Student Loan Refinance Frequently Asked Questions

Why Refinance?

Why refinance your student loans?

When you refinance, you take out a new loan to pay off your old loan(s). You should consider refinancing if your current education loans carry a high interest rate, if you would like to reduce your payments, or if you would like to pay off your debt sooner. Refinancing can save you money over the life of the loan, help you pay off your debt sooner, and/or lower your monthly payment. If you are a college graduate with high-interest rate student loans, you should consider refinancing your student loans. Refinancing isn't for everyone and you should carefully consider refinancing your student loans21 before making a decision.

For more details, please check out our guide to Refinancing Your Student Loans.

Why choose Brazos?

Brazos is a nonprofit student loan company that is managed by The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, a nonprofit company that has been helping families finance the cost of their college education for over 40 years. As a nonprofit, our goal is to save you money by charging the most competitive rates possible. Brazos is an independent nonprofit and is not affiliated with any schools. For additional information about Brazos, check out our About Us page.

Where is Brazos able to lend?

Currently, Brazos only lends to U.S. Citizens or Nationals, or permanent residents that are residents of Texas.

If you’re not a Texas resident we can still help.

Borrower and Loan Eligibility

Am I eligible for a Brazos Refinance Loan?

To be eligible for a Brazos Refinance Loan, you must:

  • Be a U.S. Citizen or National or a non-citizen with government issued, non-expired documentation of permanent resident status, or, if applying with an Eligible Cosigner, a non-citizen with a work or student visa,
  • Be a Texas resident and be at least the age 18 years old, (Not a Texas resident?)
  • Have received at least a Bachelor’s degree from one of over 2,000 accredited Title IV institutions,
  • Have a verified income and a strong credit history, and
  • Demonstrate the ability to support the repayment of the new loan

Please review our Eligibility Criteria for further details.

Should I apply with a cosigner?

If your credit does not meet our minimum credit criteria, you may still qualify by applying with a qualified cosigner. Additionally, even if you meet the minimum requirements, applying with a cosigner who has a stronger credit history may reduce the interest rate on your student loan rate even further, saving you more money over the life of the loan.

Is there a cosigner release program?

We do not offer a cosigner release program. However, if you feel your credit has improved or that you would otherwise qualify by yourself, you may apply for a new loan without a cosigner.

If I default on my loan, is my cosigner responsible for repaying my loan?

Yes. If you default on your Brazos Refinance loan and have a cosigner, your cosigner will be liable to pay your loan.

Are my existing education loans eligible to be refinanced?

Both existing private and federal loans are eligible, including loans made under the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, the Federal Family Education Loan Program, Health Education Assistance Loan Program, and the Federal Perkins Loan Program. Additionally, you may refinance a combination of multiple types of loans into one loan with one convenient monthly payment.

Can I refinance loans I used to finance my child's or children's education?

Yes. Direct PLUS loans made to parents and Parent PLUS loans made under the FFELP program, as well as private parent loans may be refinanced with a Brazos Refinance Loan.

Can I refinance loans that are not mine?

Not at this time. You must be the borrower on the underlying loans you wish to refinance.

Can my spouse and I refinance and consolidate all of our loans into a single Brazos Refinance Loan?

No. A Brazos Refinance loan can only be used to refinance loans that were previously in one person’s name. However, you and your spouse can apply separately for Brazos Refinancing loans. Your spouse may also cosign on your loan in order to help you qualify or to receive a lower rate.

Can I refinance student loans that have already been consolidated?

Yes. Whether you previously consolidated federal loans through the government’s consolidation program or you did so with a private lender, Brazos still allows you to refinance your existing consolidation loan.

Are Brazos Refinance loans considered “student loans” for tax purposes?

Tax questions are complex and you should consult your own tax advisor to answer this question. However, Brazos loans are considered student loans for federal and state tax consideration. You may or may not be eligible for deducting interest on your student loans depending on your individual situation.

How much can I borrow with a Brazos Refinance Loan?

You may refinance up to $150,000 of your outstanding student loans if you have received a bachelor’s degree or $400,000 if you have received a graduate or professional degree including law and medical degrees. The minimum loan amount is $10,000.

Brazos Refinance Loan Options

What types of loans do you offer?

We offer variable and fixed rate loans with repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20-years.2

What are variable and fixed rate loans?

Variable rate loans carry an interest rate that is recalculated periodically based on a market index rate plus a set number of percentage points. The interest you pay on these loans may increase or decrease after it has been originated depending upon changes to that market index rate. Because the rate may change, your payment may vary over the life of the loan as well. Variable rate loans tend to be less expensive at the beginning of the loan than comparable fixed rate loans of the same term.

Fixed rate loans carry a set interest rate and payment for the life of the loan. This provides predictable payments for the borrower. Because fixed rate loans create some interest rate risk for the lender, fixed interest rates tend to be higher at the beginning of the loan than comparable variable rate loans.

Are there any fees associated with refinancing my loans?

No, we do not charge any origination fees or application fees. Additionally, we do not charge prepayment penalties and borrowers may prepay their loans at any time.

How will the interest rate be determined?

Fixed Rates. The interest rate for a fixed rate refinance loan depends on your credit profile and the length of repayment term that you select for the loan. The rate will remain constant for the life of the loan, except for periods where you may take advantage of the Auto-Pay Discount.

Variable Rates. Variable Rate is equal to the ”Rate Index” as described below plus the margin. The Variable Rate may change on the first day of the calendar month after the Rate Index is determined (a “Change Date”). In no event will the Variable Rate exceed 9.90%. A change in the Variable Rate will cause the monthly payment amount to change.

Rate Index. The Rate Index will be the One-Month LIBOR that was published in The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth (25th) day (or if such a day is not a business day, the next business day thereafter) of the month immediately preceding the Change Date. For example, the Rate Index that will be used on the Change Date of April 1 will be the Rate Index that was published on March 25. The Rate Index will be in effect for each monthly period from the Change Date through and including the last day of the calendar month. The Rate Index will be rounded to two decimal places (eg. 5.755% to 5.76% and 5.753% to 5.75%).

Please visit our Refinance Rates & Terms for more information about our interest rate options.

Should I choose a fixed interest rate or variable interest rate loan?

Whether you choose a fixed or variable interest rate really depends on your particular financial situation. Check out the Fixed vs. Variable Rate section of our Student Loan Refinance Guide.

Do you offer a reduction in interest rates for automatic payments?

Yes, we offer a 0.25% rate reduction (the "Auto-Pay Discount") when you sign up with your loan servicer to have your payments automatically drafted from your bank account. Failure to make payments may result in the loss of the 0.25% Auto-Pay Discount. You may requalify for the Auto-Pay Discount upon reauthorization of automatic payments from a valid bank account. The Auto-Pay Discount will not apply during periods of deferment or forbearance. Once your loan disburses, you may contact your loan servicer, Firstmark Services, to enroll in this program.

How is refinancing my loans different than consolidating them through the Department of Education?

A federal consolidation loan is a government program that allows you to combine multiple federal education loans into a single loan. The interest rate on a federal consolidation loan is the weighted average interest rate of the loans eligible to be consolidated. With a consolidation loan, if your monthly payment decreases, it’s likely the result of lengthening the term, which can mean paying more interest over time. Because the interest rate is not reduced, the federal student loan consolidation is generally not a money-saving option.

Not all loans are eligible for consolidation through the Department of Education. If you have existing private student loans, you will not be able to include those loans in a consolidation loan through the Department of Education. You may, however, include them in a Brazos Refinance Loan.

If you have strong credit, you may be eligible for a lower interest rate by refinancing your loans instead.

For more information, check out our Refinance vs. Consolidation page.

Consolidating your loans through the Department of Education does allow for different repayment options as well as different deferment and forbearance options which you may lose by refinancing your loans. You should understand these options before making your decision.21

How can I compare my student loan refinance options?

Use our Refinance Calculator to help compare your options. You will need to know a few things about your existing loan or loans, including the principle amount outstanding, the interest rate on each of your loans, and the remaining term of your loan or loans.

Applying For a Loan

Who is originating my loan?

Brazos loans are originated by Brazos Education Lending Corporation. Firstmark Services, a division of Nelnet, is the processor for Brazos originations. When you click "Apply Now" to apply for a Brazos loan, you will leave the website and be taken to the Firstmark Services loan origination website for the processing of your application.

Does applying for a loan affect my credit score?

Yes, the application process involves a “hard credit pull” which may affect your credit score. We strive to provide transparent pricing. Visit our Find My Rate to see what rates are available if you qualify for a loan.

What do I need to apply?

You will need:

  • Proof of Texas residency (a state ID or Driver’s License),
  • Your social security number,
  • Your permanent address,
  • Proof of income (depending upon your sources of income, this may be your two most recent pay stubs, 1099 Forms, or your most recent tax return), and
  • A payoff verification from your current loan servicer or lenders including the address where payoff payments are to be mailed (this certifies the amount of principal and interest currently owed on your existing loans). This statement lets us know the total amount needed to pay off your existing loans, and can often be obtained online from your current loan servicer.

How long does it take to refinance my loan?

Once you apply, most people receive an instant decision regarding pre-qualfication. If pre-approved, you will then be asked to upload documents to verify income and residence. We estimate the entire process may take a few weeks. Having the documentation ready when you apply will help speed up the process.

Repaying Your New Student Loan

Who will service my student loans?

Brazos Refinance Loans are serviced by Firstmark Services, a division of Nelnet.

How do I set up payments for my new loan?

Instructions for registering your online account will be provided to you by Firstmark Services. Once registered, you will be able to log in online and setup payments.

Is my interest deductible for tax purposes?

Yes, your interest is deductible, subject to certain limitations. Please consult your financial advisor for deductibility for your particular situation.

Do you offer graduated or income-sensitive repayment options?

No, our loans begin repayment approximately 45 days after disbursement. If you’re refinancing Direct Loans, you may lose certain repayment options available to you and should understand these options before applying. You can learn more about repayment options on Direct Loans by visiting Federal Student Aid.21

What if I am having trouble repaying my loan?

Under certain circumstances, including economic hardship, you may be eligible for loan forbearance. In this case, you may temporarily postpone making monthly loan payments for a specific period of time. Three types of payment forbearance described below are available. Please contact your servicer, Firstmark Services, for details.

Economic hardship forbearance

Borrowers are able to defer payment on their loan for 3 months at a time, with a cumulative forbearance length of 12 months.

Military forbearance

Borrowers on active duty may apply to have their loan payments deferred while on active duty. Cumulative military forbearance length of 36 months is available.

Natural Disaster forbearance

Borrowers affected by a natural disaster may request a forbearance of up to 3 months.

Interest continues to accrue during periods of forbearance. At the end of the forbearance period, the accrued interest is added to the balance of your student loan and the loan is reamortized to ensure the loan pays off in the applicable repayment term. This could change your monthly payments.

If you’re considering refinancing Direct Loans, you may lose certain types of forbearance and deferment options that may be available to you. You should understand these options before applying for a Brazos Refinance Loan. You can learn more about deferment and forbearance options on Direct Loans by visiting Federal Student Aid.21

Does the Brazos Refinance Loan offer a grace period?

No, the Brazos Refinance loan does not include any grace period.

What is the difference between interest rate and APR?

The interest rate is the percentage of the loan amount that is charged for borrowing money. The APR includes not only the interest rate, but also certain other fees charged by the lender, and represents the total cost of borrowing.

Will the loan be placed in default or come immediately due if either I or a cosigner files for bankruptcy?

No, the loan will not be placed in default or be deemed immediately due and payable in full if the primary borrower or cosigner files for bankruptcy.

What happens to the loan if I or my cosigner dies?

We do not accelerate the debt, or declare the loan in default, upon death of any party and we do not pursue the estate of any deceased individual.

If the primary borrower on the loan dies, and there is no cosigner, the loan is forgiven. If the primary borrower on the loan dies, and there is a cosigner, the primary borrower on the loan is removed and the cosigner is responsible for repayment of the loan over the remainder of the repayment term. If the cosigner dies, the cosigner is removed from the loan, and the borrower continues to be responsible for repayment on the loan over the remainder of the repayment term.

BRAZOS RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. Brazos loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to eligibility requirements and underwriting guidelines. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed in this website and will depend on a variety of factors, including whether your loan has a fixed or variable interest rate, the term of the loan and your credit score. Rates and Terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Brazos loans are originated by Brazos Education Lending Corporation.

None of the information contained in this website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Brazos or Brazos Higher Education to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.

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