Refinancing with Earnest
Refinancing rates from 1.99% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.
Choosing the right bank, credit union or online company to refinance your student loans is imperative — it could be there to support your progress, or simply stand in the way. But is College Ave student loan refinancing the right lender for your repayment?
In addition to offering student loans of its own, College Ave has a refinancing loan with low interest rates and a high degree of flexibility. But of course, no College Ave refinancing review would be complete without much more context, so here are all the details:
College Ave student loan refinancing review: The basics
Just as if you applied to refinance your federal and private student loans at a brick-and-mortar bank, you’ll need a strong application to qualify at College Ave.
A minimum credit score of 680 (or a cosigner with good credit) and an annual income of at least $65,000 will get you started. To be eligible, you’ll also need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and you must have graduated from a participating college or university.
College Ave’s refinancing loan comes with a number of benefits, as the lender matches many of its competitors’ generous offerings to borrowers, including:
- Low fixed and variable interest rates
- 0.25% rate discount for enrolling in autopay
- No application or origination fees
- No prepayment penalty
- Choose from 16 different repayment term options, spanning from five to 20 years
- No cosigner required
- Refinance as little as $5,000 and as much as $150,000 (for undergraduates) or $300,000 (medical degrees)
But not everything about College Ave student loan refinancing is so rosy. Here are a few potential negatives of the borrowing experience:
- Late payment fees of $35 or more
- No cosigner release available
- Forbearance is available but only awarded on a case-by-case basis
- No refinancing of Parent PLUS loans
- No consolidating the loans of a married couple into one new refinanced loan
What we like about College Ave student loans refinancing
Founded by two ex-Sallie Mae executives, College Ave seems to pride itself on reliable customer service.
The lender boasts a 4.8-star rating (out of 5) among users on its website and earns similar acclaim elsewhere. More than three-quarters of reviewers on Trustpilot gave it “excellent” grades, and it also netted an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau.
Aside from helpful customer service, below are three more features worth highlighting in this College Ave refinancing review.
Prequalify via a 3-minute application
You’ll need to provide just three pieces of information to complete the application:
- Social Security number
- Estimated annual income
- Borrowing amount
The lender promises a response — and rate quotes — within three minutes. The site is also mobile-friendly, so you could apply from your tablet or smartphone, as well as a desktop or laptop.
Score low fixed and variable interest rates
The interest rates you’re quoted represent a significant factor in your choice of lender, and rightfully so. A lower rate can bring greater savings.
College Ave offers very competitive rates. When we checked in April 2019, for example, only First Republic Bank had a lower variable-rate range among the major lenders surveyed.
Look to the math to understand the real value of a reduced rate. Say that you received the lowest possible fixed rate from College Ave — 3.24% as of May 2, 2019, when accounting for an autopay rate discount. If you refinanced $30,000 to a 10-year term, you’d repay just $5,162 in interest, according to our monthly payment calculator.
Now say you only qualify for a 6.00% fixed interest rate for the same loan. In that case, you’d be on the hook for $9,967.
Choose your repayment term
Similarly to competing online-only lender Earnest, College Ave puts the power in your hands, allowing you to choose among 16 repayment term options, spanning five to 20 years.
Consider that many of the other major student refinancing lenders have only four or five term options available — and they might select one for you.
College Ave’s level of flexibility allows you to design a loan that fits with your preferred repayment timeline. You could use your desired monthly payment amount and tolerance level for long-term interest to decide on the loan term that works best for you.
What to keep in mind about College Ave Student Loans refinancing
You might see College Ave’s advertised interest rates and think it’s a no-brainer to bank on them for your student loans.
Note, however, that the online-only lender reserves the bottom level of its rate ranges for applicants with strong credit histories (or with creditworthy cosigners). A 680 credit score might help you become eligible for refinancing, but you’ll likely need a significantly higher score to access the lowest rates listed online.
Beyond interest rates, here are three more caveats to refinancing your student loans with College Ave.
Narrow eligibility criteria
To qualify for refinancing, you need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who has graduated from a participating school. For some, that might be no big deal, but others could find that one or more of these rules will rule them out.
If, for instance, you have don’t have U.S. residency, or if you didn’t graduate before leaving college, a College Ave refinancing loan may be out of the question. Still, you might be able to refinance your education debt elsewhere — for example, Citizens Bank is among a few lenders that work with both such types of borrowers.
No cosigner release policy
Although attaching a cosigner to a loan application is much more common for in-school students with thin credit files, many candidates for refinancing could benefit from applying with one. Doing so could significantly decrease their interest rate.
If you apply to College Ave, however, remember that it offers no way to release your cosigner from their responsibility to repay the debt if you can’t. Even after making years of on-time payments, you won’t be able to relieve your cosigner of responsibility for the loan agreement.
If cosigner release is important to you, you might explore refinancing with PenFed Credit Union. It allows you the opportunity to release your cosigner after 12 months of prompt payments, plus a routine credit check.
Limited details on forbearance program
Even with refinancing, it’s smart to prepare for the worst. Before borrowing anew, you should consider scenarios when you’re unable to make your monthly payment. As you shop around for a refinancing lender, ask about the safety net that each lender provides.
College Ave provides a wealth of information on its website about the ins and outs of its refinancing product. Nowhere to be found, however, are the criteria needed to qualify for forbearance — a pause on your repayment in case of financial hardship. The lender awards forbearances on a case-by-case basis, so the actual requirements are murky.
Some banks, credit unions and online lenders spell out their forbearance programs more clearly. SoFi, for example, offers up to 12 months of unemployment protection when you’re in repayment, while some others, such as CommonBond, provide as many as two years of forbearance for general economic hardship.
Is College Ave student loan refinancing right for you?
It’s easy to prequalify with College Ave, but make sure it meets your needs before borrowing.
The lender features relatively low rates and a high degree of choice when it comes to selecting a loan term. It’s less generous when it comes to cosigner release and forbearance, so keep those factors in mind, too.
As you search for refinancing lenders, you might compare College Ave refinancing against other top-rated student loan refinancing companies and see how it stacks up.
Kat Tretina contributed to this report.
Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to refinancing loans, which is current as of May 2, 2019, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.
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|* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.
4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.70%. Variable interest rates range from 2.80% – 11.06% (2.80% – 10.91% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.
Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.
|2.84% – 10.97%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|2.87% – 10.75%*,2||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.80% – 11.37%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.52% – 9.50%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.80% – 11.06%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|