Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Review

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Earnest is a great option for those who want complete payment flexibility during their refinancing process.

Please note: All variable rates are current as of 4/28/2019.  See how This College Life makes money here.

Snapshot:

  • Extremely transparent on rates, terms & eligibility requirements
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or have a 10-year Permanent Resident Card
  • No variable rate loans offered in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee or Texas
  • Minimum amount that can be refinanced is a $5000 loan
  • 3.89% – 7.89% APR Fixed (with auto pay)
  • 2.5% – 7.27% APR Variable (with auto pay)
  • Must be at least 18 years of age
  • Maximum loan amount $500,000
  • Minimum credit score: 650
  • Stable job required to qualify or verified consistent income
  • Need to have attended a Title IV school
  • Loan serviced by Earnest
  • .25% auto pay discount
  • Must be within 6 months of graduation to qualify

Check your rate with Earnest here.

Overview

To Qualify

Earnest bases their requirements on three important areas that you will need to match up for in order to be eligible for refinancing through them. Those areas consist of personal information, loan information and financial background.

Personal:

You must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year permanent resident card and be at least 18 years old. Your enrollment status needs to be less than half-time with your loans in repayment. Either that or the degree you’re pursuing must be complete by the end of the semester when applying. Those looking to refinance cannot be residents of Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island. Anyone in the other U.S. states and the District of Columbia are eligible. Due to some state rate regulations not being aligned with Earnests’ variable rates, those types of loans are not available in Alaska, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Tennessee or Texas.

Loan:

 Applicants must be the primary borrower on loans they want to refinance and the debt needs to be from you attending a Title IV school. The amount of the loan must be a minimum of $5000, a significantly lower threshold than some other banks. Current loans held with Earnest without at least six months of on-time payments are off-limits for refinancing. Applicants’ student loans should all be in good standing, no refinancing on loans currently in delinquency or default. That doesn’t mean you can’t refinance once loans are out of default, though. The CEO of studentloanhero.com was able to get refinancing through Earnest despite multiple defaulted loans in his past.

Financial: 

Applicants must be current on rent/mortgage payments and not have bankruptcy on their credit. You need to have a minimum credit score of 650 with either a written job offer for a role starting in 6 months, be currently employed or have established income.

Outside of that stuff, there are a few other important things to bear in mind. You must have spending patterns that indicate you typically spend less than you earn and a bank account balance that is increasing (Earnest will link to your account for verifying these things). There needs to be at least a small rainy day fund able to cover expenses for a minimum of two months (including housing). You must not be getting regularly charged overdraft, insufficient fund, or late fees and have a history of making payments on-time.

So now you’re thinking, “Great! Looks like I qualify (or it’s time to look at a different bank). What’s next?”

Let’s look at how Earnest is different from others in their industry.

A standout benefit of Earnest is their Precision Pricing offered once a person is approved for refinancing. The way it works is fairly straightforward. Once a current student or grad determines how much is affordable to pay each month, they receive a rate and term matched matched to that amount. This can allow people to save money from the shorter term and lower rate, sometimes falling in an “in-between term” not available elsewhere. For example, that could end up being a term of 10.5 years vs. 10 or 15 at a standard bank, depending on how much they can pay monthly.

Forbearance Policy:

If you must enter forbearance with an Earnest loan because you were let go from your job, your current income was involuntarily decreased, or sudden extra living expenses spring up, requests for forbearance need to be received by Earnest at least five business days prior to the date the forbearance will begin. During the forbearance period, interest on the loan will continue to accrue. While this does not affect your credit score, Earnest does report it to credit agencies. Up to 12 months of forbearance is permitted in total, but it can only be used in 3 month increments.

Deferment Policy:

If you plan to enter the peace corps, pursue a graduate degree, or are in the military, loans can be deferred up to 36 months. Interest will continue to accrue during a deferment period.

Any drawbacks?

If you have a cosigner on your loan, it will not be possible to refinance through Earnest. Currently as of this writing, it is not possible to make bi-weekly payments via autopay. Certain online features like seeing payment history, payment due dates and amounts are also unavailable, but, can be handled over phone or email. For the most part, these are minor issues.

Refinancing with any private bank will leave you without certain federal programs like income-based repayment, among others.

Additional Points

In order to provide rate estimates, they perform a soft credit pull. This will not reduce your credit report in any way and will only be available for you to see in your report. Earnest’s current Better Business Bureau rating is an A+. They use the 1-month Libor rate for calculating variable rates.

On TrustPilot, 94% of ELFi’s reviews from actual customers are between “Great” and “Excellent,” the two highest ratings.

On Glassdoor, past and current employees rate the company at 3.4/5 stars, with 100% approval of CEO Susan Ehrlich.

Sound like Earnest’s a good fit for you?

Check your rate with them here.

Information from This College Life on financial services products should be used for educational purposes only. Consult a licensed financial professional before making any major decisions.