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How I Refinanced My Private Student Loans

A few months ago, I shared my plan for paying back my massive student loan debt, including my private student loans. You can see the full post with the plan here.

But to recap, here is the bullet points version of my initial strategy:

  • Selenid and I organized my private student loans by lowest to highest amount
    • If two loans are very similar in size, we prioritize the one with a higher interest rate
  • We also organized all of my federal student loans from lowest to highest amount due
  • Currently, we pay off the minimum amount due for all of my private loans each month
  • The remainder of the monthly allotment for student loans plus any monthly budget surplus then goes to pay the private loan with the lowest amount due
  • Once that loan is paid off, we move onto the next one on the list of loans
  • We currently are NOT paying back any federal loans given the current 0% interest rate forbearance 
  • I have NOT refinanced no private loans yet. Once I know if the federal loan forbearance will be extended, I’ll examine rates and may refinance the private loans

However, my plan changed and I refinanced my private student loans!

The refinance occurred about 2 months ago.

What changed?

student loans
Happy about graduation, but not so happy about the loans?

The biggest change was my credit score.

Unfortunately, when I graduated training, my credit score was really not very good. Because of this, when I tried to view rates for refinancing my private loans, I couldn’t even get any without a co-signer. I did not want to bring on a co-signer. My debt, my problem. Maybe this was stupid but I’m just being honest about why.

Then around December, my credit score went way up. Why? I paid off credit card debt and developed more financial good habits in general that were reflected.

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So then, when I checked my rates again, I qualified solo and the rates were lower than those currently on my loans.

I took the opportunity!

How did my interest rate change?

I had 6 private loans totaling around $175,000 from college and medical school. The aggregate rate at the time of my refinance (Many of the loans were variable rate) was 5.34%.

I was able to consolidate and refinance them all for a rate of 2.77%. This was the lowest rate as it was the available 5-year variable rate.

I chose the 5-year variable rate because my financial plan calls for and allows for paying off all of these loans in 5 years or less. The monthly payment with this 5-year variable rate fit into my monthly budget no problem. So it made the most sense!

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How did I refinance my private student loans?

Before actually going through this process, it was still very much a black box for me.

Even though there is a lot of advertising out there for loan refinancers and a bunch of blogs (like mine) talk about the benefits for refinancing, the actual players and process is ignored or glossed over.

That’s why I want to go a little in depth here. It will of course vary a bit by company but I hope that the overall review will ease some of the anxiety that goes into making big decisions about a big chunk of money. (I can’t be the only one that still feels this way, right?!)

The players

The loan broker

There’s a few ways that you can go about looking to refinance your loans – whether private or federal.

  • You can go direct to a loan company, or
  • You can go through a loan broker

The difference is much like going directly through a company or through a broker to get your life or disability insurance. The agent from a single company can only offer the products and rates available with their company. Meanwhile, the broker can access options from many/all companies to find you the best offers.

That’s why I ended up using a broker to refinance my student loans and also why I used a broker to buy my insurance policies.

The broker that I used is Credible

I went through a number of services to view possible rates. I always got the best rates with Credible. Also, I felt that their platform was easiest to use while their customer service was the most accessible and helpful.

Since I use and believe in their services, I have partnered with them to provide a special offer only for readers of The Prudent Plastic Surgeon.

You can use this link to view refinance rates for free. If you do end up refinancing through Credible, you will also receive $1,000 cash back! (It comes in the form of a gift card)

The lender

student loan refinancing

The lender that you use is going to be different than the broker you use, if you decide to use a broker. If you go through a company, that company will most often also be your lender.

So, through Credible I was able to see all of the different loan companies that would offer me a refinance as well as all of their different products and interest rates.

The best rates came from Citizen’s Bank with their 5-year variable rate product.

So that is the lender and product that I chose as discussed above!

The process

Let’s say that you do end up using a broker like Credible.

  1. Go on their website and fill out the information. This includes demographics, loan amounts, etc. It will take a soft credit full that will NOT affect your credit score.
  2. View the loan refinancing products and rates available to you.
  3. Select a loan product.
  4. You will be directed to the loan company’s page. You will have to input more specific data about your loans and also a hard credit check will be performed.
  5. The loan company will then ask for supporting documents like loan statements that need to be uploaded online.
  6. After these are received and reviewed, the company will put your loan out for disbursement.
  7. The disbursement will then go out and pay off all of your other various loans that you refinanced.
  8. You will now have a central loan servicer through which you will make your monthly payments.
  9. Usually, if you set up auto pay, you can get a further rate reduction. For me, I got an additional 0.25% off my interest rate by setting up auto pay through Citizen’s Bank.
  10. If you went through this link to refinance, get your $1,000 cash back gift!

And now…

And now, I am making my payment and then some every month. I’m planning to make as big of a dent in these private loans as I can before the 0% federal interest rate forbearance ends!

Once this forbearance does end, I will likely refinance those loans as well! And I’ll collect another $1,000 bonus 🙂

Ready to get a plan together to pay off your student loans and reach financial freedom?

What do you think? Have you refinanced your student loans? How are you planning to pay off your debt? Let me know in the comments below.

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected]

    6 thoughts on “How I Refinanced My Private Student Loans”

    1. Hello Dr. Frey!
      I’m Tracy, a PGY-3 Family Medicine resident graduating at this end of this June! This was a great post as I was just looking into refinancing as well. I plan to pay off my private loans aggressively and I am going to try and pursue PSLF for my federal loans. I had a couple of questions in regards to the loan broker. Would it hurt to check both say Credible to get the rates and then check directly with the loan company at which credible gives you the lowest rate for? Also, for your special offer with Credible, is there a minimum and maximum amount that must be refinance to get the gift card promotion? Thank you very much for your time. I enjoy reading all of your posts, and I am looking forward to hearing from you.

      Reply
      • Hi Tracy, thanks for following! There is definitely no downside to double check rates that way. Whatever to make sure that you get the best one! I can say that brokers like Credible should have the same rates offered but never a bad idea to make sure. And any loans refinanced over $150,000 will receive the $1000 back! Under that will get $300-750 back!

        Reply
    2. well done man! I did 1st Republic and got 1.95% five year fixed- did you end up looking at those guys? Is there not a branch near Buffalo?

      Reply
      • I did speak with them at the end of my training in NYC where they have a branch but unfortunately they don’t have one in Buffalo. I have heard positive things from those who have refinanced with them though!

        Reply

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