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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

[2023] 6 Top Student Loan Cosigner Release Programs

Updated: May 25

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Student loan refinancing can be a great way to reduce your interest rate, lower your monthly payments, and/or change your loan term. But all too often, those that are most in need of student loan refinancing are unable to do so because of strict financial requirements on your credit score, debt load, and other metrics.


Over the past few years, however, lenders have broadened the application process to include borrowers that don't have stellar credit histories.


But there is a catch. In return for this offer, many lenders ask that you apply for refinancing with a cosigner. And while it can be awkward to ask a family member or friend to cosign for you, do know that many lenders have further relaxed these requirements by offering something known as cosigner release.


In this article, I'll explore:


  1. What is student loan cosigner release?

  2. 10 of the best cosigner release programs out there today

  3. Pros and cons



What is student loan cosigner release?


Student loan cosigner release is the process in which certain lenders will allow your cosigner to be dropped from your loan. This usually only occurs when at least some of the following is true:



  1. The primary borrower now meets income or credit requirements

  2. The primary borrower successfully makes the required amount of timely payments in a row (usually 24-36 months)

  3. The borrower graduates - usually comes into play if the borrower was a student at the time the refinancing occurred


And while every lender will have different requirements to drop cosigners from a loan, these typically are the primary requirements.



The 6 best cosigner release programs


Like I said, more and more lenders out there have started to offer student loan cosigner release programs to refinancers of all types. Here are my top six recommended cosigner release programs to consider.


Lender

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SoFi is our top pick for 2023 cosigner release programs. With cosigner release available after 24 months, borrowers also embrace SoFi for other perks, such as career guidance.



LendKey is a student loan marketplace offering cosigner release after 12-36 months of payments, depending on the particular lender you work with.



Commonbond releases cosigners after 36 months as long as borrowers make timely and consecutive payments.


1. SoFi


SoFi also offers their own cosigner release program to those looking to refinance their student loan debt. Your cosigner will stay on your loan agreement until you make 24 consecutive, timely, and full payments.


After these two years, though, you'll gain eligibility to apply for your cosigner's release.




2. LendKey


Those that decide to refinance with LendKey will be happy to learn that cosigner release is an option for qualifying borrowers after 12-36 months of timely and complete monthly payments.


Remember: LendKey is a marketplace, rather than a private lender, so each participating lender may have slightly different program specifics.


Once you've met the requirements, you'll need to submit an application for the release to take place.




3. Commonbond


Commonbond is another lender to consider. And while I don't love that cosigners will need to remain on the loan until 36 months before their cosigners can be released, Commonbond's lack of fees and favorable rates could make the lender worth it.


Borrowers will also need to:


  • Be the age of majority in your state of residence (anywhere between 16-21 years old, depending on your state)

  • Meet Commonbond's underwriting criteria





4. Citizens Bank


Those that refinance with Citizens Bank can release their cosigners after 36 months, so long as they remain in good standing and make all of their payments in full. Citizens is likely to be the best solution for those without Bachelor's degrees, as most other lenders on the market mandate that you have a degree to be eligible.



5. Laurel Road


Laurel Road borrowers can release their cosigners after 36 consecutive and timely payments so long as your loan(s) were disbursed after September 12, 2017. Other perks such as 2% cashback credit card offers and can make up for needing to make three years of payments in order to gain eligibility for cosigner release.



6. College Ave


College Ave borrowers and refinancing borrowers are eligible for cosigner release once half the loan term has passed. For example, those with ten-year terms will gain eligibility for release after five years have passed.


College Ave has other eligibility requirements on the policy too, including:


  • Being a United States citizen or permanent resident

  • Have an annual income of over two times your remaining loan balance

  • Pass a final credit review





Pros to student loan cosigner release


If you're fortunate enough to have someone willing to sign your loan with you, you are poised to take advantage of a couple key perks.


First, you're likely going to get a lower interest rate than you would have if you had applied for refinancing alone. It may even be the difference between your application being approved and denied.


Secondly, you'll have the opportunity to build better credit and expand your credit history. Successfully paying back your refinanced loan is likely to help you build a good credit score, which will help you in the future anytime you apply for a mortgage, car loan, credit card, and other types of loans.



Applying for cosigner release


The actual mechanics for releasing a cosigner from a loan is also likely to vary somewhat on a lender to lender basis. But essentially, it may be something like this.


  • Formally apply via an application your lender can provide - You'll likely be asked to asked to verify that you'd like to proceed, that you meet certain requirements, etc.


  • Provide income verification information - The lender is going to make sure that your income can support moving forward without a loan cosigner. You'll likely be asked for some combination of paystubs and a prior year's W2 tax form.


  • Verify that you are a United States citizen (or legal permanent resident) - This one varies by lender.


  • Complete a degree verification - Many lenders will only release cosigners if you are a graduate of the program for which the loans were disbursed.


You're also likely to encounter other requirements, including further credit checks and verification that you have no other loans in default or open bankruptcies anywhere.



My tips and thoughts


I believe that cosigner release is an underrated tool that is oftentimes not utilized due to financial embarrassment or difficulty in asking for help.


To all of you in this position, I encourage you to ask for help and to consider finding a cosigner. Here's why.


Imagine that you refinance $100,000 with a ten year term and interest rate of 6%. In this scenario, this leaves you with monthly payments of $1,110 your 120 month term.


But if you successfully added a cosigner (that will later be released), you'll very likely be able to take advantage of a lower (and potentially much lower) interest rate. For our purposes, let's assume 4%. Now, instead of making $1,110 payments each month, you'll pay $1,012. In this scenario, applying with a cosigner would save you $98 per month for ten years!



Asking someone to be your cosigner


We get it - anything regarding personal finance can be a difficult conversation to have. But now you've seen firsthand how much money you may be able to save. Here are some tips to frame your ask:


  1. Do be sure to remind them that they will be released once you meet the terms of whatever specific lender you are working with (usually between 24 and 48 months). This can help ease the anxiety of being listed on a loan for its' entire term.

  2. Don't lie about why you need someone to cosign. Explain that you may qualify for the refinancing loan yourself but that having someone else on your application may save you a lot of money.

  3. Listen and respond appropriately to any concerns that this person has. Focus on having a productive conversation and accept their decision.


 

Student loans are really difficult to pay off, but cosigner release is a great perk offered by lenders to make it just a little bit easier (and cheaper). So, don't be afraid to ask someone in your life that trusts you to sign.



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About Nathan Zarcaro

Nathan Zarcaro is the founder of The Student Debt Destroyer and is passionate about personal finance related causes.  A 2018 graduate of Providence College's Liberal Arts Honors Program, Nathan studied Finance, and worked for one of the world's largest asset management firms before starting his own business.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

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