**Updated on February 6th, 2017
Did you know that prior to 2009, student loan debt ranked number 5 behind mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, and HELOCs? This means in only 8 years, student loan debt has climbed so rapid that it has now higher than all other debt besides mortgages. To add insult to injury, every other debt went down since 2009! This is what we call a Student Loan Crisis. Today, Student Loan debt is hovering at $1.26 trillion. Let me give you a visual:
If this number doesn’t shock you, something is wrong. But, just in case you need to see a little more, here are some other Fun Facts:
- 1 out of 7 Americans has a Student Loan
- Average Student Loan Debt at Graduation: $38,000
- 66% of Student Loans are carried by those age 30 and up
- 29% of borrowers are actually paying down their loans
- $60 Billion is owed by those age 60 and up
My goal isn’t to scare you into thinking the world is coming to an end (okay,maybe a little bit). Instead, I want you to start thinking about your student loans and how you are going to pay them off as soon as possible. If you know me, I hit on the Debt Snowball pretty hard and truly believe it is the very best way to pay off debt. However, what about making your student loan smaller before you pay it off?
Refinancing Your Student Loan
Most people don’t believe they even have the option to refinance their student loan. I am here to not only tell you that is completely wrong, but to also provide you with a resource I highly recommend which is saving borrowers thousands of dollars in student loan interest. Before we go any further, let’s dispel a the common student loan myth.
Myth: I Can’t Refinance a Federal Student Loan with a Private Company
Answer: This is plain wrong
MYTH: I can't Refinance my Federal Student Loan with a Private Company. TRUTH: This is Plain Wrong Click To Tweet
Confused Yet? Let’s Break it Down
If you have a Federal Student Loan and you choose to do a direct loan consolidation, it does NOT save you money. Instead, you are taking the weighted average of all your current student loans and consolidating them into one “easy” payment.
The interest is averaged out which doesn’t save you any money at all. You do have the option to make your payments lower, but all you’re doing is extending the term and thus paying more in interest than before. So, in my opinion it’s a waste of time to do a direct loan consolidation with your federal student loan.
However, when you choose to take your federal student loan and do a Private Loan Consolidation with a private lender, you actually lower your interest rate, thus saving you money.
Direct Loan Consolidation
- Created by the good ol’ U.S. Government to help you consolidate all of your federal student loans into one easy payment.
- The new interest rate is the weighted average of all your loans. This doesn’t save you any money at all.
- You have the option of decreasing your payment, but keep in mind you are extending your payment over a larger period of time and thus paying more interest.
- Not a great plan at all.
Private Loan Consolidation
- You actually are refinancing your student loans.
- Depending on your current financial picture (job, debt, income, credit score, etc.), you are likely to receive a new lower interest rate.
- Myth: you cannot refinance your federal student loans into private student loans. This is false – absolutely you can.
Meet Social Finance Inc. – SoFi
I sat down with the guys from SoFi and quickly realized why they are the the largest and number one student loan refinance lender in America. Today there are many private lenders out there, however I noticed something very unique about SoFi: They actually care about people with student loans.
What Makes SoFi Different?
Free Unemployment Insurance
If you lose your job to no fault of your own (meaning you didn’t quit), then SoFi allows you to put your loan in deferment for up to a year while you find work. SoFi will also work with you and get you connected with resources to help find you a job during that time. All of this is free of charge. No one else is doing this.
This a program where they allow the member to put their loan on deferment for up to 6 months so you can focus on growing their own business. In addition, SoFi connects borrowers with mentors, investors, and networking events.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who Should Refinance?
Graduates who are currently working (or have a job offer), have high interest rates, unsubsidized Direct Loans, Graduate PLUS Loans, and/or private loans are the perfect match for qualifying and saving money with SoFi.
Is SoFi a Reputable Place to Refinance My Student Loan?
Yes! They have funded over $6 Billion since their start in 2011.
What are SoFi’s Student Loan Refinance Rates?
2.35% – 6.74% Variable and Fixed Rate.
What are SoFi’s Student Loan Refinance Terms?
5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 year terms.
What is the minimum I can refinance?
$5,000 is the minimum, however some states have legal requirements that cause the minimum to increase. Right now SoFi is available in 49 states, excluding Nevada.
I currently have a grace period, will SoFi honor that?
Yes, they will accept any current grace period you have.
What are the origination fees of the new loan?
There isn’t one. ZERO.
Will applying for a loan or checking rates affect my Credit Score?
No, SoFi utilizes a soft pull which will not affect your score.
I have already consolidated my loans. Can I still do a refinance with SoFi?
Yes. Whether you did a direct loan consolidation with your federal student loans or a consolidation with a private lender, you can still refinance with SoFi.
Are there Discounts Available?
Yes. If you enroll in Auto-Pay, you automatically receive 0.25% savings on interest rate.
Are there both Fixed and Variable Rates available?
Yes, but I highly recommend you lean towards a Fixed Rate Loan. Interest rates are extremely low, so in my opinion, interest rates have no where to go but up. A fixed rate doesn’t move around (go up), which is why I would avoid a variable rate. However, if you are 1,000% positive you are going to pay the loan off early, then you may want to take a look at the lower teaser interest rate with a variable rate loan.
Yes. SoFi now offers mortgages in 29 staes, and they do offer personal loans to help lower your interest rate on things like your credit cards, which will help you pay down debt faster! Find out out more here.
To be Eligible to Refinance with SoFi, you will need to meet the following criteria:
- You are at least the age of majority in your state and able to enter into a binding contract
- You and your co-signer (if applicable) are US citizens or permanent residents
- You must be employed, have sufficient income from other sources, or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.
- You have graduated from a selection of Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs
- Loan eligibility depends on a number of additional factors, including your financial history, career experience, and monthly income vs. expenses.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of SoFi.com
Real World Example
You have both federal and student loans total $110,000 over 25 years at an average of 7.0%. If you refinance with SoFi to 6% and lower your term to a 20 year, here are the results:
Current Loan (Before SoFi)
- Balance: $110,000
- Interest Rate: 7.0%
- Length of Loan: 25 years
- Monthly Payment: $777
Total Interest: $123k
New Loan with SoFi
- Balance: $110,000
- New Interest Rate: 6% (only 1% lower)
- Lower Length of Loan: 20 years
- Higher Monthly Payment: $788
Total Interest: $79k
Savings of $44k and 5 years of being chained to Student Loan Debt.
Considerations You Need to Make Before Refinancing Federal Student Loan
- Forgiveness Programs – There are loan forgiveness programs out there, with the most common being the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLFP) and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program. These are great planis if you plan on making payments on your loan for a long time. The loan forgiveness usually requires that you have paying on the loan for up to 10 years in some cases. The savings aren’t always worth it if you had the opportunity to pay the loan off sooner with a lower interest rate. However, before refinancing out of a Federal Student Loan, make sure you weigh out the options.
- Special Repayment Programs – The Federal Government does allow special repayment programs such as a graduated payment schedule (you pay more as time goes on) and a Pay as You Earn (PAYE) program which increases the term and then allows the remaining principle to be forgiven after 20 – 25 years. However, if you qualify for PAYE, it is important that to understand the borrower is usually going to pay more interest over time.
- Deferment – The federal government does offer loan deferment due to financial hardship. This allows the borrower to stop making payments on the loan during financial hardship, however, many times the loan is accruing interest during this time. SoFi offers the Unemployment Insurance, which allows borrowers to put off making payments on their student loan for up to a year while you search for a new job. In addition SoFi will help you find another job. The federal government does not do that 🙁
If you’re ready to get started, you can check your rate and apply for a refinance by clicking the button below. It only takes about 15 minutes and you can do it all from your Smart Phone. Getting a quick quote doesn’t affect your credit at all and you have an excellent shot at saving thousands of dollars on your student loan! No brainer, right?
I like to provide you with full transparency, so please be aware I am an affiliate with Sofi Inc. This means if you click on any of the links on this page and save money with SoFi, they may pay me a referral commission. If you are okay with this, great! If not, simply close out this browser and go to Sofi’s website in a new window. I would rather you save money on your student loan than not at all 🙂
What if YOU Could Save Your Friends Money?
Since one out of seven people have a student loan, chances are you may know someone who you could help save thousands of dollars. If so, please share this post with them! You are such a good friend 🙂
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