Earnest Review: Offering Competitive Rates on Private Student Loans and Student Loan Refinancing

Earnest offers private student loans and loan refinancing. Earnest loans have competitive rates, but the lender isn’t available in all states.

Whether you need to borrow money to cover your remaining costs for the semester or want to refinance your student loans, you’ve likely heard about Earnest. Earnest is a top provider of private student loans and refinancing loans, offering competitive interest rates, multiple payment plans and personalized service. 

Earnest is a relatively new lender, but it has served more than 126,000 clients and refinanced more than $10.2 billion in student loans since its launch in 2013. If you’re considering applying for a loan, here’s what you should know. 

Earnest Student Loans Review: Pros and Cons



Clear eligibility requirements

Not available in all states

Long grace period

No co-signer releases available

Skip-a-payment feature

Refinancing with a co-signer is not permitted

No maximum borrowing cap

Multiple payment options


  • Clear eligibility requirements: Some lenders are vague about their borrower criteria, making it difficult to see if you’d qualify for a loan. By contrast, Earnest is upfront about its requirements and lists its minimum credit score and income. 
  • Long grace period: With Earnest, your grace period can be as long as nine months. 
  • Skip-a-payment feature: You can decide to skip one payment every 12 months. You can use the money to catch up on other expenses or even splurge on travel or a gift. 
  • No maximum borrowing cap: While many private lenders limit how much you can borrow per year or over your lifetime, Earnest allows you to borrow from $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance. 
  • Multiple payment options: Earnest offers multiple repayment terms. And if you’re struggling to afford your payments, Earnest has several alternative payment plans, including extended terms, forbearance and a rate reduction program. 


  • Not available in all states: Earnest’s products aren’t available everywhere. For private student loans, Earnest doesn’t lend to residents of Nevada. For student loan refinancing, residents of Kentucky and Nevada are ineligible for loans. 
  • No co-signer releases available: While private student loan applicants can apply for a loan with a co-signer, Earnest doesn’t offer co-signer releases. The only way to remove the co-signer from the loan is to refinance the loan. 
  • Refinancing with a co-signer is not permitted: Co-signers are allowed on private student loan applications, but you can’t apply with a co-signer for student loan refinancing. To get a loan, you must meet Earnest’s requirements on your own. 

Earnest Private Student Loans

Earnest offers undergraduate loans, graduate loans and parent student loans. All of its loans have competitive interest rates and multiple repayment options. And there are no origination fees or application fees. 

Undergraduate Loans

With an undergraduate loan, you can borrow up to your school-certified cost of attendance. You can apply for a loan with a co-signer and pick an in-school repayment option that works for you:

  • Full Payments: Pay the full principal and interest while in school.
  • Interest Only: Pay only the accrued interest while you’re in school.
  • Deferred: Defer payments until nine months after your graduation date.
  • Fixed: Pay $25 per month while in school.

Repayment terms range from five to 15 years. You can choose between variable and fixed interest rates, and you can qualify for a 0.25% autopay discount when you sign up for automatic payments. 

To get a loan, you must have a credit score of 650 or higher, a minimum income of $35,000 and at least three years of credit history. If you don’t meet those requirements, you’ll have to apply with a co-signer. 

Graduate Loans

Earnest offers student loans for graduate school, MBA programs, medical school and law school. You can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and you can choose to defer your payments until nine months after graduation. 

Graduate student loans from Earnest have competitive interest rates, and you can select either a fixed-rate loan or a variable-rate loan. 

To get approved for a loan, you must have a credit score of at least 650 and at least three years of credit history. 

Parent Loans

Federal Parent PLUS Loans have the highest interest rate of any federal loan. If you have good credit, you may be eligible for a private parent student loan from Earnest with a lower rate. 

As a parent, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance for your child’s program, and you can even take advantage of a nine-month grace period. 

To qualify for a private parent loan, parents must have credit scores of 650 or higher, earn at least $35,000 per year and have at least three years of credit history. 

Earnest Student Loan Refinancing

Student loan refinancing can be a smart way to pay off your loans faster, reduce your payments or save money. 

With Earnest, you can refinance and select a loan term of five to 20 years. Loans are serviced by Earnest rather than a third-party company, so you always know who you’re working with, and Earnest offers competitive interest rates. 

As of Sept. 29, 2021, variable interest rates are as low as 1.88%, and fixed interest rates are as low as 2.48% with the 0.25% autopay discount. 

To qualify for a loan, you must have loans in repayment, and you must have a credit score of 650 or above with a stable source of income. 

Choosing a Lender

If you need a private student loan or want to refinance your existing loans, Earnest is an excellent choice. It offers competitive interest rates, multiple payment plans and personalized service to help you every step of the way. If you’re interested in submitting a loan application, join Juno to get access to even lower interest rates than Earnest already offers through our exclusive partnership. 

Kat Tretina
Written By
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is a freelance writer based in Orlando, FL. She specializes in helping people finance their education and manage debt. Her work has been featured in Forbes, The Huffington Post, MarketWatch, and many other publications.

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