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Student loan refinancing programs began with just a handful of online lenders, but big banks have since jumped onto the bandwagon, offering even more alternatives.
The Wells Fargo student loan consolidation program is one such alternative, allowing you to consolidate multiple private student loans — or refinance a single private loan.
Both customers and non-customers can qualify for consolidation or refinancing, but if you’re an existing Wells Fargo customer, you’ll get some extra perks from the program.
If you’re interested in consolidating your private loans, take a look at our Wells Fargo review to see if it makes sense for you.
Wells Fargo student loan consolidation review: The basics
Wells Fargo has branches in 39 states, but you don’t need to live near a branch to open an account with the bank or apply to consolidate your student loans. However, being an existing customer will benefit you.
To be eligible to consolidate your loans, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or a permanent resident alien without conditions.
- If you are a permanent resident alien, you must have a U.S. citizen cosign with you.
- You and your cosigner must meet the bank’s credit, employment, and debt-to-income requirements.
- There are no established minimum income or credit score requirements.
- You must have at least $5,000 in private student loans to consolidate.
You can consolidate up to $120,000 in private loans at a time, up to a $250,000 lifetime limit. The bank offers 15- and 20-year terms, which will be determined by your loan amount.
Rates and fees
Wells Fargo does not allow you to consolidate federal student loans – only private student loans are eligible.
The bank offers both fixed and variable interest rates that vary based on your school and field of study. Check your rate range on Wells Fargo’s website.
You’ll pay no origination or application fees.
There’s no penalty if you choose to pay off the loan early. There is, however, a late fee of up to $28 if you don’t make your payment within the 10-day grace period after the due date.
Existing customer discounts
You’ll get up to a 0.50% discount on your interest rate if you or your cosigner has an eligible Wells Fargo account before applying for the program.
Other potential discounts include:
- 0.50% interest rate discount if you have a Portfolio by Wells Fargo relationship.
- 0.25% interest rate discount if you have a qualifying consumer checking account.
- 0.25% interest rate discount with a prior federal or private student loan made by Wells Fargo.
Like many other student loan services, Wells Fargo also offers a 0.25% discount when you enroll in autopay.
Deferment and forbearance
Wells Fargo does not offer student loan deferment of any kind.
You may, however, request forbearance to return to college or because of financial hardship.
If you apply with a cosigner, Wells Fargo allows you to request to release that person from the loan after a certain period of on-time payments.
Because cosigners are equally responsible for repaying the loan, this feature can help a potential cosigner feel more comfortable about helping you apply.
What we like about Wells Fargo student loan consolidation
If you’re interested in Wells Fargo student loan consolidation, it’s important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of the program before applying.
Incentives for existing customers
You could get up to a 0.75% discount on your interest rate between the relationship and autopay discounts.
That may sound small, but it adds up over the long run. For example, say you consolidate $20,000 with a 15-year term and a 6.00% APR.
As you can see, you’d end up paying $10,379 over the life of the loan.
If you were to get the maximum available discounts through Wells Fargo, it would drop your APR to 5.25%, saving you $1,439 in interest over the life of the loan.
Even if you get just the 0.25% relationship discount and the 0.25% autopay discount, the resulting 5.50% APR would still net you $964 in interest savings.
The cosigner release option
This feature could help you attract a cosigner and score a loan approval or more attractive terms. Just keep in mind that missing a payment can delay your eligibility for cosigner release considerably.
If your first payment is on time, Wells Fargo’s cosigner release program requires that you make at least 24 consecutive on-time payments before requesting a release. If your first payment is not on time, you have to make 48 consecutive on-time payments before you can request a release.
Once you submit the request for release, Wells Fargo will review your income and creditworthiness. If they find that you don’t meet their requirements to maintain the loan on your own, they may decline your request.
What to keep in mind about Wells Fargo student loan consolidation
The main drawback to the Wells Fargo student loan consolidation program is its exclusivity. Only private loans are allowed, leaving federal student loan borrowers looking elsewhere.
Plus, you’re only allowed to refinance one private student loan, making this bank a poor option if you have the credit strength to refinance multiple loans at a lower interest rate.
Relatively higher interest rates
For those with private student loans, Wells Fargo’s rates aren’t as competitive as you can get from the top student loan refinancing lenders.
Long repayment terms
Wells Fargo’s 15- and 20-year terms are a bit restrictive, especially considering you don’t get to choose.
The good news is that there’s no prepayment penalty, so you can still treat it like a 10-year loan with extra payments each month.
The following terms apply:
- For college enrollment, you can apply for up to four years of forbearance.
- If your loan is less than two years old, you can apply for up to six months of forbearance because of financial hardship.
- If your loan is more than two years old, you can apply for up to two months of forbearance because of financial hardship.
Some other refinancing lenders offer much better terms in this regard.
For example, SoFi gives you up to 12 months forbearance in three-month increments if you lose your job or fall on hard times financially. CommonBond offers forbearance for economic hardship in three-month increments for up to 12 months consecutively. The total forbearance you can claim for the life of the loan is 24 months.
Applying for Wells Fargo student loan consolidation
You can apply online or by phone at 1-877-315-7723. Be prepared to share the following information:
- Name, address, phone number, and email address.
- Social Security number and date of birth.
- Employment and income information.
- Residence status and monthly mortgage or rent payment.
- Details about the private loans you want to consolidate. This includes the lender, account number, interest rate, monthly payment, and balance.
When you apply, Wells Fargo will run your credit, which will result in a hard inquiry. If you’re using a cosigner, the same thing will happen with their credit report. Note that a hard credit inquiry can affect your credit score.
Is the Wells Fargo student loan consolidation program right for you?
For starters, if you’re looking to consolidate federal student loans, Wells Fargo isn’t an option. In this case, you should apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan through the Department of Education.
If you have private student loans and an existing relationship with Wells Fargo, keeping everything under one roof can be convenient. You’ll also qualify for one of the relationship discounts, which you won’t get if you don’t have an account with the bank.
If you can qualify for a better interest rate elsewhere, the savings will likely make up for the inconvenience. The same goes if you want the protection of a more robust deferment or forbearance feature or more control over your loan term.
Before choosing a refinancing lender, shop around for a better student loan interest rates, and think about the features you want. Taking the time to research different lenders will give you a better idea of which one will serve your needs best.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this article.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.54% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 0318/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown.
All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.5% effective February 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.54% – 7.12%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.54% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.67% – 8.96%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|3.23% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.69% – 7.43%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|