Laurel Road Review: Refinancing, Graduate Loans (Especially for Healthcare Degrees)


Laurel Road rebranded from Darien Rowayton Bank in 2018 and was acquired by KeyBank in 2019. While it has a new name and home, the digital financial institution still scores well on student loan refinancing reviews. Laurel Road also offers graduate student loans worth considering. Both products are especially useful for current or aspiring healthcare professionals.

Laurel Road review for student loan refinance

Refinancing, if you need a quick refresher course, allows you to consolidate your federal and private student loans with a newer (and maybe more helpful) loan servicer. Perhaps most importantly, you might also be able to lower your interest rate or reduce your monthly payment. Laurel Road says on its website that it’s refinanced more than $9 billion worth of education debt nationwide since it began operations in 2013.

Laurel Road student loans are a good fit for creditworthy borrowers who appreciate repayment protections like forbearance but also have good enough cash flow to score an APR discount of up to 0.80 percentage points. The lender provides such discounts for borrowers who enroll in automatic payments and have recurring direct deposits of at least $7,500 per month into a linked savings account.

Laurel Road review of student loan refinance: The basics

Laurel Road generally refinances student loans for former students, but also for parent and medical resident borrowers.

APRs ● Fixed: 2.50% – 6.00%
● Variable: 1.89% – 5.90%
Basics ● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Refinance any amount from $5,000 to $300,000 (or up to $50,000 if you’re an associate degree-holder)
● Reduce your interest rate by up to 0.80 percentage points if you enroll in autopay and have a linked Laurel Road savings account
● Parent PLUS Loans: You could refinance yourself, or put the loan in your student’s name.
Eligibility ● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
● Have employment
● Bachelor’s degree or higher (or associate’s degree in 13 healthcare jobs)
● Minimum credit score of 660
Applying ● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No application or origination fee (although there’s a late payment fee of 5% of the amount due, up to a maximum penalty of $28)
Repayment ● No prepayment penalties
● Choose a repayment term of five, seven, 10, 15 or 20 years
● Release your cosigner after 36 months of prompt payments (and meeting other criteria)
Support ● Options to pause repayment if you suffer economic hardship (three months at a time), are impacted by a natural disaster (two months) or serving in the military
● Loan forgiveness in the case of the borrower’s death or permanent disability

What to like about Laurel Road refinance for student loans

Interest rate or APR is most often the key factor when evaluating student loan refinance companies, and Laurel Road does its part to award competitive rates. Here’s what else you might like about Laurel Road refinancing.

Possible to refinance before graduation

Though Laurel Road requires you to have a diploma to refinance, you could be eligible if you’re within your final semester of school – and have a signed letter of postgraduate employment.

Also, Laurel Road will honor your current in-school deferment and grace period, so you wouldn’t have to commence repayment until six months after leaving school.

Earn an APR discount of up to 0.80 percentage points

Aside from not charging fees to apply for, originate or process your student loan refinance, Laurel Road also offers discounts that few competitors come close to matching. These discounts include:

  • 25 percentage points when you authorize Laurel Road to collect monthly payments through automatic withdrawals
  • 25 to 0.55 percentage points when you open a Laurel Road checking account

For the latter promotion, you’ll be awarded a 0.25 percentage-point trim for the first three months. Keeping or increasing that discount depends on how much you maintain in the checking account via recurring direct deposits. For instance, you would need to deposit at least $2,500 into the account each month to keep that introductory discount.

Direct deposit Initial discount Permanent discount
$0 – $2,499 0.25% 0.00%
$2,500 – $7,499 0.25% 0.25%
$7,500+ 0.25% 0.55%

Prequalify to painlessly check your rate

You don’t have to guess whether this lender can offer you the best deal either. Visit Laurel Road’s site, and you can request a customized rate estimate based on your specific student loans and credit background. These rate offers are generated with a soft credit check, so they won’t damage your credit.

Refinance Parent PLUS Loans into your student’s name

Laurel Road is among reputable companies that allow moms and dads to refinance costly federal Parent PLUS Loans. Better yet, you have the option of co-signing your child’s refinancing application, shifting the Parent PLUS Loan debt into their name.

That move could free up your credit profile and allow you to focus on saving for retirement while giving your child the responsibility to repay the debt. (As a cosigner, in the event your son or daughter can’t qualify for refinancing independently, you’d still be legally responsible for repayment if your son or daughter struggles.)

Clear repayment protections

If you’re refinancing federal student loans, know that doing so will convert them into private loans. You’ll lose access to federal borrower protections such as deferment or forbearance and income-driven repayment plans.

Still, some private lenders — including Laurel Road — do offer protections in case hard times hit. For example, in the case of recent graduates who refinance before their student loan grace period is up, Laurel Road commits to honoring that grace period and delaying payments until it’s over.

If you struggle in repayment after leaving school, Laurel Road offers a forbearance feature to postpone your monthly payments for up to three months at a time. However, you can’t exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan.

Laurel Road will also forgive the total amount of your refinanced student loan should you die or become permanently disabled, something that most but not all student lenders offer. These protections offer peace of mind in case the worst happens.

Laurel Road reviews repayment safeguards during the COVID-19 pandemic
The lender expanded its repayment protections for borrowers struggling with payments during the coronavirus pandemic. Borrowers could postpone monthly dues for three months at a time, though interest continued to accrue onto their balances.

Low, $100 monthly payments for certain professionals

Medical and dental students are also in luck: During residency or fellowship — and for the six-month grace period after it — you’re only responsible for $100 monthly payments. This would put off your standard repayment term until after you’ve completed your residency and, ideally, fully entered the workforce.

Laurel Road clarifies on its website that residents who take advantage of $100 monthly payments will only see their account’s interest capitalized when they begin full repayment, not during their residency.

Laurel Road’s Student Loan Cashback Credit Card

Though separate from its refinancing product, Laurel Road also offers a Student Loan Cashback Credit Card that could help you pay down your debt faster. The no-annual-fee card yields 2% cashback toward student loans. And even if you don’t refinance or borrow from Laurel Road, the company says this credit card can help you redeem awards with 95% of student loan servicers.

What to keep in mind about Laurel Road refinance for student loans

Based on Laurel Road student loan refinancing reviews, here’s what you should consider before deciding whether to complete an application.

Credit, degree requirements exclude some applicants

Laurel Road states that it can offer its low rates because it works with well-qualified borrowers. Simply put, not everyone can or will get approved to refinance student loans with this lender. You’ll likely need good credit and a low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (or a cosigner who fits that bill) for your Laurel Road application to get approved.

Unfortunately, however, this is true for most student loan refinance companies. In fact, Laurel Road’s credit requirements are not the strictest out there, but rather are in line with many competitors. Both Laurel Road and CommonBond, for example, require a minimum credit score of 660 as of the writing of this report. (If your credit isn’t strong enough to qualify, you will likely need to add a cosigner to have a chance of approval.)

If you hold anything less than a traditional four-year undergraduate degree, you might not be eligible either. Laurel Road reviews applications of associate degree holders who are working (or have received a job offer) in the following roles and fields:

● Cardiovascular technologist
● Dental hygiene
● Diagnostic medical sonography
● EMT or paramedic
● Nuclear technician
● Nursing
● Occupational therapy assistant
● Pharmacy technician
● Physical therapy assistant
● Radiation therapy
● Radiologic/MRI technologist
● Respiratory therapy
● Surgical technologist

If you have an associate degree but don’t have a qualifying career, consider a more accessible lender, such as Earnest.

No in-school deferment available

If you refinance your student loans with Laurel Road, keep in mind that your new debt can’t be deferred once you enter repayment.

Say you decide to return to school to finish up your degree or add a new diploma to your wall. In that case, you’d still be responsible for keeping pace with your monthly payments.

Repayment managed by a veteran federal loan servicer

Many federal loan borrowers elect to refinance with a private lender as a way of ditching a federal loan servicer. If that’s at least partly your motivation, keep in mind that longtime federal loan servicer MOHELA manages the repayment of Laurel Road student loans.

For its part, MOHELA allows borrowers to change their monthly payment due date, which could prove useful in certain situations.

How Laurel Road student loan refinance compares

There are many banks, credit unions and online lenders to choose from for your student loan refinancing needs. Here’s how Laurel Road compares to two top competitors in the industry.

Laurel Road ZuntaFi’s iHELP SoFi
SLH rating 4.6/5 4.1/5 N/A
Products ● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS Loan refinancing
● Medical resident refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS Loan refinancing
● Medical resident refinancing
Eligibility requirements ● 660 credit score
● No minimum income requirement
● Citizenship or permanent residency
● Bachelor’s or advanced degree
● Associate degree-holders must be working in certain healthcare fields
● Two years of positive credit history
● Minimum annual income of $24,000
● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
● No diploma required
● Good or excellent credit score
● No minimum income
● Non-permanent residents without eligible visas can apply with a permanent resident cosigner
APRs Variable starting at 2.50% and fixed starting at 1.89% ● Fixed: 4.00% – 8.00%
● Variable: 3.94% – 9.80%
● Fixed hybrid: 3.34% – 3.93%
Variable starting at 2.49% and fixed starting at 1.74%
Minimum loan amount $5,000 $35,000 $5,000
Repayment terms available Up to 20 years 20 years Up to 20 years
Apply with a cosigner Yes Yes Yes

Is refinancing student loans with Laurel Road right for you?

Ultimately, Laurel Road has a lot to offer borrowers. It can be a particularly smart choice for parents and medical students in residency or fellowship. It could also be worth your while if you earn enough income each month to discount your rate by as much as 0.80 percentage points.

On the other hand, Laurel Road’s eligibility criteria could exclude you off the bat. You might also not like the idea of working with its loan servicer, MOHELA, during your repayment.

This Laurel Road student loan refinancing review is a great starting point, but it’s always wise to explore all your options. To find a lender that offers the features and terms most important to you, start by trying out our student loan refinancing marketplace.

How to apply for refinancing with Laurel Road

The application process for Laurel Road refinancing is one of the company’s calling cards: It’s quite simple to undertake. Expect to go through the following steps:

  1. Prequalify to check rates, eligibility: After providing information about loan needs and educational and employment background, Laurel Road will offer an initial APR quite.
  2. Verify your information on a full application: If you like your quote and want to proceed with a formal application, you’ll need to upload documents (such as your recent tax records) and submit to a hard credit inquiry.
  3. Finalize your new student loan debt: If you sign off on your loan agreement, Laurel Road will pay off your original education loans and issue you the new balance; your first payment would be due one month after your loan is disbursed.

Laurel Road review: Healthcare graduate student loans

Previously known as solely a source of student loan refinancing, Laurel Road began advertising health care graduate student loans on its easy-to-use platform in 2019.

Laurel Road graduate student loans are a good fit for aspiring dentists, nurses, physician assistants and doctors who value repayment flexibility and safeguards. The lender could be especially helpful for students who find jobs soon after graduation and enroll in automatic payments, which could earn them APR discounts of up to 0.50 percentage points.

Laurel Road graduate student loans review: The basics

Like other refinancing companies, Laurel Road reviews your credit (and that of your cosigner) to determine your eligibility. If you can qualify, here’s what you can expect from this type of loan.

APRs ● Fixed: 3.10% – 6.07%
● Variable: 3.00% – 5.97%
Basics ● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Borrow as little as $5,000 and as much as your cost of attendance
● Score discounted rates if you enroll in autopay (0.25 percentage points) and/or if you’re employed after graduation (0.25)
Eligibility ● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
● Enroll at least half-time at an eligible school
● Pursue one of these programs
○ Dentistry (DDS, DMD)
○ Nursing (MA, DNP)
○ Physician Assistant (PA)
○ Medicine (MD, DO)
Applying ● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No application, origination or other fees
Repayment ● Standard six-month grace period
● No prepayment penalties
● Four in-school repayment options, including full deferment
● Repayment term options: Five, seven, 10, 15 and 20 years
● Release your cosigner after 36 months of prompt repayment
Support ● Option to postpone repayment if you suffer economic hardship, are impacted by a natural disaster or serving in the military
● Loan forgiveness in the case of the borrower’s death or permanent disability

What to like about Laurel Road graduate student loans

If you’re borrowing for a graduate health care-related degree, Laurel Road is a lender worth your consideration. Here’s why.

Prequalification is useful, risk-free

As you shop around for financing options, you can confirm your eligibility and check APRs without harming your credit. That makes considering Laurel Road a risk-free proposition.

The more formal application process, if you choose to proceed, would include a hard credit check. On the plus side, Laurel Road’s application is more streamlined, calling only for a photo ID and, if you have a cosigner, proof of income. (Your school would also be asked to certify the loan amount.)

Discount your APR by up to 0.50 percentage points

If you go with Laurel Road as your lender, you could eventually lower the interest rate you initially were quoted. In fact, there are two ways to reduce your rate:

  1. Enroll in automatic payments and your APR will drop by 0.25 percentage points
  2. Show proof of employment after graduation and your APR could dip by another 0.25 percentage points

Lowering your rate by as much as 0.50 percentage points also doesn’t come at a cost. Refinancing is free, and Laurel Road doesn’t charge application or loan disbursement fees.

Potentially helpful repayment protections

Laurel Road offers the repayment flexibility synonymous with top-rated lenders. You have four in-school repayment options, for example, and can choose one of five repayment term lengths, too.

The lender also provides the safeguards that often come standard with its competitors, including the ability to pause your payments for three months at a time (12 months overall) due to an economic hardship or natural disaster. The lender also expanded its safety net for borrowers affected by the coronavirus pandemic starting in 2020.

What to keep in mind about Laurel Road graduate student loans

Here are a few potential cons of our Laurel Road review to consider before you start an application.

International students are ineligible to apply

Besides the fact that Laurel Road reviews your financials and limits borrowing to aspiring health care professionals, residency is also a major criteria. You must either be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident holding a valid I-551 card.

Of course, that leaves international students out of luck. If you aren’t a permanent resident in the U.S. or are just in the states for your degree program, consider more accessible lenders with international student loans.

How Laurel Road student loans compares

Before you borrow for your healthcare degree program, ask your school about lending options. Also check out our private student loan marketplace to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Laurel Road ZuntaFi’s iHELP Citizens Bank
SLH rating 4.3/5 4.2/5 /5
Loans for… ● Graduate students who are studying health care (including future nurses, physician assistants, doctors and dentists) ● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Medical school
● Flight school
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Parent loans
APRs Variable starting at 3.00% and fixed starting at 3.10% Variable starting at 2.09% and fixed starting at 4.12% Variable starting at 1.97% and fixed starting at 4.55%
Ability to prequalify without affecting credit Yes No No
Borrowing amount Up to cost of attendance $1,000 $1,000
In-school repayment options 4 3 2
Repayment terms 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years 10, 20 years 5, 10, 15 years
Cosigner release available Yes — after 36 months of payments Yes — after 24 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria) Yes — after 36 months of payments

Note that you may have to expand your search to additional lenders to find the student loan you need.

Are Laurel Road graduate student loans right for you?

Because it’s free and easy to confirm your eligibility and review your rate options with Laurel Road, it’s a lender worth considering for your graduate degree financing needs. Just be sure you meet the lender’s strict eligibility requirements before going to the (little) trouble to prequalify.

Overall, Laurel Road’s discounts and repayment protections make it an attractive option. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not quite up to par with some competing lenders that may offer even lower interest rates or at least a pathway toward cosigner release.

However you perceive our Laurel Road review, it’s worth shopping around with other private student loan companies.

How to apply with Laurel Road

If you’re ready to move forward with learning more about your fit with Laurel Road, take these steps:

  1. Visit the lender and select your degree program and school to view rates (also known as prequalification). Only after you consent to a hard credit check will Laurel Road contact your school to verify your loan amount.
  2. Start an application that will call for personal information as well as details about your education and employment. Your cosigner, if you have one, may be required to upload proof of income or assets.
  3. If you like your loan offer, choose your rate type, repayment term and other details. Your loan funds will be disbursed directly to your school. Any leftover amount will be returned to you after your cost of attendance has been covered.

How to contact Laurel Road

Except for major holidays, Laurel Road operates its phone lines (1-833-HCP-BANK) seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. You can also email [email protected], or use the company website’s contact form.

You can also reach Laurel Road via its mailing address:

P.O. Box 191
855 Main St
Bridgeport, CT 06601

Frequently asked questions about Laurel Road student loans

If you didn’t find your question answered in our Laurel Road review, see the following FAQs:

Is Laurel Road legit?

Yes, Laurel Road is a reputable lender that provides student loan refinance and new student loan options for creditworthy applicants who may apply with or without the backing of a cosigner.

How much can I borrow from Laurel Road?

You can refinance between $5,000 and $300,000 worth of education debt with Laurel Road. If you’re looking to borrow for your graduate degree, you can borrow from $5,000 up to 100% of your cost of attendance.

Are there any fees to refinance with Laurel Road?

Like with many top-rated lenders, refinancing is free with Laurel Road. The company doesn’t charge application or origination fees or prepayment penalties. It will only ding you in the case of late payments.

Who services Laurel Road student loans?

Longtime federal loan servicer MOHELA manages the repayment of Laurel Road’s private refinanced and graduate student loans. MOHELA also services loans for other private digital lenders, such as SoFi.

Methodology for ratings

To come up with our shield rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies/private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact. These questions span three categories: Accessibility, Rates & Terms and Repayment Experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.

The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine their overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.

Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to Laurel Road student loans, which is current as of Jan. 18, 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.



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