Lenders That Will Refinance Student Loans for Non-Graduates

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This article first appeared on the Credible blog.

Several private lenders are willing to refinance student loans even if you didn’t complete your degree — though you’ll still need generally good credit and income history to qualify.

Here’s what you should know about student loan consolidation for non-graduates. If you’re considering refinancing your student loans, Credible is a good place to start. You can see your prequalified rates in minutes. It’s free and won’t affect your credit.

Lenders that will refinance student loans without a degree

If you left school before graduating, you might still be able to refinance your student loans. Here are Credible’s partner lenders that offer student loan refinancing to borrowers who didn’t finish their degrees:

Citizens

If you’ve left school and landed a job or have another steady source of income, you can apply to refinance your student loans with Citizens — even if you didn’t earn your degree or are not a U.S. citizen.

If you need a cosigner to get approved, Citizens will accept applications to have your cosigner released from their obligation after you’ve made 36 monthly payments.

INvestEd

INvestEd refinances student loans for borrowers all over the country. And unlike many refinancing lenders, INvestEd doesn’t require you to have a degree to refinance your debt. It also offers multiple repayment options, so you can pick a loan term that works best for your budget.

INvestEd will accept applications to have your cosigner released from their obligation after you’ve made 48 consecutive, on-time monthly payments.

MEFA

You don’t have to live in Massachusetts or have earned a degree to get help refinancing your student loans from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) — residents from any state are welcome to apply.

If you need to apply with a cosigner, keep in mind that they’ll be along for the ride until you pay off your loan as MEFA doesn’t offer cosigner release.

RISLA

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) is another state student loan authority that provides refinancing to borrowers nationwide, even if you have no degree.

If you need a cosigner to refinance, you can apply to have them released from their obligation after you’ve made 24 consecutive on-time payments. RISLA is also one of the few lenders that offers income-based repayment to borrowers who experience unexpected financial hardship.

You can compare student loan refinance rates from these and other lenders when you visit Credible.

Can you consolidate loans as a non-graduate?

Yes, you might be able to consolidate either federal or private student loans if you don’t have a degree. Here’s what to expect:

  • Federal student loan consolidation: You can consolidate federal student loans through a Direct Consolidation Loan after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. With a Direct Consolidation Loan, your interest rate will be based on the weighted average of your current federal loans, and you might be able to extend your repayment term up to 30 years.

  • Private student loan refinancing: Some private lenders allow borrowers to refinance if they haven’t earned their degree, though you’ll still need to meet the other requirements set by the lender to qualify. For example, you’ll typically need good credit and verifiable income.

Keep in mind: You also have the option to refinance federal student loans along with private loans. However, doing so will cost you your federal benefits and protections, such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.

How to qualify when you don’t have a degree

If you haven’t earned a degree but want to refinance your student loans with a private lender, the first step is to research lenders that are willing to work with you. While some student loan refinancing companies require that you have a degree to lessen the risk of default, others will refinance your loans so long as you meet the rest of their underwriting standards.

Here are a few ways to improve your odds of qualifying for refinancing even if you don’t have a degree:

  • Build your credit. You’ll generally need good to excellent credit to be eligible for refinancing. While some lenders offer student loan refinancing for bad credit, these loans generally come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans. If you have poor or fair credit, it could be a better idea to spend some time improving your credit score before you apply to have a better chance of getting approved. Some potential strategies to do this include making on-time payments on all of your bills, paying down credit card balances, and avoiding new loans when possible.

  • Consider applying with a cosigner. If you have poor credit, applying with a creditworthy cosigner could help you get approved for refinancing. Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. The most common reason why borrowers are turned down for refinancing is that their debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is too high. Your DTI ratio is how much of your monthly paycheck goes to paying off all of your existing debt obligations. You’ll generally need a DTI below 50% to get approved for refinancing. Possible ways to lower your debt-to-income ratio include paying down debt balances or getting a better-paying job.

  • Increase your income. Several lenders have minimum income requirements while others don’t — but in either case, you’ll likely have to show proof of income. While some lenders will refinance student loans with low income, you might need to spend some time growing your income before you can get approved.

  • Make on-time payments on your existing loans. Lenders want to see that you have a history of making on-time payments. In some cases, you might be required to make a certain number of student loan payments before you can qualify for refinancing. Keep in mind that some lenders might refuse to accept borrowers who have defaulted on a private or federal student loan.

Depending on your credit, refinancing your student loans could help you save money and even pay off your student loans faster. You can use Credible’s student loan calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.

What to do if you don’t qualify

One of the major benefits of refinancing your student loans is that you might qualify to lower your interest rate, which can save you money on interest charges over the life of your loan.

Or you could opt for a longer repayment term to reduce your monthly payment and lessen the strain on your budget — though this means you’ll pay more in interest over time.

But if you don’t qualify for refinancing, there are other strategies that might help you more easily manage your student loans. Here are a few to consider:

  • Sign up for an income-driven repayment plan. If you have federal student loans, switching to an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan could help lower your monthly payments. Under an IDR plan, your payments are based on your income, and you could have any remaining balance forgiven after 20 to 25 years, depending on the plan you choose.

  • Apply for deferment or forbearance. If you’re facing financial hardship or other unexpected circumstances, you might qualify for student loan deferment or forbearance — either of which will temporarily postpone your payments. With federal student loans, you could qualify for deferment or forbearance in specific situations, such as with unemployment deferment. With private student loans, deferment or forbearance is granted at the discretion of the lender. Be sure to reach out to your loan servicer or lender to see what options are available to you. Also keep in mind that interest might continue to accrue during student loan deferment or forbearance periods, depending on the type of loans you have.

Keep in mind: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, payments and interest accrual have been suspended for federal student loans under the CARES Act through Aug. 31, 2022. Unfortunately, private student loans don’t qualify for this suspension — however, several private lenders are offering various payment assistance options for borrowers negatively impacted by the pandemic.

Ultimately, the best repayment option for you depends on your financial situation. Your loan servicer or lender can also help walk you through your options so you can make the right choice.

Visit Credible to compare student loan refinance rates from multiple lenders, all in one place.

About the author: Taylor Medine is a Certified Financial Education Instructor and finance writer with over seven years of experience writing books, courses, guides, and articles that demystify personal finance topics, such as how to repay debt, build credit, shop for credit cards, and more.

The post Lenders That Will Refinance Student Loans for Non-Graduates appeared first on Credible.