College Ave Student Loans Review: Prequalify for Rates Without Commitment

 April 11, 2022
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Private Student Loan rates starting at 0.94% APR

1.19% to 11.98% 1
VARIABLE APR

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1.62% to 11.73% 2
VARIABLE APR

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0.94% to 11.44% 3
VARIABLE APR

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  • Variable APR

Pros

  • Prequalify to check rates without commitment
  • Low minimum, high maximum loan amounts
  • International and part-time students could be eligible

Cons

  • Cosigner release takes years to achieve
  • College Ave farms out loan servicing
  • Forbearance policy awarded case by case

Private student loan rating 4.6

Accessibility
5.0 out of 5
Rates & Terms
5.0 out of 5
Repayment Experience
4.1 out of 5

Pros

  • Low ceiling on advertised APRs
  • 11 different repayment term options
  • Mobile app offers loan management options

Cons

  • Under-explained forbearance program
  • Can only transfer Parent PLUS Loans if you cosign
  • Cosigner release takes years to achieve

Refinancing rating 4.2

Accessibility
4.7 out of 5
Rates & Terms
4.8 out of 5
Repayment Experience
2.9 out of 5

College Ave Student Loans refinances and lends education debt to students at every level of higher education, as well as their parents. Founded by two ex-Sallie Mae executives in 2014, College Ave touts itself as an upstart competitor that beats out traditional lenders. Applicants who are refinancing or borrowing for the first time with College Ave can expect a greater degree of flexibility than is offered by your local bank or credit union, plus a prequalification process that won’t waste time.

College Ave Student Loans review: Refinancing

The online-only College Ave is a sensible choice to consider when shopping around for student loan refinancing. It allows borrowers to prequalify and receive potential interest rates after completing a brief form.

College Ave student loan refinancing is a good fit for citizen and permanent resident borrowers who graduated from college and want a repayment term length between five and 15 years. It’s less ideal for borrowers counting on generous cosigner release and forbearance programs.

What to like: What to keep in mind:
Low ceiling on advertised APRs
Customize your repayment term
Manage your loan via mobile app
Graduation is required to be eligible
College Ave is not a loan servicer
Forbearance program is vague
Spousal consolidation loans unavailable
Can only transfer parent PLUS loans if you cosign
Slow path to cosigner release

College Ave student loan refinance review: The basics

College Ave says its refinancing product is for “working graduates” who have federal direct or graduate PLUS Loans, as well as private education debt. Parent borrowers are also eligible if their student earned a college degree, though parent PLUS Loans can only be transferred if the parent cosigns the refinancing application.

APRs ● Fixed: 2.99% – 6.84%
● Variable: 2.94% – 6.74%
Basics ● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Refinance $5,000 to $150,000 (for most borrowers) or $300,000 (professional doctorate degrees)
Eligibility ● Minimum income, credit score not shared
● Be 18 years old
● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
○ International graduates with a Social Security number need a citizen or permanent resident cosigner to qualify
● Diploma from Title IV eligible undergraduate or graduate degree programs (associate’s degrees included)
Applying ● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No application, origination or other fees
● Late payment fee: 5% of the amount due or $25, whichever is less
Repayment ● No prepayment penalties
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Repayment term option: 5 to 15 years (11 options)
● Release your cosigner after half your repayment term has elapsed
Support ● Discretionary forbearances are awarded on a case-by-case basis (deferments aren’t available)
● Forgiveness offered only the case of the primary borrower’s death or disability (if they don’t have a cosigner)

What to like about College Ave refinance for student loans

The fact that you can prequalify — have College Ave Student Loans review your information in minutes to determine eligibility and rates — makes this lender worth including in your shopping process. Here are a few other lender characteristics that are potentially attractive to most borrowers.

Low ceiling on advertised APRs

Student loan refinance companies typically promote ranges of fixed and variable APRs to give prospective customers a sense of what to expect. For its part, College Ave’s ceiling on those ranges bests that of many of its competitors. As of February 2022, APRs topped out at about 5.00%, significantly lower than the 7.00% or even 8.00% that some companies have as their thresholds.

This means that if you have the credit to qualify, you could very well secure a lower APR with College Ave than with many other reputable lenders.

Why interest rates are so important

Look at the math to understand the real value of a reduced rate. Say that you received a fixed rate of 3.64%, after accounting for an autopay rate discount. If you refinanced $30,000 to a 10-year term, you’d repay $5,835 in interest, according to our student loan repayment calculator.

Now say you only qualify for a 2.00% fixed interest rate from a competing lender. In that case, you’d be on the hook for just $3,125.

Customize your repayment term

When you refinance student loans, you might crave the kind of repayment flexibility that your previous lenders or loan servicers withheld. College Ave offers a wide degree of flexibility in repayment terms: You can choose from one of 11 potential terms, spanning five to 15 years.

Manage your repayment via the College Ave mobile app

If you spend more time on your mobile device than your laptop or desktop computer, you might appreciate the fact that College Ave has a well-reviewed app, available for iOS and Android devices. The mobile app allows you to:

  • Check the status of your loan application
  • View your loan details
  • Make payments
  • Enroll in autopay
  • Update your contact information

What to keep in mind about College Ave refinance for student loans

Like all student loan companies, College Ave isn’t the perfect choice for all borrowers. Here are some factors to consider before you proceed.

A degree is required to be eligible

Whether you’re the former student or their parent, a college degree is required to refinance with College Ave. Fortunately, refinancing without a college degree is possible at other lenders.

College Ave is not a loan servicer

College Ave’s sleek website, replete with a helpful blog and responsive chat function, might lead you to believe it’s a one-stop shop for student loan refinancing resources. Just be aware that this company would serve as your lender, not your loan servicer. It contracts University Accounting Services to handle your repayment once your loan has been funded.

Deferment isn’t available, forbearance option is vague

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 up to 18 months of forbearance for hardship, unemployment and disability — but only on a case-by-case basis, so the actual requirements are murky.

Spousal consolidation loans aren’t available

Unfortunately, College Ave Student Loans doesn’t offer spousal consolidation loans, which allow borrowers and their partners to combine the family’s debt into one new loan.

Can only transfer parent PLUS loans if the parent cosigns

If you’re a parent stuck with federal parent PLUS loans, you could refinance them with College Ave if your child earned a college degree. But if you’re looking to refinance parent PLUS loans into your child’s name, you must agree to cosign the refinancing application, keeping your legal responsibility for repayment. If you can’t or don’t want to be a cosigner, you could transfer your Parent PLUS Loans with the help of a competing lender.

Slow path to cosigner release

If you apply to College Ave refinancing with a cosigner, keep in mind that its cosigner release policy is more stringent than similar programs offered by other lenders. If you refinance to a 10-year term, for example, you wouldn’t be able to remove your cosigner from the loan agreement until after the 5-year mark.

Cosigner release criteria for College Ave Student Loans
● Be a U.S. citizen
● Fulfill more than half of the repayment term
● Earn income for two straight years that doubles your outstanding balance
● Pass a credit check

How College Ave student loan refinance compares

The more you shop around, the more likely you’ll end up with the best possible refinancing lender.

College Ave Laurel Road Splash Financial
SLH rating 4.0/5 4.6/5 4.2/5
Products ● Student loan refinancing ● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS Loan refinancing
● Medical resident refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Medical student loan refinancing
Eligibility requirements ● Be 18 years old
● U.S. citizenship, permanent residency or have a SSN and a permanent resident cosigner
● Diploma from Title IV eligible undergraduate or graduate degree programs
● 660 credit score
● No minimum income requirement
● Citizenship or permanent residency
● Bachelor’s or advanced degree
● Associate degree-holders must be working in certain healthcare fields
● 650 credit score (660 with a cosigner)
● $36,000 income (or $25,000 with a cosigner)
● Citizenship or permanent residency
● Four-year degree (or an associate’s degree in certain career fields)
APRs Variable starting at 2.94% and fixed starting at 2.99% Variable starting at 1.89% and fixed starting at 2.50% Variable starting at 1.74% and fixed starting at 1.99%
Minimum loan amount $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Repayment terms available 15 years Up to 20 years 25 years
Apply with a cosigner Yes Yes Yes

Is refinancing student loans with College Ave right for you?

It’s easy to prequalify with College Ave, but make sure it meets your needs before filing a formal application that will include a hard credit inquiry.

The lender features relatively low rates and a high degree of choice when selecting a loan term. But it’s also 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.

Best student loan refinancing options for…
Parent PLUS Loan consolidation Refinancing with a credit union
Job loss protection Consolidating six figures of student loan debt

How to apply for refinancing with College Ave

To gauge your qualifications for College Ave refinancing, you (or your cosigner) can use the lender’s prequalification tool.

Aside from basic personal details, you’ll need to provide just three pieces of critical information to complete the application:

  • Social Security number
  • Estimated annual income
  • Borrowing amount

The lender promises a response — and rate quotes — within one minute. The site is also mobile-friendly, so you could apply from your tablet or smartphone, as well as a desktop or laptop.

College Ave Student Loans review: In-school borrowing

With helpful advice on its website and a variety of loan products, College Ave has something to offer for students (and their parents) at almost every level. And thanks to its prequalification tool, you can see if it’s a match without much effort or any harm to your credit.

College Ave private student loans are a good fit for borrowers who plan to speed through repayment, not needing a fast path to cosigner release or a robust forbearance policy. It also stands out for being accessible to nontraditional students, including those attending classes part-time.

What to like: What to keep in mind:
Low minimum, high maximum loan amounts
International, community college and part-time students could be eligible
Extended grace periods for some borrowers
Streamlined future borrowing with multi-year approval
Half of repayment term must elapse for cosigner release
College Ave’s loan servicer is University Accounting Services
Improved forbearance policy needs more work

College Ave Student Loans reviews: The basics

College Ave reviews applications a variety of borrowers:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • Professional students (MBA, medical, dental and law school)
  • Career training (non-degree programs)
  • Parents
APRs ● Fixed: 3.49% – 12.99%
● Variable: 1.19% – 11.98%
Basics ● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Borrow as little as $1,000 and as much as your cost of attendance
● Parent borrowers can elect to directly receive up to $2,500 of loan proceeds
● Career training borrowers receive $150 cash bonus upon completing their program
Eligibility ● 660 credit score (or creditworthy cosigner)
● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (or have a SSN and a creditworthy permanent resident cosigner)
● Enroll at an accredited college or university
Applying ● Option to apply with a cosigner (may be necessary for most undergraduates)
● “Multi-Year Peace of Mind” allows you to be approved for future years of borrowing
● No application, origination or other fees
● Late payment fee: 5% of the amount due or $25, whichever is less
Repayment ● Standard six-month grace period (for undergrads)
● No prepayment penalties
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Four in-school repayment options, including full deferment (deferment option not available for parent borrowers)
● Repayment term option: 5, 8, 10 or 15 years (20 years available for some loan types)
● Release your cosigner after half your repayment term has elapsed
Support ● Discretionary forbearances are awarded on a case-by-case basis (deferments aren’t available)
● Forgiveness offered only the case of the primary borrower’s death or permanent disability

What to like about College Ave Student Loans

College Ave gives borrowers as many as five repayment term options (five to 20 years) and four in-school repayment terms (including deferment). Beyond that appreciated flexibility, here are other potentially attractive features.

Low minimum, high maximum borrowing amounts

While some private lenders cap how much you can borrow each year, College Ave lets you borrow up to your school-certified cost of attendance. That means you’ll have enough funds to cover tuition, fees, living expenses and whatever other costs go into attending college. On the flip side, if you’ve earned financial aid elsewhere and only need a smaller private loan, College Ave lends as little as $1,000 at a time.

International, community college and part-time students could be eligible

By this point, you already know that College Ave offers student loans to undergraduate, graduate, professional and career school students, as well as parents.

The lender also makes these loans available to international and nontraditional students, including:

  • International students: As long as you have a Social Security number and a cosigner, you’re eligible to apply. (If you don’t have a Social Security number, consider alternative international student loan)
  • Community college students: Pursuing a career program at your college or university could make you eligible for College Ave Career Loans. Another benefit of a Career Loan is its Success Rewards program: Once you graduate, this cash-back program could grant you up to $150 as a statement credit toward your student loan.
  • Part-time students: Lenders typically require borrowers to attend class at least half-time, but College Ave makes loans available to part-time students seeking a degree at an eligible school.

Extended grace periods for some borrowers

College Ave gives undergraduates the customary six-month grace period, where they won’t need to make payments for half of a year after leaving school or graduating. Students at other levels of education, though, are offered extended grace periods:

  • 9 months for law school, health professions loans
  • 12 months for dental school loans
  • 36 months for medical school loans

With that said, College Ave claims on its website that 64% of borrowers make in-school loan payments.

Streamlined future borrowing with multi-year approval

College Ave has matched Citizens Bank, Sallie Mae and other private student loan companies in offering borrowers the opportunity to prequalify for multiple years of borrowing. The company claims on its website that 90% of undergrads with cosigners are approved for future borrowing.

Though College Ave’s “Multi-Year Peace of Mind” policy could make the application process easier with College Ave going forward, it will still be wise to compare multiple lenders if you need to borrow for a future semester or year of school.

What to keep in mind about College Ave Student Loans

All lenders have pros and cons, and College Ave Student Loans is no exception. Here are some potential drawbacks of this lender to consider before you borrow.

Half of repayment term must elapse for cosigner release

College Ave lets you apply for cosigner release — but only after meeting an extensive list of criteria not required by many other lenders. The real sticking point here is that at least half your repayment term must have elapsed before you can even request the removal of your cosigner. So if you have a 10-year loan, for example, you wouldn’t be able to thank your cosigner and send them on their way until after the 5-year mark.

Cosigner release criteria for College Ave Student Loans
● Be a U.S. citizen
● Fulfill more than half of the repayment term
● Make 24 full, consecutive monthly payments
● Earn income for two straight years that doubles your outstanding balance
● Pass a credit check

College Ave’s loan servicer is University Accounting Services

If you choose to apply with College Ave, you’re actually borrowing from one of its partner banks, and your loan will be serviced by University Accounting Services (UAS). Though you may like College Ave’s website, mobile app and responsive customer service team, you’ll likely find yourself dealing with UAS down the road.

Improved forbearance policy needs more work

Some lenders let you postpone payments through forbearance or deferment, and College Ave is among them. In fact, College Ave’s forbearance policy has improved recently. Although not promoted widely, the policy allows you to postpone your monthly dues if you experience:

  • Economic hardship
  • Unemployment
  • Temporary disability

College Ave forbearance is awarded for up to 18 months over the life of your loan, typically in three-month spans.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s worth calling College Ave’s loan servicer, UAS, to confirm this offering. UAS awards this repayment reprieve on a case-by-case basis, unlike other lenders with more definitive and transparent practices.

How College Ave Student Loans compare

Whether you want to compare College Ave versus Sallie Mae, Citizens Bank or another company, it’s important to shop around with multiple lenders before applying for private student loans. This way, you can find the best overall loan, not just the lowest interest rate.

College Ave Sallie Mae Citizens Bank
SLH rating 4.6/5 4.4/5 4.3/5
Loans for… ● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Professional students: MBA, medical, dental and law school
● Career training (non-degree programs)
● Parents
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career training
● Dental school, residency
● Health professions
● Law school, bar study
● MBA
● Medical school, residency
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Parent loans
APRs Variable starting at 1.19% and fixed starting at 3.49% Variable starting at 1.62% and fixed starting at 3.75% Variable starting at 0.00% and fixed starting at 3.48%
Ability to prequalify without affecting credit Yes No No
Borrowing amount $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
In-school repayment options 4 1-2 2
Repayment terms 5, 10, 15 years 5, 10, 15 years 5, 10, 15 years
Cosigner release available Yes — after half the repayment term elapses Yes — after 12 months of timely payments Yes — after 36 months of payments

You’ll very likely be better off if you shop around beyond a few lenders. Make sure you learn all about the best options for your specific needs.

Borrower Programs Other degrees Personal situation Lender feature
Part-time students Community college Associate degree Applying without a cosigner Credit unions
Adults returning to school Trade school Non-degree programs Bad or no credit Cosigner release
Graduate students Nursing school Economic hardship forbearance
Parents Medical school Hybrid interest rate
Law school
Dental school
Business school

Are College Ave Student Loans right for you?

If you’re looking for a loan to finance your education, College Ave private student loans are worth exploring. With its prequalification tool, it’s easy to include the lender in your search without making a commitment.

Just keep in mind that College Ave doesn’t offer as much as it could in some respects, including cosigner release and forbearance.

Whatever feature(s) you prioritize, make sure to shop around for the best private student loans before committing to one. By evaluating all of your options, you can find an affordable private student loan that leaves more money in your pocket, where it belongs.

How to apply with College Ave

College Ave Student Loans reviews some basic information about you and your potential loan as part of its prequalification process. Required information includes:

  • Contact information
  • Birthdate
  • Social Security number
  • Household income
  • Name of school
  • Cost of attendance
  • Likely graduation date
  • Loan amount

Even though prequalifying is a minutes-long process, the company recommends planning ahead.

College Ave Student Loans’ recommended timetable for applications
Days before school Steps to take
90 Estimate your financial need, find a cosigner
60 Shop around with several lenders to find the best overall loan, get a cosigner commitment
30 Apply for your preferred student loan
10 Look out for confirmation that the funds are slated for arrival, wait for your first loan statement and (if applicable) prepare to make in-school loan payments

How to contact College Ave Student Loans

College Ave has a responsive, human-powered chat function and contact form on its website. You can also use these methods to reach customer service:

Text 855-910-0510
Call 844-422-7502 Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET
Mail College Ave Student Loans
233 N. King Street, Suite 400
Wilmington, DE 19801

Frequently asked questions about College Ave Student Loans

If you didn’t find your question answered in our College Ave Student Loans review, see the following FAQs.

Is College Ave Student Loans legit?

Although no student loan company or servicer is perfect, College Ave is a reputable option in the industry. It refinances and lends student loans for all sorts of students and their parents.

Does College Ave offer federal student loans?

No, College Ave loans are private loans, lent by the company’s partner banks. Federal loans, which are lent by the Department of Education, should be prioritized over private loans in almost all cases, as they feature a far wider safety net.

What is College Ave Servicing?

Although you can view your loan details via CollegeAveServicing.com, University Accounting Services is a contracted third party that manages borrower repayment.

Your College Ave Servicing login will allow you to view your loan dashboard.

For similar questions, or if you forgot your College Ave username, the College Ave customer service number is 844-803-0736. Both this website and the main URL — CollegeAveStudentLoans.com — also offer an online chat service.

How long is the College Ave Student Loans review process?

If you spend the minutes it takes to prequalify, College Ave promises you’ll receive an instant decision. If you’re approved and plan to borrow from this lender, you’ll need to sign loan documents electronically.

College Ave has estimated that the entire process — from applying online to your school receiving the funds — takes a minimum of 10 business days.

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Methodology for ratings

To come up with our star rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies/private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact. These questions span three categories: Accessibility, Rates & Terms and Repayment Experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish — when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.

The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine their overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.

Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to College Ave Student Loans, which is current as of Feb. 9, 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.

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