The average interest rate on refinanced student loans fell last week. For many borrowers, rates remain low enough to make refinancing a good option.
According to Credible.com, from September 12 to September 17, the average fixed interest rate on a 10-year refinance loan was 5.50%. It was 3.85% on a five-year variable-rate loan. That’s for borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher who prequalified on Credible.com’s student loan marketplace.
Related: Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders
The average fixed rate on 10-year refinance loans last week declined by 0.06% to 5.50%. The week prior, the average stood at 5.56%.
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At this time last year, the average fixed rate on a 10-year refinance loan was 3.49%, or 2.01% lower than today’s rate. That means that borrowers who refinance now have the chance to lock in a rate that’s considerably lower than they would have received at this time last year.
If you were to refinance $20,000 in student loans to today’s average fixed rate, you’d pay around $217 per month and approximately $6,046 in total interest over 10 years, according to Forbes Advisor’s student loan calculator.
Last week, the average rate on a variable five-year refinance student loan fell to 3.85% on average from 4.53%.
Variable interest rates fluctuate during a loan term according to the index they’re tied to and market conditions. Many refinance lenders recalculate rates monthly for borrowers with variable-rate loans, but they typically limit how high the rate can go—lenders may set a limit of 18%, for instance.
If you were to refinance an existing $20,000 loan to a five-year loan at a variable interest rate of 3.85%, you’d pay approximately $367 on average per month. In total interest over the life of the loan, you’d pay around $2,019. Of course, since the interest rate is variable, it could fluctuate up or down from month to month.
Related: Should You Refinance Student Loans?
When Should You Refinance Student Loans?
Most lenders require borrowers to complete their degree before refinancing—though not all—so in most cases, wait to refinance until you’ve graduated. You’ll also need a good or excellent credit score and stable income in order to access the lowest interest rates.
If your credit is poor or your income isn’t high enough to qualify, you have a couple of options. You can wait to refinance until you’ve built credit or you have enough income. Or, you can get a co-signer. Just make sure that the co-signer knows that if you can’t make student loan payments, they’ll be responsible. The loan will appear on their credit report.
It’s important to make sure you’ll save enough money when refinancing. While many borrowers with solid credit scores could benefit from refinancing at today’s interest rates, those with poorer credit won’t receive the lowest rates available.
Do the math to see if refinancing will benefit your situation. Shop around for rates and then calculate what you could save.
Refinancing Federal Loans to Private Loans
When you refinance federal student loans to a private loan means you’ll lose access to some federal loan benefits. You’ll no longer have access to features like:
You may not need these programs if you have a stable income and plan to pay off your loan quickly. But make sure you won’t need these programs if you’re thinking about refinancing federal student loans.
If you do need the benefits of those programs, you could refinance only your private loans or just a portion of your federal loans.
Comparing Student Loan Refinancing Rates
Refinancing a student loan at the lowest possible interest rate is one of the best ways to reduce the amount of interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
Rates on variable loans may start out lower than rates on fixed-rate loans. Of course, because they’re variable, they’re subject to interest rate increases. You can limit the risk of interest rate increases with variable-rate loans by paying off your loan as quickly as possible. Still, if you like the reliability of a fixed payment, fixed-rate loans could be a better choice.
When considering your options, compare rates across multiple student loan refinancing lenders to ensure you’re not missing out on possible savings. Explore whether you qualify for additional interest rate discounts, potentially by choosing automatic payments or by having an existing financial account with a lender.