Smart Tactics for Lowering Student Loan Interest Rates

#1 Student loan lawyer

Updated on June 4, 2023

Finding ways to get a lower student loan interest rate can save you significant money in the long run. It can even lower your student loan payments in the short term.

Here are three things you can do to reduce the interest rate you’ll pay on your federal or private student loans.

Related: How to Lower Student Loan Payments

Look at Refinancing Options

Refinancing is a practical strategy for managing high-interest student loans. It involves obtaining a new loan, typically from a private lender, with different terms to pay off your existing loan(s). The objective is to secure a lower interest rate, which could reduce the total amount paid over the loan term.

Benefits of student loan refinance include:

  • Lower interest payments: For instance, moving from a 7% to a 4% interest rate on a $30,000 loan with a 10-year term could save nearly $5,000.

  • Flexible loan terms: You may extend for lower monthly payments or shorten to pay off faster and decrease total interest.

But there are potential drawbacks.

Most notably, if you refinance federal loans, you’ll lose federal benefits and protections like income-based student loan repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs. Therefore, the decision to refinance should be weighed carefully against these potential losses.

Refinancing could be a great option if you have a stable income, a good credit score, and private student loans or federal loans you’re confident won’t need income-driven repayment benefits. It could be an effective way to lower your student loan interest rate and save money over time. Next, we’ll explore more strategies for reducing your student loan interest.

Use an online marketplace like Credible to find the best student loan refinancing lenders.

Related: How to Lower Private Student Loan Payments

Enroll in Autopay

Autopay, a feature many lenders and loan servicers offer, could also help lower your student loan interest rate. With autopay, monthly loan payments are automatically deducted from your bank account, often leading to an interest rate reduction.

Benefits of autopay include:

  • Interest rate reduction: Lenders may offer an interest rate discount, usually 0.25%, to those enrolled in autopay. Even though it might seem small, this can save significant money over your loan term. For a $40,000 student loan with a 10-year term, a 0.25% rate discount could save over $600.

  • Timely payments: The automatic deduction ensures you never miss a payment, preventing late fees and negatively impacting your credit score. Regular on-time payments can even improve your credit score, benefiting future borrowing.

But be careful doing this.

Make sure your bank account has enough funds to cover the automatic payments. Otherwise, you could face overdraft fees. Therefore, careful financial management is crucial with autopay.

Related: How to Reduce Student Loan Debt

Loyalty Discounts

Loyalty discounts offer another opportunity to reduce your student loan interest rate. Lenders often provide these discounts to borrowers with an existing relationship, rewarding their loyalty with potentially lower rates.

Here are three things to know about loyalty discounts:

  1. They typically offer about a 0.25% rate reduction, but this can vary by lender. For example, Citizens Bank and SoFi offer discounts to existing members who choose to refinance with them.

  2. Some lenders may reward academic milestones with rate reductions. For instance, you might receive a discount if you graduate within a certain timeframe.

  3. Lenders may offer relationship-based discounts for maintaining high account balances with them. Though rare, these discounts could be as high as 2.00%.

So speak with your current lender about any loyalty discounts or rewards you could qualify for. A small rate reduction can lead to significant savings over the life of the loan.

Negotiate With Your Lender

While not always successful, negotiating your student loan interest rate with your current lender can be a potential strategy to lower your rate. Success generally depends on the lender’s policies and your financial situation.

Here are the steps to negotiate effectively:

  1. Understand Your Situation: Know your financial standing. A strong payment history, a high credit score, or an improved financial situation could make you a less risky borrower, possibly encouraging the lender to lower your rate.

  2. Prepare: Gather information about your loan and financial situation. Understand your interest rate, credit score, financial history, and income.

  3. Research: Understand the interest rates offered by other lenders. This provides a negotiation basis, helping argue for a lower rate.

  4. Communicate Clearly: Clearly state why a lower interest rate is justified. Improved credit score, strong payment history, or lower rates from competitors could be reasons.

  5. Consider Refinancing: If negotiation fails, consider refinancing with another lender. Your earlier research will come in handy.

Keep in mind each lender’s policies vary, and not all may be open to negotiation. However, it’s worth exploring this option.

Related: Does Sallie Mae Do Income-Based Repayment?

Government Actions to Lower Interest Rates

The federal government has proposed changes to reduce the burden of student loan debt. The key focus is limiting student loan interest capitalization — adding accrued interest to the principal balance — which can increase the loan balance over time.

Related: How Student Loan Interest Works

The proposal highlights:

  1. Limiting Interest Capitalization: The plan is to restrict student loan interest capitalization only when required by the Higher Education Act of 1965. This can help lower the overall student loan interest, accelerating loan payoff.

  2. Circumstances: The plan aims to remove capitalization when a loan defaults, during forbearance, or after a grace period. It would still occur if mandated by statute for unsubsidized loans after deferment or when exiting most income-driven repayment plans.

  3. Impact: The proposal won’t directly lower interest rates but will limit the amount of interest added to your balance by limiting when interest can be capitalized. The change wouldn’t eliminate capitalization, only when not required by the Higher Education Act.

Implementation was expected by July 1, 2023, following a public comment period and final rule determination.

Related: FHA Guidelines on Student Loans in Forbearance

But due to budgetary constraints at the Department of Education and the slow rollout of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver, IDR Waiver, and the legal challenges to Biden’s debt cancellation plan, federal student loan borrowers likely won’t benefit from these changes for the next several months.

Options If You Can’t Get a Lower Rate

If refinancing isn’t feasible, other strategies exist to manage your student loan interest rate.

Improve Your Credit Score

Improving your credit score is a viable strategy to lower your student loan interest rate if refinancing isn’t possible. Here’s how you can improve your credit score:

  • Make Timely Payments: Consistently making on-time payments, including student loans, credit cards, and car loans, can significantly enhance your credit score.

  • Maintain Low Credit Utilization: Keep your credit utilization rate, the ratio of your credit card balances to your credit limits, below 30%.

  • Limit New Credit Inquiries: Frequent applications for new credit may lower your score due to hard inquiries on your credit report. Limit new applications to necessary situations only.

  • Monitor Your Credit Report: Regularly check your credit reports for errors. Disputing and removing any inaccuracies can help improve your score.

  • Maintain a Mix of Credit Types: Having a mix of different types of credit, such as installment loans and revolving credit, can enhance your credit score.

Related: Do Student Loans Affect Credit Score?

Consider a Cosigner

If your credit history isn’t strong enough to secure lower rates, consider adding a cosigner to your loan:

  • Shared Responsibility: Your student loan cosigner is equally responsible for the repayment of the loan, sharing the onus if you can’t make the payments.

  • Credit Impact: The cosigner’s credit is linked to the loan; any late payments or defaults will affect both your credit scores.

  • Potential Financial Liability: The cosigner might face debt collectors, legal action, or even wage garnishment if you default on the loan.

Remember, this is a significant commitment. Both parties need to understand these responsibilities, and as a borrower, you should maintain on-time payments to protect your cosigner’s credit and finances.

Bottom Line

Navigating high student loan interest rates can be daunting, potentially extending your repayment duration and causing financial stress.

If you’re struggling with your student loan interest rate or monthly payments, we’re here to help. Don’t let the weight of student debt hinder your financial freedom.

Book a call today, and together, we’ll craft a student loan strategy tailored to your situation, paving the way for a less burdensome, more manageable path to debt repayment.

UP NEXT: Does Student Loan Interest Compound?

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Can you get a lower interest rate on student loans?

Yes, getting a lower interest rate on your student loans is possible through various strategies such as refinancing, signing up for autopay, improving your credit score, negotiating with your lender, or even using a co-signer. However, it’s crucial to carefully consider your individual financial situation and potential trade-offs before making decisions.

Can I ask for a lower interest rate on my student loan?

Absolutely. You can negotiate with your current lender for a lower interest rate, particularly if you have an improved credit score or financial situation since the loan was initially taken out. Success depends on your financial circumstances and the lender’s policies.

How can I get my student loan interest lowered?

To lower your student loan interest, you can consider refinancing, making consistent on-time payments, using autopay, improving your credit score, using a cosigner, or negotiating with your lender. Remember, each strategy requires careful thought and may have its own benefits and drawbacks.