Darien Rowayton Bank’s name tells only half the story. Yes, it’s a community bank with branches in Darien, Rowayton and Southport, Connecticut. But its student loan refinancing arm, DRB Student Loan, helps borrowers in all 50 states lower their student loan interest rates.
The bank offers comparatively low rates and doesn’t limit the amount of student loan debt that borrowers can refinance. It also offers a seven-year loan term in addition to the standard five-, 10-, 15- and 20-year repayment schedules.
Darien Rowayton Bank started refinancing graduate degree holders’ student loans in 2013. In January 2015, it expanded its service to grads with bachelor’s degrees and parents with federal PLUS loans. The bank has worked with 12,000 borrowers since its refinancing program began, chief marketing officer Jenny Chou says.
Refinancing borrowers can postpone their payments to the bank in three-month increments, for a total of 12 months, if they have a financial hardship. That’s similar to most other refinancing lenders, but not as generous as CommonBond or U-fi’s forbearance policies.
Additionally, parents can refinance PLUS loans or transfer PLUS loans to their children at Darien Rowayton Bank if the child qualifies to refinance on his or her own.
“For parents, it is a huge relief to know that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel for these large loans, especially when they know that their child is capable of paying them off,” Chou says.
Reasons to use Darien Rowayton Bank
Interest rates: Darien Rowayton Bank offers some of the lowest fixed interest rates in the industry, starting at 3.5% for a five-year loan, including a 0.25% discount for automatic payments. Like other lenders, the longer the loan term you choose, the higher the interest rate you’ll receive. For instance, rates for 20-year loans can be as high as 7%.
You can also choose a variable rate, which fluctuates according to market conditions. Darien Rowayton Bank’s variable rates start at 2.13% for five-year loans. Because these rates could increase in the future, this option is best for borrowers who plan to pay off their loans quickly.
No loan balance maximum: Darien Rowayton Bank will refinance $5,000 or more in total student loan balances. That’s especially helpful if your loan balance is more than $150,000, the level at which some lenders will no longer refinance your total balance. Comparable companies include SoFi, which also doesn’t have a loan balance maximum, and CommonBond, which refinances balances of as much as $500,000.