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Earnest Student Loan Review [2018]: Yes, They’re a Good Option

September 20, 2018

Read Earnest Student Loan reviews. See why you should consider them if you're looking to refinance federal and private student loans.

Meet Earnest is a loan company offering low-interest student loans. Or more to the point, Earnest is a loan consolidation company that refinances student loans you’ve already borrowed.

former fintech earnest ceo

The online lending service got its start offering low-interest personal loans to Millenials with short credit histories, large student loans, or who were just entering the workforce.

Sidenote. Early investors in Earnest include: Andreessen Horowitz, Atlas Venture, and Maveron.

Not until 2014, did Earnest begin offering student loan refinance options.

Now, 4 years later, Earnest is a subsidiary of Navient, which bought the fintech company in part so it could reenter the in-school originations market in January 2019. More on this later.

Earnest refinance student loan reviews: Are they any good?

I’ve had 2 clients that refinanced their student loans with Earnest. Both loved the process and were happy with the terms.

That seems to be the case with other borrowers across the internet.

For instance, check out this review…

earnest review1 1

And this one…

earnest review2 1

And this one…

earnest review3 1

While I’m not a fan of Navient in general, perhaps they’ve left Earnest alone so they can continue their track record of great customer service.

Still not convinced?

Here are more reviews of Earnest student loans.

Eligibility requirements for Earnest refinance student loan

Earnest’s eligibility requirements are straight-forward and include:

  • US Citizen or be a permanent resident with a 10-year nonconditional card;
  • 18 years old;
  • Possess a minimum credit score of 650
  • Primary borrower on the loan being refinanced;
  • The debt is from a school that gets federal financial aid (Title IV funding);
  • You have at least 6 months of on-time payments on your loan; and
  • You aren’t refinancing a private student loan owned or serviced by Sallie Mae.

What are the interest rates of Earnest Operations LLC loan

As of September 20th, 2018, Earnest reports the following interest rates:

  • Variable. The starting interest rate (including .25% autopay discount) is between 2.47% and 5.87%.
  • Fixed. The starting rate is between 3.89% and 6.32%.

Earnest loans have no origination fees.

What is the repayment period for an Earnest student loan

The longest loan term is 20 years. The shortest term is 5 years.

What credit score do I need to get a private student loan from Earnest

According to Standard and Poors, as of May 15, 2017, the weighted average credit score for a pool of loans made by Earnest was 775.

About a tenth of a percent of all borrowers in that pool had a credit score of less than 670.

earnest credit score student loan 1

Most borrowers had a credit score of 740 and higher.

On another note, the weighted average gross income of borrowers in that same pool was $135,595. They had a weighted average monthly free cash flow of $4,379.

Do I need a cosigner to refinance a student loan with Earnest

Not yet. At this time, Earnest does not offer cosigners on its private student loans.

But let’s say you have a cosigner on your current student loans and you refinance them with Earnest, what happens to your cosigner? Well, in that case, they’ll get a cosigner release.

earnest student loan cosigner 1

The new Earnest consolidated student loan will be in your name only.

Does Earnest look at credit

Yes.  During the eligibility stage, Earnest requests a soft credit pull from the credit reporting bureaus. According to Earnest, this soft pull does not affect your credit. This pull is to make sure you meet the minimum eligibility requirements.

During the application stage, Earnest requests a hard credit pull.

This pull does affect your credit.

How long does Earnest take to process a student loan refinance application

Reports across the internet suggest that it takes Earnest anywhere from one day to a few weeks to process a student loan refinance application and pay off the loans.

What are the contract terms

To date, I’ve had only 2 clients that have refinanced their student loans with Earnest. Both of those clients refinanced their loans before Earnest was acquired by Navient. I mention that because the loan terms may have changed since I looked at the promissory note.

Based on what I saw, the loan contract looks much like the contracts I saw from SoFi. For instance, like SoFi:

  • Earnest warns you about the dangers of refinancing federal student loans into with a private lender;
  • There’s no loan origination fee;
  • Deferments and forbearances are offered;
  • Quasi-income-driven repayment plans;
  • Discharge options for death and disability;
  • Default occurs if a payment is 30 days past due; and
  • Mandatory arbitration for disputes (you can waive this by requesting a waiver in writing within 60 days of the loan’s disbursement).

What’s the default rate of Earnest student loans

As of February 2018, Earnest Operations LLC held about $530 million in private student loans. It’s anticipated that 3.25% of Earnest borrowers will default on their private student loan.

default rate earnest student loan 1

That’s a whole lot less than the 11.3 percent Department of Education reports as its default rate.

Is an Earnest private student loan dischargeable in bankruptcy

Likely not unless you can prove undue hardship.

Earnest appears to refinance only those loans made to borrowers who attended a Title IV eligible school.

One reason for this is because some “private student loans” can be protected from discharge only if you got the loans while you attended a school that was eligible to receive federal financial aid.

Admittedly, this is just one of the requirements a private student loan has to meet to be a qualified education loan and therefore dischargeable in bankruptcy. Earnest would still need to meet other requirements to be excepted from discharge. But the Title IV requirement is huge.

Sidenote. The qualified education loan rule also covers a debt incurred to refinance a private student loan. But that’s true only if the loan was a qualified education loan.

qualified education loan earnest refinance 1

26 USC 221(d)(1) hanging paragraph)

Last thing

As I mentioned earlier, Navient acquired Earnest.

navient earnest student loan

This acquisition has caused concerned. Remember, Navient services federal student loans. Since they now own a company that makes private lenders, could their reps persuade more borrowers with federal student loans to refinance with Earnest?

Perhaps.

At least that’s what Sen. Elizabeth Warren posits in a letter addressed to Navient.

Earnest Acquired by Navient.

Aside from that concern, there’s also concern that the acquisition may not be going all that great.

Three months after being acquired by Navient, Earnest’s co-founder and CEO, Louis Beryl, left the company.

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