Undertaking a student loan refinance can feel overwhelming. There is so much information out there — much of it full of financial jargon — and a lot of lender options to choose from. Plus, if you’re already in student loan debt, chances are you’ve felt burned by a lender in the past. Luckily, a refinance is very simple and actually, pretty empowering. That’s because you get to choose which route you go. Read our review of Earnest to find out if they could be the right lender for your refinance.

The Basics

There are big banks, small banks, and new digital lenders. All those lender options can run together into a big mess of numbers, which is why it’s important to go a little deeper and get to know who you’d be working with. Here are some fast facts about Earnest.

  • Earnest was founded as a disruptive startup in 2013. In 2017, they were acquired by Navient, a large federal and private student loan servicer.
  • They are headquartered in San Francisco.
  • Earnest treats its employees right, with perks like $1,000 airfare for your anniversary and tuition reimbursement. Happy employees means better customer service for you!

Earnest: Student Loan Refinance

Earnest has a unique approach to student loan refinance. They look at eligibility requirements and payment schedules in a different way then most lenders. Keep reading for a few quick pros for refinancing with Earnest and some areas of improvement.

What’s Great:

  • No origination fee or application fee
  • .25% discount for enrolling in autopay
  • Option to choose your minimum payment
  • Option to choose your own payment date via autopay
  • Ability to begin a refinance up to six months before you graduate
  • Choose to skip one payment a year and make it up later
  • No late fees
  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay

What Could Be Better:

  • No ability to add a co-signer to your refinance
  • No ability to transfer a Parent PLUS loan to the child
  • You aren’t eligible to refinance with Earnest if you live in any of the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, and Rhode Island
  • You aren’t eligible for a variable rate loan if you live in any of these states: Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas
  • Only 12 months of forbearance
  • No dedicated rep or advisor, so you may speak with someone different each time you contact Earnest

Earnest: Who’s Eligible:

Before you choose a refinance ender, you need to make sure you meet their requirements. Here’s who is eligible to refinance with Earnest.

  • Be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year, non-conditional green card.
  • Have a credit score of 650 or higher
  • Graduated with a degree from an accredited Title IV college or in your last semester before graduation
  • Have a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $500,000 in student loan debt
  • Compared to other lenders, Earnest has a unique approach to approving borrowers. They weigh factors such as the earning potential of your career and data from the financial accounts you share with them. You’ll have to at least share a checking account so they can verify your income. If you have a solid savings account, great history of paying off credit cards, and so on, sharing those accounts with Earnest can paint a good picture of your eligibility as well.

Earnest: Available Products

Earnest offers a range of options for both students and parents looking to refinance their loans. Their Precision Pricing programs looks at how much you can truly afford to pay each month, then determines a rate and term — down to the month — to match that amount. This means you get a loan that fits your needs, instead of the lenders’, and could result in paying less interest over time. At a glance, here are the refinancing options Earnest offers. Remember to get a quote in order to determine your Precision Pricing model.

  • Student loan refinance for student borrowers
  • Student loan refinance for parents with Parent PLUS loans
  • Standard repayment terms ranging from 5 - 20 years
  • Fixed-rate loan interest rates from 3.89% - 6.32%
  • Variable-rate loan interest rates from 2.47% - 5.87%
  • No late payment charge

Earnest: Extra Points

Let’s say you get multiple quotes for your refinance and find that two lenders are offering the same rate and term. How do you determine which to go with? Sometimes, the extra perks can set one lender apart from the competition. Here are a few bonus points unique to Earnest.

  • Customize your monthly payment and therefore, your term. With Precision Pricing, you get to choose the exact amount you can afford each month, which could mean you get a term of 10 years and three months, whereas other lenders would either force you into a 10- or 15-year term.
  • Control your payments online, anytime. You can increase your monthly payment or change to biweekly as it suits you in just a few clicks.

Earnest: Final Thoughts

So should you refinance with Earnest? They have our endorsement for their approaches to determining eligibility and creating payment terms, which are different from any other lender in the industry. They also have competitive rates and a solid customer service team. However, Earnest still may not be right for every borrower.
Before committing to a refinance with Earnest, get multiple quotes from multiple lenders — we’ll help you do so here — so that you can compare not just the facts, but the numbers. It’s the best way to ensure you get an excellent deal and are set up for a successful refinance.