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Student Loan Refinance Rankings Explained

The refinance lender ranking methodology at The Student Loan Sherpa is different than the approach used by other sites.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

Affiliate Disclosure and Integrity Pledge

Several readers have asked how the student loan refinance rankings on this site are determined. Many lenders have also asked to have their company moved to a higher spot in the rankings.

In the interest of transparency, a clear explanation of the rankings criteria is probably necessary.

While there is no set formula for determining the top lender, several factors enter into the equation…

The Factors that Influence Lender Rankings

Interest Rates – This is the obvious factor. If a student loan refinance company is advertising terrible interest rates, it will rank poorly. For most borrowers, improving interest rates is the driving force behind a refinance. As a result, the available interest rates are critical.

Approval Statistics – Having excellent interest rates is nice, but if the majority of the borrowers get rejected, a company will not rank well. The lenders that approve the widest cross-section of borrowers will rank well, even if they are not advertising the lowest possible rates. The approval numbers come from both reader and lender feedback.

Loan Terms – A student loan is more than just an interest rate. Some lenders have unforgiving terms, while others are far more reasonable. Companies that try to impose unfair or deceptive terms will be penalized in the rankings.

Lender Reputation – Some student loan companies have better reputations than others. Negative reader feedback could push a lender lower in the rankings. Additionally, if there are significant complaints about a company with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the position in the rankings will drop.

Putting all of these factors together, the rankings boil down to one simple question: Which lender is most likely to provide a positive experience to the average Student Loan Sherpa site visitor?

The lenders at the top of the list are the lenders that we think will have the best outcomes for readers.

How Other Student Loan Sites Decide on Rankings

Any consumer researching student loan refinance companies should know that the refinance business is quite competitive. While this competition can be a positive when it drives down interest rates, there are also negative consequences.

Many student loan lenders pay websites like this one to promote their companies. As a result, many websites will rank lenders according to who pays the most. Additionally, many sites will only include the lenders that are willing to pay to be listed.

If a site doesn’t disclose how lenders are ranked, it should be a red flag to borrowers. If the rankings only include a few lenders, it should be a red flag.

How the Student Loan Sherpa Works to Earn Trust

This site was created in February 2013. It has been built for the long haul.

Making a quick dollar at the expense of providing helpful information, may generate more money in the short-term, but in the long run, it is bad for business.

Visitors to the site may notice that I prominently include my name and picture on the website. It isn’t because I’m somebody important. I put my name and face on the website because I stand behind all of the words printed on the site. I’ve worked very hard and very carefully to earn a positive reputation in the world of student loans, and I will not jeopardize it by trying to make a quick buck.

I try to review and rank all national lenders and provide readers my honest feedback. The goal is to empower all readers to be better-educated consumers and to help those same readers make smart decisions.

Adjustments to the Refinance Rankings

Companies will occasionally move up and down the rankings.

This happens as new information becomes available.

Sometimes lenders raise rates, so they get bumped down the rankings. Other times, lenders start approving borrowers more frequently, so they move up the rankings.

Lender underwriting terms and interest rates are always changing. As these changes happen, they are hopefully reflected in the rankings.

Rankings are typically updated at the beginning of each month.

The Current Rankings

At present, the top refinance lenders are the following:

1Splash Financial5.19%* – 10.24%$5,000 – No Max
Splash Financial Review: Splash has competitive rates, but they start slightly higher than the top lenders. Splash also offers unique 8 and 12 year repayment terms.Application
+ Up to $500 Bonus
2ELFI5.28% – 8.99%$10,000 – No Max
ELFI Review: ELFI routinely offers excellent interest rates. Even though ELFI is new, it is the product of a regional bank that has been in business for decades.Application
+ $150 Bonus
3SoFi5.24% – 9.99%$5,000 – No Max
SoFi Review: SoFi is the biggest name in student loan refinancing for a simple reason – their rates are reliably among the best on the market.Application
4Earnest5.19% – 9.99%^$5,000 – No Max
Earnest Review: The rates advertised by Earnest are among the best, but in head to head comparisons, Earnest often falls short in actual rates offered. Earnest scores points because it has by far the most flexibility on loan repayment length.Application
+ $150 Bonus^
5LendKey5.49% – 12.18%$5,000 – $300,000
LendKey Review: LendKey partners with local banks and credit unions to provide their loans. The end result is competitive rates provided by local reputable businesses.Application
+ $150 Bonus
6Laurel Road5.44% – 9.95%$5,000 – No Max
Laurel Road Review: Laurel Road currently has excellent approval rates combined with solid interest rates. Laurel Road also has a specialized program for medical professionals.Application
7citizens bank6.49% – 12.43%$10,000 – $500,000
Citizen’s Bank Review: Citizen’s Bank is one of the few traditional banks left in the student loan refinance marketplace. Citizen’s may be an unremarkable option, but is still a solid choice and worth a comparison shop.Application
+ $200 Bonus*
8College Ave6.99% – 13.99%$5,000 – $250,000
College Ave Review: The interest rates offered by College Ave are excellent right now. However, College Ave hasn’t always had the best rates historically.Application
9EDvestinU6.00% – 9.78%$7,500 – $200,000
EDvestinU Review: EDvestinU scores points for transparency and low interest rates on 15 and 20 year loans, but we have a couple concerns.Application
+ $200 Bonus*
10Discover student loan consolidation5.99% – 11.49%$5,000 – $150,000
Discover Review: Discover’s lowest interest rates lag behind the top lenders, but for borrowers looking for 10 or 20 year loans, Discover is worth investigating.Application
11PurefyNA$10,000 – $350,000
Purefy Review: Purefy’s options are someone what limited as they do not offer a variable-rate loan and have a maximum repayment length of 15 years while most other lenders offer 20. Purefy seems to excel at medium length fixed-rate loans.Application
+ $200 Bonus*
12Nelnet BankNA$5,000 – $500,000
Nelnet Bank Review: There isn’t anything exceptional about Nelnet Bank student loan refinancing, but rates are solid and worth considering.Application
13PNC Refinance7.89% – 14.99%$10,000 – $75,000
PNC Review: PNC has the best rates of the National Banks offering student loan refinancing, but PNC doesn’t stack up to the student loan startups, regional banks, or credit unions.Application
14MEFA6.20% – 8.99%$10,000 – No Max
MEFA Review: MEFA doesn’t have the best rates on the market, but if you are specifically looking for a 15-year loan, MEFA is very competitive. For shorter or longer loans, it is best to look elsewhere.Application
+ $200 Bonus*
About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

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