6 Best Lenders To Refinance Student Loans with a Cosigner

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Written By SmarterrMoney.org

The latest in personal finance to help you make smarter money choices. 

About 44 million people1Federal Student Aid in the U.S. have student loan debt. While you may think you’re stuck with your current loan terms, you can choose to refinance your student loan.

One way to do this is to get a cosigner, especially if you don’t have great credit. A cosigner takes responsibility for the loan if you can’t pay back the lender, so it may reduce the risk for the lender and get you better terms.

Here are our top choices for lenders that can refinance your student loan with a cosigner, along with their terms, rates, and eligibility requirements.

Lenders To Refinance Student Loans With a Cosigner

1. Sallie Mae

Why we chose it: Sallie Mae has the best loan limit policies.

Founded in 1972, Sallie Mae is one of the best-known private student lenders in the US. The company offers student loans for undergraduates, graduates, parents, and career training, among others. Rates start at 4.50% fixed APR and 5.99% variable APR.

They cover up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance. Loans can also be used for off-campus housing, computers, software, sheets, towels, books, supplies, transportation, and equipment you need for classes. 

Sallie Mae offers the quickest opportunity for cosigners to be released, along with a multiyear advantage that gives current borrowers with cosigners high approval odds. 

Loan rates start at 4.50% and they offer repayment terms of up to 20 years with a 0.25% discount for automatic payments. Sallie Mae also has multiple deferment options available, including full deferment, $25 monthly, or interest-only payments. 

There is a six-month grace period and cosigner release is available after 12 payments. 

Pros of Sallie Mae

  • Multiple deferment options
  • Fixed rates start at 4.50%
  • Can cover 100% of your school attendance cost
  • Part-time students are eligible

Cons of Sallie Mae

  • Does not offer student loan refinance

Eligibility Requirements

  • A strong credit score in the mid-600s
  • Employment history
  • Must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident
  • Have a permanent U.S. address
  • Have a Social Security Number
  • Must have no open bankruptcies

Repayment Terms

  • Deferred repayment – no payments while in school, and during the grace period
  • Fixed repayment – $25 payments while in school, and during the grace period
  • Interest-only payment while in school, and during the grace period

2. College Ave

Why we chose it: College Ave has the best repayment terms

Based in Washington, College Ave was founded in 2014 and is known for its straightforward and personalized approach, making them a very attractive lender. They offer tailored private student loans and refinancing to undergraduate and graduate students and parents.

College Ave has low rates starting at 4.44% and covers up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance. Loan repayment terms are available for up to 15 years and options include full deferment, $25 monthly, and interest-only payments. 

Rates start at 4.44% fixed APR and 5.09% variable APR.

They allow for a cosigner release after 24 full and consecutive payments. 

Pros of College Ave

  • Soft credit check
  • Fixed rates from 4.44%
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Cosigner release policies

Cons of College Ave

  • No information regarding credit requirements on the website

Eligibility Requirements

  • Should be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be at least 16 years old (18 years for refinancing loans)
  • Must be attending at least part-time an accredited college or university

Repayment Details

  • Deferred payments – no payments for up to six months after graduation
  • Flat $25 monthly payments during school and up to six months after graduation
  • Interest-only payments while in school and up to six months after graduation
  • Repay the full amount during school

3. Citizens Bank

Why we chose it: Citizens Bank is best for cosigner policies

Citizens Bank is one of the largest banks in the U.S. and was founded in 1828. The bank offers private student loans and refinancing, as well as personal and business financing products. Citizens Bank offers multi-year approvals, enabling students to fund their four-year stay in college with only one application.

Undergraduate loans start at 4.43% APR with repayment periods of up to 15 years. Getting a quote takes a few minutes and doesn’t require a hard credit check.

Private student loans from Citizens Bank are available from $1,000 up to the total cost of education. Cosigners are optional and there are no origination fees, no application fees, and no penalty fees for early repayment.

Pros of Citizens Bank

  • Interest rate and AutoPay discounts
  • Multiple repayment options
  • Flexible co-signer release terms
  • Multiyear approvals

Cons of Citizens Bank

  • A 5% late payment fee applies

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must have a minimum annual income of $12,000 ($24,000 for refinancing loans)
  • Must have a reasonably strong credit score (typical approvals are done for borrowers with a score of at least 740)
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or international student

Repayment Details

  • Immediate option, repayment starts as soon as the funds are disbursed
  • Interest-only payments while in school and during the six months after graduation
  • Deferred payments while in school and during the six months after graduation

4. Ascent

Why we chose it: Ascent is best for international students

Founded in 2015, Ascent is an online lender that offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students. They offer loans to those who don’t meet the eligibility requirements of most lenders

Ascent’s student loans don’t require a cosigner and applicants don’t have to be U.S. citizens, making this an excellent option for international students. They offer loan repayment periods of up to 20 years with a 1% cash-back graduation reward when borrowers meet certain criteria.

Loan rates start from 4.62% with a 0.25% discount for AutoPay. You have various repayment options including interest-only payments, $25 minimum payments, and full deferment.

Pros of Ascent

  • Loans don’t require a cosigner
  • Two years of financial hardship forbearance
  • International students are eligible
  • 1% cash back graduation reward
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees

Cons of Ascent

  • Higher interest rates 
  • Not all schools are eligible

Eligibility Requirements

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), or international student
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be at least a part-time student
  • Student or cosigner must have at least two years of employment history
  • Student or cosigner must earn at least $24,000 per year

Repayment Details

  • Deferred payment while in school with a nine-month grace period after graduation
  • Fixed $25 monthly payments while in school and during the nine-month grace period
  • Interest-only payments while in school and during the nine-month grace period


Why we chose it: MEFA offers the most accessible loans

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) has been providing student loans for over 40 years. MEFA provides private student loans and refinancing loans, with fixed interest rates and an instant decision on applications. 

Interest rates for MEFA student loans start at 5.35% APR with repayment periods of up to 15 years. There are no application or origination fees, no prepayment penalties, and multiple repayment options. 

The minimum loan amount is $1,500, which is ideal for borrowers who only need a small amount of money to complete their education. 

Cosigner release is available after 48 consecutive, on-time payments.

Pros of MEFA

  • No origination or application fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Instant application decision
  • Cosigner release is possible 
  • Low minimum loan amount

Cons of MEFA

  • No interest rate or automatic payment discounts

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must maintain a good academic process
  • Must be enrolled at a not-for-profit college or university

Repayment Details

  • Interest-only payments while in school, starting 28 days after loan disbursement 
  • Immediate payment starting 28 days after loan disbursement
  • Deferred option with a six-month grace period after graduation

6. Earnest

Why we chose it: Earnest is best for its transparent eligibility requirements

Earnest is a fintech lender founded in 2013 and a leader in student loan refinancing. They added private student loans to their list of products in 2019 and are known for their transparency when it comes to loan requirements – making it easy for students to see what they qualify for.

Earnest offers repayment periods of up to 15 years with the option of full deferment, fixed repayments, and interest-only payments. Loan rates start at 4.45% and you can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance.

There is also a nine-month grace period, but there is no cosigner release. 

Pros of Earnest

  • Flexible repayment options
  • Quick online eligibility check
  • No late payment penalties
  • Nine-month grace period
  • AutoPay discounts

Cons of Earnest

  • No cosigner release policies

Eligibility Requirements

  • A minimum credit score of 650
  • Student or cosigner must earn at least $35,000 per year
  • Three years’ worth of credit history
  • Full-time enrollment at an accredited college or university

Repayment Details

  • Deferred payment while in school with a nine-month grace period after graduation
  • Interest-only payments while in school with full payments after graduation
  • Fixed $25 monthly payments while in school with full payments after graduation
  • Full payments while in school

What Is Student Loan Refinancing?

Student loan refinancing is when you take out a new student loan to replace one or more existing student loans. You typically refinance a loan to get better loan terms.

Refinancing student loans with a cosigner has a few advantages:

  • Better Interest Rates: With a cosigner who has a strong credit profile, you may be able to obtain a more favorable interest rate, thereby reducing your monthly payments and total interest cost over the life of the loan.
  • Easier Qualification: If your creditworthiness alone doesn’t meet the lender’s criteria, a cosigner may make it possible for you to qualify for refinancing.

However, there may be some drawbacks to consider:

  • Cosigner Risk: The cosigner is equally responsible for the loan. If you default, the cosigner’s credit can be affected. This shared responsibility should be considered and discussed thoroughly with your cosigner.
  • Limited Flexibility: Some refinanced student loans may not offer the same protections and flexibility as federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plans.

Refinancing a student loan with a cosigner can be a wise move if it leads to a significant reduction in interest rates or if it aligns with your financial goals. However, both parties should understand the responsibilities and potential risks involved. 

How To Refinance Student Loans With a Cosigner

1. Evaluate Your Needs and Goals

Determine why you want to refinance and what you hope to achieve, such as a lower interest rate or a shorter loan term. Understanding your goals will guide your decision-making throughout the process.

2. Choose the Right Cosigner

Select a cosigner with a strong credit history and financial stability. This person should be someone you trust and who understands the responsibilities involved in cosigning a loan.

3. Research Lenders

Investigate various lenders, both online and traditional banks, to find the best rates and terms that suit your needs. Look for lenders who accept cosigners for refinanced student loans.

4. Collect Necessary Documentation

Prepare all required documents such as proof of income, credit reports, and information about current student loans. Both you and your cosigner will likely need to provide these documents.

5. Complete the Application

Fill out the application for refinancing with your selected lender. Both the primary borrower and the cosigner must provide information and sign the application.

6. Review Loan Terms

Carefully review the new loan’s terms, including the interest rate, repayment plan, and any fees. Make sure both you and your cosigner understand and agree to these terms.

7. Consider Cosigner Release Options (If Applicable)

Some lenders offer a cosigner release option after a certain number of on-time payments. If this is important to you or your cosigner, inquire about this feature with your chosen lender.

8. Finalize the Refinancing

Once approved, sign the new loan agreement with your cosigner. The new lender will pay off your existing loans, and you’ll begin making payments on the refinanced loan.

9. Maintain Communication with Your Cosigner

Keep an open line of communication with your cosigner, updating them on the loan’s status and any changes that may occur in the future.

Alternatives to Refinancing Student Loans With a Cosigner

If you are considering refinancing your student loans but either don’t have a cosigner or prefer not to include one, there are several alternatives available:

Improve Your Credit Score

If your credit score is a concern, taking steps to improve it may enable you to refinance without needing a cosigner. Paying bills on time, reducing debt, and correcting errors on your credit report can boost your score.

Exploring Different Lenders

Different lenders have varying criteria and may offer unique loan products. Shopping around and comparing offers might lead you to a lender who is willing to refinance your loans without a cosigner and at favorable terms.

Federal Loan Consolidation

If you have federal student loans, you might consider federal loan consolidation. This combines your existing federal loans into a single new loan with an interest rate based on the weighted average of the loans being consolidated. Unlike refinancing with a private lender, consolidation doesn’t require a credit check, so a cosigner is not necessary.

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

For federal student loans, you may qualify for an income-driven repayment plan. This option can adjust your monthly payments based on your income and family size, offering flexibility without the need for a cosigner.

Utilizing Employer Benefits

Some employers offer student loan repayment assistance as a benefit. If available, this assistance might reduce the need to refinance and the accompanying requirement for a cosigner.

Applying for Individual Refinancing

If your financial situation is sound, you may qualify for refinancing on your own without a cosigner. It’s worth discussing your options with potential lenders to determine your eligibility.


Can a cosigner refinance student loans?

Yes, you can add a cosigner when refinancing student loans. In cases where the primary borrower and cosigner agree, they can jointly apply for a new loan to replace the existing one. The refinanced loan might offer better terms, especially if the cosigner has strong credit. It’s essential for both parties to understand and agree on the terms, as they will share responsibility for the loan.

Do you need a cosigner to refinance student loans?

No, having a cosigner is not a requirement to refinance student loans. However, a cosigner may be beneficial if the primary borrower’s credit profile is not strong enough to secure favorable terms independently. In my opinion, considering a cosigner is a good idea if it leads to a lower interest rate or helps in meeting the lender’s criteria, but it is not mandatory.

Can a cosigner be taken off a student loan?

Yes, a cosigner can often be removed from a student loan, depending on the terms of the loan. Many lenders offer a cosigner release option after the primary borrower has made a certain number of consecutive, on-time payments and meets other credit criteria. It’s crucial to review the specific terms of your loan or consult with your lender to understand the process and requirements for cosigner release.

Can a cosigner help refinance?

Yes, a cosigner can indeed help in refinancing. By adding a cosigner with a strong credit history and financial stability, the primary borrower may qualify for a lower interest rate or better terms. The inclusion of a cosigner can enhance the trustworthiness of the loan application, which may be particularly helpful if the primary borrower has a limited or less-than-perfect credit history.