Earnest is an online lender that uses innovative technology to efficiently analyze the full financial picture of applicants. They offer personal loans, student loan refinancing, and parent PLUS refinancing.
In this in-depth review, we are going to cover their student loan refinancing offer. Find out who qualifies, the main features, and if it’s a good solution to lower your student debt costs.
Earnest student loan refinancing overview
Louis Beryl, CEO of Earnest, says, “Earnest helps financially responsible borrowers save money on their student loans.”
Earnest helps financially responsible borrowers save money on their student loans.”
Here’s more about how the loan process works.
Earnest main features
Earnest services and manages its own loans, meaning your loan won’t be passed off to another company. If you have a question or concern, you will contact the company directly.
we offer you the option to skip a payment every 12 months, up to 12 times over the life of your loan as long as you are current on your loan.”
They also look at more than your credit score when determining your rate. Beryl says that they consider many data points related to your finances, such as your savings and investments.
The goal is to provide the best rate possible, which is customized to each applicant.
They also have a Precision Pricing tool that allows you to select your monthly payment amount. The rate and loan length adjust to match your desired payment.
If you end up having trouble making a payment down the road, flexible repayment options are available. Beryl says, “For example, we offer you the option to skip a payment every 12 months, up to 12 times over the life of your loan as long as you are current on your loan.”
Rates and fees
Fixed and variable interest rates are available. Earnest’s evaluation of your financial profile will determine the exact rate for which you qualify.
Beryl says, “Earnest variable rates (with autopay) fall in the range of 2.80% – 6.28%, and fixed rates (with autopay) fall between 3.37% – 6.49%.”
As for the fees, Earnest does not charge any except late payment fees.
Please note rates can change at any time. Click here to see Earnest’s latest rates.
Who qualifies for Earnest student loan refinancing?
Here’s are the eligibility requirements:
- You must reside within one of the 44 U.S. states that Earnest serves, or in the District of Columbia. (Residents of AL, DE, KY, MS, NV, and RI are not eligible at this time)
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- You must be at least 18 years old
- Students cannot be enrolled more than half-time, or they must have a degree that will be completed by the end of the semester
All federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing with Earnest. However, carefully deciding which you should refinance is important.
The best approach is to find out what rate Earnest can offer you and see if it will be less than what you are currently paying.
There are also a few stipulations, which include:
- You cannot request loans for future schooling
- Your current loan debt must have been used to fund your education
- You have to be the primary borrower on your current loans
- At least $5,000 in student loans must be refinanced
- The debt must have been spent to complete one or more degrees (or one being completed after the current semester) at a Title IV-accredited school
- All current loan accounts have to be in good standing
If all of the above are met, the next step is to ensure you qualify financially.
Earnest requires that borrowers have dependable, steady income that proves they will be able to make the payments comfortably. That means you either have to be employed, have a regular source of income you can prove, or have an offer for a job that starts within six months.
“If your job situation or income isn’t rock solid yet, you might want to hold off on refinancing,” says Beryl.
A minimum credit score of 660 is required. Additionally, you can’t have a bankruptcy or any accounts that have recently gone to collections on your credit report.
Other financial factors
Earnest takes more than credit score and income into account when analyzing applicants. “We use data to better understand a client’s full financial story and deliver the rates they deserve,” says Beryl.
Other financial factors that will be weighed include:
- Good payment history
- Spending less than you earn
- Bank balances that have grown over time
- Savings that cover two months of living expenses
- Not carrying large amounts of non-student debt
These can help demonstrate your level of responsibility when managing money.
Deferment of forbearance
Forbearance is offered by Earnest under certain circumstances. These include an involuntary decrease in income, involuntary loss of employment, or an increase in essential home or family costs.
The maximum amount of time granted per request is three months. Further, a maximum of twelve months can be granted over the life of each loan.
Deferment is offered to students who are enrolled at least half-time in an accredited graduate school. The maximum amount of time to defer payments is 36 months.
Note that, in both cases, interest still accrues during this period.
Earnest application process
Here’s how to apply online.
1) Head to the Earnest website and click the button for “2 min: Get Your Rate” in the box for “Student Loan Refinancing.”
2) Enter your name, email address, phone number, and citizenship status to create an account. Click “Begin.”
3) Provide your education history information and click “Next.”
4) Provide information about your finances, including your annual income, housing payment, and cash assets, and click “Next.”
5) Provide your address and click “Next.”
6) Provide your password and social security number, agree to the documents provided, and click “Get Your Rate.”
Next, Earnest performs a soft credit pull. If you qualify, you will get the rate for which you prequalified and can proceed with a hard credit inquiry. If not, you will get a notification explaining why.
Earnest student loans summary
In summary, Earnest can be a good solution for financially responsible clients looking to save on their student loans. It offers competitive fixed or variable interest rates and customizable payments.
The customer service is good, as it manages all loans in-house and has staff dedicated to client happiness. Further, the company cares about more than just your credit score.
If your finances aren’t in very good shape, Earnest will likely not be your best bet as it does not allow for cosigners. It’s also not available in all 50 states, so be sure to check if services are available in your state.
You can find out if you qualify by following the application process shown above.
To learn more about Earnest or get your rate, click here.
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.