You can easily check to see what rates are available to you within minutes of filling out Earnest’s online application. Like many of the other student loan providers, the application process was simple and straightforward. Just make sure you have all of your student loan information handy because that’s the most time consuming part of the application: having to input each individual loan you are looking to refinance and consolidate. My wife had 12 different loans from her previous undergraduate and graduate degrees. Needless to say, it took her quite a bit of time to fill out her application. The entire process took her about 20-25 minutes.
The customer service experience with Earnest was exceptional. The wait took less than a minute every time my wife attempted to establish contact with a representative (whether on the phone or instant message). They patiently answered her questions regarding the process of consolidating and refinancing her loans. They were knowledgeable about their products and helped my wife better understand the options that were available to her. Given that our customer service experience with our previous loan provider was horrendous, it was a breath of fresh air for the both of us when we ended up with companies that actually gave us the time of day to help us understand our loans situation.
Student Loan Rates
Earnest offers flexible loan terms ranging from 5-20 years.
Criteria to Qualify
Earnest has 4 criteria that must be met to qualify for refinancing/consolidation:
- Must live in one of 30 eligible states that Earnest sells its products
- Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
- Must have completed an eligible undergraduate or graduate degree program
- Applicants must be employed or have written job offer
The great thing about Earnest is they don’t have a set credit score or income requirement that you must meet (e.g., First Republic Bank) in order to qualify for consolidation/refinancing. However, seeing as how you’re now a practicing CRNA, it really shouldn’t be an issue. Nevertheless, it is a nice option to have if your credit score isn’t all that great at the current moment. In fact, Earnest looks at a number of different factors beyond your credit score and income limit to determine your eligibility for the best possible loan rate.
Origination and Early Repayment Fees
Earnest does not assess an origination fee to cover the cost of processing your loans nor do they assess an early repayment fee if you pay off your loans earlier than the term you signed up for.
Grace Periods from Previous Loans
Earnest will honor grace periods from your previous loans for up to 6 months upon graduation with the submission of the appropriate documentation.
This is where Earnest really separates itself from the other competitors and where going for the lowest interest rate shouldn’t be your only focus. Like SoFi, you are allowed to change between fixed and variable interest rates provided you make at least 6 consecutive on-time payments. So if you happen to come across an interest rate that’s lower than the one you currently have, Earnest will allow you refinance to a lower rate if needed. Of note, you are only allowed to do this every six months and each request is subject to approval.
Another additional benefit to using Earnest is if you’re unable to make a payment for a month, Earnest will allow you to skip that monthly payment without penalty and you can later pay that missed balance within a year. Again, this really shouldn’t be an issue given what we do for a living, but it is a nice perk.
Lastly, and the reason why my wife selected Earnest over the other competitors, there is a service called Precision Pricing that is only offered through Earnest. Precision Pricing is a customized feature that asks you to determine how much money you are able to allocate monthly to pay your loans. The company then offers a custom interest rate and loan term that is based on what you can afford to make on a monthly basis. As a result, she was able to get herself on a 10-year repayment plan at 3.5%, which still happened to be the lowest interest rate she was able to procure compared to the other lenders she applied to. Earnest claims through Precision Pricing, they are able to save its borrowers money over the life of their loan. While we cannot substantiate that claim (yet), we will definitely keep a close eye on how her loan payments will fare over the life of the loan and perhaps blog about the results in the future.
My wife went with Earnest for two reasons: 1) she got the best interest rate for someone with her credit/financial profile and 2) the Precision Pricing service offered through the company allowed her to customize her monthly loan payments. The additional benefits of being able to change one’s loans every 6 months, being able to miss one monthly payment a year without penalty, and a great customer service department were more than enough to convince her to choose Earnest as the best company to refinance and consolidate through.