Earnest is an online loan company offering private student loans to current college and graduate students and student loan refinancing to graduates. The company was established in 2013 and began offering private student loans in 2019.
Earnest offers various student loan options, ranging from graduate loans to undergraduate loans, graduate refinancing, undergraduate refinancing, parent plus refinancing, medical, business, or law school loans, and so on. Those seeking a loan can choose the loan terms to fund up to their entire education cost.
To make the student loaning experience more innovative, Earnest subsumed about 300 hours of user research with cosigners, students, and financial aid offices into structuring its lending process. The result is a diversity of pliable in-school repayment choices, a unique assortment of loan terms, and a period of grace three months longer than the usual standard. Various options are also available to aid students in financial hardship to amend their payments. Some of the best features of earnest are listed below.
- Borrowers can choose their loan term length and monthly payment.
- There are no late fees, origination, or application
- Borrowers can use a cosigner on graduate or undergraduate loans and, if available, student loan refinancing.
While their features are firmly and solidly built, qualifying for student loans on Earnest can be pretty difficult.
How To Qualify For Earnest Students Loans
Earnest offers a swift online check for eligibility so you can know if you are qualified to be granted a student loan without a strong probe on your credit report. The eligibility requirements for student loans on Earnest are lengthy and rigid. These requirements include:
- Borrowers must be citizens or permanent residents in the U.S. and have a Social Security number.
- Since earnest student loans are not in every state in the U.S., like Kentucky and Nevada, borrowers must be from the District of Columbia or any other state that earnest lends in.
- Borrowers must be officially registered as full-time or half-time students for graduate students and college seniors.
- Borrowers must pursue a graduate degree or a bachelor’s degree.
- The borrower’s school must be a four-year, non-profit, Title IV-qualified institution.
- Borrowers must have no past-due balances for at least 365 days.
Failure to meet the above-listed requirements makes one automatically unqualified to be granted a loan.
Refinance your loans with Earnest here.
Depending on the type of loan being applied for, these requirements can be reduced or added. Some other requirements include:
- Borrowers must have a minimum of three years’ history of credit.
- Borrowers must have at least a FICO credit score of 650.
- Borrowers must have an income of at least $35,000 annually.
If you cannot meet all of these requirements, you can apply with a cosigner who does. But both the cosigner and student must have an on-time history of making payments and avoid insufficient funds fees and overdrafts. They must also have no accounts in collections or reports of bankruptcies on their credit reports. During the loan application process, Earnest also looks at an individual’s education and employment history, thereby focusing less on the 650 minimum FICO credit score. Note, when using a cosigner, there is no option of release.
Is Student Loan Refinancing Obtainable On Earnest?
Earnest could be one of the best places to refinance your student loans if you follow good financial habits and have a good credit score. Earnest offers excellent interest rates, reasonable terms, and flexible payment options for refinancing. And its application process could leave you a reward for the smart financial decisions you make.
As with its student loans, Earnest looks at more than your credit profile to determine your eligibility for refinancing. Earnest will assess your education, savings, and earning potential before approving you. Earnest has a unique approach that considers your career’s earning potential and data from the financial accounts you connect.
At least, Earnest requires you to connect a checking account where your paycheck is deposited so your income can be verified and insight into your financial picture derived. Some additional eligibility criteria for gaining Earnest’s student loan refinancing approval include the following:
- Applicants must also be U.S. citizens or possess a 10-year, non-conditional green card.
- Applicants must have graduated, but one may be able to refinance in their last semester before graduating.
- Applicants must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid.
- While there is no minimum income requirement, applicants must have a job offer for employment starting within six months or have a steady income.
There is no option to add a cosigner, but refinancing dismisses the original cosigner. Refinancing is not available to borrowers in Kentucky and Nevada. Variable rates are also unavailable to borrowers in Ohio, Alaska, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Illinois, and Texas.
Earnest has refinanced over $11.6 billion in federal, private, and Parent Plus student loans. Compared with other traditional refinancing options, estimates show that refinancing with Earnest can save college students roughly $12,500 on average. Students can refinance as early as their last semester of college.
Earnest’s student loans and refinancing are obtainable at variable and fixed rates. You can select a loan term of between 5 to 20 years. The least loan amount is $1,000, and loans of up to 100% of the school’s certified cost of attendance are accessible. A percentage point auto pay discount of 0.25 percent is available. Interest rates can vary based on your credit and financial profiles. Additionally, applicants receive a $200 referral bonus for each referred person who successfully refinances their student loans with Earnest.
For refinancing Parent PLUS, you must request to refinance a minimum of $5,000 in loans from one or more concluded degrees or a degree completed by the end of the semester. You must have a job or steady income, and your student loan accounts must be of good repute. When determining your loan eligibility, earnest will also consider other factors of your finances.
You should have a good amount in savings to cover at least two months of everyday expenses, including housing. You should have a record of spending less than you earn and therefore have increasing balances in your bank account, not carrying huge amounts of non-student, non-mortgage debts, like personal loan debts, credit card loan debts, etc.
Where Does Earnest Operate?
Earnest offers loans in the District of Columbia and all U.S. states except Nevada. Earnest also does not offer student loan refinancing in Kentucky. Private student loans are also not available in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Texas, or Virginia.
Earnest Student Loans Repayment and Deferment Options
Earnest does not have prepayment penalties, so that borrowers can make payments above the monthly payment amount. There are four payment options made available to borrowers. They are:
- Deferred payment: Here, borrowers wait until nine months after graduation before making payments.
- $25 fixed payment: This option involves borrowers making small monthly payments while in school so they can lower the amount of interest they accrue.
- Interest-only payment: This stipulates that the borrower pays the accrued interest each month during school.
- Principal and interest payment: Borrowers who select this option make full payments immediately, with no grace period.
Forbearance due to financial destitution is also available. However, some individual qualification requirements are undisclosed. Loans may be discharged due to permanent disability or death.
Knowing all the pros and cons associated with Earnest, you might wonder, Does earnest have a good reputation as a lender before applying for a loan?
Is Earnest Reputable?
The average rating for student loan lenders is 4.4 stars. However, U.S. News & World Report rated Earnest 4.7 stars out of 5. This rating is calculated based on the lending company’s affordability, potential borrowers’ eligibility criteria, and customer service. Earnest also has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau and an excellent rating with Trustpilot, with over 3,600 reviews.
Earnest student loans are best for students needing private student loans, graduates who need refinancing student loans, and borrowers who want to select their loan terms and monthly payment. So, if you’re a graduate or post-graduate student looking for a loan broker firm, you should consider Earnest or be earnest in your search.
Refinance your loans with Earnest here.
Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.