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It's no secret that student loans are large debt loads that borrowers typically don't pay off until years — or decades — after graduation.
Add on medical school and your total debt load will easily skyrocket to six figures. Medical school graduates leave school with an average debt of $207,003, according to latest data by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).
If you had to borrow to finance your way through med school, there's a good chance you're still working on paying off your loans. Though your career may promise high earning potential, that expensive education will eat away at anything you make until it's completely paid off.
Refinancing your medical school loans can help you secure a lower interest rate to pay them off quicker. With many borrowers having a mix of both federal and private medical school loans, refinancing is also a way to consolidate them all together into one loan to streamline your monthly payments.
Generally, physicians should only look into refinancing their federal medical school loans if they are not planning to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) in the future, since refinancing your federal loans will take away any forgiveness you may be offered.
With the government's suspension on federal student loan and interest payments through September 30, 2021, however, you won't be able to score a lower interest rate — so you'll want to wait to refinance your federal medical school loans until October 2021. But your private medical student loans? You may want to consider refinancing for a lower interest rate, especially if you are in your residency.
Laurel Road stands out for its special pricing and reduced rates for health-care professionals (physicians, dentists, optometrists and physician assistants), like allowing borrowers to make only $100 per month loan payments while in a residency program or fellowship. Plus, after their residency and fellowships, medical students can put their loans in deferment for up to six months if they need more time before beginning their standard repayment term. Graduates with associate degrees in the health-care field can also refinance through Laurel Road.
Read on for the full details of Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing, including the APRs, perks, fees, loan amounts and term lengths. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best student loan refinance companies.)
No origination fees to refinance
Federal, private, graduate and undergraduate loans, Parent PLUS loans, medical and dental residency/fellowship loans, plus special pricing and reduced rates for health-care professionals (physicians, dentists, optometrists and physician assistants)
Variable and fixed
Variable rates (APR)
From 1.89%; from 2.28% for resident rates (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)
Fixed rates (APR)
From 2.80%; from 3.08% for resident rates (rates include a 0.25% autopay discount)
5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years (but also offers any term below 20 years, subject to underwriting criteria)
For bachelor's degrees and higher, minimum $5,000; for eligible associate degrees in the health-care field, up to $50,000 in loans for non-ParentPlus refinance loans
Minimum credit score
Allow for a co-signer
Laurel Road offers both variable and fixed APRs. Variable interest rates fluctuate over the life of the loan, while fixed rates stay the same for the duration of the loan term.
Laurel Road's variable rates start at 1.89% and 2.28% for resident rates. Fixed rates start at 2.80% and 3.08% for resident rates. Both variable and fixed APRs automatically include a 0.25% autopay discount.
These rates are competitive with what other top private lenders offer, and especially those in residency. For example, SoFi Student Loan Refinancing also offers special rates for medical/dental residents: variable APRs start at 2.37% for residents and fixed APRs start at 3.12% for residents (both already include a 0.25% autopay discount).
Medical student loan borrowers get the biggest perks when refinancing through Laurel Road. For those completing their residency or fellowship after med school, they can refinance their school loans and take advantage of having to pay only $100 per month toward their refinanced loan. This is a helpful break while you use your resident salary to pay for your living expenses.
Laurel Road is unique in that it also allows graduates with associate degrees in the health-care field to refinance. The lender comes with its own set of vast payment protections, too. Not all private lenders offer protections, let alone a wide variety of them. Borrowers who refinance through Laurel Road can expect the following:
- Financial hardship (such as job loss) forbearance for one or more 3-month time periods (have to wait minimum 12 months in between periods)
- Covid forbearance of 3 monthly payments (and option to request longer)
- Natural disaster forbearance of up to 2 monthly payments
- Deferment for medical students up to 6 months after their residency and fellowships (total loan term including residency, fellowship and grace period must not exceed 20 years)
If you choose to refinance with Laurel Road, be sure to share its benefits with your medical student cohorts: the lender offers borrowers a referral program where you can score up to a $400 bonus.
Laurel Road does not charge borrowers any origination fees to refinance a loan.
There are no early payoff penalties, but Laurel Road may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the due date. The late fee will not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less.
Any checks or electronic payments returned for insufficient funds or a closed account may be charged $20.
For bachelor's degrees and higher, there is a loan size minimum of $5,000 and no maximum.
For eligible associate degrees in the health-care field, there is a loan size maximum of up to $50,000 for non-ParentPlus refinance loans.
Borrowers can choose loan terms ranging from 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years. Laurel Road also offers any term below 20 years, subject to underwriting criteria.
Laurel Road Student Loan Refinancing is a great option for those who took out loans to pay their way through medical school. If you are in a residency program or fellowship, you can take advantage of paying only $100 per month on your refinanced loan. After residency, you can have up to a six month grace period before you have to start making monthly payments.
At this time, we don't recommend refinancing federal loans while the Covid forbearance period is in effect through Sept. 30, 2021. For those with private student loans (for medical school or otherwise), consider Select's other top-rated refinancing lenders:
To determine which student loan refinance companies are the best for borrowers, Select analyzed and compared private student loan funding from national banks, credit unions and online lenders. We narrowed down our ranking by only considering those that offer low student loan refinancing rates and prequalification tools that don't hurt your credit.
While the companies we chose in this article consistently rank as having some of the more competitive interest rates for refinancing, we also compared each company on the following features:
- Broad availability: All of the companies on our list refinance both federal and private student loans, and they each offer a variable and fixed interest rate to choose from.
- Flexible loan terms: Each company provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your student loan.
- No origination or signup fee: None of the companies on our list charge borrowers an upfront "origination fee" for refinancing your loan.
- No early payoff penalties: The companies on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
- Streamlined application process: We made sure companies offered a fast online application process.
- Co-signer options: Each company on our list allows for a co-signer if the direct borrower does not qualify for refinancing on their own.
- Autopay discounts: All of the companies listed already calculate autopay discounts into their advertised rates.
- Private student loan protections: Though you lose federal student loan benefits when you refinance, each company on our list offers some type of their own financial hardship protection for borrowers.
- Loan sizes: The above companies refinance loans in an array of sizes, from $5,000 to $500,000. Each company advertises its respective loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be.
- Credit requirements/eligibility: We took into consideration the minimum credit scores and income levels required if this information was available.
- Customer support: Every company on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the student loan refinancing process.
After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall refinancing needs, having a co-signer, applying with a fair credit score, refinancing parent loans and medical school loans.
Note that the rates and fee structures for private student loan refinancing are not guaranteed forever; they are subject to change without notice and they often fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. Choosing a fixed-rate APR when you refinance will guarantee that your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan.
Your refinanced rate depends on your credit score, income, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, savings, payment history and overall financial health. To refinance your student loan(s), lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.