If you have student loans but no degree, managing your repayment might be more difficult — especially if you’re hoping to refinance. Most lenders require a degree for refinancing, but there are some exceptions. Here’s where to start if you’re trying to refinance your student loans without a degree.
What is student loan refinancing?
Student loan refinancing is the process of consolidating outstanding student loans into one new loan with a private lender. This gives you one interest rate that’s determined by your credit score and history (and your co-signer’s, if you have one).
While you can refinance both federal and private loans, you lose all your federal protections when you refinance loans you got from the U.S. Department of Education. For instance, you’re no longer eligible for income-driven repayment plans, federal deferment or Public Service Loan Forgiveness. But you might qualify for a lower interest rate than what you’re paying now, which might make refinancing worth it.
Can you refinance student loans with no degree?
Most lenders require borrowers to have a college degree in order to refinance student loans. However, every lender has different eligibility requirements, so the lack of a degree doesn’t automatically exclude you from the possibility of refinancing. Lenders will commonly ask for a bachelor’s degree, but they may accept associate degrees or no degree as long as you’re employed or have a regular source of income.
4 lenders that will refinance student loans for borrowers with no degree
If you’re exploring refinancing opportunities, compare a few different lenders to evaluate where you qualify and what interest rates and terms are available to you. The lenders below do not require a degree to refinance, so they’re good places to start your search.
As long as you’ve made at least 12 consecutive payments on your student loans and you have at least $10,000 in eligible loans to refinance, you might qualify for a Citizens Bank refinance loan.
Citizens Bank has relatively low rates and five available term options. However, there are some downsides to keep in mind: You can’t release a co-signer until you’ve made 36 payments on your new loan, and the $10,000 minimum loan is fairly high.
While you might not need a degree to refinance your student loans with PNC, you’ll need to have at least $10,000 in student loans and 24 months of consecutive payments before you can qualify for refinancing. A history of steady employment and income are also required.
PNC has a generous 0.5 percent discount for setting up autopay. However, borrowers without a degree are subject to high interest rates and a loan maximum of $25,000.
Discover will refinance as little as $5,000 and up to $150,000, which makes it one of the more flexible refinance lenders on the market. There are also no fees, not even late fees, and the rate caps are relatively low.
Keep in mind that Discover has only two repayment options — 10 or 20 years — which can be limiting. Additionally, postgraduate loans and loans taken out while you were enrolled less than half time are not eligible to be refinanced.
Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)
MEFA refinance loans require you to have made at least six on-time consecutive payments on the loans you want to refinance, but it doesn’t require a degree. This means that you might qualify for refinancing sooner than with other lenders. Rates are low, and you can find out if you prequalify without a hard credit check.
With that said, MEFA does not offer variable interest rates, so it’s not the right choice if you want the lowest interest rates on the market. You’ll also need to have at least $10,000 in eligible loans to qualify for refinancing with MEFA.
Other ways to repay your student loans
Refinancing is one way to pay back your student loans, but it’s not always the best option for everyone. Consider other repayment options, including:
- Income-driven repayment plans: Available for federal student loans, income-driven repayment plans base your monthly payments on your income and household size — so if you aren’t working right now, your payments can be as low as $0 a month. The remaining balance on your loans is forgiven after 20 or 25 years, depending on the plan you choose.
- Debt avalanche method: If you have a lot of student loans, the debt avalanche method can help you organize your debt. With this method, you’ll make regular payments on all your loans but put any extra money toward the loan with the highest interest rate. Do this until the loan is paid off, then move on to the loan with the next-highest interest rate until all of your loans are paid in full. This strategy will reduce the amount you end up paying in interest on your loans.
- Federal loan consolidation: If you have only federal loans, consider getting a Direct Consolidation Loan. Like refinancing, this combines all of your loans into one manageable payment, but it won’t cause you to lose access to federal benefits. You won’t save money through this method, but it could be worth it if you don’t want to risk switching to a private lender.