2024 Earnest Student Loans Review

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Edited byScott Strandberg
Edited byScott Strandberg

Updated: December 28, 2023

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Earnest provides student loan refinancing and private loans to undergraduate and graduate students with customizable repayment terms and loan amounts. The lender does not charge any fees and allows you to skip a monthly payment once every 12 months if you otherwise make timely loan payments.

At a Glance: Earnest Student Loans


  • Earnest

    • $1,000 upLoan Amount Range
    • 4.43% - 14.90%Fixed APR Range
    • 5.32% - 16.20%Variable APR Range
    • Deferment until 9 months after graduationGrace Period
    • Allowed Co-signer

    While Earnest was founded in 2013, the company initially started offering student loan refinancing on private and federal loans in 2015. In 2019, Earnest launched private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students with customizable terms. The company also offers other financial products, like credit cards and personal loans.

    Earnest does not charge origination or late payment fees and does not have a prepayment penalty, making it stand out from its competitors. Before applying with the company, you can check if you pre-qualify online, which doesn’t affect your credit scores as this process involves a soft credit inquiry. Once Earnest approves your loan, it can take about two to five weeks to receive it.

    The company offers a nine-month grace period, which means that you can wait nine months after graduation to start making loan payments. With Earnest, you can skip one payment every 12 months if you have been making payments on time.

    Pros

    • No origination fee
    • No late payment fee
    • Conducts soft credit check first that doesn’t affect credit scores
    • Allows co-signers
    • Allows you to skip a payment once every 12 months

    Cons

    • Not available in all U.S. states
    • Only offers loans to full-time students
    • Borrowers must meet state’s age-of-majority requirement
    Earnest

MoneyGeek Breakdown: Earnest Student Loan Details and Requirements

Earnest Details

Fixed APR

2.44%–7.99%

Variable APR

1.74%–7.99%

Loan Types

Undergraduate, Graduate, Medical, MBA, Law, Refinancing

Loan Amounts

$1,000 up to the total cost of attendance

Repayment Terms

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Earnest Student Loan Application Requirements

1
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
2
Must reside in a state where Earnest offers student loans (or in Washington, D.C.)
3
Must meet the state’s age-of-majority requirement
4
Must be a half-time college or university student
5
Must require a loan of at least $1,000
6
Must have a minimum credit score of 650
7
Must provide at least three years of credit history
8
Should not have bankruptcy on their credit report

Is Earnest Right for You?

Whether Earnest is the right lender for you will depend on your circumstances, financing needs and personal profile. MoneyGeek explains below which students will benefit from Earnest’s loans and who should avoid them.

Type of Student Earnest Is Perfect For

Earnest student loans are a great option for students looking to finance their education with a lender that provides loans on flexible terms. The company offers a customizable repayment schedule, which means you can make a fixed monthly payment, only pay interest or make multiple payments at once, as you deem fit.

Since the company does not require a co-signer, it’s the ideal choice for those who want to apply independently. Earnest would also suit you well if you’re a graduate looking to refinance your existing student loan.

Who Should Not Choose Earnest

Earnest generally does not approve student loan applications of individuals who are not less than half-time college students, which means you won’t be eligible for a student loan with the company if you’re taking less than 6 credit hours in a semester. It also requires students to meet the state’s age-of-majority requirement, which is different for every U.S. state.

Since Earnest takes about three to four weeks for loan approval, students who have good credit scores and want to finance earlier should compare rates with other lenders before applying.

How to Apply for an Earnest Student Loan

After you’ve made sure that Earnest is the right option for you, you should proceed with submitting the loan application. MoneyGeek outlined the steps you need to take to apply for an Earnest student loan.

1
Prequalify

Before you apply, you can check if you qualify for a loan by filling out your details on the prequalification tool. It’ll take about two minutes to receive a response.

2
Fill Out Application Form

After you prequalify, you would have to fill out the application form. At this point, Earnest will require your personal information, income details, savings and investment details and other essential information.

3
Wait for Approval

Once you submit the application, Earnest will take about three to five business days to review your information and let you know their decision.

4
Review Loan Agreement

After your loan is approved, you should have a thorough look at the loan agreement and understand Earnest’s interest rates, fees, repayment terms and other important details.

5
Sign Loan Agreement

If you’re satisfied with the loan agreement, you can sign it after downloading an unsigned copy from your online profile.

6
Receive or Direct Funds

After signing the loan agreement, Earnest will disburse the funds to your institution. This process may take three to four weeks.

7
Make Payments

You would have to start making payments based on the schedule you chose while submitting your loan application.

What to Do if You Are Rejected From Earnest

Earnest might reject your student loan application. It shouldn’t be a cause of great concern if that happens. The lenders reject loan applications for various reasons, including low credit score, insufficient income, incomplete application or unstable employment. In many cases, bad credit history is the main reason behind the loan rejection.

The company will usually let you know the factors that caused the loan denial. While it may be tempting to re-apply with a different lender, it’s best to improve that factor before applying again. For example, if the lender rejected your loan due to a low credit score, you can get a secured credit card to rebuild your credit history. Since Earnest allows co-signed loans, you can also apply with a co-signer. Doing so will increase your odds of approval.

You can also contact your school’s financial aid advisor to see if they offer resources that might help you in this situation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loans

MoneyGeek researched the following most frequently asked questions about Earnest student loans to help you decide if this lender is the best option for you.

What can I use an Earnest student loan for?
What credit score do I need for an Earnest student loan?
How long does Earnest take to approve a student loan?
Does Earnest have a mobile app?
What is the maximum amount I can borrow from Earnest?
Will applying for an Earnest student loan affect my credit score?
Does Earnest accept co-signers on student loans?
Can I use Earnest student loans at my college?
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*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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