Refinancing with Earnest
Refinancing rates from 2.43% 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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|2 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 an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7% variable Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $179.28 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $17,211.20. 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 5/29/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
* 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.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
4 Important Disclosures for Discover.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
* Offer valid for new Custom Choice Loans for which applications are submitted for a credit decision between 12:00:00am EST on June 1, 2019 and 11:59:59pm EST on August 31, 2019. A 0.50% interest rate reduction will be included in the loan options presented to an applicant during the online application process, upon passing the initial credit review. The interest rate reduction will be applied as of the first disbursement date and will be effective for the life of the loan.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.99% – 11.98%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.84% – 11.99%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.27% – 10.80%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.46% – 9.43%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.74% – 9.72%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.99% – 11.64%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|