Fintech has been a hot area for venture capital investment over the past few years. And over the past year, startups and investors have begun looking to capitalize on inefficiencies missed by the big banks. One area of particular interest has been student debt. Student loans aren't the most interesting financial assets, but they are one of the biggest. Today, more than $1 trillion in student loan debt is held by over 40 million Americans. The nation's second-largest consumer debt market is ripe for disruption. Over the past couple years, SoFi has established itself as the leading student loan refinance lender. Since launching in 2011, SoFi has raised more than $1 billion in funding and refinanced over $6 billion in student loans. And according to the company's website, the average SoFi borrower saves around $14,000 over the life of a loan.

A slew of new lenders like SoFi have entered the student loan refinance market over the past 18 months. The majority of student loan refinancing companies aren't your traditional banks. Instead, the industry is being led by new and less-familiar fintech companies. One company looking to make the student loan refinance process easier is LendEDU. LendEDU is a marketplace for student loan refinancing. Comparing student loan refinance lenders isn't as easy as you might expect. When you refinance student loan debt, you choose a new term length and interest rate type. Most refinance lenders offer variable and fixed rates from 2 percent, and terms from five to 20 years. Some lenders even offer 25-year-term lengths for those looking to reduce their monthly student loan payment. There are more than 10 relatively new student loan refinance lenders in the market. Each of these lenders offers slightly different benefits, rates, and terms. LendEDU helps borrowers cut through the noise with only one form.

With a simple application, you can compare all of the leading student loan refinancing lenders in one place. LendEDU asks users for some basic information including name, address, and educational level, and a few other questions related to your type of student loan debt. Then, LendEDU matches you with its lender partners based on your application information and credit score. After submission, you can be matched with any or all of the company's partners. LendEDU works with most leading lenders including SoFi, Citizens Bank, and LendKey. In one dashboard, you can see interest rate information, term length options, and monthly payments from all of your lender matches. For individuals with large amounts of student loan debt, even small interest rate differences could add up in the long run. LendEDU creates transparency in the market and in turn you save money.

Using LendEDU is completely free and doesn't affect your credit. And you will not be obligated to finish the refinancing process with any of your lender matches. We've seen it time and time again. As soon as an industry gets traction, price aggregators step in to help consumers find transparency.

Refinancing in the private market is currently the only option for student loan borrowers. The federal government has talked about the possibility of a federal refinancing plan, but there hasn't been much movement from the Department of Education. If you have student loan debt, federal or private, refinancing might be worth consideration. The Federal Reserve recently raised interest rates for the first time in a long time. However, market interest rates are currently at historic lows. Refinancing high interest private student loans, PLUS loans, and federal graduate loans could save some borrowers a lot of money. But be aware that when you refinance student loan debt, you are giving up any federal student loan benefits you are entitled to. Benefits such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and Income-Based repayment would be lost when refinancing through a private lender. That being said, most borrowers do not qualify for student loan forgiveness, despite what those late-night television commercials and radio ads say.

Student loan refinancing is rewarding industry for all parties involved. This is just another great example of the private market stepping in help consumers while the government has stood idle. If you are thinking about refinancing, LendEDU might be worth consideration.

Published on: Jan 10, 2016