You can refinance student loans without a degree, but it may not be easy. That’s because lenders commonly require student loan refinance borrowers to graduate.

While you may get student loan refinancing offers that don’t require a degree, the terms might not beat what you have now, especially if you have federal student loans. Here is how to get the best deal if you’re trying to refinance student loans without a college degree, plus alternatives to refinancing.


Fixed APR 4.39% to 8.99% with autopay
Max. Loan Amount $500,000
Min. Credit Score 650


Fixed APR 5.39% to 11.87% with auto and loyalty discount*
Max. Loan Amount Up to $750,000
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed


Fixed APR 4.99% to 9.24% with autopay*
Max. Loan Amount $175,000
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed


Fixed APR 2.48% to 9.73% with autopay
Max. Loan Amount Not disclosed
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed


Fixed APR 4.39% to 8.99% with autopay
Max. Loan Amount $500,000
Min. Credit Score 650


Fixed APR 5.29% to 7.74%
Max. Loan Amount $250,000
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed


Fixed APR 2.99% to 6.74% with autopay
Max. Loan Amount $150,000
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed

Earnest is an online lender offering private student loans to college and graduate students, as well as student loan refinancing. The company was founded in 2013. Borrowers can choose their own loan terms to fund up to the full cost of their education.

Citizens Bank was founded in the late 1800s in Rhode Island. Today, it’s one of the largest commercial banks in the U.S. Branches are concentrated in the New England, mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions.

PNC offers student loans in all 50 states for students at all stages of postsecondary education, including professional training loans and refinancing. The bank is also engaged in a number of community efforts, including financial literacy programs and PNC Grow Up Great, which supports early childhood education. For eligible undergraduate students, PNC offers opportunities to win $2,000 scholarships toward education expenses.

Credible is a loan comparison marketplace that allows would-be borrowers to shop around for student loans and student loan refinancing that meet their needs. The company was founded in 2012 in San Francisco as a tool to empower borrowers to shop rates and products.

Sparrow, founded in 2020, is an online marketplace where students and parents can fill out a single application to see whether they qualify for loan offers from a variety of lenders. Although Sparrow is not a lender, the free service allows you to compare rates across lending partners. Sparrow is also available to international students.

Best for fixed APR

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is a nonprofit quasi-state authority that provides college financing to students and parents. The lender specializes in providing loans to Rhode Island residents and students, though not all loans have residency requirements.

Best for no fees

Discover Bank has been operating for more than 100 years, and since 2010, it has offered private student loans to students attending more than 2,400 colleges and universities. Loans of up to 100% of education costs with fixed or variable rates are available.

Find the Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders

When you refinance a student loan, you combine some or all of your student loans into a new loan, giving you one payment and ideally a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment or both.

You can refinance private student loans through private lenders and roll up federal student loans into a federal direct consolidation loan. Refinancing federal student loans into a private student loan is also possible, but it generally isn’t a good idea because you’ll give up the benefits and protections that come with federal loans.

An important one is the COVID-19 loan payment pause that has been extended through Aug. 31, 2022, for eligible federal loans. The relief measure suspends loan payments, sets interest rates to 0% and stops collections on defaulted loans.

“Yes, you can refinance student loans without a degree,” says Robert Farrington, student loan expert and founder of The College Investor personal finance blog.

Some, but not all, private lenders will refinance student loans for borrowers who haven’t graduated, though you shouldn’t expect the best terms, Farrington says.

Eligibility criteria to refinance student loans without a degree can be strict, Farrington says. For example, the lender may want to see that you’ve had 12 months of on-time payments after leaving school or may require a co-signer.

Generally, private lenders will assess your income, credit history, debt obligations and other factors, such as degree completion, to determine whether you are a good credit risk.

Qualifications to refinance with a private lender when you didn’t graduate are:

  • A good credit score of about 650.
  • Proof of employment and stable income. Some lenders have minimum annual income requirements.
  • A maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43%, but lower is always better. Your DTI ratio is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes to monthly debt payments.

Requirements to consolidate federal student loans are not credit-based, and most types of federal student loans are eligible.

Accepting a loan offer without researching it is one of the biggest mistakes borrowers make when refinancing student loans, Miller says. But how do you know a good student loan refinance offer when you see one?

  • Monthly payment: Will your new monthly payment work with your budget now and in the foreseeable future? “Be certain that you’re stable enough financially that you can afford this payment through the rest of the term,” Miller says. “If you have any reservations, don’t do it.” 
  • Interest rate: Look for the loan that will cost you the least in interest over time, but try not to be driven solely by interest rate, Miller cautions. A lower interest rate doesn’t necessarily mean a lower monthly payment, he says. You could be moving from a 25-year repayment term to a 10-year term, which will make your monthly payment rise even if you’re paying less interest overall. A higher payment could stretch your limits of affordability.
  • Consumer protections: Ask about the safety nets that come with your new loan, including options for deferment, forbearance and discharge. If you’re moving from federal to private student loans, be certain that you’re OK with giving up federal protections and benefits.

Once you’ve compared offers, choose the loan that works best for you. But don’t stop there: Be ready to refinance again soon because private student loan terms change often and a better deal may become available.

  • Lower interest rates. By refinancing your student loans, you may qualify for a lower interest rate. Whether you go for a variable or a fixed loan, you’ll generally get a better rate than the one you currently have. Refinancing lenders are offering rates that start around 2% for borrowers with excellent credit and a reliable income.
  • Pay the debt off faster. You’ll have the option to adjust how long you want your repayment term to be. By shortening the repayment period, you’ll be able to pay the debt off quicker – even years ahead of schedule; however, you can expect your monthly payments to be larger.
  • Decrease your monthly payment. On the other hand, you could decide to extend your loan term, which would decrease the amount you need to pay monthly. Keep in mind that this could potentially increase the total amount of interest you’ll pay on the loan over time.
  • Simplify your loans. Refinancing acts as a form of student loan consolidation, simplifying the management of your loans. If your student loans came from multiple lenders, they will combine into one loan under one lender that has one monthly payment after refinancing.
  • New loan servicer. You’ll have the chance to choose a new loan servicer – which is great if you aren’t happy with your current one. To find the right servicer for you, research lenders with high rankings.
  • Chance to release a co-signer. If you previously had a co-signer, you will have the chance to release him or her from future liability when you refinance your student loans.

  • No income-based repayment plans. When you refinance your federal student loans into a private loan, you lose the chance of choosing an income-driven repayment plan.
  • No federal repayment protections. Along with losing access to income-based repayment plans, you’ll also lose out on protections such as forbearance and deferment, which allow you to pause or lower your monthly payments if you find yourself in an economic hardship.
  • No grace period. You will no longer have a six-month grace period for your student loans. If you just refinanced, you’ll have to start repaying immediately.
  • Possibly higher interest rates. Interest rates can go up if you choose a variable rate, rather than a fixed rate. Variable rates often start lower, but they can fluctuate depending on multiple factors.
  • A co-signer may be required. Lenders require a good credit score as well as sufficient income. If you don’t qualify, you may need to find a co-signer on your refinanced loan. 

Refinancing your student loans if you didn’t graduate isn’t always the best choice. Once you research loan offers, you may find that a student loan refinance doesn’t add up in your favor.

These are some other options:

U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.

To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. For student loan refinance companies, we consider each company’s customer service ratings, refinancing fixed APR, refinancing variable APR, refinancing minimum and maximum loan terms, refinancing maximum loan amounts, refinancing minimum FICO score, product availability, and online features.

The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.

To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.

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