Borrowers who want to refinance their student loans will likely need good or excellent credit to qualify.
According to Experian, one of the three main credit bureaus, 670 is generally the base credit score that lenders require to be eligible for student loan refinancing.
On the FICO Score ranges, scores between 670 and 739 are considered ‘good.’ But some lenders’ eligibility requirements allow applicants to have scores in the ‘fair’ range, between 580 to 669, to qualify. For example, private student loan lender Earnest says on its website that potential borrowers need to have a minimum credit score of 650.
No matter what the credit score thresholds may be, the higher your score, the better chance you have at getting a lower interest rate, which is one of the main reasons you should consider refinancing in the first place. Your credit score is the most important factor in determining your new student loan refinance rate, and a low interest rate not only lowers your monthly payments but will help you save money in the long run.
Beyond just your credit score, however, there are additional eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet to be able to refinance your student loans. Here’s what else to consider:
Eligibility requirements to refinance a student loan
On top of having good or excellent credit, interested borrowers looking to refinance their student loans will likely have to be able to also show the following:
- A history of on-time student loan payments gives lenders insight into your payment behavior on your current student loans and the likelihood you’ll pay your new refinanced loan on time.
- Dependable, or consistent, income shows lenders that you have the money and ability to repay your new refinanced loan in full, well into the future
- A low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio reveals to lenders if you can afford your new monthly payments. Your DTI ratio shows how much debt you have relative to your income. A low DTI ratio indicates that you make more than you owe, whereas a high DTI means that more of your paycheck goes toward paying your debts. Lenders like to see a DTI ratio of 40% or less. Lower your DTI ratio by paying down your debt, like credit card balances, and/or increasing your income, such as asking for a raise.
To calculate your DTI ratio, divide your total monthly payments (credit card bills, rent or mortgage, car loan) by your gross monthly earnings (what you make each month before taxes and any other deductions).
- Proof of graduation certifies that you have obtained your degree. Most lenders will only approve borrowers who have graduated and obtained a degree.
Keep in mind that some lenders are only available in certain states, most require borrowers to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and certain degrees and schools may require additional criteria from lenders in order to be eligible. Check with your lender for all the details before submitting an application.
What to do if you don’t meet these requirements for refinancing
If you don’t qualify for refinancing on your own, you can apply with a co-signer who meets the above requirements. This could be a parent, sibling or partner.
Just make sure that both you and your co-signer fully understand all the terms as there are some risks involved when you have someone else sign onto the refinanced loan. Both the primary borrower and their co-signer share responsibility of the loan, so if payments aren’t made, the co-signer is held accountable for repayment. And, if the primary borrower misses a monthly payment, their co-signer’s credit will also be affected.
Pay attention to refinancing lenders that offer co-signer releases. Many lenders allow co-signers to be removed from the loan after the primary borrower makes a certain number of consecutive on-time payments, which can serve as a bit of relief for the co-signer knowing that they aren’t obligated to stay on for the entire life of the loan.