If you’re seeking federal student loan forgiveness or are on an income-based repayment plan, you’re probably wondering if you can apply those federal protections to your private student loans.
Unfortunately, you can’t.
It isn’t possible to transfer private student loans to federal loans. That means you can’t have private loans forgiven through public service student loan forgiveness, and you cannot enroll your private student loans in a federal income-based repayment plan.
Fortunately, you do have other options if you’re seeking more borrower protections for your private student loans.
These include refinancing, talking to your lender, or seeking loan forgiveness related to your career.
Refinance to Get the Federal Benefits You Want
If you’re seeking federal borrower protections for your private student loans, private refinancing is your best option. Refinancing involves securing a new private loan to pay off your current student loans. You can refinance just your federal loans, just your private student loans, or both.
Student loan lenders keep implementing new ways to entice borrowers like you and to make repaying your debt a little easier.
Refinance with the right lender and you’ll enjoy perks and options like:
- A single payment for all your student loans
- A reduced monthly payment by extending the loan term or lowering your interest rate
- A shorter loan term that reduces the total cost of your loan
- Deferment due to academics or active duty military
- Forbearance of up to 24 months for periods of unemployment or economic hardship
- Death and disability discharge
- Co-signer release after a set number of on-time payments
- An automatic 0.25% interest rate deduction if you enroll in autopay
Find a lender that gives you as many perks as possible. Sure, it won’t quite be the same as transferring private student loans to federal student loans (which again, isn’t possible), but it’s likely your best option if you aren’t satisfied with your current lender(s).
Check out these lenders we’ve vetted and partner with.
Other Ways to Get Similar Federal Benefits for Your Private Student Loans
Whether you refinance or not, there are a few other ways you can obtain perks for your private student loans that are similar to federal borrowing protections.
See if any of the following ideas make sense for your situation:
Talk to your lender about your options
For the most part, student loan lenders understand that tough times happen. If you’re struggling to make payments on your private student loan, reach out to your lender. Discuss your options before you miss a payment to avoid risking default. You may be surprised to learn what they can do to help you.
Many lenders offer a period of forbearance, during which you might owe nothing, just interest, or a flat rate. This gives you a chance to save up or find a new job before you need to resume full principal and interest payments. It’s not as great as the long-term income-driven repayment plans offered by the federal government, but it does offer some relief.
Pursue career-based loan forgiveness
Although not the norm, some student loan forgiveness programs forgive federal and private student loan debt. It all depends on the specific program.
Some of the jobs that offer student loan forgiveness are nurses, physical therapists, other medical professionals, and dental professionals. Research student loan forgiveness programs for your job or industry to see what you might qualify for.
Here are a few examples of loan forgiveness programs that forgive both federal and private student loan debt:
- Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program (LRP): Nurse Corps pays off up to 60% of your unpaid nursing education debt while you work in an eligible Critical Shortage Facility in a high need area.
- State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP): In some states, eligible dental and medical professionals can apply to receive federal and private student loan forgiveness.
- Montana Institutional Nursing Incentive Program: Registered nurses practicing in a Montana state prison or hospital can apply to receive up to $3,750 per year in federal and private student loan forgiveness.
- NYS Licensed Social Worker Loan Forgiveness (LSWLF) Program: Eligible social workers can receive up to $26,000 in federal and private student loan forgiveness from the state of New York.
Work for a company that helps you pay off your student loans
Paid time off, health insurance, and matching 401K plans aren’t the only employee perks out there. Some companies have added student loan repayment assistance to their list of employee benefits. That means more money going on your loans each year, getting you a little closer to becoming debt-free.
According to the 2019 Employee Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, 8% of companies offer student loan repayment assistance. This is double what it was just two years prior, so it’s likely even more companies will get on board in the coming years.
If you’re in the market for a new job, focus your search on companies that want to help you pay down your student debt. Companies to look at include:
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
- Penguin Random House
- Live Nation
Every company runs their program a little differently, so make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into when you accept student loan repayment assistance. Are you giving up matching 401K contributions? Will you need to pay taxes on the contributions? Does it require you to commit to working there for a set number of years? Talk to an HR representative to get the full picture.
Final Thoughts on Transferring Private Student Loans To Federal Loans
You can’t transfer private student loans to federal loans but that doesn’t mean you’re totally out of luck. Get some of the benefits you seek by:
- Refinancing your private student loans with a new lender
- Talking to your current lender about forbearance or repayment plans
- Applying for student loan forgiveness programs that forgive private student loan debt
- Working for an employer that offers student loan repayment assistance
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. (1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. (2)$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. (3)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 1/27/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
Ascent: Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 11/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.
*The minimum amount is $2,001 except for the state of Massachusetts. Minimum loan amount for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address is $6,001.