SunTrust Student Loans Review: Pros and Cons

 September 9, 2020
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SunTrust Student Loans Review

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Private Student Loan rates starting at 0.94% APR

0.94% to 11.98% 1

Visit Lender

1.13% to 11.23% 2

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0.99% to 11.44% 3

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  • Variable APR

Update: SunTrust Bank, which merged with BB&T Bank to form Truist by the close of 2019, announced midway through 2020 that it is no longer offering private student loans. Borrowers who submitted applications before May 31 may check the status of their application directly with the lender.

If you already borrowed SunTrust student loans, your repayment won’t be affected by the bank’s suspension of its student loan program; you can review your repayment options below. If, on the other hand, you were seeking new funding for college, review our best private student loan companies to compare alternative lenders.

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With competitive interest rates and up to a 2% balance reduction when you graduate, SunTrust student loans are a solid option for both undergraduate and graduate students. The bank offers four types of private student loans overall, with one of those options available to international students and another intended for business school students.

This SunTrust review will help you decide whether their student loans could be right for your next year of school. Specifically, we’ll look at:

SunTrust review: The basics

If you need private student loans, SunTrust offers an appealing selection that is marked by:

  • No application fees
  • Competitive fixed and variable interest rates
  • Up to 0.50% in autopay rate discounts if you open a SunTrust bank account
  • Cosigner release following 36 months of on-time payments
  • Deferment and forbearance options available for up to four years should you return to school at least half-time; up to three years if you serve in the military; or up to one year if you have a financial cause

Here’s more detail on how the bank’s four loan options differ from each other:

SunTrust Student Loan Options
Custom Choice Student Loan Start Student Loan Union Federal Private Student Loan Graduate Business School Loan
Intended for… Undergraduate and graduate students Undergraduate and graduate students Undergraduate and graduate students, including international students Business school students
Key reward Reduce your principal loan amount by 2% upon graduation Face no accruing interest for the first six months after borrowing Reduce your interest rate by 0.25% after three years of on-time payments Reduce your principal loan amount by 1% upon graduation
Borrowing amount $1,001 to $65,000 $5,001 to $65,000 $1,001 to $65,000 $1,001 to $95,000
Total student loan limit $150,000 $150,000 $150,000 $175,000
Repayment terms 7, 10 or 15 years 15 years 7, 10 or 15 years 7 or 10 years

Rates and information accurate as of Oct. 15, 2019.

What we like about SunTrust

Aside from a marketplace-like degree of choice, there’s a lot more to like about SunTrust student loans.

For one thing, the bank allows you to keep all of your finances under one roof (if you wish), as it offers a comprehensive set of products and services, including personal banking, credit cards and loans, as well as investments, retirement and beyond.

Here are some other attractive traits of SunTrust student loans:

Interest rate and principal reductions

SunTrust student loans offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction if you set up autopay for your monthly payments. You’ll get an extra 0.25% discount if those automatic payments come from a SunTrust bank account.

With the Union Federal Private Student Loan, you can earn an additional 0.25% interest rate reduction after you’ve made your first 36 consecutive on-time payments. And the Start Student Loan would be subsidized — meaning no interest would accrue — for the first six months after your debt is disbursed.

Plus, SunTrust’s other loans offer a one-time, but big-time, reward for graduating. You’ll get a 1% to 2% reduction of your principal balance when you show proof that you’ve graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher — that could translate to significant savings.

At the same time, some competitors provide similar benefits. Ascent, for instance, offers 1% cash back upon graduation.

Four in-school repayment options

On SunTrust student loans, like all other unsubsidized federal and private loans, interest accrues and capitalizes while you’re in school. That’s why making in-school payments — even in smaller amounts — could help keep your balance from ballooning.

To its credit, SunTrust allows borrowers to choose from four in-school repayment options:

  1. Immediate repayment: The first payment of principal and interest is due within 30 to 60 days of the final disbursement.
  2. Partial interest repayment: You’ll pay $25 per month while in school, which goes toward interest and lowers your capitalized interest amount. This option is available only on loans of $5,000 or more, and you must be enrolled in school at least half-time.
  3. Interest-only repayment: You’ll pay the amount of interest due each month while in school, which prevents your loan balance from increasing through interest capitalization. You must be enrolled in school at least half-time to be eligible.
  4. Full deferment: This option delays your monthly payments until after you graduate or are no longer enrolled at least half-time for six months. Your deferment cannot exceed 66 months from the first disbursement date, and accrued interest will be capitalized.

Unfortunately, Start Student Loan borrowers (and other loan borrowers applying within a month of graduation) only have one option: full deferment until leaving school.

The option to refinance before you graduate

Student loan refinancing is a powerful tool for many borrowers because it allows you to potentially lower your interest rate and save money (or lengthen your loan term and better afford your monthly payment). Usually, however, refinancing is reserved for college graduates.

SunTrust stands out for offering the ability to refinance your existing private loans while you’re still on campus. Taking this step could lower your rate, but it could also consolidate your debt, making for a single, easier monthly payment.

SunTrust goes above and beyond competitors that only allow you to refinance without a diploma if you’re a semester away from graduating (Earnest) or disenroll and make 12 on-time payments (Citizens Bank).

What to keep in mind about SunTrust

SunTrust lends to undergraduate, graduate and MBA students — plus international students — so you might think your loan application is a veritable shoo-in. Unfortunately, like many banks, credit unions and online companies lending out education debt, there are some hurdles you’ll have to clear first.

Read the eligibility fine print

SunTrust doesn’t publicize the minimum credit score or income that you (and your cosigner, if you have one) would need to qualify. You can bet, however, that the bank uses your credit history and financial wherewithal to determine your eligibility and interest rate.

Other fine print of SunTrust student loans includes:

  • International students must have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • All students must be enrolled at least half-time.
  • All students must be seeking at least a bachelor’s degree.
    • If you’re pursuing an associate’s degree, shop around with Sallie Mae.

In addition, note that none of SunTrust’s loans are available to students or cosigners who reside in Iowa or Wisconsin.

No prequalification process in place

If you find yourself to be eligible but want to make sure, you’ll have to fill out an entire loan application and submit to a hard credit check. SunTrust doesn’t allow you to see potential offers with a soft check like some of its competitors, including CommonBond and College Ave.

For its part, SunTrust makes the application process as straightforward as possible, and promises it should take only about 15 minutes to complete. You’ll need to have some documents ready, including a recent IRS Form W-2 or pay stubs from your employer (and your cosigner’s, if applicable).

Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.

Need a student loan?

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Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
0.94% – 11.98%1 Undergraduate

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0.95% – 11.18%5 Undergraduate

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1.03% – 11.01%6 Undergraduate