Best Pharmacy School Loan Refinance Lenders 2023
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
6.24% to 9.99%
with autopay discount
5.24% to 9.99%
with autopay discount
5.72% to 9.74%²
including 0.25% autopay discount³
4.96% to 9.79%²
including 0.25% autopay discount³
Summary: Best Pharmacy School Loan Refinance Lenders
Tips for Comparing Pharmacy School Loan Refinance Lenders
- Prequalify with multiple lenders. Most student refinance lenders allow you to prequalify for a loan before you apply. To prequalify, you’ll need to submit information on your refinancing needs, monthly income and contact information. A lender typically performs a soft credit check—which doesn’t impact your credit—to determine what offers you may be eligible for.
- Compare interest rates. If you prequalify with multiple lenders, you should receive a preliminary interest rate from each lender. Compare these rates and select the one that best fits your needs and income. Choosing from multiple lenders allows you to identify the best loan and interest rate.
- Understand your current loan status. Before you apply for a pharmacy school refinance loan, determine whether your loans are private or federal. If you refinance a private pharmacy school loan, you could receive a lower interest rate immediately. Federal loans, on the other hand, can be refinanced—if you’re willing to sacrifice income-driven repayment plans and other benefits.
- Determine your need for a co-signer. If you have trouble qualifying for a pharmacy school refinance loan, adding a co-signer can help qualify for better rates. A co-signer is an individual who can guarantee the repayment of your loan if you default.
- Evaluate your new terms and monthly payments. Once you apply for a refinance option and get approved, you will receive details on your loan terms and monthly payments. Compare these details with your current monthly expenses to determine if you can afford it.
What Is Pharmacy School Loan Refinancing?
The majority of pharmacists graduate with student loan debt. According to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the average student loan balance per pharmacy school borrower was $167,711 in 2023.
With such a high balance, borrowers will have monthly payments that consume large portions of their budgets. And depending on the rate of their loans, interest can accrue rapidly, causing their balances to balloon.
Pharmacy school refinancing can potentially lower your rates or adjust your loan term. When you refinance your student loans, you apply for a loan large enough to cover all of your existing loans. This means the new loan pays off the old ones, and it has different terms than your previous accounts.
If you qualify for a lower interest rate or extend your term, you could reduce your payments to a more affordable amount and save money over the life of your loan.
How Does Pharmacy School Loan Refinancing Work?
When refinancing pharmacy school loans, you apply for a loan from a private lender, such as a bank or credit union. The lender reviews your information, credit history and income. It then decides whether to approve your application and, if approved, what rates to assign you.
If you have good to excellent credit—or a co-signer willing to help you—you could qualify for a lower rate than you have now. That’s particularly important because, as a pharmacist, you likely have loans with higher rates than many other borrowers.
To become a pharmacist, you must complete a doctoral or professional degree. In general, federal student loans for graduate or doctoral programs tend to have significantly higher rates than loans for undergraduate borrowers and rates for private loans can be double digits.
With those rates, refinancing pharmacy school loans can be particularly beneficial.
For example, let’s say you graduated with $167,000 in student loan debt at 9.79% interest and a 10-year repayment term at 9.79%. By the end of your repayment term, you’ll repay a total of $262,505, with interest charges adding about $95,000 to your overall cost.
But if you refinanced immediately after graduation and qualified for a 10-year loan at 6.8%. Your monthly payment would decrease and your total repayment cost would be $230,621—a difference of over $31,000.
Use the student loan refinancing calculator to see how refinancing your pharmacy school loans will affect your monthly payments and overall repayment cost.
When To Avoid Refinancing Pharmacy School Loans
Refinancing high-interest debt can be a smart idea, but student loan refinancing isn’t right for everyone. Should you refinance your loans? Refinancing may not make sense if:
- You want the security of federal loan benefits. Suppose you have federal student loans and refinance your debt. In that case, you’ll transfer them to a private lender, and you’ll lose your eligibility for borrower protections like income-driven repayment (IDR) plans and federal forbearance programs.
- Your loans have lower interest rates. Depending on when you took out your loans, you may have loans with APRs that are lower than today’s rates, and refinancing wouldn’t make financial sense.
- You plan on applying for loan forgiveness. If you work for a nonprofit clinic, hospital or government agency and have federal loans, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness through Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). But if you refinance, you’ll no longer qualify, so it may not be the wisest decision.
If you have federal loans and decide against refinancing, consolidation with a direct consolidation loan is another option. Your loans will stay federal, but you can get a longer loan term and streamline your payments.
How To Refinance Pharmacy School Loans
Follow these five steps to refinance your pharmacy school loans:
- Collect information. Save time by collecting some information and documents before researching loan options. When you refinance your debt, you’ll typically need your Social Security number, proof of income and details about your loan servicers and account numbers.
- Think about your goals. Decide what you want to achieve by refinancing. For example, if you want to reduce your payments, opting for a longer repayment term may be the best loan structure. But if you want to save as much money as possible, choosing a shorter loan term may result in the highest savings.
- Request quotes. To find the best pharmacy school loan refinance options, request quotes from several top lenders. Some lenders allow you to check your eligibility and view potential loans with a soft credit check that doesn’t affect your credit score.
- If needed, find a co-signer. If your credit is less-than-stellar, you may not qualify for lower rates on your own. Asking a friend or relative to co-sign the loan application could improve your odds of qualifying for a loan with competitive rates.
- Submit the application. Finally, choose a lender and fill out your loan application. Once consent to a hard credit check, which temporarily dings your credit score, the lender will review your information and decide. You may find out you’re approved as soon as the same day you apply, but it can take a few weeks for your old loans to close. Continue making payments until you receive a confirmation that they’ve been paid in full.
3 Tips for Repaying Pharmacy Student Loans
Use the following tips to tackle your pharmacy school student loans and pay off your education debt.
1. Explore Alternative Payment Plans
If you have federal student loans and aren’t able to afford your monthly payments, apply for an IDR plan. IDR plans can dramatically reduce your payments since the payment amount is based on a percentage of your discretionary income.
2. Ask Your Employer for Help
As hospitals, health centers and retail pharmacies try to recruit new workers, more companies are offering student loan repayment benefits. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 8% of employers offer student loan repayment benefits, so you may be able to get help from your employer with your debt.
3. Find Out If You’re Eligible for Repayment Assistance or Forgiveness
Depending on the loans you have and your location, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness or repayment assistance programs. Besides PSLF, you may be eligible for loan repayment benefits from your state. For example:
- Arizona Loan Repayment Program. In Arizona, pharmacists can qualify for up to $50,000 of loan repayment benefits for an initial two-year service commitment working in high-need areas. Eligible pharmacists can extend their service term for a maximum benefit of $95,000.
- Colorado Health Service Corps. If you work in a designated health professional shortage area, you could receive up to $45,000 in loan repayment benefits.
Check with your state education agency to find out if similar programs exist in your area.
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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