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This article first appeared on the Credible blog.
A cosigner is generally a trusted relative or friend with good credit who is willing to apply for a loan with you.
If you refinance student loans with a cosigner, you’ll have a better chance of getting approved — and might also qualify for a lower interest rate.
Follow these three steps to refinance student loans with a cosigner:
1. Compare rates from different lenders who allow cosigners
Many lenders allow you to refinance student loans with a cosigner. You can refinance both private and federal student loans — though keep in mind that if you refinance federal student loans, you’ll lose access to federal benefits and protections, such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.
Before you refinance, it’s important to compare your rates and loan terms from as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you.
For example, maybe one lender will get you a lower interest rate while another will let you extend your repayment term to lower your student loan payments.
Here are Credible’s partner lenders that will let you refinance your student loans with a cosigner:
Advantage is one of the few lenders that allows you to refinance Parent PLUS Loans that you benefitted from into your own name.
Additionally, if you refinance with a cosigner, you can apply for cosigner release after making on-time, consecutive payments for 12 months. You can refinance $7,500 up to $200,000 with Advantage.
If you’re a resident of Texas, you might be able to refinance $10,000 up to $250,000 with Brazos. Keep in mind that Brazos doesn’t offer cosigner release.
Unlike some other refinancing lenders, you don’t need to have finished your degree to refinance with Citizens.
Plus, if you already have an account with Citizens, you could qualify for a 0.25% loyalty discount — and another 0.25% off your rate if you sign up for autopay. You can apply for cosigner release after 36 months of on-time, consecutive payments.
With College Ave, you can choose from 16 loan terms ranging from five to 20 years, giving you more repayment flexibility.
You can refinance $5,000 to $300,000 with a cosigner through College Ave — though keep in mind that College Ave doesn’t offer cosigner release.
CommonBond provides refinancing on loan amounts from $5,000 to $500,000 with repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years. You can apply for cosigner release after 36 months of consecutive, on-time payments.
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) offers refinancing starting at $15,000 with no set maximum, which could make it a good choice if you have a particularly large student loan balance.
Just keep in mind that ELFI doesn’t offer cosigner release, so if you refinance a large balance with a cosigner, they’ll be in it for the long haul.
INvestED offers up to 24 months of forbearance over the life of refinanced loans (for one to three months per forbearance period), which could make it a good choice if you face financial difficulties down the road.
You can refinance $5,000 to $250,000 with INvestEd and can apply for cosigner release after 48 months of consecutive, on-time payments.
ISL Education Lending
ISL Education Lending offers a variety of refinancing options, including the ability to refinance while you’re still in school. You can refinance $5,000 to $300,000 — though keep in mind that different limits apply to borrowers who are still in school as well as California residents.
Cosigner release applications are accepted after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments.
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.
MEFA is another lender that offers student loan refinancing to borrowers who didn’t finish their degrees.
You can refinance $10,000 up to the total amount of your qualified education debt with MEFA — though keep in mind that MEFA doesn’t offer cosigner release.
With PenFed, you can refinance $7,500 to $300,000 and can apply for cosigner release after just 12 months of on-time consecutive payments. PenFed is also the only lender that allows spouses to consolidate their student loans together.
Most refinancing lenders only offer temporary forbearance options in cases of financial hardship. However, if you refinance with RISLA, you can sign up for an Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plan.
Similar to some of the federal income-based repayment options, RISLA’s IBR plan caps your payments at 15% of your discretionary income and offers loan forgiveness after 25 years. Keep in mind that RISLA doesn’t offer cosigner release.
Visit Credible to compare student loan refinance rates.
2. Find a cosigner
Asking someone to cosign on your loan isn’t a small thing: If you default on the loan, your cosigner will be responsible and their credit could be damaged.
Be sure to carefully consider whether you’ll be able to honor your loan obligation, as you could burn a bridge with your cosigner if you fail to manage the loan.
Also, keep in mind that some lenders also offer cosigner release, which means you can apply to have your cosigner removed from the loan after making on-time payments for a certain amount of time.
Tip: Because of the potential downsides for your cosigner, it’s a good idea to create a written agreement laying out your responsibilities for the loan before you apply. This can help your cosigner feel more comfortable. For example, if you know you won’t be able to pay your loan for a given month, your written agreement could include having your cosigner make that month’s payment with the understanding that you’ll pay them back. This way, their credit score won’t be damaged, and you’ll remain on good terms.
What makes a good cosigner?
Here’s what to look for in a good cosigner:
Has good credit
Has a low debt-to-income ratio
Is easy to contact in situations where you need to discuss the loan
Has a high enough income to make loan payments in case you can’t
3. Apply with your selected student loan refinance lender
After comparing lenders and getting permission from your cosigner, you’ll need to fill out a full application to apply for refinancing. Be sure to gather any documentation you might need, such as student loan information and pay stubs.
Your cosigner might also need to provide financial documents and answer application questions.
Tip: Before you apply, be sure to check your rates as well as repayment terms with as many lenders as you can to find a loan that suits your needs.
Refinancing your student loans might get you a lower interest rate, which could help you save money over the life of your loan.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t need a cosigner to get approved, having one could qualify you for a lower rate than you’d get on your own.
You can use Credible’s calculator to see how much you can save by refinancing your student loans.
Does refinancing make sense for you? Compare offers from top refinancing lenders to determine your actual savings.
What are the benefits of having a cosigner on a student loan?
There are several benefits to having a cosigner on your student loan. Two major perks include:
You’re more likely to be approved for refinancing. This could be especially helpful if you’re looking to refinance student loans with bad credit.
You might get a lower interest rate. This could save you a lot of money over the life of your loan and maybe help you pay off your loan faster. Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could qualify you for a lower rate than you’d get on your own.
If you decide to refinance your student loans (with or without a cosigner), remember to consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.
Find out if student loan refinancing is right for you.
About the author: Lindsay VanSomeren specializes in credit and loans. Her work has appeared on Credit Karma, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, and more.