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Best lenders to refinance student loans with a co-signer

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If you have student loans, refinancing could be a smart way to save money, since it allows you to get a new interest rate and repayment term for your loans. However, those terms often depend on your credit — so if you have poor credit, you may want to apply with a co-signer. This person shares responsibility for the loan if you miss a payment, but they can also help you get approved or receive a better rate.

Why would you refinance a student loan with a co-signer?

There are a few benefits to refinancing a student loan, or any loan, with a co-signer.

When someone co-signs on a loan, they’re agreeing to make payments on the loan if you stop or are unable to keep paying. When someone co-signs a loan, the lender will look at their credit history and financial situation in addition to yours when making a lending decision.

If you find a willing co-signer who has strong credit, that can make it much easier to qualify for a loan. Lenders will be more willing to approve the application, since they will see that someone with good credit is willing to be on the loan. A strong co-signer can also mean a lower interest rate, which means a lower monthly payment and less interest accruing over the life of the loan.

5 companies that refinance student loans with a co-signer

There are many student loan companies out there, but not all of them will let you refinance with a co-signer. Here are some of the best lenders that do let you add someone to your loan.

SoFi

SoFi is an online lender that got its start with student loans but now offers a wide variety of financial products. Borrowers may add a co-signer to their refinance loan by logging into their SoFi account and adding the co-signer’s name and email address. SoFi will send the co-signer an invitation and continue the application from there.

SoFi is known for its member benefits, including rate discounts and career services. It also charges zero fees, not even if a payment comes in late.

Unfortunately, once you add a co-signer to your SoFi loan, there is no way to remove them. Other lenders will let you release a co-signer after you’ve made a number of on-time payments, but the only way to remove a co-signer from your SoFi loan is to refinance again. Borrowers should also note that adding a co-signer adds a week or two to the refinancing process, so SoFi may not be the best option if you need to refinance quickly.

Navy Federal Credit Union

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) is another great lender for students who want to refinance their loans. It has low interest rates and a choice of three repayment terms. It also offers a relatively quick co-signer release, letting you remove your co-signer after just twelve consecutive, on-time payments.

The main drawback of NFCU is that you need to be a member of the credit union to be eligible. You can only join if you’re a member of the armed services or Department of Defense, or if you’re a DoD civilian or have an immediate family member who is a member of the armed forces.

College Ave

College Ave is an online lender focused exclusively on student lending and refinancing. The site has a streamlined application and also offers plenty of resources and educational content to learn more about student lending and how loans work. The lender also boasts eleven different loan terms for its refinancing product, making it easy to customize your loan and monthly payment to fit your budget.

However, the lender is opaque about its eligibility requirements, which means that you’ll need to enter your information to see if you and your co-signer are eligible for a loan. There is also a refinancing limit of $300,000 for medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary degrees and a limit of $150,000 for all other degrees.

LendKey

LendKey is an online lending platform that matches borrowers with a variety of partner lenders. This makes it an appealing solution for borrowers who want to get multiple quotes to find the best deal, since their application will be compared against several lenders’ requirements. The loans offered through LendKey come with terms ranging from five to 20 years and no origination fees.

One major drawback is that because LendKey does not originate its own loans, many details about your loan depend on which lender you’re ultimately matched with. LendKey’s advertised rates and terms represent all of its partners, so you may find yourself matched with a lender that has several fees or insufficient repayment terms.

Laurel Road

Laurel Road‘s refinancing loans offer students a wide choice of loan terms and extremely low interest rates. In addition to the standard autopay discount, you can get an interest rate discount by signing up for a checking account with the company. Laurel Road also allows students to refinance loans as early as their final semester of school.

While Laurel Road refinances most types of loans, it should be noted that many types of associate degrees are ineligible. Borrowers with an associate degree must have earned that degree in a health care-related field in order to qualify for refinancing.

Can a co-signer be removed from a student loan?

It is possible to remove a co-signer from a student loan if you meet the requirements. Refinancing a loan is one of the easiest ways to remove a co-signer from a loan because, in effect, you’re replacing the existing loan with a brand new one. In this case, you’ll need to have sufficient income and a good credit score in order to qualify for a new loan on your own.

Many student loan lenders also offer the option to request a co-signer release. Typically, you need to have improved your credit since you initially received the loan and have made a minimum number of timely payments. Most lenders will allow you to request a release after one or two years of payments.

Keep in mind that not every student loan lender allows co-signers to be removed from loans without refinancing. If this is something you’re interested in for the future, make sure to keep it in mind while shopping around for loans.

Written by
TJ Porter
Contributing writer
TJ Porter is a contributing writer for Bankrate. TJ writes about a range of subjects, from budgeting tips to bank account reviews.
Edited by
Student loans editor