Loan Refinancing Is Helping Students Dig Their Way Out of Debt

SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — A San Francisco startup says it can slash student loan payments.

For many, graduation marks the end of college and the beginning of paying down college debt.

It’s estimated nearly three-quarters of college graduates are stuck with student debt.

Ten years after graduation, Jason Clark decided it was time to speed up the process by re-financing his student loans.

“It was a little daunting…” said Clark.

And with the help of a the startup Credible, he says he got a good start.

“It gave me about five or six different offers…,” Clark said.

Credible bills itself as an online-marketplace for loan offers. It works with about 15 lenders, including a new crop that specialize in refinancing student debt, companies like Sofi, Common Bond, College Avenue, Purefy, Earnest.

Credible founder Stephen Dash says the average user saves $18,000 over the life of their loan.

“It’s a Kayak or Expedia or Amazon for loans…” Dash said.

He said that on average people save 1.71 percent by refinancing their student loan to a lower rate.

But Suzanne Martindale of Consumers Union warns that refinancing isn’t for everyone.

“For people who are likely to have a high debt to income ratio for many years, they may not even qualify,” Martindale said.

And she says borrowers with federal loans could lose important protections if they refinance with a private company, like the option to delay payments and loan forgiveness after ten years in public service.

And she says re-financing college debt is a relatively new and untested industry.

Martindale said, “And that tells us that we have to proceed with caution.”

So far, Clark is happy he refinanced a portion of his student loans after reviewing his options on Credible.

He calculates his 1 percent interest reduction and shorter loan term could save him about $10,000.

“It felt really good to see there was a light at the end of that tunnel,” Clark said.

Unlike mortgages, there are no fee or points to refinance a student debt. Credible does earns a fee from the lender if the refinancing takes place.

Unlike mortgages, there are no fee or points to refinance a student debt.

Credible earns a fee from the lender, if the refinancing takes place.

More from Julie Watts
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