner lenders that offer cosigner release:

  • Advantage: After 36 months

  • Citizens: After 36 months

  • College Ave: After 24 months

  • CommonBond: After 36 months

  • EDvestinU: After 36 months

  • INvestEd: After 48 months of on-time payments

  • ISL Education Lending: After 24 months

  • PenFed: After 12 months

Credible makes it easy to compare student loan refinance rates from lenders who permit cosigner release.

Frequently asked questions about refinancing without a cosigner

Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions about refinancing without a cosigner:

Can you consolidate student loans without a cosigner?

Yes, you can consolidate student loans without a cosigner. Keep in mind that the terms consolidation and refinancing are often used interchangeably, but they mean something different for federal and private student loans.

  • Federal student loan consolidation: You can consolidate federal student loans into a Direct Consolidation Loan. While this won’t change your interest rate, you can extend your repayment term up to 30 years to reduce your monthly payments — though remember that you’ll pay more interest over time. Unlike with refinancing, you don’t need good credit to federally consolidate your loans, and you don’t need to worry about having a cosigner. You also won’t lose access to your federal benefits.

  • Private student loan refinancing: Also known as private student loan consolidation, this process lets you combine multiple student loans — leaving you with one loan and payment to manage. Depending on your credit, you might qualify for a better interest rate, which can save you money on your overall loan cost. Or you could opt to extend your repayment term to lower your monthly student loan payments. Keep in mind that if you refinance federal loans, you’ll no longer have access to federal protections.

What do I do if I can’t get approved for a student loan?

If you can’t get approved for a student loan without a cosigner, you have a couple of options:

  • Improve your credit. If you can wait to refinance, spend some time building your credit first. There are several ways to potentially do this, such as making on-time payments on all of your bills, paying down credit card balances, or becoming an authorized user on the credit card account of someone you trust.

  • Apply with a cosigner. If there’s no way for you to get approved on your own, you might need to refinance with a cosigner. Keep in mind that a cosigner can be anyone with good credit — such as a parent, other relative, or trusted friend — who is willing to share responsibility for the loan. Also remember that you might be able to remove your cosigner from the loan later on if you qualify for cosigner release.

Can a cosigner be removed from a student loan?

Yes, there are two ways a cosigner can be removed from a loan:

  1. Cosigner release: Several lenders provide a cosigner release option. This means you could have your cosigner removed from the loan after meeting certain conditions — in general, you’ll need to make consecutive, on-time payments for a specific period of time and meet the underwriting criteria on your own.

  2. Refinancing again: You can also remove a cosigner by refinancing your student loan again.

How much does it cost to refinance student loans?

There’s no upfront cost to refinance your student loans. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to pay any interest that accrues on the loan as well as any fees charged by the lender, such as late fees.

Tip: If you want to keep your repayment costs low, it’s a good idea to choose the shortest repayment term you can afford. This way, you’ll pay less in interest over time.

If you decide to refinance your student loans, remember to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy: You can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes — without affecting your credit.

The post 13 Best Loans for Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner appeared first on Credible.