How to Qualify for
and Refinance Medical School Loans in 2022

Have questions about medical school debt?

With our trusted partner, Credible, you can compare prequalified rates from up to 12 of the best medical student loan refinance companies for doctors in minutes. Plus, checking your rates is free and doesn’t affect your credit score. Get your rate and see how much you can save today!

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We've helped thousands of medical professionals across the country find the best student loans

Service of this company was just marvelous! - David N
Service of this company was just marvelous! - David N
Service of this company was just marvelous! - David N
Service of this company was just marvelous! - David N

Trusted Lenders for Student Loan Refinancing

Company
Minimum Credit Score
Maximum Loan Amount
Loan Terms
States Available In
advantage-education-loan-logo_o4mclu_hcen4r Advantage
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $500,000
Loan Terms 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 1 state. (View State)

The Advantage Refinance Loan is a fixed-rate student loan refinancing option exclusively for Kentucky residents with at least $7,500 in private or federal student loans. The program has 10, 15, and 20-year loan term repayment options and loan amounts up to $500,000 (amounts higher than $200,000 require special approval).

Advantage Education Loans are owned, serviced, and collected by the Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation (KHESLC); originated and disbursed by its sister agency, the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA). Both agencies are state-based, not-for-profit, governmental entities.

Learn More: Advantage Education Loan Review

    Pros
  • Available to borrowers who haven’t completed their degrees
  • Offers forbearance options
  • No prepayment or origination fees
    Cons
  • No variable rate loans offered
  • Only available to Kentucky residents
States Available
  • Kentucky
brazos-student-loans-logo_auuiud_vctdud Brazos
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $250,000
Loan Terms 5 , 7 , 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 1 state. (View State)

Brazos is a student loan refinancing option for Texas residents who have at least $10,000 in private or federal student loans, and earn at least $60,000 in income ($30,000 with a cosigner). The program offers 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year loan repayment terms, and loan amounts up to $150,000 for undergraduate borrowers and up to $250,000 for graduate borrowers.

The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc. (Brazos Higher Education) is a nonprofit corporation that manages several nonprofit companies (Brazos Managed Companies) all founded by student loan pioneer Murray Watson, Jr. Brazos Higher Education and the Brazos Managed companies have been dedicated to higher education for over 40 years.

Learn More: Brazos Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Offers fixed and variable interest rates
  • No origination or prepayment fees
    Cons
  • No cosigner release available
  • Must have a relatively high minimum annual income
States Available
  • Texas
Citizens_Bank_awcx1x-thumb Citizens Bank
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $750,000
Loan Terms 5 , 7 , 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 55 states. (View States)

Student loan refinancing through Citizens Bank is available to all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have at least $10,000 in private or federal student loans. Citizens Bank offers fixed and variable rate loans with 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year repayment terms. Maximum loan amounts include up to $300,000 for undergraduate (bachelors) borrowers $500,000 for graduate school borrowers, and $750,000 for professional school borrowers.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is among the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations, and institutions.

Learn More: Citizens Bank Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Offers variable and fixed interest rates
  • Available to borrowers who haven’t completed their degrees (if they have good credit and are no longer enrolled in school)
  • No prepayment or origination fees
    Cons
  • No disability discharge offered
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Canal Zone
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
College_Ave_nztzkp-thumb College Ave
Minimum Credit Score 700
Maximum Loan Amount $450,000
Loan Terms 5 , 10 , 15 year options
States Available In Available in 0 states.

Founded in 2014, College Ave offers flexible student loan refinancing options specifically for physicians, dentists, and other medical professionals. The Wilmington, Delaware-based company services its loans through Nationwide Bank, which allows it to offer competitive rates.

College Ave features various repayment options, including full principal and interest, interest-only, flat, and deferred payment plans. Full principal and interest payments allow you to make full payments while still in school. Interest-only payments allow you to pay monthly interest while still in school, then make full payments following your grace period. Flat payments allow you to pay $25 a month while in school, then make full payments once you graduate. Deferred payments allow you to wait until your post-graduation grace period is over to make any payments. But this means the interest you accrue while waiting is added to your total loan balance on top of the interest you must already pay throughout your term.

Learn More: College Ave Student loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Competitive rates, even with much larger companies.
  • Multiple repayment plans to cater your individual financial needs.
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction with auto-pay through Nationwide Bank.
  • No hidden fees for origination, application, processing or prepayment.
  • Up to 100% total coverage of your school-certified cost of attendance ($1,000 minimum).
  • Refinancing is available to all US residents that attended an eligible undergraduate or graduate school. Find out if your school qualifies before applying.
  • Students with little or no credit history can benefit by applying with a creditworthy co-signer.
  • In the event of death or disability, the terms of your credit agreement are nullified so College Ave cannot pursue your estate.
    Cons
  • Limited information available.
  • No cosigner release option.
  • 15 year max term to repay your loan - no 20 year term option.
  • After 15 days without payment, College Ave assesses a late fee equal to 5% of the unpaid amount or $25 - whichever is less.
  • No specific forbearance policy for struggling borrowers. College Ave determines payment-postponement periods on a case-by-case basis.
States Available
Education_Loan_Finance_bnyuxi-thumb ELFI
Minimum Credit Score 940
Maximum Loan Amount N/A
Loan Terms 5 , 7 , 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, Education Loan Finance (ELFI) is relatively new to the student loan refinancing space. Its parent company, SouthEast Bank, is a Tennessee community bank. In 2015, SouthEast Bank decided to start offering student loan refinancing to borrowers on top of its traditional products. Its product line includes checking and savings accounts, mortgage loans, and credit cards.

ELFI offers competitive interest rates to borrowers that qualify for student loan refinancing. Borrowers can choose from fixed and variable rate loans available in 5-20 year terms. While ELFI does not have any restrictions on the maximum amount that borrowers can refinance, their minimum loan amount is $15,000.

ELFI works closely with MOHELA and American Education Services (AES). Both refinance loan servicers have great track records of customer service.

Learn More: ELFI Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • No application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.
  • Forbearance allows you to postpone loan payments up to 12 months if you experience economic hardship.
  • New ELFI borrowers can get a $100 cash bonus through the Fast Track Bonus program if you get approved and accept your loan terms within 30 days of submitting your application. (Beginning December 1, 2018, ELFI will no longer offer the $100 Fast Track Bonus.)
  • ELFI borrowers earn a $400 cash referral bonus for every person you successfully refer if they apply and are approved within 90 days of registration. The person you refer will also receive a $100 bonus. Learn more here.
    Cons
  • Cannot qualify if you have filed for bankruptcy in the past.
  • Cannot qualify if you did not attend and graduate from a Title IV-accredited school.
  • After 11 days without payment, ELFI assesses a late fee equal to 5% of the amount past due or $50 - whichever is less.
  • No cosigner release option like other more established lenders. But borrowers can refinance loans again without a cosigner if they qualify on their own.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
INvestEd_Indiana_gkbnjw-thumb INvestEd
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $250,000
Loan Terms 5 , 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

INvestEd is an Indiana non-profit corporation that provides student loan refinancing to U.S. citizens and permanent residents with at least $5,000 in private or federal student loans nationwide. The INvestEd Refi Loan offers fixed and variable rates, and 5, 10, 15, and 20-year terms, on loan amounts up to $250,000.

For over 35 years, the goal of INvestEd has been to provide students with solutions to put higher education within reach. We believe strong choices before college are the best way to limit excessive student loan debt after college. That’s why our efforts focus on providing friendly, free, expert financial aid help to students, families, and counselors. At hundreds of Indiana high school events each year as well as over the phone, in print, and via email, INvestEd assists Hoosiers with the college planning process.

Learn More: INvestEd Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Offers variable and fixed interest rates
  • Offers deferment and forbearance options
  • Offers autopay discount
    Cons
  • Long cosigner release period (48 months)
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
mefa-logo-blue_to4vdt-thumb MEFA
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount N/A
Loan Terms 7 , 10 , 15 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

The MEFA Education Refinancing Loan offers fixed and variable rates, and loan terms of 7, 10, and 15 years. It is available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents with at least $10,000 in private or federal student loans nationwide. There is no maximum loan amount.

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is a not-for-profit, state-based, and self-funded state-chartered student loan organization that helps families cover educational expenses. As an authority on planning, saving, and paying for college, MEFA offers access to powerful and affordable financial products to help students finance higher education.

Learn More: MEFA Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Offers variable and fixed interest rates
  • Available to borrowers who haven’t completed their degrees
  • No prepayment or origination fees
    Cons
  • Doesn’t offer any discounts (such as autopay discounts)
  • They don’t have a cosigner release available
  • No forbearance or deferment options
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
PenFed_Credit_Union_wizeus-thumb PenFed
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $300,000
Loan Terms 5 , 15 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

PenFed Powered By Purefy is an award-winning student loan refinance option available to PenFederal Credit Union members with at least $7,500 in private or federal student loans. It offers fixed and variable rates on loan amounts up to $300,000 with 5, 8, 12, and 15-year terms.

Serving 2 million members worldwide with $25 billion in assets, PenFederal Credit Union is one of the country’s strongest and most stable financial institutions. PenFed serves members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa. Online service is available to members 24/7.

Learn More: PenFed Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Offers variable and fixed interest rates
  • Can apply for refinancing with your spouse
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
    Cons
  • Doesn’t offer any discounts (such as autopay discounts)
  • No formal deferment or forbearance options
  • Must become a member to refinance
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
risla_i2mmj3-thumb RISLA
Minimum Credit Score N/A
Maximum Loan Amount $250,000
Loan Terms 5 , 10 , 15 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

RISLA is a student loan refinancing option available nationwide to borrowers with at least $7,500 in private or federal student loans, and who earn at least $40,000 in income. RISLA offers fixed and variable rates on loan amounts up to $250,000 with 5, 10, and 15-year terms.

The Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) stands out from the crowd by offering a safety net to borrowers who refinance their student loans in the form of income-based repayment. Although based in Rhode Island, RISLA offers student loan refinancing to borrowers in all 50 states.

Learn More: RISLA Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Available to borrowers who haven’t completed their degrees
  • Low minimum credit score
  • No prepayment or origination fees
    Cons
  • No cosigner release option available
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
sofi_kazfze-thumb SoFi
Minimum Credit Score 700
Maximum Loan Amount N/A
Loan Terms 5 , 7 , 10 , 15 , 20 year options
States Available In Available in 51 states. (View States)

SoFi burst onto the scene in 2011, quickly becoming one of the leaders in student loan refinancing and consolidation. The San Francisco-based company offers among the most competitive interest rates in the industry and is known for round-the-clock customer service.

SoFi operates within fairly strict credit criteria. The company’s non-traditional underwriting process evaluates merit, employment and financial history, and monthly debt-to-income ratios. SoFi also heavily considers the applicant’s estimated cash flow, career path, and level of education. The company’s ideal borrower boasts strong job stability, substantial income, and a proven history of managing their budget and credit.

SoFi champions transparency and a strong sense of community in everything it does. With SoFi, what you see is what you get. The company makes sure you’re well aware of all the member benefits that it entails. What sets SoFi apart from others in the crowded student loan space is its commitment to the personal growth and career development of its 500,000 members and counting.

In November 2019, the minimum student loan refinance amount for SoFi was increased from $5,000 to $10,000 (100% of school-certified expenses) for all California residents.

Learn More: SoFi Student Loan Refinance Review

    Pros
  • Very competitive rates.
  • Free consultations.
  • No hidden fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Live customer service available nights and weekends.
  • Checking rates does not affect your credit score.
  • Refinancing is available in 49 states, plus the District of Columbia.
  • A swift application process allows for pre-qualification in just 15 minutes.
  • Capitalize on networking events, career services, and complimentary financial advising.
  • If you lose your job for no fault of your own, SoFi will suspend your monthly payments for up to 12 months. Not only will this provide financial relief while searching for a new job, but SoFi will also connect you with job placement services. Still, the interest that accrues during this period of unemployment would be added to the loan.
  • Get additional rate discounts on other products like personal and mortgage loans.
  • SoFi offers wealth management services and SoFi Money, a new personal banking app that simplifies checkings and savings.
    Cons
  • Very strict underwriting criteria. The average SoFi borrower has a credit score over 700 and an income upwards of $100,000.
  • Residents of Nevada are not eligible for refinancing. Variable rate loans are not available in Ohio or Tennessee.
  • The soft credit pull that comes with checking rates on conditional offers does not impact your credit score. If you choose to move forward on an offer, a hard credit inquiry will affect your credit score.
States Available
  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming
No companies match your search.

Everything You Need to Know about Medical School Loans in 2022

nurse-guy-standing

Most medical students wisely pay for medical school using federal student loan programs. Federal student loans for medical school have benefits private loans don’t, such as income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options.

That said, federal student loans may not stretch as far as the student needs. There are many private lenders who cater to medical professionals, which we will review in this article. We’ll also look at how credit history and lack of income may effect loan terms.

As you progress in your career, you will have opportunities to refinance your medical school loans. Doing so may save you thousands over the years.


Should You Refinance Your Medical School Loans?

Refinancing your medical school loans could be a great option for you.

However, there’s always a possibility that’s not the case. Some scenarios make refinancing a bad idea for some physicians or dentists — at least financially.

Here at LeverageRx, we believe that financial plans should be individualized.

Some financial moves are generally smart. Yet, there are always circumstances to consider to ensure this proves true for the individual.

Debt refinance is one of those circumstances.

Let’s discuss some of those concerning medical school loans:

Consolidate vs. Refinance

It’s important to understand the difference between consolidating and refinancing your loans. In some instances, one or the other would be the best option.

What Is Medical School Loan Refinancing?

When you refinance your medical school loan, you get a new loan with lower interest rates and better payment terms. This new loan replaces your old loan.

What Is Medical School Loan Consolidation?

When you consolidate loans, multiple loan amounts are combined into one lump loan giving you one monthly payment.

For example, say you have multiple private student loans. By combining them into one loan, you keep your finances simpler and often benefit from a lower monthly payment.

How can you determine whether student loan refinancing or consolidation is best for your financial goals?

There are a few factors to consider.

First, how many medical student loans do you have, and what are your current student loan payments? What is the total amount of medical school debt that you currently owe?

Would a student loan refinance lower these payments?

Federal Student Loan Programs

Acquiring student loans from the federal government is the most popular course of action. After all, they offer many repayment options, especially for physicians.

These student loan repayment plans are also called “income-driven repayment plans.” That’s because the monthly payments depend on a person’s income.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

  • Income-Based Repayment (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)
  • Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE)
  • Revised-Pay-As-You-Earn (REPAYE)

Income-Based Repayment (IBR)

To qualify for IBR, your monthly student loan payment can’t equal or exceed what your payments would be under the 10-year Standard Repayment Plan.

For example, if you have $150,000 in student loans, but are single and make $150,000 a year, you will not qualify for IBR.

For borrowers who issued their loans after July 1, 2014, IBR caps payments at 10% of your discretionary income. The repayment term is 20 years and after the term expires, the remaining loan balance will be forgiven.

For borrowers who issued their loans before July 1, 2014, IBR limits payments to 15% of discretionary income. The repayment term is 25 years, after which the remaining loan balance is forgiven.

Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR)

The good thing about ICR is there is no income eligibility requirement. Monthly payments on ICR plans are set as the lesser of:

  • 20% of your discretionary income
  • The amount your monthly payments would be if your loan is amortized over 12 years

ICR also offers student loan forgiveness after a maximum repayment period of 25 years.

Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE)

Pay As You Earn (PAYE) caps a borrower’s monthly loan payment at 10% of discretionary income which means this program works out better for residents or physicians just starting out, rather than seasoned doctors. This is a hypothetical resident’s situation:

  • $58,000 salary
  • Single with no kids
  • Has student loans totaling $150,000 at 5.7% interest
  • Current monthly payment $1,642

If this person qualifies for PAYE, it will slash her monthly payment from $1,642 to $333. That’s quite the savings! However, the resident’s monthly payment will grow proportionally to her income. The beauty of PAYE is it helps medical professionals through the lean years of residency by drastically lowering their monthly student loan payment.

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE)

REPAYE is a new-and-improved version of PAYE. It was introduced in 2015 as a way to make more student loan debtors eligible for PAYE.

A borrower’s monthly payment under REPAYE is 10% of their discretionary income and there is no cap on monthly payments. The more you earn, the more you will have to repay each month on your loans.

The maximum repayment period under REPAYE is 20 years for undergraduate students and 25 years for graduate students. Once the repayment period expires, the loan is forgiven.

Should You Refinance a Federal Student Loan?

When deciding whether or not to refinance a federal student loan, there are some things to consider:

  • You could lose the repayment options above if you refinance your medical student loans.
  • The federal government is often much more understanding than private lenders when borrowers request a deferment or forbearance when finances are tight.

The Parent PLUS Loan

Also available to medical students with supportive parents is the option to secure a Parent PLUS loan.

Some medical students may consider refinancing to transfer that debt to their name to alleviate some financial burdens on their parents.

Student Loan Forgiveness Programs

Instead of working out an income-based repayment plan, or refinancing your private loans — you may want to consider student loan forgiveness programs. Here is an overview of the most common programs.

PSLF (Public Service Loan Forgiveness)

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives federal student loans for employees of certain public agencies and nonprofit organizations. Medical professionals can qualify for this program by working full-time for a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit or public institution.

However, borrowers must make monthly payments for 10 years while being employed at the qualifying agency or nonprofit before the debt is forgiven. And, this program is unfortunately hard to qualify for.

As of June 30, 2018, 33,000 applications were submitted and 98% of those applications were denied PSLF.

In short, PLSF will pay your remaining Direct Loan balance, if you have:

  • Been employed by a nonprofit or government organization
  • Made 120 qualifying student loan payments

National Health Service Corps

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) provides up to $50,000 for student loan repayment assistance. To obtain this funding, doctors must commit to serving in an NHSC site in a high-need, underserved area.

The term of commitment is typically two years. Once you complete those two years, you may be able to extend your service. This would result in additional loan repayment assistance.

This organization offers several options for physicians to earn some student loan forgiveness.

Eligibility requirements include:

  • United States Citizenship
  • Eligible or currently in service in Medicare, Medicaid, or State Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • Training and licensing in the NHSC in the state you plan to serve
  • Qualified student loan debt in the degree that made you an NHSC eligible health professional
  • Employment at an NHSC site

NIH Loan Repayment Programs

The National Institute of Health offers some student loan repayment for qualifying medical professionals who commit to aiding in NIH-directed research.

To qualify for its repayment program ($35k per year), participants must agree to perform research funded by a nonprofit organization. The commitment must be for a minimum of two years.

Military Programs

Many federal benefits come from enlisting in the military. Medical residents who are also in the military can take advantage of federal student loan benefits offered by the U.S. Armed Forces.

Your payments and or interest can be deferred both during and after active duty.

You may qualify to have your loan forgiven under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. This only applies to Federal Direct Loans.

Qualification factors include:

  • Full time employment at a qualifying government service (e.g., military service) or non-profit service agency
  • Proof of 120 student loan payments paid on time

Are you eligible for medical school student loan forgiveness? Read our post — Medical Student Loan Forgiveness — to discover your options!


The Benefits of Refinancing Your Student Loan Debt

Medical school graduates

Refinancing your student loan debt is financially beneficial in many instances.

Here’s a list of benefits you can expect from refinancing these loans:

Lower Your Interest Rate

The biggest benefit of refinancing your student loans is the savings you’ll see by qualifying for a lower interest rate. The rate offered depends on your current credit score.

Banks competing for your business will try to entice you with a low-interest rate. While this number is important, you’ll need to be careful you don’t get distracted by such a low APR that you don’t check the other terms.

Lower Your Monthly Payment

Is your main concern lowering your monthly bills?

Then, you may be excited by the prospect of refinancing your student loans to get a lower monthly payment. Doing so may or may not come with a lower interest rate as well.

Lowering your interest rate can help you to extend the length of your loan. This — in turn — will lower your monthly payment without adding extra interest payments.

Choose Your Rate

When you refinance medical school loans, you often get the option to choose whether you want a fixed-rate or variable-rate loan.

Fixed-Rate vs. Variable-Rate

A fixed-rate loan is a loan with an interest rate that remains the same throughout the life of the loan. This type of loan is most beneficial when interest rates are low nationwide.

Variable-rate loans will have an APR that fluctuates throughout the life of the loan. Variable-rate loans are a gamble. If the economy starts to fail, your loan will begin to cost you more.

Choose Your Loan Length

Another aspect of refinancing that may be beneficial is to change the length of your loan.

Short-term vs. Long-term

The benefit of choosing a short-term loan is that the faster you pay off your loan, the less you’ll pay in interest. However, your monthly payments will need to be higher.

Long-term loans will provide the opposite benefit. These loans will come with a lower monthly payment, but you’ll end up paying more interest as time goes on.


How To Get the Best Out of Refinancing Student Loans

Calculating medical school refinancing

By now, you’re likely considering your refinancing options for your student debt. But first, there are some actions you can take to ensure you get the best results from this process:

1. Improve Your Credit Score

As we already mentioned, the loan interest rate a bank offers will depend on your credit score. With this in mind, the more you improve your credit score before refinancing, the more you benefit from this action.

You can ensure that your credit score increases by:

  • Making on-time payments to all of your creditors
  • Paying more than the minimum payment each month
  • Keeping your balances lower than 35% of the total credit limit

Another way to help boost your credit score is to check your credit report for errors. Although it’s rare for credit bureaus to make mistakes, identity fraud is not.

If you have bad credit but feel the need to refinance, you can enlist the help of a cosigner. Their credit score can improve your eligibility for a lower rate.

2. Increase Your Income

You can often qualify for better rates after med school just by entering the workforce and increasing your income.

Your new salary will improve your debt-to-income ratio. This is, of course, a major factor in the eligibility requirements that lenders look for.

3. Choose the Best Lender

Banks are competing against one another for your business. You can take advantage of this by shopping around for the best rates.

However, the lowest APR isn’t always the best loan, and there isn’t just one loan that is best for all individuals. Your unique financial needs and situations may benefit best from different loan terms.

Are you unsure which loan terms you should prioritize?

If so, a financial expert from LeverageRx can help you compare options through Credible.

Now, let’s talk about the top things to look for in a lender:

Competitive Rates

Checking rates is the first thing you’ll want to do when comparing lenders. Lenders with the best rates should make it to the top of your list.

Those with the lowest rates are more promising, but they also must check the rest of the boxes.

Low Fees

When it comes to fees, you’d prefer to pay none, but if there are fees to pay, you want them to be as low as possible.

Check to see if lenders charge origination or disbursement fees to refinance your student loans, and if they do, how high these fees are.

Flexible Repayment Terms

We’ve already discussed the option to change your fixed interest rate to a variable APR. You may also want to refinance from a variable-rate loan to a fixed-rate loan.

The lender’s flexible repayment terms should give you this option. You should also be able to choose from short or long-term loans.

Lenders should also provide the option to refinance both federal or private loans or combine the two.

They should also allow you to pay as much as possible without prepayment penalties.

Easy Loan Application Process

We’re all busy, and filing paperwork can be tedious. That’s why the best lenders streamline their application process to be more convenient for their customers.

Is the application process lengthy or complicated?

Does the bank provide good customer service to help you if you hit any snags in this process?

Do they offer an online application process?

The answer to these questions can help you determine whether doing business with a lender will be worth your time.

Added Benefits

Forbearance options and career help are two big factors most people looking to finance fail to consider.

No matter how good of a physician you are, you can’t control all aspects of your career, and you may need these benefits in the future.

Another helpful benefit that can save you money is an autopay discount. An autopay discount gives you a rate discount by enrolling in automatic payments.

The best way to secure your financial outlook as a physician is to prepare. Learn more about the money problems physicians face and how to prevent them.

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