When I graduated from nurse anesthesia school in August 2014, I refinanced and consolidated my student loans within 3 months with SoFi. I was able to obtain a 10-year term with a 3.44% variable interest rate.
However, just last week, I came across a deal of a lifetime (at least in terms of the student loan arena): a 5 year term with a 1.95% FIXED interest rate. Yes, you read that correctly! Less than 2%. Seeing as how I’ve been working as a CRNA for 18 months now, I’ve realized that having this $100K+ student loan debt lording over me has really caused me a lot of angst and as such, I decided to focus my efforts on paying off my loans (while saving for retirement and saving money in general).
This blog post will provide a brief overview of my experience with refinancing my SoFi loans with First Republic Bank. One caveat with this bank is that I think you need to live near one of its branches because part of the deal is that you have to open a checking account with them. The bank has offices in the following cities: San Francisco, Palo Alto, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Newport Beach, San Diego, Portland (Oregon), Boston, Palm Beach (Florida), Greenwich (Connecticut), and New York City.
I actually went online to their website and found their student loan refinancing tab. From there, a series of brief questions are asked about your profile such as whether your credit score > 750, the amount you need to finance and whether you’ve worked in your industry for 24 months. If you don’t have a credit score > 750, then forget about it because they won’t lend to you. But that’s okay because there are scores of other loan products out there you can try out that have a competitive interest rate for you to refinance with (e.g., SoFi, Earnest, or DRB).
As of July 2016, First Republic Bank will only provide loans between $60,000-$300,000. Below or above that amount, you will have to find another loan service provider. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply for a loan through First Republic Bank. It’s just whatever the difference is with your original loan amount. For example, if you have $330,000 in total student loan debt, you refinance up to $300,000 with First Republic Bank and refinance the remaining $30,000 with another company.
As far as the requirement of working in your industry (in this case, healthcare), you don’t have to be a nurse anesthetist for 2 years to qualify for this. They take into consideration your years as a bedside RN.
So, if you have a credit score > 750, need to refinance between $60,000-$300,000, and have worked in healthcare for 2 years (which you have) AND you want to pay your loans off as quickly as possible with lowest interest rate you can get, First Republic Bank is for you!
Once you get past the site’s brief questionnaire, the site will refer you to a loan specialist and from there, you can either call or e-mail this individual.
The application process is very easy. Once you’ve spoken to a loan specialist and they’ve asked you a series of questions regarding your job, salary, assets and liabilities, if they feel you have a good chance of qualifying, you will be referred to an online website to fill out your application. All said and done, the online application took me 5 minutes to complete. Upon submitting the form, I received an approval within 2 days. So, overall, it was a painless and expedient process.
Exceptional Customer Service
Like SoFi, the customer service at First Republic Bank has been exceptional. The representatives I’ve come into contact with are very friendly and helpful. Wait times, whether at a banking branch or online to talk over the phone, have been short (<3 min). The representatives are very knowledgable about their products and spent a lot of time answering my patients regarding refinancing student loans. They were never rude nor condescending to me. So, if this is something that goes into your decision making process, I would say that First Republic Bank ranks among the best in customer service.
Student Loan Rates (Updated as of January 2018)
Criteria to Qualify
As described in the Application Process section, you need:
- Credit score > 750
- To refinance at least $40,000 up to a max of $300,000 in loans
- Worked in your industry for 24 months
- Be located near a First Republic Bank office. You can find their locations at http://www.firstrepublic.com/locations
Origination and Early Payment Fees
There are none as I have asked multiple representatives regarding this topic. Additionally, it was written in my loan contract stating that no origination nor early payment (as in paying off your loans earlier than the agreed upon term) fees will be assessed.
Grace Periods From Previous Loans
Unfortunately, grace periods offered by your previous loans are not honored by First Republic Bank. Then again, my only argument against this as a con is you’re a CRNA now so it’s kind of a moot point. You might as well start paying sooner rather than later. The earlier you can pay off your loans, the better.
If you pay off the entirety of your loan within 2 years of signing a loan with First Republic Bank, they will forgive 2% of your loan balance. In other words, if you have $100,000 in debt and pay that off within 2 years, they will credit your account with $2,000.
Requirements Needed To Have This Loan
Two conditions are required to carry this loan.
- Open a checking account through First Republic Bank and set up direct deposit with your employer. You can avoid monthly maintenance fees (which are $25/month) as long as you maintain a minimum monthly average balance of $3500.
- Your monthly loan payment must automatically debit from your First Republic checking account, which is set up for your automatically by First Republic, along with signing up for online banking.
I am very pleased to have come across this loan. My goal and I’m sure anyone else who may be reading this is to pay off my loans as quickly as possible and at the lowest interest rate on the market. Add to that an excellent customer service department and you have the makings of the perfect product.