Attn Parents: 8 Must-Read Pros and Cons of Wells Fargo Student Loans

wells fargo student loans

If you’re planning to contribute to your child’s tuition, Wells Fargo has a parent loan that could help.

The bank’s Student Loan for Parents is available to anyone whose child is enrolled in college at least half-time.

Although this loan has some appealing features — especially if you already bank with Wells Fargo — it might not be the best student loan option for everyone.

Consider these pros and cons to determine if the Wells Fargo Student Loan for Parents is right for you and your family.

Pro: You could get a lower interest rate than a Parent PLUS Loan

When it comes to borrowing on behalf of your child, you have two main options: a private loan, like a Wells Fargo parent loan, or a federal Parent PLUS Loan.

Parent PLUS Loans come with a fixed interest rate of 7.00% and an origination fee of 4.264%.

Wells Fargo private student loans for parents, on the other hand, have a range of rates and no origination fees. As of January 2018, fixed APRs range from 6.49% to 12.99%, and variable rates range from 5.24% to 11.74%.

The rate you ultimately qualify for depends on your creditworthiness as a borrower. The stronger your credit, the lower your interest rate will be.

If you have good credit, you could snag a rate that’s significantly lower than the one you’d get on a Parent PLUS Loan. Lowering your interest rate is the best way to reduce your overall costs of borrowing.

Combine a low interest rate with no origination fee, and you could save a serious chunk of money by opting for a Wells Fargo parent student loan over a Parent PLUS one.

Con: The interest rates might not beat other private lenders

Although the interest rates on a Wells Fargo private student loan could beat out a Parent PLUS Loan, they’re not necessarily the lowest on the market.

SoFi Parent Loans, for example, have fixed APRs that range from 4.25% to 8.00%. Their variable rates start at 4.02% and go up to 7.44%. That means you could potentially get a lower rate on a SoFi Parent Loan than on a Wells Fargo one.

Although it’s easy to get a rate quote with SoFi, unfortunately, Wells Fargo doesn’t reveal your rate until you submit a full application — and agree to a hard credit check in the process.

Although it’s worth shopping around with other lenders, you can’t know what interest rate you’d get with Wells Fargo until after you apply.

Pro: Wells Fargo offers interest rate discounts and low fees

If you borrow from Wells Fargo, you could get a discount on your interest rate. First, you could snag one of the following three discounts:

  • 0.25% discount if you have a qualifying Wells Fargo checking account
  • 0.25% discount if you already have a student loan with Wells Fargo
  • 0.50% discount if you participate in the Portfolio by Wells Fargo program. (Note that this program has a $30 per month fee, unless you make $25,000 or more in linked bank deposits or have $50,000 or more in qualifying balances.)

On top of these discounts, you could get an additional 0.25% rate cut for setting up autopay. Note that most lenders, federal and private, offer this same autopay discount.

Let’s say you qualified for the banking customer discount and the autopay discount. Your interest rate could go from 7.00%, for example, to 6.50%. On a $20,000 loan over 10 years of repayment, that 0.50% reduction could save you $614 in interest.

Besides interest rate discounts, another pro of Wells Fargo private student loans are their low fees. There’s no fee upon application or disbursement, nor do you have to pay a penalty for paying off your loan early.

That being said, customers have complained about unfair late fee penalties, which you’ll learn more about below. But assuming you don’t run into any unfair assessments, this reasonable fee structure, along with the interest rate discounts, could save you money as a borrower.

Con: Your borrowing limit maxes out at $25,000

Wells Fargo private student loans have a maximum borrowing limit of $25,000 for parents. Plus, you can’t have more than $100,000 in combination with other education-related debt.

So if you’ve already borrowed $80,000, your limit for a Wells Fargo private student loan goes down to $20,000.

This limit is low compared to a Parent PLUS Loan, which lets you borrow up to the cost of attendance at your child’s school, minus any other financial aid you’ve already received.

If you don’t need to borrow more than $25,000, this might not be a problem. But if you’re looking for additional funding, Wells Fargo might not meet your needs.

Pro: You have up to 15 years to repay

If you go with a Wells Fargo parent loan, you have up to 15 years to pay it back. As long as your child’s college accepts the loan, you’ll automatically go on the 15-year plan.

That’s not to say you can’t pay the loan back sooner. If you make extra payments, you could get out of debt years ahead of schedule. Although you don’t have the option of choosing a shorter term, you won’t face a penalty for paying the loan off early.

And if you’re looking for low monthly payments, a 15-year plan could help. If you took out $20,000 at a 6.00% interest rate, for instance, your monthly payment would be just $169 over 15 years.

That long repayment term can help if you’re working on a tight budget, while the option to pay it off faster could save you money on interest.

Con: You can’t fully defer payments while your child is in school

Although Wells Fargo private student loans come with a long repayment term, they don’t have tons of other options for repayment.

For example, you can’t defer payments while your child is in school. Nor do you have the option of forbearance or reduced fixed payments. Your only alternative to immediate repayment is interest-only payments for up to 48 months.

So if you get the loan when your child first enters college, you could make interest-only payments until the end of their sophomore year. After that, you’d be expected to make the usual monthly payments until the loan is fully paid off.

If you need more flexibility, you might explore other lenders. But if you can swing immediate repayment, this policy might not be a major drawback.

Pro: You have options for applying online or over the phone

Wells Fargo has a straightforward application process, which you can access online or over the phone. You’ll provide basic personal information, as well as upload any required documents.

Some other private lenders only allow online applications, so Wells Fargo’s phone support might be an appealing feature. It’s available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

And if you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, you’ll likely be familiar with navigating the website.

Con: Wells Fargo has a history of misleading borrowers

Although Wells Fargo has an easy application process, its history of lending raises some red flags.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Wells Fargo charged illegal fees to borrowers. It also misled them about payment information and failed to update information to the credit bureaus.

In the end, Wells Fargo paid $410,000 to borrowers and $3.6 million to the CFPB after reaching a settlement agreement.

Unfortunately, Wells Fargo private student loan reviews on Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau still reveal a number of problems with the lender, including unhelpful customer service and unfair late fees.

Is a Wells Fargo private student loan right for you?

Wells Fargo private student loans have a number of benefits, including competitive interest rates, low fees, and a straightforward application.

But if you’re looking to lower the costs of borrowing, shop around for the best rates before choosing a lender. Also, be aware that Wells Fargo doesn’t have the best reputation for working with student loan borrowers.

If you’re already a Wells Fargo banking customer, you might have a good relationship with the bank. But if you’re a new borrower, weigh the pros and cons of multiple lenders so you can choose the right one for your needs.

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