Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: October 25th, 2019
How We Evaluate Student Debt Companies
We evaluate student debt companies on a number of carefully selected data points, the most significant being a company's fixed and variable interest rates; companies with lower interest rates tend to have better scores. We also rank student debt companies based on other features and services, such as the presence of an auto pay rate deduction, career support and counseling, the option to bring on a cosigner, and a loan calculator. We look at the types of schools and loans that are eligible for a company's refinancing or consolidation programs, as well as the available term lengths for each program.
Each student debt company undergoes a rigorous review and ranking process against these and other industry standards. Companies that consistently excel across our various ranking criteria receive top spots on our list. For more on what goes into our ranking process, visit our student debt How We Rank page by clicking here. After careful examination of top industry performers, we've identified five student loan companies that we feel truly stand out from the rest in terms of quality of service.
A relatively new company, SoFi clocks in as our top student loan company. During its five years in business, SoFi has become one of the largest student loan refinancing and consolidation companies in the industry, financing more than $8 billion in loans, and saving borrowers an average of $18,936 on their student loans. The company does not require a minimum credit score or annual income to qualify for its program; however, the average SoFi borrower has at least a 750 credit score, with an annual income of more than $120,000.
What We Like about SoFi
SoFi's application process ranks as one of the fastest and easiest in the business. Borrowers can view their refinancing and consolidation option within two minutes of applying, without risking a hit to their credit scores. The company charges zero upfront fees for its services, and both its fixed and variable interest rates are among the lowest we've seen. We like that SoFi clients who lose their jobs during the program will not only get a forbearance period where payments are halted, but they'll also receive career counseling from SoFi to help them get back on their feet.
Second on our list is Credible, a student loan refinancing broker that connects those with student loan debt to the best program for them. Credible works with six of the top student loan refinancing lenders in the industry-Citizens Bank, RISLA, MEFA, College Ave, CommonBond, and iHelp. Credible customers can easily compare APR, term lengths, monthly payments, and more using Credible's intuitive and user-friendly online dashboard.
What We Like about Credible
We especially like Credible's side-by-side comparison tool, which allows borrowers to choose from several program options based on their own preferences. Credible is also one of the few companies in the industry that caters to individuals with student debt who did not graduate. Some companies render non-graduates ineligible from their programs, but Credible allows individuals with student debt in all 50 states to apply and qualify for its program-regardless of graduation status.
CommonBond was founded in 2011 by a group of MBA students who were only too familiar with the adverse effects of massive amounts of student debt. The company seeks to provide competitive rates and pricing, a user-friendly online interface, and high-quality customer service to help individuals manages and eventually overcome their student debt. Borrowers who refinance through CommonBond save an average of $14,000 on their student loans.
What We Like about CommonBond
We like how well CommonBond competes with other top companies by charging zero upfront fees, maintaining consistently low fixed and variable APRs, and providing a suite of additional features to help borrower through the refinancing program. Like with other top companies, CommonBond offers an auto pay discount as well as career support for borrowers who have become unemployed during the program. CommonBond's term lengths are also some of the most flexible we've seen.
Since 2007, LendKey has connected millions of borrowers with student loan refinancing and consolidation lenders through its online platform. LendKey's cloud-based interface allows customers to connect with the right provider for them from nearly anywhere, and borrowers with a credit score of at least 680 can apply and qualify within minutes. Those who choose to refinance their student loans through LendKey can on average save $10,500 on their total loan repayment.
What We Like about LendKey
LendKey offers fixed and variable interest rates that compete with other top providers in the student debt industry, and has some of the best customer service we've encountered. Customer services representatives are always responsive, and fully qualified to help borrowers navigate a sometimes confusing financial terrain. LendKey is also one of the few student debt companies we've reviewed that actually offers customers a 30-day no-tax or interest return policy should borrowers not be satisfied with the progress of LendKey's refinancing or consolidation programs.
#5 Darien Rowayton Bank
Darien Rowayton Bank (or DRB) has refinanced over $1.4 billion in student loans in its 12-year history. The company serves all 50 states, and provides a number of amenities found in other top providers, such as auto pay discounts, a cosigner option, and an online loan calculator. DRB caters to borrowers who make an average of $50,000 a year and have reasonable credit. DRB brings big-bank sophistication to the student debt industry to help students from qualifying schools get out from under their student loan debt.
What We Like about DRB
DRB offers a number of features that are standard only among top industry performers. These include the ability to bring on a cosigner in the event that the borrower does not fully qualify for DRB's refinancing or consolidation programs. DRB also charges zero upfront fees, and customers can receive a 0.25% discount when they sign up for DRB's auto pay service. DRB also provides a more in-depth application process, which ensures maximum success for applicants.
For a full list of our student debt companies, click here.
The Future of the Student Debt Industry
While companies in the student debt industry are providing an invaluable service to students and recent graduates who are dealing with crushing student debt, the industry as a whole has a long way to go toward making its services more beneficial to borrowers. For example, the most effective way to relieve some of the financial burden on borrowers is to find ways to lower interest rates. Companies are already achieve this by providing rate discounts when customers sign up for automatic payments, and should consider providing borrowers with similar incentives in the future.
Student debt companies should also strive to improve their online transparency; though no student debt refinancing or consolidation company can legally guarantee that its program will save customers money, providing customers with verifiable third-party reviews can go a long way toward establishing trust with potential borrowers. Some companies are also providing a cosigner release option after a certain number of successful consecutive payments, and we feel this is a practice that should become more widespread.
As the student loan refinancing and consolidation industry evolves and changes, BestCompany.com will continue to provide up-to-date information on the top companies in the industry, their rates, features, and services, and relevant industry information to help keep borrowers in the loop.