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Refinanced student loan rates increased last week. Despite the rise, if you want to refinance your student loans, you can still get a relatively low rate.
From May 30 to June 3, the average fixed interest rate on a 10-year refinance loan was 4.91% for borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher who prequalified in the student loan market from Credible.com. On a five-year variable-rate loan, the average interest rate was 3.26% among the same population, according to Credible.com.
Related: Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders
Fixed rate loans
The average fixed rate on 10-year refinance loans last week climbed 0.16% to 4.91%. The previous week, the average was 4.75%.
Fixed interest rates do not change during the term of a borrower’s loan. This allows borrowers refinancing now to lock in a significantly lower rate than they would have received this time last year. This time last year, the average fixed rate on a 10-year refinance loan was 3.80%, 1.11% lower than the current rate.
If you were to refinance $20,000 in student loans at today’s average fixed rate, you’d pay about $211 per month and about $5,350 in total interest over 10 years, according to Forbes Advisor’s student loan calculator.
Variable rate loans
Last week, the average five-year variable refinance student loan rate fell to 3.26% on average, from 4.56%.
Variable interest rates fluctuate over the term of a loan depending on the index to which they are linked and market conditions. Many refinance lenders recalculate rates monthly for borrowers with variable rate loans, but they usually limit how high the rate is – lenders can set a limit of 18%, for example.
If you were to refinance an existing $20,000 loan into a five-year loan at a variable interest rate of 3.26%, you would pay about $362 on average per month. In total interest over the term of the loan, you would pay approximately $1,701. Of course, since the interest rate is variable, it can fluctuate up or down from month to month.
Related: Should You Refinance Student Loans?
When to Refinance Student Loans
Most lenders require borrowers to graduate before refinancing, but not all do, so in most cases, wait to refinance until you graduate. You will also need a good or excellent credit score and a stable income in order to access the lowest interest rates.
If your credit is failing or your income is not high enough to qualify, you have several options. You can wait to refinance until you have built up credit or have sufficient income. Or, you can get a co-signer. Just make sure the co-signer knows that if you can’t repay your student loan, they will be responsible. The loan will show up on their credit report.
Before choosing to refinance, calculate your potential savings. It’s important to make sure you’ll save enough to justify refinancing. Shop around with multiple lenders for rates and consider your credit score when shopping. Keep in mind that those with the highest credit scores receive the lowest rates.
What to Consider When Comparing Student Loan Refinance 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.
While variable rates may start low, they could rise in the future, making it a gamble. But one way to limit your exposure to risk is to pay off your new refinance loan as quickly as possible. Keep the loan term as short as possible and pay extra when possible so that you are not subject to any rate increases in the future.
Whether you choose a fixed or variable rate loan, it’s important to compare rates from multiple lenders to make sure you don’t miss out on any savings. You may qualify for interest rate discounts by opting in to automatic payments or having an existing relationship with a lender.
Refinancing of federal loans into private loans
There are a few things to keep in mind when refinancing a federal student loan into a private student loan. For starters, you will lose access to certain benefits offered by federal student loans. For example, you will no longer have access to income-tested repayment plans or deferment and forbearance options.
If you’re considering refinancing federal student loans, make sure first that you probably won’t need to use any of these programs. This may be the case if your income is stable and you plan to pay off a refinance loan quickly. You always have the option of refinancing only your private loans or only part of your federal loans. Since fixed interest rates on federal loans are usually quite low, you may also decide that refinancing would not lead to substantial savings.