The Navy Federal Credit Union student loans consolidation program offers much-needed debt relief for its members. The program features perks, such as competitive interest rates, favorable cosigner terms and minimal fees, but you’ll have to meet strict eligibility requirements to have access.
Let’s explore whether Navy Federal student loans program is the best fit for you, including how you can qualify for membership to be eligible for the product.
About Navy Credit Federal Credit Union
Navy Federal student loans program review
Pros and cons of Navy Federal Credit Union student loans program
Applying for Navy Federal student loans consolidation
Should you consolidate with Navy Federal Credit Union?
Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) has been serving the military community since 1933. It has over 8.6 million members who can qualify for loan discounts, 100% mortgage financing, military retirement plans and more.
The NFCU also offers a student loan refinance program. However, Navy Federal Credit Union has strict membership requirements. Even if its rates and terms are the most favorable, it doesn’t matter if you can’t qualify for them.
How to join Navy Federal Credit Union
You have to become a member of the credit union to enjoy the perks of Navy Federal’s student refinance loan program.
To be eligible, you must meet one of three requirements:
- You must be currently or formerly affiliated with the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard or Department of Defense (including civilians).
- You must have an immediate family member who is or has been affiliated with the military. Immediate family members include grandparents, parents, spouses, siblings, children, grandchildren and household members.
- You must be the child (including adopted and stepchildren) or grandchild of an existing member of NFCU to be eligible for membership as a minor.
You can apply for membership online (must be 18 years old), at an NFCU branch or over the phone at 1-888-842-6328.
Once you become a member of NFCU, you’ll have access to its student loan refinancing program. The credit union partners with LendKey as its service provider for student loans.
To be eligible for NFCU’s student loan refinancing program, you must meet the following basic requirements:
- You must be an NFCU member.
- You must have graduated from an eligible school.
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must be a legal adult (typically 18 years old) in the state in which you live.
NFCU allows you to consolidate both federal and private student loans. The credit union offers both variable and fixed rates. Fixed rates stay the same over the length of the loan, while variable rates may fluctuate depending on changes to the loan index used by NFCU.
- Variable APR: As low as 3.43%
- Fixed APR: As low as 4.29%
You can choose a 5-, 10-, or 15-year repayment plan. You’ll also qualify for a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you sign up for autopay. Note: APRs listed above include this rate reduction.
You can consolidate $7,500 to $125,000 in undergraduate student loans, or up to $175,000 in graduate or combined student loan debt.
Applying for student loan refinancing with NFCU
To apply for a Navy Federal student refinance loan, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a monthly gross income of at least $2,000 and an established credit history (typically at least 21 months).
- You must be a legal adult in your state of residence (typically at least 18 years old).
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
If you’re unemployed or don’t make enough to qualify by yourself, you can apply with a cosigner who must meet the same income and legal requirements — in this case, you’ll also need to make at least $100 a month to qualify.
After 12 months of consecutive on-time payments, you may request to have your cosigner taken off the loan. To do so, you may need to fulfill other requirements, such as providing proof of income and passing a credit review.
If you’re interested in a Navy Federal Credit Union student refinance loan, consider these drawbacks and benefits to its program:
- Cosigner release: The biggest benefit to NFCU’s student loan refinancing program is that cosigners aren’t stuck with the loan until it’s paid off. Cosigning a loan comes with risks for both the cosigner and primary borrower. NFCU’s policies help curb those risks, as you can be released if the primary borrower can prove he or she is creditworthy and make on-time payments.
- Option to apply for forbearance: The credit union also allows borrowers to apply for forbearance. The length of time you can qualify for may differ, so contact NFCU to speak to a representative about your specific situation.
- Autopay discount: The program’s autopay discount is an easy way to save on interest. The 0.25% discount offered if you enroll in autopay might not sound like much, but over the life of the loan, your savings will add up. For example, if you have a $20,000 loan with a 10-year term and 5.00% APR, the autopay discount would drop your APR to 4.75%. Over the life of your loan, that amounts to $292 in savings.
- Minimal fees: Other features that can also help you save money include the lack of fees you’ll pay. As in, there are no application or origination fees or any prepayment penalties.
- Strict membership requirements: NFCU has strict membership requirements, so you even if you wanted to refinance with the credit union, you may not be able to. While some military credit unions allow you to become a member by joining a third-party organization or making a donation, the only way to join NFCU is if you or a family member is affiliated with the military.
- Not the most competitive rates: Even if you qualify for membership, NFCU’s rates aren’t necessarily the highest. Competitors have fixed and variable rates that could be lower than what you’d find at the credit union. You may find better APRs out there — of course, it depends on you and your cosigner’s creditworthiness as to what rate you’ll qualify for.
- Hard credit inquiry required: Before applying, now that NFCU will conduct a hard credit inquiry, which impacts your credit score. Other student loan refinancing companies do soft credit pulls, which won’t affect your credit score. It might be a good idea to get preapproved for a few offers to see what’s out there before deciding to apply for a Navy Federal student refinance loan.
- Navy Federal Access Number
- Social Security number
- Government-issued ID
- Permanent address, phone number and email address
- Basic information about your academic standing
- Details about the existing student loans you wish to consolidate, including the lender and balances
If you’re applying with a cosigner, your cosigner will need to provide the following:
- Name, address, phone number and email address
- Social Security number
- Government-issued photo ID number
- Personal reference
- Employer’s name and contact information
- Two most recent pay stubs
- A W-2 form or tax return
When you apply, NCFU’s partner, LendKey will run a credit check, which will trigger a hard inquiry on your credit report. The same will happen to a cosigner’s credit report if you’re using one. Unlike soft credit inquiries, hard credit inquiries do affect your credit score.
If you qualify for membership and have student loans, NFCU’s student refinance loan program is a solid option. NFCU is also an attractive option for borrowers with cosigners.
Overall, NFCU offers attractive interest rates. If you have solid credit, or a cosigner with good credit, you can qualify for rates that compete with the top refinancing banks. However, you may be able to find better APRs out there.
Before settling on NFCU, make sure to shop around in case there’s a better deal out there, whether or not you qualify as a member with Navy Federal. Student loans can be expensive as is — why not try to save as much as you can in interest?
Sarah Li Cain contributed to this report.