Survey: Less Active Role in Financial Lives Leaves Women Making Less, Sacrificing More

National survey by Laurel Road reveals significant gender disparities, including starting salaries and financial confidence, leaving millennial women saddled with greater stress & student debt


New York, NY – March 12, 2018 – In stark contrast to the excitement and promise surrounding the college decision process for high school seniors this spring, a recent study of college-educated Americans found that more than half (54%) of adults don’t think they will ever make enough money to reach their financial goals. Findings released today by national online lender Laurel Road reveal the factors fueling this pessimism, which is significantly higher in women than in men. Millennial women (64%) are significantly more stressed than their male peers (47%) about their finances, and they report starting salaries that fall more than $10,000 lower than millennial men’s, on average ($29,403 vs. $39,839).

The survey uncovers several potential factors contributing to the disparate outlooks between men and women. For one, fiscally confident millennial male grads (94%) were significantly more likely than their female counterparts (79%) to prioritize their future earning potential over personal passions when picking a major. Additionally, millennial men were far more likely to get a head start at learning about finances before graduation. Of those without a degree in finance, 88% of male millennials report taking personal or business finance courses while in college, compared to only 54% of female millennials. Meanwhile, nearly one-fourth (24%) of women completed an unpaid internship, compared to just 12% of men.

As women outnumber men in college, more often than not, they’re left to take on the responsibility of self-education around financial management. Millennial women (35%) are more than three times as likely as their male peers (11%) to not have completely understood their financing options when applying to college. These stark differences have a clear trickle-down effect post-graduation. More than half of women (57%) have had to decrease nonessential spending to save money since graduation, compared to just 35% of their male peers.

“While student loan debt is referred to as everything from a burden to a national crisis, one thing is evident. Recent graduates, especially women, are lacking adequate support in the form of financial education, which is negatively affecting their long-term financial outlooks and opportunities,” said Alyssa Schaefer, Chief Marketing Officer of Laurel Road. “As women become even more empowered, it’s critical that we address the disparities felt by women, who currently hold roughly two-thirds of the $1.3 trillion in the outstanding student debt in our country. This research is a first step by Laurel Road to bring this critical disparity to light.”

Thinking back to when they applied to colleges, 76% of college-educated adults aren’t completely confident they thoroughly understood their financing options to pay for college. Accordingly, more than half (55%) of Americans with student loans report that it took them longer than expected to pay them off – and for millennials, that number rises to 66%.

However, readjusting interest rates through options like refinancing can ease the burden. But it seems Americans might not be fully aware of this option, as only about one-third (34%) of college-educated adults who have taken out student loans have refinanced their student loans. Despite having less student loan debt, millennial men (62%) are taking advantage of refinancing benefits to a far greater degree than women (39%).

“Educating young Americans early and often about student loan refinancing options is a crucial step in the direction of easing this crippling burden, and in ensuring that young women and men are able to confidently achieve their financial and life goals,” said Schaefer.


Additional findings include:

Advice adverse: Just more than half (57%) of college graduates have asked for financial advice, and only 16% do so on a monthly basis.

Overlooking the basics: Surprisingly, many college-educated Americans still haven’t taken some of the most basic steps to ensuring a healthy, long-term financial plan, including:

  • 83% have not taken a personal finance course or seminar outside of college classes
  • 62% have not negotiated a higher salary at a job
  • 37% have not begun investing in a retirement account

Persisting pessimism: Nearly 2 in 3 (66%) grads are not fully confident they know the steps required to finance a home. While millennial men (42%) are more likely than their female peers (29%) to feel completely confident they know the steps required to finance a home, it seems a solid financial foundation early on is key to building a comfortable future later on down the road.


About the Survey

The Laurel Road survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative college-educated U.S. adults, half of whom have earned a graduate degree, between February 14 and February 21, 2018, using an email invitation and an online survey.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.


About Laurel Road

Laurel Road is the national online lending division of Darien Rowayton Bank. FDIC-insured and established in 2006, Darien Rowayton Bank has helped thousands of professionals with graduate and undergraduate degrees across the country to refinance and consolidate over $3 billion in federal and private school loans, saving these borrowers thousands of dollars each. Darien Rowayton Bank is a Connecticut-chartered bank, Member FDIC, and an Equal Housing/Opportunity Lender.



Media Contact:
Kwittken PR for Laurel Road

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4 Ways to Jumpstart Your Path to Financial Independence

The Essence of Financial Independence

 1. Get organized and figure out exactly what you owe

It’s hard to stay on course without a map, and when it comes to financial independence, you’ve got to know where you are and where you want to go. Start by taking inventory of all your debt including student loans, car payments, mortgage, personal loans, credit cards, etc. Next, take a close look at your terms, interest rates, payments, and other pertinent information so you can start steering your finances in the right direction.

2. Understand your options: consolidation vs. refinancing

Now that you’ve got a clear picture of your debt, you can decide whether you’d like to consolidate or refinance. Consolidation is great if you have multiple loans or credit cards. For example, if you have multiple credit card balances, you may be able to consolidate them into one card or even get a personal loan with a lower rate.

In the same way, if you have multiple student loans, you can think about consolidating them and/or refinancing them. If you choose to refinance, you can likely get a lower interest rate and better terms. This option could allow you to pay off your debt much quicker and can save you money in the long-run for financial independence.

3. Maximize your tax deductions

Tax deductions are a great way to boost your financial independence. With student loans, you can deduct up to $2,500 of student loan interest each year. To qualify for this deduction, your taxable income can’t exceed $80,000 per year ($160,000 if filing jointly) and the student loan interest must have been paid during the applicable tax year.

4. Know your goals and think long-term

What are your goals? What are the milestones you will track until you get there?  Will you be starting a family in a few years? In order to get from point “A” to point “B,” you’ve got to have detailed directions to a vision for your future so you can take action and get there successfully.

For additional insights, navigate your financial independence journey by using our Resource Center!

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6 Home Décor Trends in 2018 That Will Give Your Guests Something to Talk About

There’s something magical about walking into a home with style – whatever your aesthetic is. And with so many home décor trends cycling in-and-out of popularity, it can be hard to keep up. But even so, when you find something you like, it could be worth the switch. Here are the top six trends for home décor for 2018:


This calm shade of purple will peak in popularity in 2018. It’s a color that will marry well with many different colors and will also bring about calm and relaxing feelings – we can feel the zen already.

White Kitchens

Stark white kitchens are also trending for 2018, and they go hand-in-hand with minimalist living trends we are also seeing. Not only that, with an all-white kitchen, you’re almost forced to keep it spotless – not exactly a bad thing.

Moody Palettes

Décor is getting bolder with moodier palettes and unique textures and finishes. Black used to be a no-no in home décor, but in 2018, that rule no longer applies.

Jewel Tones

There was a moment in time when tan was the go-to décor color – not anymore. Many people are incorporating beautiful jewel tones in their furniture and bringing a lot of life to their living space because of it.


Brass, the other yellow metal, is replacing the usual gold and silver hardware in homes in 2018. The vintage look it offers can bring quite a bit of personality into a home.

Bold Prints

With prints, most of us play it safe, but in 2018 they are coming alive with personality. Expect large, almost giant patterns to be upholstered on home furniture, placed on walls and displayed on throw pillows and rugs.



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Not-so-obvious Reasons to Refinance Your Student Loans

Most of us have goals, and most of the time, accomplishing those goals cost money. When people think about saving, they rarely think about refinancing their student loan debt. But, for those willing to think outside of the box, student loan refinancing can lower monthly payments and even reduce the total cost of your loan. When this expenditure is reduced, it can help you to accomplish your other goals, financial or otherwise. Here are some not-so-obvious reasons to refinance your student loans:

  1. Save for your dream trip

Paris, France is one of the most desired vacation destinations in the world. But no matter what your dream destination is – whether domestic or international – just thinking about the cost of such a trip can throw you for a loop. By refinancing your student loans and planning in advance, you can dedicate the money you save to your vacation fund and get closer to making your dream trip a reality. Who would have thought that refinancing your student loans could possibly get you closer to The Louvre?

  1. Help pay for your wedding

The average cost of a wedding in the United States is just over $35,000. For some, it’s one of the largest costs they will ever endure at one time, so if refinancing your student loans can help you save for some of those costs, it’s time well spent.

  1. Put more towards retirement

There’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on, and that is: when it comes to retirement, there is almost never enough in your account.  Refinancing your student loans may provide you with savings that can be applied to your retirement fund.

  1. Invest in your home

Owning a home can be hard work and cost a lot of money, and there are renovations that need to happen every few years just to maintain your home’s value. Stashing the savings from student loan refinancing can help to pay for projects that will add value to your home—and if you ever sell, to your pockets, too.

  1. Save for a down payment on a new car

Even if you have a brand new car, fresh off of the lot, it probably won’t be too long before you need a new one. If that’s the case, a down payment is likely. If you have a set date for purchasing a new car, refinancing your student loans could help get you to your down payment goal faster.


Laurel Road customers save more than $20k* on average over the life of their loan. Learn more about refinancing with Laurel Road here.

*Average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.

Fund your future. We can help.

Our customers are determined to make a difference. Laurel Road rewards that determination with financial solutions based on their priorities—and with $590 million in total customer savings.3

Get Started
  • Average savings of $20,000+1
  • No origination fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Economic hardship support*
  • Autopay discount*

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Leadership Spotlight: Gary Lieberman, CEO, and Chairman of Laurel Road

Most fintech companies are not banks and most banks are not fintechs. In an interview with Lend Academy, Gary Lieberman, Chairman of Laurel Road, talks about the advantages of being both a bank and a fintech company, and what it means to have a finger on the pulse of digital technology while maintaining the roots of a community bank.

Now that the world is firmly in a digital experience oriented age, consumers have much higher expectations in how they interact with financial institutions, especially where security is involved. With Laurel Road, we want to bridge the gap between the security and personal touch that community banks offer and the digitally-led experience and flexibility of a fintech company.

Gary also talks about the history of Laurel Road and what the future holds for the company. Listen to the entire interview below.

Fund your future. We can help.

Our customers are determined to make a difference. Laurel Road rewards that determination with financial solutions based on their priorities—and with $590 million in total customer savings.3

Get Started
  • Average savings of $20,000+1
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  • Autopay discount*

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In Case of a Financial Emergency, Pay Yourself First

Are you prepared for a financial crisis, the unexpected car repair, a broken water heater, or even a medical emergency? Most people aren’t. According to Mint, the average American has less than $1,000 set aside for unanticipated events such as these.

If you haven’t already, there’s a simple way to start saving for an emergency fund – pay yourself first. On the long list of payouts you have to make every month, why shouldn’t you be the first one on that list? This is not just a novel idea; it’s an effective practice that ensures you will always have savings that is growing and unexpected emergencies won’t throw off your entire budget.

This saving strategy works for everyone, no matter your income size or tax bracket, but just how much should you have for an emergency fund? And how much should you “pay yourself” each month?

Let’s start with the former. It’s recommended that you have at least 3-6 months of living expenses in your savings account. Considering most American’s have less than one month worth of living expenses saved, that’s a tall order. But, as with everything, baby steps are key, and every month you “pay yourself” is another step in the right direction.

The easiest way to determine how much you can afford to pay yourself each month is to break down your monthly costs using percentages. There are many options here, such as the 80/20 rule – the thought that you should save 20% of your income and reserve 80% for your needs and wants – but the consensus between all is that 20% of your income should be contributed to savings.

If you break down your expenses that way, you can always save, no matter how much you earn. But, if you find yourself struggling to faithfully put that 20% away each month, here are three tips that may help:

  1. Set up automatic transfers

If paying yourself each month is too difficult to commit to, you can set up automatic savings transfers. That’s when your bank automatically transfers a predetermined amount of money into another account on a predetermined schedule. With this tactic, you can save without even thinking about it.

  1. Cut your subscriptions

These days, there’s a subscription to everything, but most people don’t utilize their subscriptions the fullest – this is a trimming moment. One way to increase your savings each month is to cut out those unused, or underused subscriptions. If you can’t decide just ask yourself one question: Am I getting my money’s worth? If not, chop, chop, chop!

  1. Downsize

We all want the best in life, but sometimes, less is more. You may have an extra second or third bedroom, but if it’s being used as nothing more than a storage closet, maybe you should consider downsizing. A bigger house or more money? You decide.

Life has a way of showing us who is boss. Sometimes, we have no control over what happens. But, if you’ve got an emergency fund, at least you’re covered – and that is priceless.

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A Match Made in Heaven: How Medical Students and Residency Programs Unite

Usually, the hiring process is pretty straight-forward – application, interview, then offer. But, when it comes to hiring medical school graduates into residency programs, the process is not so straightforward. Towards the end of medical school, many students begin applying for medical training programs, or residencies.  They choose dozens of programs where they want to get the final leg of their medical training done and then apply – but that’s not all.

Once all of the applications have gone out, and the interview process is over, students rank their top training programs, and leaders of residency programs rank their top candidates. This leaves everyone in a bit of a conundrum. Because medical students and residency program managers rank their preferences, it can be difficult to pair them together.  That’s why the modern-day Match system was created in 1998. It streamlines the matching process and uses an algorithm to make the final matches.

The algorithm is applicant proposing. That means it matches the student based on their choices – from most desired to least – and not the program’s preferences. However, both parties need to rank each other in order to get matched. During Match week, which occurs every year in March, residents across the country get “matched” during the same week, and their fates are sealed for the next 3-5 years as they begin their residency programs.

The program has solved a lot of problems. Before it existed, the hiring process between training program and student was marred issues. Program directors faced problems like delayed hiring as potential candidates held out responses until they heard back from their top choice. Now, everyone submits their preferences and patiently waits for final placement.

Match week is a defining moment for medical students because it impacts their training and ultimately, their career. As nerve-racking as it may be to wait for an algorithm to choose their fate, a lot of dreams come true for the future doctors of America during Match Week.


Did you know that Laurel Road has a Resident & Fellow Refinancing program? Refinance your student loans as soon as you’re matched to a residency program and pay only $100 per month all through residency or fellowship. Learn more by clicking here: Resident & Fellow Refinancing



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Finance Goes Digital: Why Financial Institutions Need to Stay Ahead of the Curve

It’s safe to say that times are changing in the financial services industry. The way we choose which brands we’re going to be loyal to and our overall expectations of them means that a company’s underlining ethos and delivery of products and services is extremely influential when it comes to consumer decision-making. It means that the way finance businesses think, deliver and innovate is crucial.

Consumers want results, and they want companies to provide better experiences. Offering products and services without putting the consumer front-of-mind can obliterate an organization.

Traditionally, in banking, consumers go into a branch, make a transaction and then go about their day. Nowadays, people want fast and convenient digital experiences that limit human contact, whenever possible. The stakes are high, so many banks are catching on and catching up to digital banking.

In a recent report by the American Banking Association, George Sclavos, Chief Financial Officer of Laurel Road, a division of Darien Rowayon Bank, offers some insight into how Laurel Road is staying ahead in digital finance:

“With Millennials, online lending is really table stakes. When we chose to target a highly sophisticated millennial base, we knew that our customers would accept nothing less than the best-in-class online experience and we built a platform to enable them to complete the entire process online, from application to e-signature…surveyed customers of Laurel Road are amazed that they can go through the entire online student loan refinancing process without ever talking to a human.”

When it comes to financial services, companies need to meet consumers where they are, just like any other business. And right now, it’s all about digital.

Download The State of Digital Lending from the American Bankers Association by clicking on the below image:

Darien Rowayton Bank is now Laurel Road Bank

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The New Employee Benefit: Paying Down Student Loan Debt

Millennials are graduating college with more student loan debt than ever before. Currently, the average graduate leaves college with their degree and a side of $37,172 in debt – not the healthiest combination. In fact, in 2017, the total national debt for student loans was a whopping 1.3 trillion dollars. What if we told you that refinancers such as Laurel Road offer a student loan employee benefit to employers at no additional cost to the company?

Today’s competitive job market, employers are fighting to attract the best talent, and they know that appealing to those applicants is imperative. So, in an effort to “woo” the best and the brightest many companies have begun adding a new kind of perk to their benefits packages – they’re contributing employee student loan debt, or offering specialized refinancing options.

Some of America’s largest companies offer student loan debt payment programs as an integral part of their benefits packages. Total payout among these companies vary from $5,000 to upwards of $30,000, and yearly caps can range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000.

As newer generations enter the workforce benefit expectations are bound to change because their needs are different. In order to attract top employees, companies need to offer benefits that will keep them around for the long-haul and offer them things that they want.

Of course, companies can’t offer every trending perk, but if they want to attract high-quality employees student loan debt payments are a smart option.


Did you know that Laurel Road offers employers unique, customizable and easy-to-implement student loan benefits to improve employees’ financial wellness? Check out our Employers page to learn more!

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Good Debt, Bad Debt. Is There a Difference?

Debt is Like Fat  . . . There’s Good and There’s Bad

Everyone has debt. In fact, U.S. households were carrying a total of $12.84 trillion as of June, and it’s more than a heap of unpaid bills. It’s a portfolio that shows what we’re spending our money on and the types of credit we’re using to pay it off.

Credit score watchers may know this as credit mix and may also toss in the words good and bad to describe debt that’s in the mix, with particular distaste for credit card charges.

What we wanted to know: if it’s all being paid, what makes debt good or bad?

What we found: it’s murky.

It’s what you’re buying, not what you’re paying

The basic idea behind the labels is that good debt is something that could grow in value, like a house, or something that can help you earn more money, like a degree.

Bad debt is generally applied to items that have little inherent value or that lose their value (FYI: cars lose their value the second they are driven off the lot). Yet this same “bad-debt” car can be considered good debt if it’s essential to getting you to and from the job that lets you earn a salary-enhanced degree.

This good/bad concept is why credit card debt can feel unsavory – credit cards are usually used to buy things that won’t increase in value or help you earn more money.

A way to keep debt in check

Debt that provides a reward beyond ownership, like a home improvement loan that could have financial benefits later on is generally considered good debt, even though there’s interest.

Debt that provides little more than an opportunity to draw out payments and pay interest is debt without financial reward. Fleeting experiences – like a fancy dinner – could fall into this category. This is typically considered bad debt.

A key idea behind debt is that it’s a means to getting something of value, but things can easily get unbalanced. This is where the idea of good and bad debt may be able to come into play: as a way to measure what’s worth putting on your tab.


For information on how to improve your credit score, check out our guide – Getting and Keeping Your Credit in Shape.

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The Physician’s Guide to Manage Medical Student Loans

Anyone who’s had to deal with the Financial Aid office during undergrad knows that the student debt world is a confusing and intimidating place. Unfortunately, it’s much worse for post grad physicians, residents & fellows. Below is a guide on how to manage medical student loans.

So what are your options?

Option 1: Procrastinate (The Loan Payment)

This has to do with a little something called Forbearance. Forbearance (also known as deferment) allows you to temporarily postpone loan payments or temporarily reduce the amount you pay. Forbearance allows the borrower to stop making payments or reduce monthly payments for up to 12 months.

Within that, there are two types of forbearance

Discretionary forbearance is when your lender decides whether to grant forbearance.

Mandatory forbearance occurs when you meet the eligibility criteria for forbearance and the lender is required to grant forbearance. Some eligibility criteria include:

  • Service in medical/dental internship or residency program (met with other specific requirements
  • The total monthly amount the borrower owes for all of their loans is 20%+ of their total monthly gross income
  • The borrower is performing a teaching service that qualifies them for teacher loan forgiveness

Disadvantages of Procrastinating (the Loan Payment)

  • It is only a short-term solution
  • Unpaid, accrued interest is added to the principal loan amount
  • The borrower pays more over the lifetime of their loans
  • It is often difficult to qualify for forbearance
  • Forbearance is a short term solution, not a long term strategy

Option 2: Create the Super Loan

What is consolidation under the Federal program?

Upon graduation, students have the option of consolidating their federal loans. When a borrower consolidates their loans, they are combining their individual loans into one bigger loan from a single lender, which is then used to pay off the balances on the other loans. The loan consolidation process is irreversible.

Direct Consolidation Loans have fixed interest rates. The rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates of the consolidated loans. Repayment terms range from 10-30 years.

Disadvantages of Creating the Super Loan

While a consolidation may help lower monthly payment and prove to be convenient, the borrowers should keep in mind that this loan may accrue more interest in the long term, and that they may have reduced flexibility with repayment options. Another disadvantage is that when you consolidate with the federal government, they take the weighted average interested rate and round it up to the nearest eighth of a percent. It may not sound like much, but over time, it definitely adds up.

This program is only recommended if you need to reduce your payment, but are not eligible for income based payment programs.



Your term length is inversely proportional to your standard payment amount, which is good. The longer the term length, the smaller the standard payments. The bad part is the interest paid over the life of the loan is significantly higher. The interest paid essentially doubles every 10 years.

Option 3: Plans Based on Your Income

What are Income Driven Plans (IBR and PAYE)?

Income-driven plans adjust a borrower’s payments by reducing their monthly payment amounts according to their income. The payment amounts under income-driven plans are generally a portion of the borrower’s discretionary income. Repayment periods for all plans generally range from 20-25 years.

There are 2 main plans: Income Based Repayment (IBR) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE)

  • IBR Payments = 10-15% of your discretionary income and forgives your loan after 25 years
  • PAYE payments = 10% of your discretionary income and forgives your loan after 20 years

Eligibility will depend on when you graduated and when your loans were disbursed

For all income-driven plans, any remaining loan balance is forgiven if the borrower’s federal student loans are not fully repaid at the end of the repayment period.

Disadvantages of Income Based Plans

These are probably the best deal of the existing options so far, however there are a few things to consider.

  1. Need low income to be eligible
  2. Over time interest accrues and you could end up paying more interest over time
  3. Amount forgiven is taxable
  4. Needs annual documentation of income which can be burdensome

Option 4: Be a Do Gooder

What is Public Service Loan Forgiveness?

Borrowers working in the public or non-profit sector can get their loans forgiven after 10 years of working in these sectors. If the borrower is employed in certain public service jobs and has made 120 payments on their direct loans, the remaining balance that they owe may be forgiven. Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a not-for-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the IRS.

Disadvantages of the Do Good Path

This can save money for people with lower income jobs at not-for-profit institutions for a long period of time (e.g., a long residency or fellowship). Another advantage is that the amount forgiven is not taxed. One major factor when considering PSLF is that money saved need to be balanced against income lost.

Consider the following situation:

Gross Income $150,000
Total Debt $303,000
Term 10 yrs
Rate 7%
Standard Payment $3,518
Total Paid Over Life of Loan $422,170
Poverty Line for Family of 2 $15,730


Total Paid Over Life of Loan
IBR Payment (15% Discretionary Income) $1,580 $189,608
PAYE Payment (10% Discretionary Income) $1,053 $126,405

PSLF and Income based payment: He could save $200,000 to $300,000. Is this worth taking a job that pays $100,000 less per year?

Also, recent 2015 legislation might cap the forgiveness at $57,750, which leaves this option for medical professionals dead in the water.

Option 5: Private Loans

What are Private Refinance Loans?

Refinance loans with private lenders that may allow you to lower your rate in exchange for giving up protections and benefits of Federal loans. Terms range from 5 to 20 years with fixed and variable options. Lenders will look for borrowers with high credit and high income. Borrowers who do not meet these credit criteria might need a co-signer and/or need to work for some time before refinancing.

Advantages of Private Loans

Borrowers can lower their rate by refinancing their medical student loans in the private sector, but in exchange they give up Federal programs and protections.

The key factors to consider are: Rate, Term, and Fixed vs. Variable. As the borrower, you will need to balance low rates with terms and payments you are comfortable with.


On average, medical professionals save $29,000 by refinancing their student loan with Laurel Road. For more information on our programs, click here.


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How Did This Star Wars Star Slash Student Debt?

What do you do when you land your dream job in an illustrious film series with a paycheck to match? Pay off your student debt, of course. Well, that’s what Kelly Marie Tran did. After 8 long years of auditioning, she secured an acting role in one of the most notable movie franchises on earth, Star Wars.

Not only that, she’s a breakout star of the film. She plays Rose, a maintenance worker in “The Force Awakens” and she’s not taking the opportunity for granted.

For most struggling actors grinding away after college, student loan payments can become a cumbersome expense. The average amount of a monthly student loan payment in the U.S. is around $350 per month – a lot for an artist who’s just trying to make it month-to-month.

Typically, acting jobs can last anywhere from a few days up to just a few months – hardly enough to make an affluent living unless you’re one of the people lucky enough to get consistent work. And Tran, who had grown accustomed to working temp jobs on and off, knew that. So, she paid off her student loans right away.

Overall, Ms. Tran demonstrates how sticking with your passion can change everything—it can even help with your student loans.

Read Tran’s entire story at CNBC

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