Earnest Reviews

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About Earnest

Earnest is a lender offering private student loans and student loan refinancing, as well as a marketplace for personal loans, student credit cards, tuition insurance and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). The company has student loans for both undergraduates and graduates, including students in MBA programs, medical school and law school. As of publishing, Earnest has worked with more than 236,000 clients and refinanced more than $18.7 billion in student loans.

Pros & Cons

  • No origination fees, application fees or late fees
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • 9-month grace period
  • 650+ credit score required if no co-signer
  • Loans for international students require a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident co-signer

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What is Earnest?

Earnest is a loan provider specializing in private student loans and student loan refinancing. You can use its online application process to see if you’re eligible.

It’s worth noting that Earnest doesn’t offer federal student loans. Students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see what financial aid they may qualify for from the government. Earnest has a checklist on its website you can use to see some other financial aid options before applying for one of its loans.

How does Earnest work?

Earnest’s private student loans provide money for college students, and they do this without some of the restrictions that can come with federal student aid, like maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress.

Earnest’s student loans let you borrow $1,000 to a lifetime limit of $250,000 (capped annually at the cost of attendance). Once your application is approved, Earnest disburses the money directly to your school.

After you leave school, you have up to nine months before you have to start repaying your loan. Repayment terms range from 10 to 15 years for undergraduate students without a co-signer, or 5 to 15 years for other eligible borrowers.

How to apply for an Earnest loan

With Earnest, you’re able to receive personalized loan amounts and rates based on your information. It takes as little as two minutes to get your rate or check your eligibility. To apply, start by filling out the form on Earnest’s website. The process is simple, and Earnest walks you through the application.

Earnest assesses each applicant’s credit score to create an estimate. These estimates don’t utilize a hard credit pull, so they don’t impact an applicant’s credit score. However, borrowers or cosigners must have a score of at least 650, which is relatively high. Borrowers must also be citizens or U.S. permanent residents (or have a co-signer who is), and loans are not available for students seeking associate degrees.

After going through the process, you should start to see what types of options are available to you. Once you choose your loan and proceed with the application, Earnest will do an actual credit check and finalize the process.

Earnest fees

Earnest’s rates vary by borrower and application, and depending on whether you have a co-signer. As of publishing, starting rates range as follows:

  • Fixed-rate student loans: 4.67% to 16.15%
  • Variable-rate student loans: 5.87% to 16.76%
  • Fixed-rate refinancing: 5.21% to 9.99%
  • Variable-rate refinancing: 5.97% to 9.99%

There is a 0.25% interest rate discount when you sign up for automatic payments.

Earnest does not charge origination, prepayment or late fees. However, other fees may apply, depending on your state.

Earnest FAQ

Is Earnest loan interest tax deductible?

Yes, it is deductible up to a certain point for most people. However, some individual tax situations may not let you deduct it, so it’s important to understand your unique case.

Does Earnest accept credit card payments?

No, students cannot pay for their loans with credit cards. However, you can connect your bank account to your Earnest account for easy payments.

Are Earnest student loans private?

Yes, Earnest student loans are private. Public loans are loans offered through the government.

How long does it take to get approved for an Earnest loan?

Approval typically takes three to five business days. The entire process, from approval to disbursement, takes two to five weeks on average but depends on how fast a school certifies the loan on its end.

Does Earnest report to the credit bureaus?

Yes, Earnest reports to credit bureaus. It also may run a hard credit pull during the application process. However, the pre-qualification process should not impact your credit score.

Is Earnest legit?

Yes, Earnest is a good option for students who want to easily compare their rates and options online. With no fees and a quick pre-qualification process, this company is also relatively convenient to work with. If you prioritize efficiency and simplicity, Earnest is worth checking out. Just be sure to shop around for the best rate and make sure you can afford to repay your loan.

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