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Refinancing Student Debt: Is It Right For You?

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) —  For many, graduation marks the end of college and the beginning of paying down college debt. It is estimated nearly three-quarters of people who go to college graduate with student debt and the “average” graduate owes nearly 30 thousand dollars.

“It was a little daunting,” said Jason Clark, who has student loans.

However, there is a new startup promising to lower those loan payments by finding the best refinancing deal.

Ten years after his graduation, Clark decided it was time to speed up the repayment process by refinancing his student loans with Credible.

“It gave me about five or six different offers,” explained Clark.

Credible bills itself as an online marketplace for loan offers working with about 15 lenders, including a new crop that specialize in refinancing student debt.

“It’s a Kayak or Expedia or Amazon for loans,” explained Stephen Dash, the founder of Credible.

Dash says the average user saves $18,000 over the life of their loan.

“On average, people save 1.71 percent by refinancing their student loan to a lower rate,” Dash said.

But Suzanne Martindale of Consumers Union warns refinancing isn’t right for everyone.

“People who are likely to have a high debt to income ratio may not even qualify,” Martindale said.

In addition, she says borrowers with federal loans could lose important protections if they refinance with a private company. Options like the ability to delay payments and loan forgiveness after 10 years in public service. And she says refinancing college debt is a relatively new and untested industry.

“That tells us that we have to proceed with caution,” Martindale said.

So far, Clark is happy he refinanced a portion of his student loans after reviewing his options on Credible. He calculates his 1 percent interest reduction and shorter loan term could save him about $10,000.

“It felt really good to see there was a light at the end of that tunnel,” he said.

Unlike mortgages, there are no fee or points to refinance a student debt. Credible earns a fee from the lender if the refi takes place.

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