Everyone loves a good deal, whether we’re talking about student loans or anything else.
MBA students, in particular, tend to be money-savvy, and don’t want to pay more in interest than they need to. Is student loan refinancing, then, the best way for MBA students to get a deal on their education debt? Maybe, but not always.
Here are eight key factors to think about when considering student loan refinancing:
1. It may go without saying, but be sure to compare the terms of a student loan refinance to the terms of your existing loans. Compare interest rates, of course, but also loan fees, length of repayment, deferment options and cancellation provisions.
2. Also compare variable- and fixed-rate loan options. While a low variable rate can be tempting—and may be appropriate if you intend to pay off the loan relatively quickly—it can be risky to take on a long-term variable rate loan, as you don’t know how high interest rates may get in the future.
3. If you’re going to shop around with multiple student loan refinancers for the best deal (which you should!), be sure to submit all applications within a two-week time frame. This will result in just one hit to your credit report, as opposed to multiple blows if you spread your inquiries out over a longer timeframe.
4. And speaking of credit reports, it’s a good idea to pull a copy of each of your credit reports at annualcreditreport.com to check for problems or mistakes before submitting any refinance applications. A clean credit report will ensure your consideration for the best refinancing terms.
5. It can be more difficult to be approved for a student loan refinance than it was to be approved for your original student loans, especially if those original loans were guaranteed by the federal government or included a co-signer. To be approved on your own for a student loan refinance from a private lender, you will need to meet that lender’s credit and income standards. That is often difficult for students coming right out of college, but more feasible once more established in your career.
6. Carefully consider whether you want to refinance any federal student loans with a private lender or not. Federal student loans have some generous protections in place that you might not want to give up. These protections include in-school deferment (which may be particularly important if you’re returning to school for an MBA), income-dependent and extended repayment plans, death/disability cancellation, and loan forgiveness for public service workers. If your potential refinancer does not offer such protections, you’ll need to weigh their importance to you against any possible interest savings.
7. If you would like to retain the above protections on your federal student loans, but are struggling to manage payments to multiple federal loan servicers, you might consider a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. This would allow you to combine all of your federal loan payments into one, with the interest rate on the new loan determined by calculating a weighted average of the interest rates of all of the loans you’re consolidating. Your interest rate will not improve, but consolidation could simplify repayment, allow for extended payback time, and extend eligibility for newer repayment programs to older loans.
8. If you have one lender you’d prefer to refinance with, but a lower interest rate offered by another lender, try to negotiate with your preferred lender. A competing offer from another lender may be all your favorite creditor needs to lower their rate.
As always, do your research and make sure you understand what you’re getting—and what you’re giving up—before signing on the virtual dotted line. Refinancing your student loans can potentially save you thousands of dollars, not to mention hours of frustration dealing with multiple loan servicers. But it’s also not necessary—or even desirable—for every borrower. Understand the terms of your existing loans and what you’re looking to get out of a refinance, and that information will guide your assessment of any refinancing options.
Fortuna Admissions guest blog by Shannon Vasconcelos, Director of College Finance at College Coach. College Coach is the nation’s leading provider of educational advisory services to organizations and families.