College Ave Student Loans Review: Competitive Rates, Repayment Options

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Pros of College Ave Student Loans:Cons of College Ave Student Loans:
● Check rates without affecting credit
● Variety of repayment term options
● High borrowing limits
● Forbearance program lacks transparency
● Cosigner release can take a long time

College Ave Student Loans refinances and lends education debt to students at every level of higher education, plus their parents.

Founded by two ex-Sallie Mae executives, College Ave touts itself as an upstart competitor that beats out traditional lenders. Applicants who are refinancing or are 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 refinancing reviewCollege Ave Student Loans private loans review
The basics
What to like
What to keep in mind
Competitor comparison
The basics
What to like
What to keep in mind
Competitor comparison
Frequently asked questions about College Ave Student Loans

College Ave Student Loans refinancing review

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 loans are a good fit for citizen and permanent resident borrowers who graduated from college and want a repayment term length between five and 20 years (plus, you can choose the specific length — so if you wanted, say, eight years or 11 years, these options are available). It’s less ideal for especially creditworthy borrowers who could score a lower interest rate elsewhere, or for borrowers counting on generous cosigner release and forbearance programs.

What to like:What to keep in mind:
Check interest rates without affecting credit
Choose from 16 repayment term options
Narrow eligibility criteria
Lower rates available elsewhere
Cosigner release takes years
Forbearance program lacks transparency
Can’t transfer parent PLUS loans
No spousal consolidation loans

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
  • Have U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
  • Have graduated from a participating college or university

College Ave’s refinancing loan comes with many benefits, as the lender matches many of its competitors’ generous offerings to borrowers, including:

  • Prequalifying without affecting your credit
  • Option to apply with a cosigner
  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • 25 percentage-point discount on your interest rate for enrolling in autopay
  • No application or origination fees
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Choice of 16 different repayment term options, spanning from five to 20 years
  • No cosigner required
  • Refinancing as little as $5,000 and as much as $150,000 (for undergraduates) or $300,000 (medical, dental, pharmacy and veterinary 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 fee of 5% of the payment amount
  • Cosigner release possible, but only after half the repayment term has elapsed
  • Forbearance is available but only awarded on a case-by-case basis
  • Parent PLUS loans can’t be refinanced into the former student’s name
  • No consolidating the loans of a married couple into one new refinanced loan

What to like about College Ave Student Loans refinancing

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 from other sources.

For what it’s worth, College Ave farms out its loan servicing to University Account Services.

Aside from helpful customer service, below are two more features worth highlighting in this College Ave student loans review.

Prequalify via a 1-minute application

To gauge your qualifications for College Ave refinancing without undergoing a hard credit inquiry and dinging your credit score, 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.

Choose your repayment term

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.

Student Loan Comparison Calculator

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What to keep in mind about College Ave Student Loans refinancing

College Ave student loans aren’t the right choice for every borrower. To ensure you don’t misstep, be aware of the following factors.

Narrow eligibility criteria

Besides the somewhat-strict credit criteria — 680 credit score and $65,000 annual income — it’s not always easy to qualify for College Ave student loans.

You also 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 requirements will rule them out.

If, for instance, you 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 — check this chart for ideas (Information valid as of Oct. 13, 2020):

Don’t have a 680 credit score?Earnest accepts scores of 650 (and above)
Don’t have a $65,000 income?LendKey sets its minimum income requirement at $24,000
Not a citizen or permanent resident?Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international borrowers
Don’t have a bachelor’s degree?EdVestinU works with borrowers who didn’t graduate or hold an associate’s degree

Creditworthy borrowers can find low fixed and variable interest rates elsewhere

For College Ave Student Loans, 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 — plus, the lowest rates could be beaten by other lenders.

Sure, College Ave offers competitive rates but, as of October 2020, borrowers who are especially creditworthy (or those with cosigners) could access lower rates elsewhere.

Visit our student loan refinancing marketplace for the most up-to-date rates.

Why interest rates are so important

Look to 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 monthly payment 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.

Stringent 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 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 five-year mark.

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

If cosigner release is important to you, you might explore refinancing with PenFed Credit Union. If you’re a member, PenFed will allow 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 may be 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 up to 12 months of forbearance for hardship, unemployment and disability — but only 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.

Can’t transfer parent PLUS loans into new borrower’s name

If you’re a parent stuck with federal parent PLUS loans, you could refinance them with College Ave. But if you’re looking to refinance parent PLUS loans into your child’s name, you’ll have to work with another lender. Worry not, as there are many lenders, including Laurel Road, that offer this feature.

Spousal consolidation loans not 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.

If you want to refinance your loans with your spouse, check out lenders like Splash Financial or PenFed Credit Union.

How College Ave Student Loans refinancing compares with competitors

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

So before signing on the dotted line with College Ave Student Loans, take a look at competing companies, including SoFi and CommonBond.

College AVESoFiCommonBond
Products● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS Loan refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS Loan refinancing
● Medical resident refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
Eligibility requirements● 680 credit score
● $65,000 income
● Citizenship or permanent residency
● College degree
● Good or excellent credit score
● No minimum income
● Nonpermanent residents without eligible visas can apply with a permanent resident cosigner
● 660 credit score
● No minimum income requirement
● Citizenship, permanent residency or eligible visa-holder
● College degree from lender network university
Interest ratesVariable starting at 3.34% and fixed starting at 3.24%Variable starting at 2.25% and fixed starting at 2.99%Variable starting at 1.99% and fixed starting at 2.83%
Minimum loan amount$5,000$5,000$5,000
Repayment terms available 15 years (16 different options)Up to 20 yearsUp to 20 years
Apply with a cosignerYesYesYes

Is College Ave Student Loans 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 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.

College Ave Student Loans private loans review

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 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:
Prequalify in three minutes
International, community college and part-time students eligible to borrow
Competitive interest rates
Borrow as much as you need
Slow path to cosigner release
Doesn’t offer repayment terms longer than 15 years
Improved forbearance policy needs more work

College Ave student loans are available to all sorts of borrowers, including:

  • Undergraduate and graduate students
  • Career school students
  • Professional students attending dental, medical, law and business school
  • Parents of students

And although international, community college and part-time students could find College Ave accessible, the lender requires that you (or your cosigner) have a credit score of at least 660.

Whatever type of loan you’re seeking, you can expect the following characteristics:

  • College Ave loan rates: Variable starting at1.04% and fixed starting at 3.49%
  • Borrow between $1,000 and 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance
  • Prequalify in three minutes without affecting your credit
  • No application fees or prepayment penalties
  • Option to apply with a cosigner
  • Cosigner release available (after half the repayment term has elapsed)
  • Six-month student loan grace period (and grace period extensions aren’t offered)
  • Four in-school repayment options, including full deferment
  • Repayment terms of 5, 8, 10 and 15 years (for students) and 5 to 15 years (for parents)
  • Autopay discount of 0.25 percentage points
  • Pause your payments via forbearance for up to a year if you experience economic hardship, unemployment or a temporary disability
  • Loan forgiveness in the case of the borrower’s permanent disability or death

What to like about College Ave Student Loans private loans

Taking a closer look at College Ave’s private student loans, we uncovered some major benefits of borrowing from this lender.

Prequalify in three minutes

The hallmark of a reputable private student loan company these days is the option to prequalify without subjecting to a long, credit-dinging application. College Ave fits the bill, promising you an answer on eligibility and potential rates within three minutes of inputting basic information.

The lender’s prequalification tool is especially useful for younger students who may need to apply with a cosigner. Both you and your potential guarantor can check eligibility and rates while sitting at the computer together, or separately.

Before using the tool, keep in mind that College Ave requires a minimum credit score of 660.

If you’re approved and move forward with a College Ave loan, the rest of the process is simple. You’d sign your loan documents electronically from the comfort of your home.

College Ave Student Loans’ recommended timetable for applications
Days before schoolSteps to take
90Estimate your financial need, find a cosigner
60Shop around with several lenders to find your best overall loan, get a cosigner commitment
30Apply for your preferred student loan
10Look 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

International, community college and part-time students eligible to borrow

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 it loans available to part-time students seeking a degree at an eligible school.

Competitive interest rates

Finding a good interest rate is probably your top priority when shopping for a loan. A low interest rate will save you money over the life of your loan, as well as make your payments less burdensome. If you find a particularly low rate, you might even have the means to pay your loan off early.

Here are the rates on College Ave private student loans:

Undergraduate student loansVariable rates from 1.04% and fixed rates from 3.49%
Graduate student loansVariable rates from 1.89% and fixed rates from 4.24%
Career loansSee College Ave website for latest rates
Parent loansVariable rates from 1.04% and fixed rates from 3.49%

You can choose between a fixed or variable on your student loan. Your actual rate will depend on your (or your cosigner’s) credit and income.

Compare College Ave’s interest rates to those of other lenders via our private student loan marketplace.

Borrow as much as you need

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.

Before disbursing the funds, College Ave will ask your college’s financial aid office to confirm the amount. For a sense of how much you can borrow, check out your school’s cost of attendance and subtract any other financial aid you’ve already received, along with your Expected Family Contribution.

The difference will be the amount you’re expected to contribute, whether out-of-pocket or with a private student loan. Note that you’ll have to apply for a College Ave private student loan on an annual or semester basis, although multi-year borrowing for student loans is available with other lenders.

What to keep in mind about College Ave Student Loans private 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.

Slow path to cosigner release

The vast majority of undergraduate student loan borrowers apply with a cosigner, such as a parent. Your cosigner’s name will be on your loan, making them just as responsible for paying back the debt as you are.

In the event you fall behind on payments, their credit will be on the line. To take away this risk from your cosigner, College Ave lets you apply for cosigner release — but only after meeting an extensive list of criteria not required by many other lenders.

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

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 five-year mark.

That requirement isn’t often found elsewhere. If you want a faster path to cosigner release, consider our competitor comparison below.

Doesn’t offer repayment terms longer than 15 years

College Ave offers repayment terms of 5, 8, 10 or 15 years on its undergraduate, graduate and career loans, as well as terms of 5 to 15 years on its parent loans.

To be fair, 79% of College Ave customers choose a term of 10 years or less.

If, however, you’re looking to stretch out repayment over a longer term, you might try to find a lender that allows repayment terms of 20 years or more.

Improved forbearance policy needs more work

Even though you have every intention of paying your loan back on time, financial troubles can happen. You may lose your job or have unexpected difficulty finding employment after graduation.

Some lenders let you postpone payments through forbearance or deferment, and College Ave can now be added to this list.

Previously suspect, College Ave’s forbearance policy has improved. 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 12 months over the life of your loan, typically in three- or six-month spans.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s worth calling College Ave’s loan servicer, University Accounting Services (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 compares with student loan competitors

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

College AveSallie MaeSoFi
Loans for…● Undergraduates and graduate students
● Career school students
● Business, law, medical and dental school
● Parents
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career school loans
● Business, law, medical, dental and health professions loans
● Bar study and medical residency loans
● K-12 loans
● Parents
● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Business and law school
● Parents
Interest ratesVariable starting at 1.04% and fixed starting at 3.49%Variable starting at 1.25% and fixed starting at 4.25%Variable starting at 1.88%and fixed starting at 4.23%
Ability to prequalify without affecting creditYesNoYes
Borrowing amount$1,000 to 100% of your cost of attendance$1,000 to 100% of your cost of attendance$5,000 to 100% of your cost of attendance
In-school repayment options434
Repayment terms5, 8, 10, or 15 years (and 5 to 15 years for parents)5 to 20 years5, 10 or 15 years
Cosigner release availableYes — after half the repayment term has elapsedYes — after 12 months of timely paymentsYes — after 24 months of timely payments

Note that you may have to expand your search to additional lenders to find the student loan you need. Check out top-rated lenders for your situation:

BorrowerProgramsOther degreesPersonal situationLender feature
Part-time studentsCommunity collegeAssociate degreeApplying without a cosignerCredit unions
Adults returning to schoolTrade schoolNon-degree programsBad or no creditCosigner release
Graduate studentsNursing schoolEconomic hardship forbearance
ParentsMedical school
Law school
Dental school
Business school

Are College Ave Student Loans private 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 falls short in some respects, including cosigner release, repayment term options and forbearance.

Whatever feature you prioritize, make sure to shop around for your best private student loan options 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.

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.

What is College Ave Servicing?

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

Your College Ave Servicing login will allow you 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 three 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.

Rebecca Safier and Kat Tretina contributed to this report.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to College Ave student loans, which is current as of Oct. 13, 2020, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.

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