Best Lenders To Refinance Vet School Loans Of 2023
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
6.24% to 9.99%*
5.24% to 9.99%*
5.72% to 9.74%²
including 0.25% autopay discount³
5.19% to 9.74%²
including 0.25% autopay discount³
Note: Discover will no longer accept student loan applications starting February 1, 2024.
Summary: Best Vet School Loan Refinance Lenders
Tips for Comparing Vet School Loan Refinance Lenders
Shopping around before refinancing is the best way to find loans that match your credit profile with payments that fit your budget. Below are tips for comparing loans:
- Check interest rates. Lenders usually publish interest rate ranges for refinancing on their websites so you can compare rates against your current loans. Using a refinance calculator can help you estimate how much you might save with different loans.
- Look for loan fees. Refinance loans often don’t have origination or prepayment fees, but, it’s still worthwhile to double-check fees with each lender to be aware of all costs before borrowing.
- Review terms. Repayment terms for student loan refinancing may range from five to 20 years, giving you flexibility in your repayment term. Comparing monthly payments and total interest costs for different term options can help you find an affordable loan.
- Compare loan limits. Some lenders will refinance your entire balance, while others may limit how much you can borrow. For example, Citizens Bank will refinance up to $300,000 for a graduate degree and $750,000 for a professional degree.
- Check borrower benefits. While private loans may not come with all the perks of federal loans, they may have various borrower benefits, like interest rate discounts if you meet certain conditions and forbearance if you experience financial hardship. Review borrower benefits to see which lender has features that best work for you.
Repaying Vet School Loans
Most veterinary school students rely on student loans to cover some of their expenses. In fact, the AVMA reported that 82% of graduates from the class of 2022 had student loan debt. As a veterinary school graduate, you may have used one or more loan options to pay for your education:
- Direct unsubsidized loans. Direct unsubsidized loans are federal loans that graduate students can use to pay for their programs. Loan payments are deferred while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. The loans are automatically enrolled into a 10-year repayment plan with fixed monthly payments.
- Grad PLUS. Federal grad PLUS loans are exclusively for graduate and professional students. They have higher rates than direct unsubsidized loans, but they allow you to defer your payments and take advantage of a six-month grace period after graduating. Once the grace period ends, the standard repayment plan is 10 years.
- Private graduate or professional loans. Available from private banks, credit unions or other financial institutions, private veterinary school loans can have loan terms ranging between five and 15 years. They can have fixed or variable rates, and when repayment begins depends on the lender and repayment plan you choose.
Refinancing Veterinary School Loans
Whether you have the average vet school debt amount or a much higher balance, refinancing your student loans can be an effective way to save money.
Graduate loans tend to have higher rates than undergraduate student loans, making the six-figure balance you may have from veterinary school even more expensive.
When you refinance, you borrow from a private lender to pay off your existing loans. Once those loans are paid off, you’ll have the new loan to manage, which will have different terms than your previous loans. By refinancing your debt, you could potentially secure a lower rate, saving you money on your vet school loans.
For example, let’s say you had $140,000 in student loans at 8.05% and a 10-year repayment term. As soon as you graduate, you refinance and qualify for a 10-year loan with a 6.00% fixed rate. Refinancing your loans would decrease your monthly payment by about $148. Even better, you’d save $17,760 in interest over the life of the loan.
You can use a student loan refinance calculator to find out how refinancing your vet school loans would affect your monthly payments and total repayment cost.
Should You Refinance Your Veterinary School Student Loans?
Refinancing could be an effective way to save money and become debt-free sooner, but it’s not for everyone. Before researching lenders, consider these advantages and drawbacks:
- Potentially save money. Qualifying for a lower rate than you have on your existing loans could save thousands over the life of your repayment term.
- Reduce your payments. When you refinance, you could qualify for a lower rate or extend your loan term. With either benefit, your payments may decrease, making it easier to manage your budget.
- Pay off your loans faster. By refinancing to a lower rate, more of your payments will go toward the loan’s principal rather than interest, so extra payments will chip away at your debt faster.
- Ineligible for federal loan benefits. If you have federal student loans, refinancing your debt will cause you to lose federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.
- Good to excellent credit requirements. To qualify for a lower rate, you’ll likely need a credit score of 670 or better. Otherwise, you may need a co-signer.
- Not everyone will qualify for the best rates. With student loan refinancing, the lowest advertised rates are issued to borrowers with excellent credit who select shorter terms. If you have only fair to good credit or select a longer term, you may not qualify for a lower rate than you have on your current loans.
How To Refinance Vet School Loans
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of lenders, you can refinance your loans in just five steps:
- Get quotes. Rates, eligibility requirements and policies vary significantly between lenders, so request quotes from several to find the best options. Some lenders allow you to prequalify and view your rates without affecting your credit score.
- Review eligibility requirements. Once you identify a lender, review its eligibility requirements to ensure you meet its criteria. If you don’t meet the credit or income requirements, ask a relative to co-sign the loan to improve your odds of qualifying for a loan.
- Collect documentation. The actual refinancing application will require you to enter details about yourself, your co-signer (if applicable) and your employer. You’ll likely need to provide the following information:
- Your Social Security number
- Your income
- Proof of income, such as pay stubs or tax returns
- Your existing student loan account information
- Your current loan balances
- Fill out the application. Most lenders allow you to apply online in a matter of minutes. The lender’s application page will prompt you to enter the necessary information and ask you to consent to a hard credit check. Once it’s filled out, you can submit the application for the lender’s review.
- Continue making payments. In most cases, you’ll receive an answer quickly. But even if you’re approved, keep making the scheduled payments on your existing loans until you receive a notification that they have been paid in full. The process can take several weeks, so you risk missing payments and damaging your credit if you don’t keep up with the current payment schedule.
Alternatives to Refinancing Vet School Loans
If you have federal student loans or decide that refinancing isn’t right for you, there are other options that can make your loans more manageable.
Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans
IDR plans are alternative payment plans available to federal student loan borrowers. They base your payments on a percentage of your discretionary income. Depending on how much you make and your family size, you could qualify for a much lower payment than you currently have.
Loan Forgiveness Programs
There are several loan forgiveness programs for veterinarians. Depending on your employment and location, you may be eligible for one of the following programs:
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). Federal loan borrowers who work for a nonprofit clinic, animal shelter or government agency for 10 years and make 120 qualifying monthly payments can qualify for loan forgiveness under PSLF.
- National Institute of Food and Agriculture Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program. Through this program, veterinarians who work in a designated shortage area focusing on food supply animals can qualify for up to $25,000 per year in loan repayment benefits for up to three years.
- State programs. Several states operate programs to recruit veterinarians to high-need areas. For example, Georgia will give veterinarians up to $18,000 per year of service, up to a total maximum of $80,000. Contact your state veterinary association or state education agency to find programs in your area.
If you want to simplify your payments but keep your federal loans within the federal system, loan consolidation is another option. With a federal direct consolidation loan, you can extend your term to 30 years to reduce your payments. Also, consolidating could allow you to qualify for other payment plans.
We requested data from lenders that dominate the student loan refinance market and scored them across 15 data points in the categories of interest rates, fees, loan terms, hardship options, application process and eligibility. We chose the best to display based on those earning three stars or higher.
The following is the weighting assigned to each category:
- Hardship options. 30%
- Eligibility. 18%
- Loan terms. 18%
- Application process. 16%
- Interest rates. 13%
- Fees. 5%
Specific characteristics taken into consideration within each category included number of months of forbearance available, hardship repayment options beyond traditional forbearance, availability of in-school deferment, accessibility to borrowers without a bachelor’s degree, time to default, disclosure of credit score and income requirements and other factors.
Lenders who offered interest rates below 7% scored the highest, as did those who offered more than the standard 12 months of forbearance, who offered interest rate discounts beyond the standard 0.25% for automatic payments, who charged no late fees and who offered multiple loan terms maxing out at 15 years. We believe that to take full advantage of refinancing, borrowers should choose the shortest loan term available, and a 20-year term has the potential to limit interest savings.
In some cases, lenders were awarded partial points, and a maximum of 3% of the final score was left to editorial discretion based on the quality of consumer-friendly features offered.
To learn more about how Forbes Advisor rates lenders, and our editorial process, check out our Loans Rating & Review Methodology.
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