Earnest Student Loans Review

Company Overview

Earnest, an online lender, offers private student loans for college and graduate level students. They also offer student loan refinancing. The company was established in 2013. The company was founded in 2013.

Best Features

No fees are charged for the application, origination or late payment.

Choose from different monthly payment options and loan terms.

Earnest does offer a rate matching feature for loans for students in school, but not for refinancing student loans.

The 2023 Award is the Best Private Student Loan Provider

Earnest, which offers low-interest private student loans with no fees, has been rated the best in our analysis two quarters running. Earnest has a unique rate matching feature for student loans. The nine-month grace is also longer than the industry standard of six months. Earnest offers borrowers a hardship bonus option that allows them to skip a payment every 12 month without counting it towards the forbearance limit.

Borrower tip: Refinancing federal student loans into a private student loan can make you ineligible for certain types of protections, such as income-driven repayment plans, federal debt forgiveness programs and forbearance/deferment options through the Department of Education.

The Best Student Loans Available to You


Fixed APR

Variable APR

Loan Term

View Disclosure

View Offers 4.50% - 15.49% with Autopay 6.12% - 16.45% with Autopay 10 to 15 Years

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View Offers 4.43% - 15.90% with Autopay 5.39% - 16.20% with Autopay 5, 7, 10, 12 years

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View Offers 4.44% to 1599% with Autopay 5.29% - 15.99% with Autopay 5 years, 8 years or 15 Years

What types of student loans does Earnest offer?

Earnest offers a variety of student loan options, including:

Refinancing student loans is available.

What is Earnest Work?

Earnest requires applicants to provide their educational and employment histories in order to get a complete picture of their accomplishments. The company will also take into account your credit score and history as well as the income of you or your cosigner. Students can apply online for undergraduate or graduate loans and receive a response in 72 hours. Earnest allows students to submit their student loan applications over the telephone. Students can choose a repayment plan once they are approved or delay repayments for up to nine months after graduation. It could take anywhere from two to five week for the loan to fund, depending on who the applicant is and what the school's office of financial aid does.

What are Earnest's terms, fees and conditions?

Earnest offers both fixed and variable rate student loans. You can select a loan period between five and twenty years. Loans up to 100% are available. The minimum amount for an in-school loan is $1,000. No application, origination, or late fees are charged.

What discounts does Earnest offer?

When applying for a loan, borrowers can select their monthly payment while they are still in school. In good standing accounts can skip one payment every 12 months. However, it must be made later. Earnest offers a nine-month grace after graduation, which is more than other lenders' six-month standard grace period.

Earnest will match the contractual interest rate of a competitor for a school loan. This does not include discounts for autopaying or getting good grades. For borrowers to qualify, they must contact Earnest’s customer service team. They will then upload a loan contract from a competing lender. The borrower will be able to view and sign the updated agreement on their Earnest account if it is approved. The offer from the competitor must be within 30 days of being made and also meet certain conditions. Earnest will reward you with a $100 Amazon Gift Card once your rate match has been finalized.

How can you qualify?

Earnest provides a quick eligibility check online so that you can see if you qualify for a loan without having to make a hard inquiry into your credit report. Earnest has different requirements for eligibility depending on the type of loan.

Borrowers who qualify for an independent undergraduate student loan or graduate student loans must:

The approval process also considers your payment history, whether you have a good track record of paying on time and avoidance of overdraft fees or insufficient funds charges.

Students who co-sign student loans must:

Lenders also look at your history, including whether you've made payments on time in the past, avoided overdraft fees and insufficient fund fees, and spent less than you earned.

You must meet the following requirements to refinance student loans:

Refinance your loan if you have at least $5,000. The approval process also considers whether you have enough money to cover your expenses for two months, spend less than what you earn, and make payments on time.

Borrowers can refinance loans for a degree completed, one that will be finished by the end semester or one that hasn't yet been completed. Borrowers must meet the following requirements to qualify for this type of loan:

The school that they attended was not for profit.

What credit score do you need?

Earnest requires that either the borrower, or co-signer has a minimum FICO score (650). Earnest looks at the applicant's educational and employment history, putting less emphasis on credit scores.

Earnest's student loan refinancing requires a minimum credit score of 680. For those who have not completed their degree, a credit score of at least 700 may be required.

Earnest operates in the following locations:

Earnest offers loans to all states, except Nevada, including Washington, D.C. Earnest does not offer refinancing for student loans in Kentucky.

Is Earnest Lending a Reputable Lender?

Earnest has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Earnest has a rating of 4.7 stars out of 5 on Trustpilot based on over 5,500 reviews.

In 2022 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) received 17 complaints regarding Earnest student loans. Most of the complaints were about dealing with the servicer or lender, and mainly how payments are handled. Earnest responded to all questions and concerns in a timely manner.

How would you rate Earnest's customer service?

Earnest has a live chat option on its website as well as a space to send an e-mail. Call 888-601-2801 to speak with a representative. Call 866-492-1222 to submit an application for a student loan over the telephone. The business hours are from Monday through Friday, 5 am until 5 pm Pacific Time.

What are some of Earnest’s online features?

The website allows applicants to apply and upload their documents directly into the Earnest account. Borrowers can view upcoming payments through the Earnest dashboard. They can also set up automatic payments or change payment dates.

Option of Deferment or Repayment

Earnest has no prepayment penalties. Borrowers can pay more than their full monthly payment. While still in school, borrowers have four options for payment:

If you choose to pay the principal and interest, there is no grace period.

You can choose between forbearance or discharge.

There is a provision for financial hardship. The specific qualifications are not specified. Death or permanent disability may discharge a loan.

The Best Earnest Student Loans are:

Borrowers that want to select their monthly payment and terms of loan.