If you’re seeking to refinance your student loans, you might be considering doing so with First Republic Bank. A First Republic student loan refinance can offer highly-competitive interest rates for paying down your student loans quickly.
But a First Republic student loan refinance may come with some disadvantages, as well. Continue reading to learn the pros and cons of First Republic student loan refinancing, as well as some of your other options.
First Republic Bank: Who Are They?
First Republic Bank is a private American company that offers personal and business banking, wealth management, investing, and lending services in California, New York, and multiple other locations.
The company specializes in providing banking services to low-risk, high net worth clientele. In terms of student loan refinancing, First Republic’s low rates mostly benefit graduates who are on firm financial footing. First Republic Bank offers student loan refinancing at low rates for borrowers who have excellent credit and meet a number of other requirements.
You can use a First Republic student loan refinance loan to refinance private loans, federal loans, or both. But keep in mind that if you refinance your federal loans with a private lender like First Republic, you’ll lose eligibility for federal programs like income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness.
To review student loan refinancing, as well as the difference between federal loan consolidation and private loan refinancing, click here:
What is a First Republic Student Loan Refinance Plan?
If you’re a college graduate who’s in good shape financially, you may benefit from refinancing your loans with a First Republic student loan refinance loan.
Several factors make First Republic Bank unique when it comes to student loan refinancing. Below, we’ll outline the key pros and cons of First Republic Bank and First Republic student loan refinancing products.
First Republic Student Loan Refinancing Key Points
- No hard credit check.
- Dedicated relationship manager or personal banker.
- Fixed low interest rates if you qualify.
- Maximum refinance amount of $300,000.
- Multiple repayment term lengths between 5 and 15 years.
- Interest rebate if you repay in less than four years.
- You can prequalify fast.
- You must live near one of First Republic’s brick-and-mortar locations to qualify.
- No forbearance (no protection if you can’t make your payments).
- No long-term repayment.
- Minimum refinance amount of $25,000.
- Strict eligibility requirements, including where you live and how much you earn.
Below, we’ll break down these pros and cons to give you a better idea of what to expect from First Republic student loan refinancing.
Benefits of a First Republic Student Loan Refinance Plan
No Hard Credit Check
You can see if you qualify for a First Republic student loan refinance plan without putting a hard check on your credit. Over time, these hard checks add up and can do damage to your credit score, so it’s good to avoid them wherever you can.
As a First Republic Bank customer, you’ll be assigned a dedicated “relationship manager”. Your personal banker will be your go-to person if you have questions about your account or want to make a change. You can call or email this person whenever you need help with refinancing or banking, or you can visit someone in person at one of First Republic’s brick-and-mortar branches.
Having a designated person there to help you with issues can be a huge help when you’re refinancing student loans, and it can be a welcome change from the customer service systems offered by other student loan companies.
Fixed Low Interest Rates
The main thing you want to look for when you’re refinancing student loans is a fixed, low interest rate. A First Republic student loan refinance plan offers a low interest rate fixed at 1.95% – 4.45% APR depending on your credit.
With a First Republic student loan refinance loan, you can refinance as much as $300,000. This offers a great upper range if you’re refinancing all of your student loans together. The downside is that the minimum amount you can refinance with First Republic bank is $25,000.
First Republic will allow you to pay off your refinance loan over a term of 5, 7, 10, or 15 years. That means you have the option to pay off your loan quickly or take your time (to some extent).
If you pay off your refinanced loan in under four years (48 months or less), you can earn a prepayment rebate on the interest you’ve paid so far. This rebate can total up to 2% of the initial loan balance.
For example, if you refinance $150,000 with First Republic Bank initially, and you pay your loan off within four years, you could receive a rebate of up to $3,000, depending on how much interest you’ve paid to date.
Prequalifying for First Republic student loan refinance can take as little as one minute. If you meet the credit qualification, you’ll be connected with a banker to discuss your refinance options. You’ll then be asked to complete a 20-minute loan application in-person with your banker.
The prequalification system is just one of the online tools offered by First Republic Bank. Using First Republic’s convenient online systems can save you time if you don’t feel like contacting your personal banker.
Drawbacks of a First Republic Student Loan Refinance Plan
Must Live Near a Branch and Open a Checking Account
You can only qualify for First Republic student loan refinancing if you live near one of its brick-and-mortar bank locations. Additionally, you’ll need to open a checking account with the bank if you want to qualify for the lowest interest rates available for your credit score. (We’ll go over this more in the eligibility requirements section below).
If you run into financial hardship over the course of your loan repayment, First Republic Bank won’t offer any protection in the form of forbearance. If you’re ever unable to make payments on your loan, there’s no way to put payments on hold until you’re back on your feet. That means your loan could go into default.
If you choose First Republic student loan refinancing, you should be confident in your financial wellbeing. You should know that you’ll be able to continue payments for the full course of your loan term.
This is unlike many other refinance lenders, who do offer options for forbearance and support if you need to pause payments for a short period of time.
No Long-Term Repayment
With a First Republic student loan refinance, you have the option to pay your loan back over 5, 7, 10, or 15 years. First Republic Bank doesn’t offer lenders the option to pay back their loans over longer terms.
This can be a minor or major drawback, depending on how long you would prefer to take to repay your refinance loan. Many graduates who refinance their student loans are interested in paying off their debt faster, so this wouldn’t be a deterrent.
As mentioned above, the maximum amount you can refinance with First Republic Bank is $300,000. However, you must refinance a minimum of $25,000 (if you have a graduate degree) to qualify. Borrowers who have an undergraduate degree can refinance a minimum of $40,000.
If you want to refinance less than $25,000 of student debt, you’ll have to find another lender.
Strict Requirements for Eligibility
To be eligible for a First Republic student loan refinance, you have to meet some strict requirements (we’ll go over these more below).
First Republic Student Loan Refinance: Requirements for Eligibility
1. You Must Open a First Republic ATM Account
To qualify for the best interest rates offered by First Republic student loan refinancing, you must open a First Republic ATM Rebate Checking Account with a starter deposit of at least $500.
If you don’t open the ATM account, you can still be eligible for student loan refinancing. However, your interest rate will be 5% higher than it would be had you opened the account.
The checking account is free of fees–as long as you maintain a balance of $3,500. If you don’t keep a monthly balance of at least $3,500, you’ll owe a $25 monthly service fee.
The good news is, keeping your checking account full could net you even higher returns on your refinance loan. Any time your checking account balance is greater than 20% of your refinanced loan amount, you may be eligible to receive an additional 0.75% off your interest rate. Keeping your account greater than 10% of your loan balance can earn a 0.50% interest rate reduction.
2. You Have to Live Near a First Republic Bank
To qualify for a First Republic student loan refinance, you must live near one of its brick-and-mortar locations, where you’ll fill out the in-person loan application.
The bank has 78 retail branches across these locations:
- California: Cupertino, Los Angeles, Napa, Newport Beach, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara + 32 other cities
- New York: New York City
- Massachusetts: Cambridge, Boston, and Wellesley
- Florida: Jupiter and Palm Beach
- Oregon: Portland
- Connecticut: Greenwich, CT
- Wyoming: Jackson
You need Excellent Credit (and Employment)
To qualify for First Republic student loan refinancing, you need to have excellent credit. The better your credit score, the lower the interest rate you can grab. However, many college graduates are still working on their credit scores and won’t meet First Republic’s stringent requirements.
Additionally, you can’t qualify for a First Republic student loan refinance loan without demonstrating your employment. This is probably a good thing since, without forbearance options, you’ll want to make sure you’re on steady financial footing before refinancing with First Republic.
Other Options for Student Loan Refinancing
First Republic Bank may be a good choice for borrowers who are on stable footing financially and have at least $25,000 in student loan debt. But for everyone else, here are some other options to consider:
College Ave offers flexibility to graduates and to students who are still in school. International students can qualify with a cosigner, and there are flexible repayment options available.
If you want to start making payments while you’re still in school, College Ave is a good option.
CommonBond offers a unique student loan refinance product: hybrid loans. Hybrid loans combine fixed-interest rates and variable rates in the same loan to lower your interest overall.
CommonBond also offers standard fixed and variable-rate refinance loans with terms up to 20 years.
Earnest may be a good choice if you want to create a customized repayment plan to pay down your debt more quickly. Earnest offers variable and fixed interest rates on its refinance loans, and you can quickly and easily raise or lower your monthly payments. You can even make multiple payments at once and make same-day payments.
Education Loan Finance
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) hasn’t been on the student loan scene long. But in that short time, it has proven itself as a valuable student loan refinance option.
Many banks and lenders–including First Republic Bank–are incredibly picky when it comes to who they deem eligible for a refinance loan. But ELFI loans have a high approval rate, paired with low interest rates.
ELFI is backed by a longstanding banking institution (SouthEast Bank), which makes it all the more reliable.
LendKey is another online lender offering private student loans and student refinance loans. But LendKey is unique in that it partners with non-profit credit unions and banks to offer lower rates online. LendKey can connect you as the borrower to the partner lender that fits you best. And if working with smaller community banks rather than big banks is important to you, LendKey is an excellent choice.
Splash Financial offers student loan refinancing options from Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed). You must become a PenFed member to qualify for a Splash Financial loan, but you can prequalify for a loan without becoming a member.
Splash Financial offers unique student loan refinancing that includes options for married couples who want to combine their student loans into one refinance loan.
Who Should Look into First Republic Student Loan Refinancing?
Since First Republic Bank is a private lender, refinancing your student loans with the company will disqualify those loans from programs like income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness. If you have federal loans, and you want to stay eligible for those programs, First Republic student loan refinancing isn’t a viable option. Instead, you’ll want to look into consolidating your federal loans with a Direct Consolidation Loan.
If you only want to refinance private student loans (or you don’t intend to take advantage of the federal loan programs) and you have a high-paying, steady job, First Republic Bank is a good option. A First Republic student loan refinance plan will give you the benefit of low, fixed-interest rates, as well as dedicated banking service to help you pay off your loan quickly.
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