Wells Fargo Student Loans Review: Mediocre Terms and Customer Service

wells fargo student loans

If you’re maxed out on your federal student loans and need help paying for college, private student loans can bridge the gap. But with so many private student loan companies out there, it can be hard to determine which one is best for you.

Although Wells Fargo student loans offer discounted rates for existing bank customers, the student loan program doesn’t quite stack up against its competitors. What’s more, Wells Fargo student loans reviews from customers aren’t complimentary. Read on to find out why.

Wells Fargo student loans review

If you’re considering Wells Fargo student loans as a borrowing option, it’s important to know both the good and the bad. Here are the main benefits and drawbacks to consider:

Pros

  • There’s an interest rate discount of up to 0.75 percent for some borrowers.
  • Cosigners can be released from loans.
  • There are few fees.

Cons

  • The student loan interest rates aren’t among the best available.
  • There are poor customer reviews.
  • Pre-qualification isn’t an option.

It’s also important to point out that federal regulators have taken issue with the bank’s student loan practices.

In August 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced it had taken action against Wells Fargo for the following reasons:

  • The bank failed to provide important payment information during the servicing process.
  • The bank charged customers illegal fees.
  • The bank failed to update inaccurate credit report information.

As a result, Wells Fargo was ordered to pay a $3.6 million penalty to the CFPB and another $410,000 in restitution to borrowers.

Wells Fargo student loans features

Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for the following Wells Fargo student loans:

  • Wells Fargo Collegiate student loan: Undergraduate students can borrow up to $120,000 between Wells Fargo and all other student loans.
  • Wells Fargo Graduate student loan: Business and law graduate students can borrow up to $180,000 between Wells Fargo and all other student loans. All other fields of study have a $120,000 loan limit.

Keep in mind that individual student loans typically are limited to the actual cost of attendance for the loan period.

Making payments

With either loan, you don’t have to start making payments until six months after you leave school. That said, interest starts accruing when the loan is disbursed.

So if you can afford it, consider making interest-only payments while you’re in school. That way, you can avoid having a higher balance because of interest capitalization.

Cosigners

Both loans allow cosigners to help you qualify for a lower interest rate. You can even request that the cosigner be removed from the loan after you make your first 24 consecutive monthly payments on time.

If your first monthly payment is late, however, you need to make 48 consecutive monthly payments on time.

The bank also has a student loan consolidation program for college graduates who are looking to refinance their student loan debt.

Wells Fargo student loans interest rates and fees

The bank doesn’t charge an application, origination, or early repayment fee. It does, however, charge a late fee of $28.

Here are some other features of Wells Fargo student loans:

Collegiate Student Loan Graduate Student Loan
Variable interest rate* 3.87% to 9.88% APR 4.91% to 10.38% APR
Fixed interest rate* 5.94% APR to 11.26% APR 6.84% to 11.67% APR

*APRs as of Dec. 6, 2017
Keep in mind that the lowest rates include discounts you might or might not qualify for. Here’s how they break down:

  • 0.50 percent discount if you have a relationship through the Portfolio by Wells Fargo program
  • 0.25 percent discount if you have a qualifying Wells Fargo consumer checking account
  • 0.25 percent discount if you have a prior federal or private student loan through the bank
  • 0.25 percent discount if you set up automatic payments

The first three discounts are available during the application process, and you can get only one of them. The last discount is available for anyone during the repayment process.

Compared to other student loan companies, Wells Fargo’s student loan interest rates don’t stack up well. The biggest discount requires you to be a Portfolio by Wells Fargo customer, and that program charges a $30 monthly fee unless you have big deposits with the bank.

CommonBond offers 2.93% to 9.67% APR, for example, and Connext offers 3.35% to 10.89% APR. Neither lender requires a special membership to get the lowest rate.

Wells Fargo student loans eligibility requirements

Depending on which loan you want, there are different eligibility requirements. For both loans, you must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a permanent resident alien, or an international student who is a temporary resident alien.

If you’re a temporary resident alien, you also need to have a cosigner who is eligible to apply. Others will need to meet Wells Fargo’s credit and employment requirements.

Here are some other requirements:

Collegiate student loan

  • You must be enrolled as an undergraduate student at an eligible school and seeking a degree, certificate, or license.
  • You can qualify if you’re in school less than half time.

Graduate student loan

  • You must be enrolled as a graduate student at an eligible school and seeking a degree, certificate, or license.
  • You must be making satisfactory academic progress in your chosen field of study.

How to apply for Wells Fargo student loans

If you’re interested in applying, you have two options. One is to call 1-800-378-5526 and work with a Wells Fargo student loan consultant. The other is to apply online.

You’ll start out by choosing which loan you want. Then, you’ll verify your school and citizenship information. Next, you’ll get a rundown of loan terms so you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Once you’re ready, click on “Get Started” to begin the official application. You’ll need the following information to complete it:

  • Employment and income information for you and your cosigner, if applicable
  • Permanent U.S. address
  • The academic term for which you’re using the loan
  • Anticipated college graduation date
  • Cost of attendance
  • Estimated financial assistance you’re receiving
  • Personal information, including your Social Security number, date of birth, phone number, and email address

If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, the bank will prefill parts of the application for you when you sign in. If you aren’t, it’ll take only a few minutes to get through it.

Once you fill everything out, you’ll need to agree to some disclosures and terms and conditions before proceeding.

Keep in mind that if you submit the application, Wells Fargo will make a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can knock a few points off your credit score.

In contrast, some other lenders, such as LendKey and CommonBond, have a pre-qualification process that allows you to see offers with a soft credit check, which doesn’t hurt your credit score.

Wells Fargo student loans reviews by customers

One of the best ways to gauge how well a company is going to treat you is to see how it treats others. Unfortunately, you won’t find many positive experiences listed among Wells Fargo student loans reviews.

Of the 85 people who had reviewed Wells Fargo’s student loan servicing on Consumer Affairs as of December 2017, 82 gave the lender just one star out of five.

Reviewers shared several issues, including some of the reasons the CFPB took action against the bank:

“Even though I was making payments each month, Wells Fargo was charging me late fees for 1.5 years without notifying me of any issues. I was told that while my phone number was listed on my account, they didn’t have permission to contact me directly. Someone from the executive office later provided me with a different version, stating that Wells Fargo wasn’t obligated to contact me. Ruining my credit could have been avoided with a simple phone call.”

“We took out two student loans on our daughter for her undergraduate degree. After graduation, we received nothing from them about the payment being due. … She graduated, and they sent us a bill saying we owed around $20,000 on the loan. It was late because our bank would not release the funds on a timely basis. So we paid a late fee. The second bill came due, and I mailed it off three weeks before the due date. CONVENIENTLY, that was also late.”

If you have any questions about Wells Fargo student loans, you can reach the bank’s customer service team at 1-800-658-3567. Representatives are available Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.

Other ways to receive support include Twitter, Facebook, and the bank’s online community.

Should you apply for a Wells Fargo student loan?

Despite Wells Fargo’s discounts for existing bank customers, you might be able to qualify for a better interest rate elsewhere. Plus, the bank’s poor customer reviews and issues with regulators make it difficult to recommend.

To ensure you get the best deal on a private student loan, shop around and compare several lenders to see what they have to offer. Focus on more than the interest rate too. For example, one lender could offer a low interest rate but no cosigner release option.

Prioritize the student loan features that are most important to you and keep them top of mind as you do your research. If you do your due diligence, you’ll be in much better shape when it comes time to start making payments.

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