Real Answers from Real Pilots


I was approved for a $92k Sallie Mae loan with a loan shark interest rate of 11.25% (fixed) and an estimated monthly of nearly $1200 I’m only 20 and also have a car note of 180/month for 6 years. If i dive headfirst into this what are refinancing options once i graduate and after how long can i refinance. Not really sure if I’m ready to accept that amount of debt yet if there wont be any refinancing options down the road. I am prepared to live a not so satisfying life for the next 4-5 years so i can repay it quickly but would obviously like to avoid that.


I have heard of people refinancing their loans, but I do not know any specifics of it, you will have to do some research of your own on that.

I would not exactly call 11.25% a “loan shark” rate on an un-collateralized loan. If you stop making your car payment, the bank will come and take your car from you to recoup their losses. If you stop making your student loan payments, there is nothing that the bank can do except for take you to court, thus the risk to the bank is much higher and the interest rate is accordingly higher.


You could always refinance later on down the road IF there is any other lenders that would give you a loan for that full amount and better interest rate after checking your credit score, and verify your source of income to pay back the loan.

Sofi and Credible have been used with some success by previous grads. Both will require a co-signer.

Better fixed than variable. The variable disclosures stated they could jack that up to 24.99% which would even be more of a killer. I’d say, 11.25% is good. Granted you’ll be making more than the average monthly payment, furnish your budget good and you won’t have to pay it for the 15 (or so) years.

ATP works with several lenders that offer refinancing options. Wells Fargo and Citizens Bank are two options that come to mind. Check out more info here:

Call Kirk in ATP Admin as he is the expert on all such things.

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Kirk is awesome! I second Chris!

I was just able to refinance my Sallie Mae loan with citizens bank. I had about a $59,000 balance at 10.75% over 15 years with $540 a month in interest only payments while in forbearance and now I have about 6.05% amortized over 20 years with payments of $420 a month for principle and interest. Hope this helps someone.


Erik did Citizens approve that as a student loan or under their personal loans dept? We are looking to do the same restructure on a Wells Fargo loan. Aprox same value, not sure if they mentioned a loan cap. 6% sounds great!

Hi Melissa. They did it under their student loan department. They didn’t mention any cap to me. I also had the same co-signer for my refinance as I did on my initial loan.

Thank you Erik!!! So I reached out to Citizens and we also got approved to refi my husband’s flight school loan from 11.9% down to 4.43%…due to Covid 19 he has been wait listed to try and start with APT instructing so he has just been flying twice a month in private rentals to stay current. Just trying to float until things pick back up and this has been a huge help refinancing the loan. Hoping all the pilots get back to work soon & best of luck to you sir.

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When you refinanced the loan did payments start immediately or was there a grace period? I’m looking to do the same.

I switched to citizens as well and went from 7.6% down to 3.4%. There was one month that a payment wasn’t due as the loan was being transferred from Wells Fargo to citizens but after that payments started back regularly. If you need a forbearance period, you can apply for one. The grace period applies to the 6 months after you graduate from atp before payments are due.


I couldn’t use citizens without some sort of co-signer since I’m younger and have little to no work history, but I was doing some research online and came across this website called nerd wallet that compares refinancing providers. I refinanced the other day with a company called earnest from 11.25% to 5.5%! Saves me a lot of money, hoping to be able to refinance again in the future.

Lenders actually have a good amount of cash they need to spend right now so they made it somewhat easier to get loans.

In 2018 when I tried to refinance many Lenders asked me what University the debt was actually from (ATP isn’t a University and did not qualify).

Today many just ask if you went to a school. My friends that haven’t say they get turned down more often.

I’ve refinanced with LendKey and now Earnest. Earnest I have 7yr 3.0% fixed on $33k of debt. About $500/m. It was easy and the best rate. Don’t miss out on the $200 referral bonus from someone that already has a loan with them.

Chris F


I’ve been looking into refinancing in a year or two with Earnest, would you say their customer service is good and that they are a reputable company to refinance with? I obviously look at lower interest rates when refinancing and availability to customize my experience; do they only allow auto-debt payments of monthly for discounts, or could you make bi-weekly (or weekly) payments with a discounted % for auto-payments?

Clearly other lending companies are an option, I’ve just been seeing Earnest more frequently online. Looking to learn more from a customer’s experience.


Really is not much customer service interaction if you make payments on time.

Both LendKey and Earnest give a discounted interest rate for auto payment. Both allow extra payments with no penalty.

I haven’t had an issue with either.

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Citizens student loans have all that you just asked… they discount interest rates by .05% for auto payments and another .05% for opening a credit card or bank account with citizens. So potentially you could get 1% off your interest rate if you do both. They offer 5,10, and 20 year variable or fixed rates. If you call or use their online portal you can get a quote without tapping your credit score. Customer service so far has been awesome. Easy to contact and super helpful. You can also refinance as many times as you want throughout your payment period.


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