Earnest Student Loan Review for 2020

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 an online private lender. They specialize in student loan refinancing, private student loans, and personal loans.

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 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 is currently offering the following rates:

  • Fixed Rates start at 4.64% APR
  • Variable Rates start at 2.99%

(both include a 0.25% autopay discount)

Earnest Earnest is an online private lender. They specialize in student loan refinancing, private student loans, and personal loans. Learn More Earnest

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 wtih Earnest are unavailable to borrowers and cosigners who are residents of the following states: AK, CT, HI, IL, NH, NV, TX, and VA.

Residents of all other states and Washington D.C. are eligible to apply.

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 4.25% APR for fixed rates and 3.50% 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.


Earnest Earnest is an online private lender. They specialize in student loan refinancing, private student loans, and personal loans. Learn More Earnest

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is the student loan, family travel, and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. He regularly writes for Student Loan Planner, Club Thrifty, and PT Money. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and four kids.
Kevin Payne

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