Earnest Student Loan Review for 2021

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Earnest Student Loan

Overall Rating


Bottom Line

Earnest offers some of the lowest interest rates possible, which is perfect if you want to pay off your student loan debt quickly.


  • Quick 2 Minute Application Process
  • 9 month Grace Period
  • Automatic Payment Discount


  • No Cosigner Release
  • Strict Requirement

Application Process






Loan Availability


Paying for college isn’t an easy task. Sometimes federal student loans aren’t enough to cover all your education expenses. If that’s the case, private student loans can help you finish paying for school.

Earnest student loans are an option for borrowers looking for more help.

Their competitive rates and flexible repayment options make them a popular private lender among college students.

If you have student loans already but need a lower interest rate, Earnest student loan refinancing offers some of the lowest rates and flexible terms. Earnest offers solutions for borrowers that make sense.

Who is Earnest?

earnest student loanEarnest is a leading financial technology company specializing in private student loans and student loan refinancing

They claim to offer low-cost lending options for financially responsible individuals.

Earnest was purchased by federal and private loan servicer Navient in 2017.

If you’re looking for private student loans, what do you need to know about Earnest?

What loan options do they offer and how do you qualify? Let’s take a look.

Earnest Student Loans

Earnest offers private student loan options to fit any qualified student’s needs. Earnest allows people to see if they qualify ahead of time without a hard credit pull. You can also check your qualifying rate.

Current Private Student Loan Offerings Include:

  • Undergraduate private student loans
  • Graduate private student loans
  • Medical School loans
  • Law School loans
  • Business school loans
  • Cosigned private student loans

Earnest student loans come with competitive interest rates for qualified borrowers.

Earnest Interest Rates

Earnest is currently offering the following rates:

  • Fixed Rates start at 3.49% APR
  • Variable Rates start at 1.05% APR

(both include a 0.25% autopay discount)

What is Covered With an Earnest Student Loan?

A private student loan from Earnest doesn’t just cover tuition. It also pays for room & board, books and supplies, and travel expenses.

Your Earnest student loan pays for 100% of your total certified cost of attendance.

This allows you to focus on your education and not how you’ll pay for all of the added expenses that come with attending college.

Term Options

Earnest student loans come with 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15-year terms with a cosigner.

Without a cosigner, terms are 10, 12, and 15 years. Most borrowers will need a cosigner to qualify because of their credit (or lack of credit).

Does Earnest offer a Grace Period after Leaving School?

The grace period with Earnest is longer than most private lenders. Earnest student loans come with a 9-month grace period after leaving school before you have to start repayment.

When it comes to private student loans, Earnest offers competitive loans with perks that borrowers will love.

Earnest Repayment Options

With Earnest student loans, borrowers have plenty of repayment options that fit whatever they need at the time. Earnest offers four repayment options:

  • Deferred Payment: With this option, borrowers don’t start making payments until their grace period ends. Because no payments are made during school, this will be the most expensive repayment path. The deferred payment option is not available in the following states: AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA.
  • Fixed $25 Payment: If you don’t have extra income while at school, you can make a fixed $25 monthly payment. It’s not much, but it will help to lower your accrued interest.
  • Interest-Only Payment: If you don’t want your interest to accrue and capitalize when you leave school, you can make interest-only payments.
  • Principal & Interest Payment: Borrowers have the option to make full loan payments from the start. Over the length of your loan, this is going to be the cheapest repayment option because of the money saved paying off interest instead of letting it accrue.

Qualifications for Earnest Student Loans

Earnest does have relatively strict requirements to qualify for their private student loans.

First, it’s important to understand student loans with Earnest are available to borrowers and cosigners who currently reside in the District of Columbia or one of the 48 states we lend in (all but Kentucky and Nevada). They are not able to offer variable rate loans in AK, IL, MN, NH, OH, TN, and TX.

To borrow from Earnest, you must be a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident. You must also be of the age of majority for your state of residence. This is the age you are considered an adult in your state.

Beyond basic qualifications, Earnest has qualifications about your education and your finances.

Education Requirements for Borrowers

  • Enrolled full-time, pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree
  • Attend a school that is a Title IV-qualified, not-for-profit, 4-year institution
  • The Minimum loan amount is $1000 (unless otherwise specified by your state of residence)

Financial Requirements for Borrowers

  • A minimum FICO score of 650
  • At least 3 years of credit history
  • An income of at least $35,000 annually
  • No bankruptcy on your credit report.
  • No accounts currently in collections

Earnest is looking for responsible borrowers. They look at your credit to see if you have a history of on-time payments on other accounts reported to credit bureaus.

Although their application process is fairly quick, it’s also thorough.

Most borrowers will need the help of a cosigner to qualify for a private student loan.

Cosigner Requirements:

  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Income above $35,000 per year
  • A credit score above 650

Again, because Earnest is looking for responsible borrowers, this extends to cosigners as well. A cosigner’s credit and financial history will be looked at to make sure there aren’t any red flags.

It’s important to find a cosigner with excellent credit to ensure you qualify for the best possible rate.

There is no cosigner release so your co-signer is responsible for your loans if you are unable to pay them.

Refinancing Your Student Loans Through Earnest

Lowering your interest rate is one of the best ways to pay off student loan debt quicker. Borrowers can do this through refinancing. Earnest student loan financing offers competitive rates and terms that fit your needs.

Current refinancing rates through Earnest start at 2.98% APR for fixed rates and 1.99% APR for variable rates. These are some of the lowest rates you will find from any private lender.

Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Precision Pricing

Most private lenders have specific length terms regardless of a borrower’s needs. Earnest offers customized terms through its precision pricing.

Earnest looks at your loan and how much you can afford monthly and then creates terms that make sense. If you need more than 10 years, you’re not getting stuck with 15-year terms.

Refinancing Qualifications

Earnest student loan refinancing has its own extensive requirements for borrowers, which includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Enrolled less than half-time and your loans are in repayment, or your degree will be completed at the end of this semester
  • At least 18 years old
  • Your debt is from a Title IV-accredited school
  • Your debt is from one or more completed degrees or a degree that will be completed by the end of this semester
  • Minimum loan amount of $5000
  • A minimum credit score of 650

There’s no cosigner option when refinancing through Earnest. However, you can release a cosigner from private loans when you refinance.

When you refinance federal loans, they become private loans. When this happens, you lose access to federal programs like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness options.

Make sure you don’t need access to any federal student loan protections before refinancing federal student loans.

Pros and Cons of Earnest Student Loans


  • Quick 2-minute application and approval process
  • 9-month grace period
  • 0.25% automatic payment discount
  • No origination, disbursement or prepayment fees
  • Borrowers can skip a payment once per year


  • No cosigner release
  • Stricter requirements
  • Loans aren’t available in every state

Earnest Application Process

The process to apply for a student loan is easy with Earnest. On their website, click the button to get your rate quote within 2 minutes.

Proceed to enter some basic personal information as well as info about your finances, your education, and your residence.

After submitting your answers, you’ll find out if you are eligible and receive a rate quote. Earnest only performs a soft credit pull during this process. This doesn’t affect your credit score negatively.

If you decide to move forward and get a private loan, Earnest will perform a hard credit pull. This could cause your credit score to drop slightly.

Is Earnest Worth It?

Earnest offers some of the lowest interest rates possible, which is perfect if you want to pay off your student loan debt quickly.

They have strict requirements because they’re interested in working with responsible borrowers. Earnest rewards qualified borrowers with low rates, though.

As a general rule, students should explore all federal student aid options before looking at private student loans. They offer protection and programs not available through private lenders. Most federal loans have low fixed rates.

If you don’t have established credit or a cosigner with excellent credit, you may not qualify or get a low rate with private loans. Max out federal student loan options before applying for private student loans.

If you do end up needing extra help paying for school, Earnest student loans are one of the best options available.

1 – You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay. 

2 – Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

3 – Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit earnest.com/licenses for a full list of licensed states.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2021 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.

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