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  • Writer's pictureNathan Zarcaro

The 7 Top Wisconsin Student Loan and Refinancing Lenders

Wisconsin, America's Dairyland, is home to some of the nation's most beautiful sights.

Just as importantly, Wisconsin is home to 85 different colleges and universities, the largest of which is the University of Wisconsin at Madison, home to over 42,000 students.

Statewide, 70% of students attending WI public and private colleges/universities graduate, which is great! But college is expensive, and the federal government only allows borrowers to take a maximum of $31,000 per year in subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

The result is thousands of borrowers taking private loans out of necessity. Should you need to go private, here are the top 8 Wisconsin student loan and refinancing lenders to consider.

Wisconsin student loans

Borrowers in Wisconsin have three main options for student loans. They may take loans from:

  1. National lenders

  2. Local refinancing lenders

  3. National refinancing lenders

Note that there is no state wide loan agency in Wisconsin.

National lenders

Some of our favorite national student loan lenders for Wisconsinites to consider include:

  • Earnest

  • College Ave

  • Credible

1. Earnest

Earnest is a solid choice as a private lender, and they help students to cover up to 100% of school-certified costs, including things like study abroad programs and laptops. To qualify for independent undergraduate student loans, borrowers will need to:

  • Live in Wisconsin or another participating state (all but Nevada)

  • Be at least the age of majority (18 in WI, otherwise your loan will need a cosigner)

  • Be a United States citizen, legal and permanent resident, DACA recipient, or an Asylee

  • Study at least half-time in an eligible Bachelor's degree program

Your college/university will also need to be Title IV-qualified.

Financially, you'll need a credit score of at least 650, have three years of credit history, and be free of any past bankruptcies.

Eligibility criteria for cosigned Earnest loans are the same, though the cosigner will need to meet the credit, income, and financial requirements, rather than the borrower himself/herself.

2. College Ave

Wisconsinites may also benefit from considering College Ave Student Loans as a potential lender. Offering undergraduate, graduate, medical professional, and parent loans, College Ave offers a variety of perks beyond typical private lenders, like Sallie Mae.

For example, you'll benefit from:

  • A 3-minute application process

  • Choice of repayment terms

  • 4 different repayment options

Borrowers may opt to make payments while in school or not, but they also retain the option to pay down interest or just flat $25 payments while in school as well. Collectively, these four options provide borrowers the opportunity to do what is best for them.

3. Credible

Credible is our third lender to consider. Available in Wisconsin and across much of the country, Credible's lender partners provide an array of terms and rates for students to choose from.

Additionally, the company offers funds with no origination or prepayment fees, as well as a $200 best rate guarantee, meaning that you'll receive $200 directly from Credible if you find a lower interest rate and take a loan from a competitor.

To qualify to take loans from Credible, you should:

  • Be a full- or part-time student

  • Be a United States citizen or permanent resident

Nearly 90% of Credible borrowers use a cosigner, so if you're looking to apply with one, their loans could be a good fit!

Local refinancing lenders

Some Wisconsin borrowers will want to refinance existing debt with a local lender, like a community bank or credit union. Since there is no state agency in Wisconsin, two companies stick out here in particular.

4. Splash Financial

5. LendKey

Your best bet to refinance your student debt with a local lender is to use Splash Financial or LendKey. Though national companies, both function as student loan marketplaces (just like Credible) rather than lenders, which may help you find favorable rates and terms with local banks and credit unions across Wisconsin.

Both Splash Financial and LendKey will provide you with this list of options. To get started, head to either company's site and start the preapproval process.

You'll be asked to provide some information, both about your loans and your current finances.

Then, a credit check will be performed before you're shown a list of local potential lenders that could be a good fit for you. With no application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties, either marketplace can help you find the right rate and term.

National refinancing lenders

Finally, some lenders for those borrowers exploring other refinancing options.

6. SoFi

SoFi is one of America's most popular financial institutions, and for good reason. They're known for offering a technology heavy experience and offer refinancing services to those who achieved at least an associate degree and:

  • Have higher credit scores of around 700 or higher

  • Are citizens of the U.S, permanent residents, or on a legal visa

Additionally, SoFi is among the only lenders that allow borrowers to refinance Parent PLUS loans into their children's names.

7. PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union is our final recommendation for Wisconsin borrowers to consider. Though clients will need a Bachelor's degree and income of $50,000 to be eligible, those that do qualify will find a host of benefits like:

  • Spousal consolidation

  • No fees

  • Parent PLUS refinancing

How refinancing can help Wisconsinites

Wisconsin borrowers with good credit can refinance to save substantial amounts of money. Let's consider a student who attended the UW at Madison for four years. With an in-state estimated total cost of $28,916, even an in-state student may borrow $100,000 over the course of four years.

At an average interest rate of 6.5%, this student would have expected monthly payments of $1,135 for ten years.

Now, imagine this student completes the rate check process with either Splash Financial or LendKey and finds the same 10-year term at a rate of just 4% instead. This 2.5% in interest savings leads to monthly payments of $1,012, a $123 decrease each and every month.

In other words, savings of:

  • $123 per month

  • $1,476 per year

  • $14,760 over the life of your loan

Seriously, these numbers and savings add up quickly!

Don't miss our student loan refinancing guide, which contains even more information about our top lenders in 2024.

Before you refinance

Refinancing is a great way to save money on your student loan repayment, but it is far from the only way. Before you refinance, though, you should consider your options for Wisconsin student loan forgiveness, on a state or federal level.

Options available to you may include:


Private student loan lenders oftentimes get a bad rap because of high interest rates, poor customer service, and unaccommodating terms and conditions. However, not all lenders are equal, and some offer value to Wisconsin borrowers, both those looking for loans and refinancing services.

All of the lenders presented here are known for elevated customer service and competitive rates, both of which can save you money on costly interest into the future.

Affiliate marketing disclosure is a student loan research and education website provided by Grow Your Green LLC. is not a student loan lender.

We're passionate about teaching and guiding people to a better personal finance situation. To do this, we create an enormous amount of content, which takes time, resources, and money. ​

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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 has worked for industry leaders in both finance and healthcare.  In his free time, Nathan enjoys playing golf and traveling with his wife Brigid.

Student loans are hard

My friends over at Student Loan Planner have consulted with over 13,000 clients, saving them over $783 million off their student loan repayments.

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