Pros and cons
Earnest undergraduate student loans
Variable: 0.99% – 11.28%, Fixed: 2.99% – 12.58%
Earnest’s undergraduate student loans come with competitive minimum interest rates. If you or your cosigner has a good credit score, you could potentially save money with this lender compared to similar companies.
Earnest’s loans have a unique perk: the ability to skip one payment every year. You can request your first skip once you’ve made at least six months of consecutive on-time, full principal and interest payments, as long as your loan is in good standing. However, interest will accrue during this time, and the lender will extend the final payoff date of your loan by the length of the skipped payment period.
Earnest won’t charge any origination, prepayment, late, or application fees. You have a host of term lengths to choose from, including five, seven, 10, 12, 15, and 20 years.
Earnest graduate student loans
Variable: 0.99% – 9.89%, Fixed: 2.99% – 10.99%
Earnest’s graduate student loans have a significantly lower APR range than competitors like Sallie Mae and Discover. You’re also eligible for the skip-a-payment perk detailed in the undergraduate section and can choose from a variety of repayment term lengths. This can help if you want smaller monthly payments (longer term length) or to save in overall interest (shorter term length). If you change your mind down the road, you can pay off your loans early with no penalty.
How Earnest compares
Earnest’s rates on undergraduate loans are extremely competitive compared to similar companies. Here’s how Earnest compares:
Both College Ave and Earnest have the same minimum APR on fixed and variable loans. Both are lower than Discover’s minimums, so you may get a great rate if you have a good credit score. Earnest’s maximum rates are comparable to the other two lenders’ rates, though.
You won’t pay origination fees or prepayment penalties with any of the three companies, but College Ave will charge a late fee.
How Earnest student loans work
Earnest offers several types of student loans, including undergraduate, graduate, parent, medical, law, and MBAs. You don’t need a cosigner to apply, but having one can net you a lower rate.
You should pursue your federal student loan options before applying for any private student loan, including one with Earnest, as you can usually get better terms and protections through the government.
You have to meet the following eligibility requirements to get a student loan with Earnest:
- You are attending, or are enrolled to attend, full-time at an eligible 4-year institutions
- You live in any state or Washington, DC, excluding Nevada
- You are the age of majority in your state of residence
- You are a US citizen or permanent resident or have a cosigner who is a US citizen or permanent resident
- You pass a credit check
You’ll need to provide the following information to apply for a loan online:
- Email and physical address
- Date of birth
- Citizenship status
- School you’re attending
- Degree you’re pursuing
- Enrollment status
- Expected graduation date
- Credit score
There are several options for contacting Earnest’s customer support. You can call the company from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays. You can also live chat Earnest on its contact us page during the same hours. You can email the lender or send physical mail to its San Francisco address.
What options do I have to repay my loans?
You can repay your student loan one of four ways after you’ve taken it out: deferred, fixed, interest-only, and full payment. The best repayment plan depends on your situation.
Deferred payments will be the most expensive options because you won’t pay down any of your loan principal until after the grace period is over, and interest will accrue during that entire period. Full payments will cost the least overall because you aren’t allowing interest to accrue at any point.
Is Earnest trustworthy?
The Better Business Bureau has given Earnest an A in trustworthiness. The BBB evaluates trustworthiness by reviewing business’ replies to customer complaints, honesty in advertising, and clarity about business practices.
You won’t necessarily have a good relationship with Earnest simply because the business is rated well by the BBB. Check with your friends and family about their experiences with the lender and read customer reviews.
Earnest doesn’t have any scandals in the past few years, so you might decide you’re comfortable with the lender.