Best student loans of 2021

Lendkey

Overview: best for getting low rates from community banks and credit unions.

LendKey is a strong name in the student loans background: born in 2009 in the context of fintech lending companies on the rise, it works like a digital service that aggregates private student loans and refinancing solutions. Unlike other similar online services, it has the unique feature of considering more than 13,000 community and national banks and credit unions mostly as lenders in its network, rather than alternative lenders, to cater to borrowers favoring the service and reliability offered from a bank or credit union. LendKey was actually the first company to bring those lenders online.

 

LendKey search among hundreds of the partnering providers, both national and local, then find the most favorable rates from each, so to save you the effort and time to do the research by yourself.

They are not just a bunch of lenders, but the ones that can offer a respectable service to customers, affordable and transparent rates through pre-qualifying offers: this means you will see rates that you can be eligible for before committing to making the final application.

A great edge of a community bank operating locally over a national big bank is that it understands better the needs of families in the context they live, rather than just offering appealing numbers: you will get a highly individualized offer, accounting also for the State and city you reside in. Does your school cost a big sum? These lenders will consider average incomes and people’s tenor of life in the community among the factors to determine a reasonable rate.

Since its birth, LendKey has demonstrated to be reliable, and rapidly gained a high reputation among customers, also receiving authoritative mentions, such as from the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.

The main highlight of the company is the ability to give you access to low rates from reputable financial institutions, exploiting the tech benefit of streamlining the whole process of getting your loan. And LendKey is committed to putting at your disposal a dedicated customer service to serve you at best: as we will discuss, it is positively acclaimed by the vast majority of current customers.

LendKey deals with student loans, refinancing current loans, and can also provide financing for home improvements. Today, it funded over $3.1 billion in loans through its partnering banks and credit unions.

The company also offers a scholarship search section: you are faced with a form where you input the school name and select parameters such as applicants’ success rate, type of school, ethnicity, and more; you can also choose to sort the results based on your preferences.

Keep on reading to find out how LendKey can support your education needs.

 

What student loan options are available through LendKey?

 
 

With LendKey, you can start your education journey from scratch by taking a private student loan, or find better conditions on your current loan through refinancing. To follow, both the two solutions are discussed in detail.

Private student loans

The premise is that most students will need a cosigner. LendKey allows joint applications with a cosigner, who must be creditworthy enough to make your loan approved. However, it is not a strict requirement: if you have a certain annual income, you may be able to qualify alone.

Rates from LendKey are highly advantageous, and you can choose either a fixed or a variable interest. If adopting a variable rate, it can start as low as 1.49%, (depending on the lender and your credit score) which is rare to find in the student loans market. The key to getting such low percentages is still using a cosigner with strong credit.

Disclosed APR for your offers will include a 0.25% rate discount: it is obtained when automatic repayments are set.

LendKey charges no origination fee for its service, nor through its partnering lenders, so you don’t have to worry about upfront costs. However, additional fees, such as a fee for opening a share account, and a membership fee will be required from at least some credit unions. Instead, there is usually no early repayment penalty, as well.

Repayment terms range from 5 to 10 years, with several options available: besides the immediate full principal plus interest option, you also have “interest-only”, a flat $25 while in-school monthly payment; once you get your degree, you will have a 6-month grace period, and further deferments are possible, while there won’t be deferment during school attendance or returning to school. Forbearance is also obtainable, for a period of up to 6 months, and the conditions for its application will depend on the lender. In special eligible cases, a few lenders may grant the loan forgiveness.

The overall time to get a private student loan through LendKey is claimed by customers to be very short, moreover, its straightforward process takes out much of the stress typically present when one deals with an educational loan. Disbursement timing will greatly depend on the bank concerned.

At a glance, LendKey private student loans look like in the below table:

  • Loan amounts

    Up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance

  • Interest rates

    1.49% -7.73% variable APR; 3.99% – 8.49% fixed APR. Both cases are intended with autopay

  • Fees

    None

  • Repayment terms

    Up to 10 years

  • Grace period

    6 months

  • Co-signer requirement

    Must be creditworthy

  • Minimum credit score

    Not disclosed

  • Basic requirements

    U.S. citizen or permanent resident, of legal age in your State, enrolled at least 50% of the time in an eligible degree programme or school. Minimum annual income not disclosed.

Be mindful that all the rates, terms and repayment modalities are not set from LendKey on its own, but by the individual lenders: above is an overview of the general offer. LendKey limits to declare those numbers as for meeting eligibility with any of the lenders in the network.

There might be additional or specific requirements, especially as for your minimum income, credit score and length of credit history: that’s the most likely case if you selected an offer from a credit union.

The maximum repayment period for a private student loan through LendKey is 10 years; in contrast, the company offer longer terms up to 20 years when it comes to refinance your existing student loan.

Approvals are mainly credit-based, but lenders will also look at your income and its source to determine not only if you qualify, but also which rate to give you.

 

 

Refinancing student loans

You can have your  current loan refinanced even if you don’t have a previous account with a certain bank, or being yet a member of a credit union.

You can refinance both a private student loan and a federal loan, with possibility of consolidating them together.

As for private student loans, refinancing is available only for students with a qualified loan from an eligible institution.

Have a direct look into the overall LendKey’s partners offer:

 

  • Min Loan Amount

    $5,000 (except for residents of AZ: $10,001; CT: $15,001; MA: $6,000)

  • Max Loan Amount

    $125,000 for undergraduates; $175,000 for graduates $300,000 for medical degrees

  • Variable Rate APR

    1.97% – 8.56% APR with Autopay

  • Fixed Rate APR

    2.95% – 8.77% APR with Autopay

  • Loan Terms

    5,7,10,15,20 years

  • Credit score

    Not disclosed

LendKey clearly states that to be eligible for student loan refinancing, you must have completed an associate’s, undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate degree from a Title IV eligible school, and be a US citizen or permanent resident.

A worry of yours as a student is not meeting the credit score requirement. Of course, banks and credit unions in the LendKey network will consider the use of a cosigner to reach that number. The individual can be a parent, a trusted person, or even your spouse. Besides, through LendKey your cosigner can be released once 12 consecutive on-time payments are made so that he or she is lifted from the liability.

LendKey gives you access to among the lowest possible rates for a student loan, by checking through many providers. These rates are naturally subject to changes, so it is important to take advantage of them while they are live. Your credit score (and your cosigner’s one) will be a relevant factor to determine your actual rate; what there is in your credit history, including its length and management of outstanding debts, is decisive as well. The minimum $5,000 amount should meet many borrowers’ needs, while might be too much for some other.

Plus, the company charges no fee for originating a refinanced loan. However, if you accept an offer from some credit unions you might be required an association fee. There is no prepayment fee if you decide to accelerate the payoff of your refinanced loan.

The multiple terms and options of repayments available, also while in school, add flexibility to refinancing from the Lendkey’s network of lenders.

Undergraduates can borrow up to $125,000 when refinancing. Moreover, some customers revealed they were able to obtain long periods of forbearance.

Some lenders who can refinance your loans will allow you to also receive promotional bonuses. On the website, in the related disclosure section, you will find a comprehensive list of which ones are currently available.

Checking your refinance rates won’t affect your credit score. Only if you choose a loan offer and submit its application, you will go through a hard credit inquiry, which will impact the score by a few points (generally five).

Thus, if you are a recent graduate with little credit history, and need to refinance your current student loan by using a cosigner, LendKey is a highly convenient choice. And refinancing through LendKey can be one of your best life choice since it has among the lowest rates possible on the market.

 

Why choosing LendKey?

Like with any company, you have still to weigh the many advantages with few possible drawbacks. As far as we could find, here they are.

Pros

Comparing multiple offers from top banks and credit unions at once

  • Low refinancing and private student loans rates
  • No fees
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Simple and quick online application
  • Cosigners allowed
  • Long forbearance period for 15- and 20-year loan terms
  • Only a soft credit check for seeing rates

 

LendKey makes the point to work only with trustworthy lenders, and you are matched with several of them: in this way, you can obtain access, depending on your financial status, to very affordable rates, either if you were seeking a new student loan or wanted to refinance an old one. Accounting for the absence of origination, application, and prepayment fees, the overall cost of a student loan through LendKey could prove to be the lowest you can find.

The main highlight is that you can find many different top quality offers in a unique instance, without any obligation to finalize your loan, or risking your credit score.

A basic requirement of LendKey is use of a cosigner if your annual income is not above a certain threshold. Since this is very likely among students, as it is not having a credit base, it is anyway recommended by the company itself because it allows you to qualify and to get a more favorable rate.

In case you want to be informed, the website has a rich resources section, including a blog, with the cornerstone topics about student loans.

 

Cons

 
  • Potentially high minimum credit score required
  • Doesn’t lend to non-graduated, and to international student
 
 

Since LendKey provides you with most banks and CUs offers, and they are prone to have relatively high credit score requirements, it might be not easy to qualify. Alternative lenders have more lax requirements, and there is still the chance that you miss good deals. We recommend finding a cosigner with a good credit score, that is to say above 670; anything below will greatly reduce your likelihood to see your loan approved.

Unfortunately, LendKey’s partners cant’ grant a loan to students who are not enrolled in a degree program. Visa holders are also cut off, but we reasonably think that the company will integrate this last feature in the upcoming future.

 

How do you apply to LendKey?

 

The application process for a student loan or refinancing is the same. It just takes two steps:

– Compile a very simple one-page form 

– See your rates 

You are asked for personal information along with other crucial details: your citizenship, annual income, type of degree and school, purpose, and amount of the loan. The completion requires a matter of two minutes. Once done, you will finally receive the best prequalifying offers from a number of banks and credit unions. That’s it: one of the main goals of LendKey is to streamline the process, and you will be surprised at how easy that was.

If you like an offer and want to proceed, you will need to provide the necessary further documentation:

– A valid ID

– Social Security Number

– Proof of income

– Current loan statements if refinancing

– Cosigner’s files 

At this point, going through the picked lender will require a hard pull on your credit, in order to allow you the final approval. Though there is a high likelihood to be approved if you were already pre-qualified, there will still be a little chance to be denied: this can happen because of a lower than required credit score, an unsteady or uncertain source of income, a too-short credit history, errors in the credit report.

If not eligible, you will receive an explanatory e-mail, along with a possible counter-offer, such as applying with a cosigner with a suggested credit score.

LendKey commits to be absolutely transparent about all the conditions of its loans. As a general recommendation, you should be aware of your credit score before applying. This is important because knowing where you stand lets you make the right step forward certain offers, avoiding to apply to others.

 

How is LendKey rated?

 

As a guarantee and expression of the high quality of LendKey’s service, you may want to consider the company receives an A+ from the Better Business Bureau: this means a top level of commitment towards its customers, and a great capability to handle potential claims.

Moreover, you certainly want to know what other people are saying about LendKey: on Trustpilot, which is a well-known unbiased source of valuable customer reviews, it gets a 4.6/5 stars score, suggesting it is an excellent choice.

Current customers happily agree with basically the same crucial things: the convenience of use, the ease and speed of applying, the low rates they are able to obtain, and a general seamless experience. LendKey’s customer service is much appreciated and proves to answer the questions promptly and in a professional manner. Moreover, other people like specific things, like to be in control during the whole process of the loan submission from their account or to receive offers from local lenders rather than big institutions.

There are also several reports of a positive overall experience with refinancing their student loans, especially referring to the low rates they get and which couldn’t find elsewhere.

 

College Ave

 

Best for good-standing borrowers, flexible terms, and repayment options.

 

Born in 2014, College Ave is a dedicated student loans and refinancing company, located in Wilmington, available in all 50 States. College Ave partners with University Account Service (UAS), a major servicing company of student loans, which is a guarantee of trustworthiness.

The company was founded with a clear goal in mind: to make payment of college an unburdened experience, the easiest and least stressful possible both for students and their parents, while providing competitive rates. This is successfully and better done by its team of real students and parents who are well aware of what is involved, and who know how to reduce the hassle: they understand borrowers’ need while caring that you come up with the most suitable loan.

Student loan types available are: undergraduate, parent, graduate, career, MBA, medical, dental, and law schools, refinancing. You can get $1,000 up to 100% of the entire cost of the school, with a maximum amount possible of $150,000/$300, 000 depending on school type.

Among College Ave highlights, there is undoubtedly its overall flexibility: you have several repayment, mainly in-school schedules: apart from the standard principal plus interest amortization, you can otherwise pay interest-only, or fixed low-cost monthly payments, based on your short or long term commitment. In case of future hardship, either deferment or forbearance policies are available. Once left school, you will regularly pay principal plus interests, regardless of what you chose in the first place.

Compared to other lenders, you have also more choice about your loan terms, and in most cases, you are free to choose them, instead of being just assigned with. Nonetheless, the entire process of applying and receive approval is fast and one the most streamlined among student loan providers.

The College Ave professional staff commits to making sure that you completely understand your loan product, which will be highly individualized, to be at your side from the beginning and afterward, whenever you need it.

With any private student loan from College Ave, you can take up to the total of the school attendance cost, including fees, housing, books/supplies, transportation, and other expenses; make in-school repayments under different schedules, without additional fees. In case you can’t repay at some point, or you think you might undergo such contingency, you may be pleased to know that the company deferment and forbearance policies have no formal underwriting, so you have a certain degree of negotiation and relief as well.

Rates low down to 1.24% are available, but reserved for good-to-excellent credit borrowers; on the other hand, you can expect slightly higher than average rates if you are not among those, e.g. having a credit rating less than 670, which is fair.

All the following have in common: fixed or variable rates, choice of a loan term (up to you) between 5, 8, 10, and 15 years; no fees.

  • Undergraduate loans: with these, you have a fixed 4.39%-12.99% rate, or
 
  • Graduate loans: meant to finance the cost of Ph.D. or master’s degrees, their borrowable amounts are the same as other loans. APRs are: fixed 4.14%-11.98%, or 1.39%-10.97% variable.
 
  • Parent loans: there is an exclusive flexible “interest plus payment option”, which means if you plan to repay given interest while in school, you can set your own amount of monthly installments. No deferment is available. Besides, you can be eligible to obtain up to $2,500 in cash to be addressed for extra expenses such as dorm items or electronics.
 
  • Career loans: cover up to 100% cost of attendance of associates, bachelor’s, and graduate programs at prime colleges and universities. Schedules and terms are the same as graduate loans.

College Ave makes also it possible to refinance existing federal loans: this must be carefully planned because doing so you would lose the benefits of the federal loan program. Rates can be either fixed or variable: respectively 3.74%-8.49%, or 3.64%-8.49%.

1.24%-11.98% variable rate. You are likely to be required a cosigner in order to qualify, or get access to the highest borrowable amounts, and/or if you want to benefit the lowest possible rates.

Your refinance amount can be from $5,000 up to $150,000, over terms of 5 to 20 years. The cap rises at $300,000 if you are refinancing a medical, veterinary, pharmacy, or dental doctorate degree. To qualify, you must have obtained a degree from an approved Title IV undergraduate or graduate program; also, refinancing is not available for Maine residents.

 

Here are a synopsis and details

 

  • Product name

    Undergraduate student loan

  • Min Loan Amount

    $1,000

  • Max Loan Amount

    Cost of attendance

  • APR

    4.39%-12.99% fixed ;1.24% to 11.98% variable

  • Loan Terms

    5, 8, 10, and 15 years

  • Min .credit score

    Not disclosed

  • Repayment Options

    Full principal and interest payment, interest-only, flat $25 monthly payment (all three being in-school), deferment (out of school).

  • Fees

    No application or origination fees. No prepayment penalties. Does charge late fees.

  • Requirements

    US citizen or permanent resident, enrolled in a degree program at eligible school, on-time academic progress, possible additional eligibility, and minimum credit score, or cosigner’s ones

 

As for graduate student loans, amounts borrowable, terms and fees are the same you see in the above table. Repayment options are: full straight payment, principal and interest, interest-only payment, flat $25 monthly payment, and in-school deferment. The main requirement will be your credit standing. Generally, you can rely on graduate loans when you have exhausted funds from federal granted student loans.

So, you can realize that minimum rates are appealing, but they can become quite high for fair credit borrowers. A great thing about College Ave is that it doesn’t charge origination or early repayment fees, so you save at least on the short term and it is easier to come up with actual payments.

The company doesn’t necessarily require a co-signer for U.S. students but does for international ones who already hold a valid SSN. Keep in mind that the use of a cosigner will actually get you better rates, which is crucial for the long-term cost of the loan. Afterward, if you are a U.S.student, you can “release” your co-signer provided that you made a minimum of half on-time payments, 24 of which must be consecutive, at least; this also applies to the refinancing option.

A few other things you may also want to consider are:

– You don’t need to be attending half-time whatever institution addressed for getting your loan 

– Every single circumstance is evaluated as for deferment or forbearance

– Opting for deferment will result in a change of your monthly payments: interests are not paid during a “grace period” but still accumulate, and will be due once the period ends along with principal and interest of the remainder term, so you will end up with meaty recurrent future repayments

– There is an auto-payment discount of 0.25%, applied to interest rates (APRs). Signing up for refinancing gets you a referral cash-back discount and another one of $250 per closed loan

– Even if College Ave doesn’t declare a minimum credit score, you may still be required a rating of at least 670 (a “good FICO score) to qualify.

 

To recap, here is at a glance how you can benefit (or falling short) from College Ave.

 

Pros:

 
  • Plenty of repayment and term options
  • Low starting rates
  • Borrowable amounts up to $300,000
  • Quick application and fast approvals
  • Prequalification without a hard pull
  • Informal forbearance allowed
  • No fees
 

Cons:

 
  • Potential high rates for less than good credit
  • Fair and bad credit scores are unlikely to be approved
 

A potential drawback of CollegeAve is that most repayment schedules have to be made during the school period, with exception of deferment. This might constitute somewhat a limit for some students, who can’t afford, to make those repayments until they graduate, hence they can access a job. Anyway, with deferred payments you don’t make repayments at all for a six-month grace period after graduation, or if you could only attend the course less than half-time.

The application form is simple and quick to fill, requiring only three minutes: you will need to provide basic information, including personal, cost of attendance, and, of course, how much you want to borrow. If you are applying for refinancing, you will need also to specify your estimated annual income.

Then, you could get the approval answer within minutes, and your funds will go directly to the school within up to 10 days; if refinancing, the recipient will be your original lender, in this case, funding may require up to 4 weeks. You have the comfort of paying your loan online and eventually deciding on paperless statements.

College Ave website is transparent about information, and you can see the team members’ bios and contacts; there are comprehensive, useful resources from which you can learn the essentials of student loans if you have doubts here and there. The company also helps you find scholarship opportunities, and you could even win $1,000 to be used for financing school.

There are many online positive student reviews especially about customer service efficiency, and ease of online application; complaints are mainly about high rates, that’s the case of relatively low credit holders. Despite this, the company claims that 99% of its customers are making on-time payments, which suggests you are nearly always put into the best position to actually make the repayments: this should be a strong point to consider for making this lender your choice.

All in all, College Ave is a complete provider of student loans, that can expose you to the best conditions for financing your college costs, in a convenient and affordable way, where you have ample possibility of choice and with security options in mind. Students borrowers who are in a better financial condition, thus being able to repay early and/or having a cosigner, will get the lowest rates; if instead, you are not exactly in good standing, this company is probably not the best fit.

 

 

Credible

 

Overview: best for overall flexibility and competitive refinancing rates.

 

Born in 2012 in San Francisco, Credible is not a direct lending company, but a recognized online marketplace of top lenders that can provide student loans and refinancing solutions. By connecting to a network of licensed and established lenders, you are put in front of multiple offers at once, so you can choose from tailored rates and terms for your situation as a student. The advantage here is clearly to save you time and the hassle of doing your research manually, while quickly accessing favorable rates.

Among all available lenders, you can see there are both well-known names and others probably less familiar, but with relevant background: SoFi, PenFed, Citizens Bank, InvestEd, Advantage Education Loans, Ascent, Sallie Mae, EdvestinU, ELFI, MEFA, RISLA, Brazos.

In about 2 minutes, you can visualize at a glance more offers, so you are very likely to find the one that suits best your conditions.

All offers you get are pre-qualified rates, that are based on the information you submit: if you pre-qualify, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are approved (especially true if financial status changes in the while), but that you have a high chance to be. With this first step, you will undergo only a “soft” credit check, that doesn’t impact your score. After the final application with the lender of choice, you receive a hard pull, which temporarily decreases your rating; you still have not to worry about this, since the score is recouped as you make several on-time payments.

Rates, borrowable amounts, and terms will vary depending on lenders. Your final rate is determined mainly on the loan length, your financial history, and credit, as well as your level of academic progress. Mind that you can’t obtain lower rates from a certain lender through Credible than you would by applying directly to it. The lowest rates are generally granted to creditworthy borrowers (or with cosigners who are such), aimed at graduates rather than undergraduates, and for the shortest repayment terms.

There is multiple choice of repayment options that, again, will differ by lenders: most of them provide an interface for online repayments, also with the possible setting of automatic payments: the “autopay” function is useful to be always punctual, provided you have sufficient funds into your bank account.

Discounts on interest rates are applied in differing ways and count when you are actively making payments, so they won’t during periods of deferment or forbearance.

Credible doesn’t charge any fee for providing its service but earns commissions from its lenders. None of the lenders in the network imposes an origination fee, and there is no early repayment penalty.

Here are some details about Credible products.

  • Private student loans: addressed to undergraduates, graduates, medical and law schools, they are meant to cover attendance costs plus tuition and fees, housing, meals, books, and supplies. Through Credible, you can borrow up to 100% of the school cost, with rates from 3.49%-14.50% (fixed APR), or 1.21%-13.19% variable APR. Terms are from 5 to 20 years. A credit score of 670+ is mostly required or can be reached using a cosigner.
 
  • Student loans refinancing/consolidation: Credible makes you refinance both federal and private student loans, including parent PLUS loans. By refinancing a federal loan though, you will lose some exclusive benefits, such as income-based repayments and several forgiveness options. Your current debt will go under better rates, with fixed APRs ranging from 2.49% to 8.74% fixed, or 1.92%-8.74% variable. Terms available are of 5 to 20 years. Your credit score (or your cosigner’s) must be ideally above 670.
 

To qualify for a refinancing, you must meet general criteria such as minimum income requirement, a low DTI (debt-to-income) ratio, and your rate will be influenced by loan size and even type of degree.

Refinancing through Credible and its partners has no fees, letting you save thousands of dollars.

With Credible, you can qualify for refinancing even if you haven’t finished the degree studies, and every lender allows using a cosigner if having little or no credit. You even compare among available cosigners, so that you don’t need to find one by yourself.

Since you have such a wide spectrum of selection, you can more easily find approval for your kind of degree to actually be financed.

To be eligible for any student loan with Credible you must:

– Be at least 18 years old and holding a high school diploma or equivalent (if under 18, you will need a cosigner)

– U.S. citizen or permanent resident (the same goes for cosigner)

– Enrolled in an eligible US educational program

– Have a qualifying income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio

– Lender-specific additional requirements.

 

Whether you are applying for a student loan from scratch or refinancing your existing one, you will go through 3 steps:

– Filling out the form: you are asked for information about past education, school attendance, and to provide financial inputs, most importantly your annual income, foreseen college expenses, and the amount you intend to borrow. If a cosigner is involved, he/she will have a dedicated section to be compiled.

– Seeing, filtering, and comparing offers: you will receive a prospectus with several rates from more lenders, and multiple offers from each of them. By setting filters, you can reduce your choice.

 – Applying to a lender: this is best done if preceded by actual research about the lending company or bank concerned, as for anything it may matter to you, such as repayment modalities, protection from hardship options, current customer reviews, etc. When you submit loans to be refinanced, you can easily add them through the Credible import tool. Whatever the lender, it will then require some more information: in the loan finalization process, you undergo a hard credit check, which is the norm whenever it comes to getting a loan.

You get your offers within 2 minutes: not only the process is easy and fast, but you come up with rates instead of ranges, which you typically would obtain from such a service. The Credible knowledgeable team will be ready to help you understand the offers and guide you through and toward your decision.

Funding time will mainly depend on the lender and the recipient account processing capability.

To recap, here is what to consider about Credible:

 

Pros

 

  • Multiple choice of rates and terms at once
  • No fees
  • No degree requirement
  • Allowed use of a cosigner
  • Pre-qualification without affecting credit score
  • Loyalty discount available
  • 7-day a week support
 
 

Cons:

 
  • Issues can’t be managed directly
  • Loss of benefits when refinancing federal loans
  • Bad credit borrowers likely to be cut out

 

If any dispute arises, it will need to be addressed through the actual lender, not Credible, which won’t be responsible: this is something you must keep in mind when choosing any services aggregator as well.

As for refinancing federal loans, some lenders can offer perks such as unemployment protection to compensate for the loss of previous benefits: depending on your needs, this can be enough good to not constitute a problem at all.

Lack of fees is of course great, and is true regardless of the lender of choice: you will save thousand dollars at least in the short term, or in the long run since those payments are often enrolled into the total amount of loan (from other lenders), thus being subject to interest.

Credible takes care of your privacy: your submitted information is not shared among multiple lenders at the comparison stage, but only if proceeding with your application to one (or more) of them.

If you couldn’t qualify because of low or insufficient credit, you can add a cosigner, for every offer you decide to adhere to: this serves also the purpose of getting better rates and/or more favorable terms to repay. As a reminder, on the company website, there is a tool that lets you check your rates using a number of different cosigners. Whereas you don’t need it anymore, many lenders offer “cosigner release”, after a certain number of consecutive on-time payments are made.

Credible has gained a very good reputation: there are plenty of online feedbacks, especially on Trustpilot where is showing a remarkable 4.7 out of 5 stars rating over about 4,000 reviews, which speaks for itself. Customers are pleased especially with the ease and speed of the entire process of getting the offers and applying, as well as of professional service carried out by the team members.

Consider Credible if you have, or can access a good to excellent credit, regardless of your current academic situation, and want to benefit from maximum flexibility with rapid access to rates and amounts of multiple top market lenders. While you can still be able to qualify with bad credit through Credible, chances are that your rates will be high and you would find a better option in more specialized lenders.

 

Commonbond

 

Overview: best for borrowers who seek affordable rates and maximum repayment flexibility.

 

Headquartered in NY, Commonbond began in 2012 as an online fin-tech lending company, one of the first in its category; today it is a well-known name in the student loans scenario, providing a range of private student loans, and refinancing.

The main goal and merit of this company have been to simplify the whole process of financing education, to lighten the burden of high-interest rates, and assure a first- grade customer service, to make the students feel really supported during their journey: this is the winner triad of Commonbond. “Your future is bright” is the idea kept in mind.

Commonbond operates in most of the U.S., except for Mississippi and Nevada, and can offer its products to attendants and graduated of title IV schools.

Rates offered by Commonbond are slightly lower than the average from student lenders for refinancing and are moderate when it comes to new student loans.

The company customer service is committed to being at the forefront for answering all the questions that may arise, and solving issues: students come first, according to their philosophy. As a plus, Commonbond is involved in helping students in the developing world to cover the costs of their education, using the proceeds of every funded loan, through a partnership with the Pencils of Promise program.

A near to unique perk of CommonBond is that a money expert is assigned to each undergraduate borrower (and graduate if requested) to assist with financial moves, and everything that may matter to improve the student’s future: this lending company is devoted to guaranteeing the highest level possible of customer service and satisfaction.

Available loans are for: undergraduate, graduate, students of MBA schools, dental and medical schools, businesses. In case you have a business with employees who are studying themselves or have sons who do, Commonbond offers customized solutions and benefits. These products aren’t currently fully available for international students (unless holding certain visas), but Commonbond is actively working on this limitation.

Eligible institutes are specified on the website, and it is still possible to advance a request for adding yours if it’s missing from the list.

If you are an undergraduate, Commonbond will require you to use a cosigner to qualify, while this is generally necessary with most of the lenders, since at this stage you should have little or no credit at all. Afterward, you may decide to release your cosigner, which is allowed after just 24 months, a shorter period than you find typically from other lenders. If you are a graduate student, the need for a cosigner will ultimately depend on your creditworthyness.

With Commonbond, you can refinance either private or federal loans, including parent PLUS loans in your parent’s name.

Your eligibility and rates for a Commonbond student loan or refinancing will be dictated, in essence, from your credit history, score, income, and amount of other debts. Rates can be fixed, variable, or even hybrid (for refinancing only: fixed to a lower APR for 5 years, then variable to loan maturity). Besides, there are no fees: no origination, application, or early repayments fees, except for possible late payments.

Undergraduate/graduate student loans details

Undergraduate loans Graduate loans
up to 100% of full attendance cost (per academic year)
$2,000 min., $500,000 max borrowable for the loan lifetime
Loan terms
5, 10, or 15 years
Origination, application, early repayment fees: none.
Late fee
$10 or 5% of the monthly payment
Soft credit check to get an estimated rate
Fixed APR
6.98 – 10.74%
7.12 – 10.74%
Variable APR
6.59 – 9.39%
6.73 – 9.79%
Min. Credit Score
Not disclosed
Not disclosed
Repayment options (in-school)
full monthly principal plus interest, fixed $25 monthly, interest-only, deferment until graduation
Payments start after the first month after disbursement. A 6-month grace period after graduation or the end of enrollment applies to each option
Requirements:
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.No loans available to customers in Mississippi or Nevada.You must be enrolled at least half-time in a school in the network or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate, or MBA program.Must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree at an eligible Title IV or nonprofit school.All undergraduate borrowers must have a creditworthy co-signer (parent/family member, friend)
Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.No loans available to customers in Mississippi or Nevada.You must be enrolled at least half-time in a school in the network or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate, or MBA program.Must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree at an eligible Title IV or nonprofit school.All undergraduate borrowers must have a creditworthy co-signer (parent/family member, friend)

MBA loans details: you can borrow up to $110,000 per academic year over terms of 10-15 years. You have a fixed APR 6.04-7.25%, or 5.79-7.14% variable, and are charged with a 2% origination fee (included in APR). There are varied repayment options: principal plus interest, interest-only, 6-month grace period after grad, a deferment up to 32 months, forbearance up to 12 months. Requisites are quite the same as general ones, but cosigner is not needed and only 29 schools are accepted. MBA schools will require a higher credit score than standard, because of the greater costs implied.

This level of flexibility is nearly unrivaled. You have also the option of setting comfortable automatic repayments, so you are making sure that there won’t’ be missed or late installments.

Mind that a student loan for the cost of school attendance includes tuition and fees, books, supplies, housing, transportation, and living expenses.

Refinancing student loans details Federal, private, and parent PLUS loans re-financeable
Loan amounts
$5,000 to $500,000
Loan terms
5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
Transfer
Can transfer a parent loan to a son/daughter.
Application or origination fees
None
Prepayment penalty
None
Loan Fees
$10 or 5% of the monthly payment
Rate
Soft credit check to see the estimated rate
Fixed APR
3.36 – 5.99%
Variable APR
1.99 – 5.61%
Min Credit Score
Not disclosed
Payment options
deferment, forbearance up to 24 months (in three-month increments). Grace period after graduation. Autopay. Payments start after 30-60 days since funds are disbursed.
Requirements
Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, or E-3 visa holderNo loans available to borrowers of Mississippi and Nevada.Must have graduated from one of the title IV universities or grad programs in the network; a not listed one might be added by request.

If you are about to refinance a federal loan, this will mean the end of any federal program benefits, like forgiveness or income-based repayments. However, these are offset by alternative Commonbond options, like unemployment protection. Current private student loans, either single or consolidated, can be refinanced as well.

At a glance, consider where Commonbond can be the right choice:

Pros:

 
  • Plenty of repayment options, both in-school and out-of-school
  • Very high borrowable amounts
  • Competitive rates for student loans and refinancing
  • Mentor support and efficient customer service
  • 24-month forbearance possible
  • Short cosigner’s release time
 

Cons:

 
  • Not available in Nevada and Mississippi
  • Cosigner required for undergraduates
  • International students can’t currently borrow
 

Besides most chased things, such as the many repayment options and affordable rates, you may want to consider (and should) your protection measures as a borrower. In fact, with Commonbond you are granted forbearance periods in case of future financial hardship, which can last up to 2 years, which is longer than the average you can find among student lenders; mind that accrued interest during such period will add up to the remainder, anyway. The CommonBridge program offers unemployment protection along with dedicated counseling.

The Commonbond application is a streamlined process and requires just a few minutes: if you have a cosigner you can apply together from any device. You will need to provide: proof of residence and employment, current loan statements (if refinancing). When taking undergraduate student loans, you are assigned a financial mentor who will guide you to better manage your budget, obtaining more funds for the school, building credit, or even help to find internship opportunities. Graduates may (or not) choose this option, as needed.

You can be approved within one business day, depending on the level of communication with the school. Disbursement can happen anywhere from five business days to 3 weeks: funds are paid fully on the school account for addressing tuition and fees, while the remainder is sent to you to cover related expenses such as housing, supplies, etc.

If investing is your thing, the company “SmartSafe Service” can use monthly savings from your refinanced loan for deposit into a standalone account with potential high-return percentages.

The company is transparent about requirements for approval, and even if denied you will be notified about the reasons.

This lender has a good reputation for refinancing service, but discordant experiences in general: we don’t know why Trustpilot reviews are missing, but you can still find lots of online opinions: some customers are just fine with the company service, others are complaining about how pre-qualifying rates deviated from the real ones, or about too many requirements. The company products are generally seen as the next step to federal loans.

In essence, Commonbond is on the podium of student lenders for flexibility of repayments; it is especially worth considering if you already have a cosigner ready for applying to your undergraduate loan. If you have the urge to be financed for finishing school, while accessing good rates, and you value to receive support from an expert, then Commonbond is, by all means, a top and reliable choice.

 

 

Sallie Mae

 

Overview: best for graduates of specialty degrees, excellent financial standing, and for complete education lifetime support.

 

Sallie Mae was born in 1973 as a government entity providing federal student loans; more recently, it became a private lender and is also a consumer bank. Since then, it has supported the education of about half a million students in the U.S. As a bank, it can also offer a variety of saving products, and credit cards with incentives, one of which is specific for paying off student loans.

The company can finance nearly every level of instruction and related needs, by offering products such as undergraduate and graduate student loans, medical and dental school loans, K-12 schools financing. You can borrow from $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance, which includes tuition and fees, housing, books and supplies, personal expenses, for a maximum of $200,000 over the entire study course. You have terms up to 15 years, and there is much choice about repayment methods.

The basic qualifying criteria are to be at least 18 years old, and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; Sallie Mae also lends to international students. Further requirements are unrevealed, but in essence, they will depend a lot on your creditworthyness.

Besides loans for undergraduate students, Sallie Mae goes beyond most other lenders by providing more specific loans to graduate students for:

  • MBA school. As with other loans, you have a 6-month grace period; plus, there is a following 1 year of interest-only payments, if eligible, and possibly a total deferment period of 4 years.
  • Career-training: this is about financing apprenticeships and certificate courses such as culinary, technical, etc., at a non-degree-granting school.
  • Medical and dental schools
  • Dental and medical residency: these loans cover the extra costs of relocation, local transportation, and exams while on transfer. You can qualify until up to 12 months after your graduation from these schools. Rates vary from 5.21% to 11.67%, and deferment can be extended up to 3 years after graduation 
  • Health professions: accomodating aspirants pharmacists, nurses and similar
  • Law school, and law bar exam separately, meant to cover the recurring costs necessary for taking the test.
 

Besides these, there are of course the more generic graduate student loans, for pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree.

K-12 schools are also addressed: as a parent, you can rely on Sallie Mae financing for your sons’ education before college.

So, there is a wide range of possibilities, for different areas and levels of education. Sallie Mae stands out for its complete support, not only financing your studies (tuition, fees) but also covering the extra expenses necessary during a program lifetime and later, in the early stages of your career. Whichever your training course, Sallie Mae is there to fund your needs. Nearly every cost education-related can be covered, even before college, which is something rare elsewhere.

Being also a bank, Sallie Mae offers products aimed at saving, that can prove useful for college, among which opening a high-yield savings account. Consider also Sallie Mae cash back credit cards: the “Accelerate” card is specific to pay down your student loan, and like the others, carries no annual fee.

On its website, there is even a useful section about college planning, where you might win $1,000 just by registering for the planning tools, that include scholarship search and a set of calculators: you are put in the position to make the right financial moves toward college, so here you are taking two birds with one stone. The website is a mine of information about everything that concerns your education.

  • Sallie Mae undergraduate loans are known as Smart Option Student Loans: you have competitive low rates to start with, borrow a new amount every year to come, and are covered up to 100% of the school-certified expenses, minus aids you already receive from other sources (grants, scholarships). Sallie Mae claims that 95% of undergraduates are approved when applying with a cosigner: the company suggests that you have high creditworthiness (using a cosigner with a good to excellent credit score) to be eligible for the lowest rates, and you are even more likely to get them if choosing to pay only interest while in school.
 

A unique included benefit is that you have the right to 4 months of free Chegg Study, that along with online tutoring is part of the Study Starter program: this will mean great support for your homework and preparing exams. (Parent student loans have this bonus, as well).

  • Graduate student loans have overlapping features of undergraduate loans but come with different APRs and an extended deferment period.

 

Sallie Mae doesn’t charge origination, application, or prepayment fees for any of its loans. You will only have to pay for interests, and eventually a late fee, which will be 5% of the missed payment or $25.

To recap, the following are the general conditions of Sallie Mae loans

Table Header Table Header
Loan terms
5 to 15 years.
Loan amounts
$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance.
Application or origination fee
None
Prepayment penalty
None
Late fees
the lesser of 5% of the past due amount or $25
Pre-qualified rates with soft credit check
No

Sallie Mae is reserved about requirements and schools allowed, however, the company suggests attending an institution that grants a degree. Must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents if the school is located outside of the country.Non-U.S. citizen borrowers who reside in the U.S. are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (American citizen or permanent resident). A cosigner is not mandatory, but highly likely to be needed.

Here are the general rates offered, while if you are in a specialty degree you will find different APRs, depending ultimately on your credit history and score.

Table Header Undergraduate (Smart Option Student Loan) Graduate student loan Parent student loan Career training loans
Fixed APR
4.25%-12.35%
4.75%-12.11%
5.49%-13.87%
6.62%-13.83%
Variable APR
1.25%-11.10%
2.25%-11.76%
3.50%-13.12%
4.25%-11.64%

Mind that disclosed APR includes a 0.25% discount, that will only be applied if setting autopayments and while making active repayments (suspended during periods of deferment or forbearance). Sallie Mae is transparent about saying that these rates apply to a $10,000 loan (per year) for a borrower who is new to the company products. You may be eligible later to deduct from taxes some of the interest you paid: on the website, there is a link to check it out.

Repayment schedules from Sallie Mae have top versatility in the student loans market: beyond the full principal plus interests standard repayment, three in-school options are available both for undergraduate and graduated students:

  • Deferment: no payments are made while in school and during the subsequent six-month grace period, which steps in at graduation or when dropping to less than half-time enrollment. For graduates, it is possible to defer up to 48 months, in 12-month increments. Academic (returning to school), internship, fellowship, and residency deferments are also possible. Rates applied to this schedule are the highest.
 
  • Interest-only: you pay only the interest amount monthly, and this is extended to the grace period. This is the cheapest option because you are granted a lower rate
 
  • Fixed $25 monthly payments while in school and for the next six-month grace period. Interest applied is higher than the standard.
 
 

The Sallie Mae “In-school Payment Assistance” makes you can postpone any of the previous repayment options if facing temporary financial hardship. This will however increase the overall cost of your loan in the end.

After leaving school you have also options: deferment, applicable also to special circumstances such as returning to school, attending an internship, fellowship, or during residency; forbearance (also for military students); the “Graduated Repayment Period” that let you pay only interest for 12 months after your separation period.

In case you become delinquent about payments, there are benefits close to the federal ones: term and rate modification, rate reduction, and “3 Pay”, where you make repayments at least equal to the current amount due for three months in a row. Sallie Mae allows waiving of the loan current balance, fewer refunds, in case of disability or death.

This lender encourages the use of a cosigner, especially for undergraduates who are likely to not have enough credit to qualify or to obtain affordable rates. It is a mandatory requirement only if you are an international student. Every borrower can apply later for cosigner release, once at least 12 consecutive on-time payments have been made.

At a glance, here is why Sallie Mae can be your choice or not.

 

Pros:

 

  • Full range of education ranks financed
  • Extra costs related to study and career covered, including financing of part-time students
  • Plenty of repayment schedules
  • Online tutoring service available
  • Free credit score tracking with some loans.
  • Open to international students
  • 100% U.S. based customer service

 

Cons:

 

  • Pre-qualified rates not available; hard credit pull to see the actual rate
  • Likely loan denial with less than good credit scores
  • Higher than average rates
  • Refinancing not available
 
 

One thing where Sallie Mae is lagging behind many other lenders is that you can’t pre-qualify to see a rate estimation; by applying directly, you undergo a hard pull on your credit, regardless if you are then approved, or denied. Anyway, the final application with most other lenders will have the same impact, and that temporary drop in your credit score is recouped by making regular full payments afterward. While you won’t know priorly your rate, nor if your credit score is enough to qualify, Sallie Mae somewhat compensates such a limit by providing a free quarterly FICO score report, available for parent loans and career training loans.

The company advises that, before considering any private student loan, you should find an alternative free way of financing first, and/or used the federal funds: the first step should be to submit a FAFSA module and wait for the approval.

The application process demands a few minutes to be completed, it is enough streamlined but not exactly the quickest among student lenders. An eventual denial will be substantiated, but reasons are generally about creditworthyness, including a high debt-to-income ratio, a bad history (for instance, bankruptcy), low or unsteady income. It will then take about 10 business days for your funds to be disbursed to the school.

Despite its experience in the field of student loans, and its completeness about available products and options, we can’t hide that Sallie Mae’s online reputation among customers is low: there are varied complaints about rates, payment issues, and customer service. All those reveal one fundamental element: the company is lacking transparency more often than not, so borrowers find in unexpected situations where their loans end up costing too much, or payment modalities are misunderstood; solving issues can become quite intricate in some cases, even for staff members who strive to be professional.

That said, it is probably best considering Sallie Mae if, regardless of your level of education, you or your family have a more than good credit score and substantial income, so to benefit from the lowest rates and best overall conditions, while needing to be mentored in studies, and covered for the many expenses involved in your study or early career period.

 

U-fi

 

Overview: Best for long terms of repayment and high borrowable limits

 

Set up in 2015, U-fi is an online marketplace of student loans providers, having its place in Lincoln (NE). Its main partner is the well-known Citizens Bank. The company is backed by Nelnet, one of the national largest providers of student loans, with a forty-year lasting experience in the field.

The company can offer both private student loans and refinance existing ones, in which case Citizens Bank is the unique servicer. Whether you are an undergraduate or already got a degree, even a specialistic title like from health professions, U-fi match you with highly individualized advantageous offers.

Available are both fixed and variable rates, with multiple term options. International students can borrow as well, but if you are one of them you will need a cosigner to apply. U-fi gives a few choices to new borrowers when it comes to repayment: for instance, you are allowed a six to nine-month grace period once graduated. U-fi student loans have low rates to start with, that can be granted to borrowers with the best credit profiles and with higher incomes.

The main edge of U-fi is that by comparing the several lenders in its network, you will be faced with competitive rates and terms, whether you favor smoother monthly payments or care more about saving in the long run: you will get a personalized solution for whatever your stage of education. Regardless of the payment method and actual lender of choice, you have the right to a six-month grace period after graduation, so to give you a breath for focusing on your career path.

If you are an undergraduate, chances are that you will need a cosigner to reach a credit score enough high to be eligible, or still to qualify for the best rates. Then, you might be able to release it once at least 24 on-time payments in a row are done.

The company has reliable customer service that will be ready to assist you in selecting the right fits for your stage of education and need.

Here is a prospect of what U-fi products are about.

  • Undergraduate loans: borrowable amount of $1,000-$125,000, terms of 5 to 15 years, four repayment schedules.
 
  • Graduate loans (including MBA, law, and health professions loans): $1,000-$175,000, up to $500,000 for health professions, terms of 5 to 20 years, repayment options the same as undergraduate loans
 
  • Parent loans: terms of 5-10 years, two repayments frequencies
 
  • Student loan refinancing: U-fi can refinance both private student and federal loans, including parent PLUS loans. When a federal loan is involved, you have to consider the lapsing of typical benefits, such as extended grace periods and forbearance/forgiveness policy, as well as unique payment schedules.

 

The minimum loan amount is $5,000

The maximum limits are:

– $125,000 for borrowers with an undergraduate degree.

– $175,000 for borrowers with a graduate or doctorate degree.

– $175,000 for borrowers with an MBA or graduate law degree.

– $500,000 for borrowers with a graduate health professions degree

U-fi private student loans details

Borrowable amounts $5,000-$300,000 depending on specialty degree
Loan terms
5- 25 years
Origination, application fees, prepayment penalty
None
Late fees
(15 days): the lesser of 5% of the late payment and $10
Discounts
0.25% on the interest rate when setting autopayments + 0.25 loyalty through a Citizens Bank account
Cosigner required
No
Minimum Credit Score
650 (without a cosigner)
Main requirements
U.S. citizen or permanent resident holding a valid SSN; being of legal age or 17+ years old if applying with cosigner; non-resident applying with American cosigner; not resident in Vermont; enrolled at least half-time in a Title IV program at eligible school; no prior defaults; $36,000+ annual income; credit score (soft) check.
Variable APR
1.23%-12.21%
Fixed APR:
3.59%-12.34%

Note: residency loans for medical school students require graduation within the past 12 months or a minimum of half-time enrollment in the last year.

Repayment options: full deferment until graduation (up to 78 months plus the grace period), immediate repayment (full principal and interest payments as soon as the loan is disbursed), interest-only repayment (while in school), forbearance up to a total of 24 months.

U-Fi refinancing student loans details

Refinancing amounts: $5,000 – $500,000
Loan terms
5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25 years
Origination, application fees, prepayment penalty
None
Late fees
(15 days): the lesser of 5% of the late payment and $10
Cosigner required
No
Main requirements
U.S. citizen or permanent resident holding a valid SSN; being of legal age or 17+ years old if applying with cosigner; non-resident applying with American cosigner; not resident in Vermont; enrolled at least half-time in a Title IV program at eligible school; no prior defaults; $36,000+ annual income; credit score (soft) check.
Variable APR
2.00%-6.66%
Fixed APR:
2.99%-6:63%
Soft credit check
to qualify
  • The company claims that you can save up to $15,000 through its refinancing product, either through a fixed or variable rate.

U-Fi refinancing rates are quite affordable, but require a good credit score to qualify for: this can be more easily achieved through the use of a cosigner who has already a good FICO rating. In contrast, it must be mentioned that without a cosigner, your rates from U-fi will be noticeably higher, and chances are that you will be denied: although a cosigner is not mandatory, it may be necessary to reach enough creditworthyness to qualify. The lowest rates are obtained with an excellent score, the shortest term, and adhering to the full repayment schedule.

None of the U-fi lender partners charges any fee, except for a late penalty in case of missed payments, which is the norm among lenders. Low rates plus no fees is a winner mix you should consider about U-fi.

The company also offers discounts through its lenders: you might be eligible for a total of 0.5% drop on rate, of which 0.25% loyalty discount for being a Citizens Bank customer, and the remainder 0.25% “auto-debit” discount for setting automatic repayments from any designated bank. Mind that the disclosed APRs on the website have the auto-debit discount already applied.

When refinancing with U-Fi, you only have two repayment options: full immediate repayment or interest-only, besides there is no grace period as you rather find for student loans.

In a nutshell, here is if U-fi can be your choice.

Pros:

 
  • Variety of in-school repayment options
  • Unemployment protection through a long forbearance period
  • Terms up to 25 years to repay
  • International students allowed to borrow
  • Early cosigner release
  • See your rate estimation without a hard credit check
 

Cons:

 
  • Not available in Vermont
  • Lack of online reviews
  • Limited repayment choice when refinancing
 

If you foresee that you might incur a financial hardship period, U-fi can be a lifesaver by providing a longer than average forbearance window: over the loan lifetime, up to 24 months are allowed.

The website shows helpful resources and tools to make you better understand how student loans work, including an explanation of a cosigner role, on refinancing, and a financial guide to be prepared for your graduation.

U-fi is abreast of modern online lenders, presenting a quick and easy three-step application: after completion and undergoing only a soft credit check, you will receive multiple offers. Once you choose one and apply, if approved it will take 6-8 weeks for disbursement, with the timespan of processing depending on lender and school.

Customer support seems to act efficiently on every channel. U-fi is not rated by the Better Business Bureau, but its parent company, Nelnet, is and gets an A+ rating from this agency, which witnesses a certain degree of reliability. Direct reviews about U-fi are lacking online, but there are those about Citizens Bank: we must note that its reputation is short of expectations, with complaints about early repayment issues, inexact information about loan amounts, further charging above declared fees (indeed something common among banks). Satisfaction is about rebates given to bank customers and the flexibility of repayment methods.

 

Bottomline 

All in all, U-fi is a great alternative and complement to a federal student loan. Consider this company if you have a good to excellent credit profile and want to benefit from comfortable monthly payments, thanks to available long terms and relatively low rates, which you can choose among multiple partnering lenders. If you already have an account with Citizens Bank, U-fi fits even better, since you will get a further discount on your rate. It is likely best to focus on other lenders if instead, you rely on flawless customer support, and are seeking maximum versatility, especially when it comes to refinancing.

 

Ascent


Overview: best for bad credit borrowers and forbearance policies

 

Ascent Funding LLC is an online student lending company that established back in 2016, with offices in San Diego, California. The Loans from Ascent are serviced through its partner Launch Servicing, which is responsible for statements and processing of payments.

The mission statement of the company is that student loans should help expand the possibilities of the student rather than limiting them. Ascent offers its loans to students using several determining factors, including school grades: this is a deviation from other private lenders that specialize in student loan programs.

Ascent uses parameters such as future projected income, school, course of study, and earning potential to grant loans to students, especially when considering those with bad credit. Ascent is a subsidiary of Goal solutions, which is equally in the private student loans business and operates for more than ten years.

If you have bad credit, you can hardly get loans to pay for your education.

Ascent is one of the few companies, with a reputation, that can grant loans to students with bad credit.

Most students who need money for their tuition find it difficult to access loans, especially when they do not seem to have a cosigner. However, Ascent is a lending company committing to cater to students with bad credit even without the cosigner requirement, which makes it stand out among its competitors.

The program provides funding both to undergraduate and graduate students, including specialty degrees: MBA, medical and dental schools, law, general & Ph.D. Ascent Loaning program also helps to provide financial wellness for the students as well as their families: on the website, you will find useful resources like budgeting tips and guidance to paying for college information.

The company provides two different loan products for students with a cosigner and those without a cosigner. The former allows students to be approved for the loan without credit history; furthermore, students are rewarded with some benefits, including an automatic loan payment discount for specific borrowers. The program also rewards the students who have already got a degree.

Besides financial status, the eligibility of a student will depend on the year of study, plus whether the student has a cosigner or not.

Cosigned undergraduate loans 

This type of loan is aimed at students who can produce a cosigner, designed for students borrowers who don’t have any credit history. As a student, you do not need to satisfy any creditworthiness requirements to become eligible for these loans.

Your cosigner is expected to be available for 24 months. Additionally, students must attend an eligible institution. Lastly, cosigners applying with their respective students for this loan are expected to possess a FICO score that is either 620 or more.

Non-cosigned undergraduate loans

These loans not requiring a cosigner are perfect for those students with a good credit history. Examples are those professional students who are on their way back to school after a break.

However, for students to become eligible to access the funds, they must have a minimum credit history of two years. Students are also expected to possess a FICO score that is either 680 or more.

Future salary-based loans 

For these loans, you do need a cosigner. The loan category is targeted at students that are getting close to their graduation. Students enrolled in a graduate program can also apply. For students to become fully approved for this loan, the following factors have to be considered:

 

– Student’s earning potential

– Level of academic progress

– Student’s creditworthiness

– School of attendance

– The program that the student is enrolled in

– Graduation date

– The main discipline of the course

– Cost of attending classes

– Other.

 

 

There are also a few exceptions: seniors and juniors who are undergraduates are also eligible for this loan, even with a limited credit history while having no issues that could determine a bad credit.

Graduate Loans. These are targeted to students who are pursuing master’s, doctoral or professional degrees in Law, Business, Medicine, and Engineering. Ascent allows you to cover up to 100% of your tuition and to include eligible living expenses. These loans have rates as low as 3.75% and come with flexible repayment terms, depending on the type of degree that the student is enrolled in. 

Interest rates, terms, and fees

 

Credit background check: with your first loan application, you go through a soft credit check to determine the amount of loan you can have access to.

 

Cosigned Loans

 
  • Fixed APRs: 3.53% to 14.50% with a 0.25% discount for automatic payments
  • Variable APRs: 2.69% to 12.98% with a 0.25% discount for automatic payments
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years
 

Non-Cosigned Loans

 
  • Fixed APRs: 3.53% to 14.50% with a 2% discount for automatic payments
  • Variable APRs: 2.69% to 12.98% with a 2% discount for automatic payments
  • Loan terms: 7, 10, 12, 15 years
  • Terms. Both non-cosigned and cosigned loans come with credit-based alternatives.

For the loans with variable rates, students can get either 5, 10, or 15 years loan terms.

For the loans with fixed rates, students are only eligible to get either a five or 10-year-old term.

For non-cosigned income-based loans with a variable rate, the term is either 10 or 15 years.

As for loan amounts: most students are eligible for a minimum amount of $1,000, while the maximum amount that a student can get is $200,000, over the entire course of study. For every academic year, you can borrow up to 100% of the attendance cost, which comprehends also extra expenses such as room and boarding, books, and supplies. However, for the non-cosigned future income-based alternative, the maximum borrowable amount is capped at $20,000.

  • One great thing you should consider about Ascent is that there are no fees for things like origination, application, or prepayment. There will be only a penalty fee charged on students who miss their payments, which is equal to 5% of the last due payment, and it comes into effect after ten days of delay. Late fees can be a maximum of $25.

Ascent has more discounts that you find elsewhere: if you enroll in automatic repayments, there is a 0.25% rate discount for credit-based loans, and a 2% for undergraduate future income-based loans. Once graduate, you might be eligible for a 1% cashback reward, under certain requirements. Besides, if you already have a current Ascent loan, you can obtain $525 for each friend you refer.

There is enough room for repayment alternatives. Besides the full immediate repayment, you also have in-school options: interest-only repayments, $25 (monthly) minimum payments, deferment while in school, and including the grace period (lasting a minimum of 9 months for undergraduates), after which accrued interest is capitalized.

Pros:

 
  • Borrowers may be eligible to get a loan in the absence of credit history and a cosigner.
  • Hardship forbearance of up to two years.
  • 1% cashback as a reward for graduation.
  • Several in-school repayment options
  • Appealing incentives

 

Cons:

 
  • Students in their freshmen and sophomore years are not eligible for loans without providing a cosigner.
  • Loan terms capped at 15 years, which might mean high monthly payments for some students.

 

At a closer look, Ascent loans have three unique advantages:

1) A graduation reward of 1% cashback

If you meet specific criteria, Ascent grants you a 1% of the loan amount cashback as a graduation reward: this benefit is quite unusual among private student loan lenders. The reward can be sufficient enough to pay back your first year of attendance or can be used to purchase any gift item.

2) Loans for seniors and juniors without a cosigner.

Students with bad credit records can access loans and pay for their tuition, which is in line with the company philosophy. These types of loans are granted to students who are considered to have the potential to earn a substantial amount of money in their expected careers.

3) Generous discounts and the lowest interest rates

Ascent loans feature some of the lowest interest rates on a particular loan. Furthermore, there are some pretty generous discounts available.

Ascent customer service is committed to helping you on every step of your application and can be reached by phone, mail, or through its multiple social media accounts.

 

Final Verdict

 

Ascent is undoubtedly a fair lender and the right fit for students who need more funds after having used free aids and federal loans. If you have bad credit, Ascent can offer a suited product where other lenders can’t even make you qualify; the future-income based loans and those without a cosigner are almost unique options in the student loans landscape: if you can value these perks, Ascent is a great choice. Don’t bother if instead, you need to refinance an existing loan or are on the hunt for the lowest rates.

 

Are you looking to refinance? If you are somehow uncertain how to do, especially during the still ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we recommend the following guide: https://bankrate.com/loans/student-loans/refinance-student-loans-during-covid/. Here you will find highly valuable information about: 

-Pros and cons of refinancing

-Challenges of refinancing with a bad credit

-Steps to take if you’re having trouble making payments.

 

We hope you’ll be more comfortable and confident with your choices. Also, use our calculator to check the costs of your student loan: it will help you compare the loan offers, and hopefully save big bucks.