Most of us are more responsible now than when we were 18. So if you’re still paying back a student loan you borrowed before you could legally order a cocktail, there’s a good chance you qualify for a better interest rate.

That’s where student loan refinancing comes in. It’s a way to save money by taking out a new, lower-interest loan to pay off your existing loans. Here’s how to do it:

Decide if it’s right for you

Refinancing isn’t for everyone. Skip it if you qualify for a federal loan forgiveness program or want to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans. You kiss those benefits goodbye forever when you refinance federal loans.

Consider refinancing only if you’re absolutely sure you can part with those federal loan perks or if you have private loans. It should especially pique your interest if your current rate is 6% or higher. To qualify, you need a credit score at least in the high 600s and enough income to comfortably afford monthly student loan payments and your other debts.

Scope your options

The whole point of refinancing is to get a lower interest rate, so it’s worth your time to search for the best offer.

Refinance marketplaces are an easy way. Try NerdWallet’s, which is powered by our partner Credible, or LendKey’s, where you can compare refinance options from community banks and credit unions. With both, you’ll fill out a single form to get rate estimates from multiple lenders, and your credit score won’t get dinged. Not all refinance lenders participate in marketplaces, so consider lenders individually, too.

Submit an application

When you’re ready, apply through a marketplace or directly through the lender. You’ll need to provide details about current loans and personal income information, and the lender will run a hard credit check to see if you qualify.

After you’re accepted, the lender will pay off existing loans you choose to refinance and issue you a new one. Going forward, you’ll make payments to the new lender.

That’s the gist. To learn more, check out these questions to ask yourself before refinancing.


Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @teddynykiel.

The article How to Refinance Your Student Loans (Told in Under 350 Words) originally appeared on NerdWallet.