Student Loan Reviews

A lot of students fail to have enough money to attend the trade school or college of their choice and rely on student loans. Some high school and GED graduates do not qualify for federal loans, grants and other forms of low-cost financial assistance. Those who do qualify often need extra money because they receive too little financial aid. Undergraduates are not the only ones that need help. Graduate students, especially those who pursue high-income careers in areas like business, healthcare and law, find themselves unable to get much or any federal or state aid after they finish their undergraduate studies. Even after graduation, many students find themselves struggling to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads while also suddenly responsible for repaying their loans while they look for jobs and learn how to live in the world.

Banks as private lenders help make up the difference by offering loans as small as $500 and as high as several hundred thousand dollars. They also help trade school and college graduate students and graduates consolidate multiple loans into one or refinance a single loan.

Whether you hope to arrange a new private undergraduate, graduate, consolidation or refinancing loan product for yourself or a loved one, check our consumer reviews to help you find the best lender and loan product to fit your needs.

Keys to Success

Our bank and student loan consumer reviews do more than provide a comparison list. Each reviewer is asked to rate their experience based on four areas that we feel are too important to ignore: interest, fees, service and satisfaction. We then ask each reviewer to provide a detailed report of their experience. We do not edit or alter reviews in any way. We provide anyone who visits our website with honest stories from people who have actually dealt with the various banks and loan products mentioned in a local, national or overseas setting. Instead of relying only on the advice of those around you in your social and work circles, you can gain incredible insight today from a diverse mix of other students, parents, guardians and co-signers.

Details to Remember

Each consumer experience summary contains far more valuable information than the four areas that we ask our reviewers to rate. We recommend that you keep in mind the following details as you compare banks and student loan products:

  • Application Rules:
    Banks want to help students and former students, but they recognize that some people are not financially responsible enough to deserve the privilege of a loan. They need to know that you or at least your co-signer, if applicable, has a good financial history. Many banks refuse to provide loans to anyone who has a credit score below 660. For a consolidation or refinancing options, some banks require that you provide proof of several years of steady employment and/or a minimum income amount along with a certain number of consecutive on-time payments. If you failed to graduate, do not worry. Some banks waive the graduation requirement and only ask that you show a certain number of past consecutive payments on your loan or other type of important monthly billing arrangement.
  • Extra Fees:
    Some financial institutions attempt to charge students a loan application or processing fee. These banks sometimes refer to this fee as an origination or a disbursement fee. Always look for banks that charge a low fee or no fee at all. Additionally, some banks charge a fee or penalty for early repayment of the loan and phone-based or face-to-face payment with a bank representative. Our reviews can help you learn more about these fees and the institutions that charge them.
  • Interest Rates:
    With any type of loan, a borrower must pay interest to the bank for access to funds. The interest rate is the amount that you pay based on a percentage of the borrowed or "principal" amount and other factors like the loan type and the repayment term. A bank might attempt to set the rate at a fixed or variable amount. A fixed rate results in a borrower owing the same amount in payments no matter how much interest rates change in the market. A variable rate changes based on market changes, which means the amount a borrower owes can go up over time. You only benefit from a variable interest rate as a borrower when the market interest rates drops.
  • Rate Discounts:
    Most banks offer rate discounts to borrowers, including first-time borrowers and their co-signers, when applicable. A bank typically lowers the rate by some part of one percent of the interest if you or a cosigner currently have an account with the bank or a specific type of account. You can also receive a discount usually if you open a new account. If you agree to repay your loan via ACH automatic withdrawals, a bank might lower the rate a bit more.
  • Disbursement Date:
    If you need a loan to help pay for your college tuition, housing, textbooks or next meal, a delayed disbursement can cause you a lot of heartaches. The school might refuse to allow you to take classes, move into student housing or use on-campus dining services. Student loan disbursement problems often occur because of miscommunication between borrowers, lenders and schools. Our reviews can help you see any miscommunication or "accidental" delay patterns across one or more banks. Unintentional delays are always a possibility, but our reviews can help you learn if any banks are more prone than others to these types of problems so that you can stay clear of them. You can also sometimes learn tricks for making certain that a disbursement goes without a hitch.
  • Repayment Terms:
    You can typically acquire a loan that offers repayment terms over a period of less than 10 years or 10, 15 or 20 years. Most financial institutions do not require that you begin repayment while you are still in school. That said, some might if you seek out extended studies beyond graduate school. Even after you graduate, banks typically give borrowers a wait period of several months to give graduates the time needed to find jobs and settle into their new non-academic lives before they have to start repaying their loans.
  • Credit Date:
    Some financial institutions do not count the date that you make an electronic online or automated phone loan payment as the actual date of the payment. Some of these banks also do not permit you to make online payments during non-business hours or weekends. This can turn into a huge problem if you need to pay on the date that the payment is due. You might receive a late payment fee because of the failure to pay on time as dictated by the bank's rules.
  • Financial Hardship:
    Many student loan borrowers experience a financial hardship during their repayment period, such as joblessness, a car accident or a severe health problem. Most banks allow you to postpone repayment for a certain number of months, typically six to 12 months, in the event that you experience an emergency that adversely affects your income. Check our reviews for new rules and extra costs associated with a financial hardship, such as higher interest or a monthly late payment fee that accrues during the hardship period. Additionally, look for details about whether you can ever request assistance for another hardship in the future if needed. Some banks only postpone repayment one time while others take into account different factors, such as the length of the first emergency and your payment history.
  • Co-signer Release:
    A co-signer can help you get a loan if you have less-than-perfect credit or no credit and/or low or fluctuating income, but the co-signer is just as legally responsible for the loan as you are when they sign the contract. Another thing to look for in our consumer student loan banking reviews is any evidence that a bank releases co-signers from their responsibilities after a certain amount of time. Some banks release co-signers after you show that you are responsible by making so many months or years of consecutive on-time payments.
  • Loan Sales:
    Some banks sell loans to other companies, such as different private lenders, loan servicing firms and debt collectors, to build up more money to set up new loans or to get rid of bad repayment accounts. If your loan switches hands, you become indebted to the new company and might discover that the terms of your loan agreement changed as a result. You can find detailed stories about these types of sales in our consumer student loan reviews that can help you learn which financial institutions perform this type of action and the reason a specific bank sells student loans. You can also find tips from reviewers about how to deal with this transition so that it is less stressful.
  • Online Account:
    You do not have to be internet savvy to repay your student loan, but an online account certainly helps make the process easier. An online account reduces the amount of time you waste trying to speak with a live agent on the phone. It also makes it easier for you to make payments and keep track of old payments for filing taxes and other purposes. The bank should provide you with an online account that has user-friendly navigation and easy-to-use tools. The account should provide options for you to see the total and payment amounts you currently owe and your interest, the type of interest, the payment due date, your payment history and the loan terms. In general, the account should also offer extremely secure access and payment features, tools to update personal information as it changes, online communication options like Web form and chat and student loan education and reference pages.
  • Borrower Support:
    As already mentioned, many borrowers find themselves stuck on the phone on hold trying to reach a bank loan customer service agent. You should always look for a bank that offers lower than average hold times. Support for borrowers should also include agents who speak with clear, easy-to-understand voices who seem like they want to help instead of only put in hours at work. You might find that you can only receive customer service during the bank's business hours or a separate period known as "customer assistance" or "customer support" hours.

Keep in mind that every reviewer does not provide all of the details we have outlined above. Fees that we have mentioned, such as prepayment penalty and late fees, are often found in the fine print near the bottom of loan contract pages and the content on separate "addendum" pages. We recommend that you talk to your school's financial aid personnel about their experiences with banks that interest you before you apply for a loan product. Lastly, contact each of the banks so that you can acquire their most up-to-date loan information.

Dare to Dream

Employment experts agree that a trade level or college education is absolutely necessary for many people to succeed in life. Although some people can work their way up in certain industries or set up businesses without a higher education, the fact remains that several factors like unemployment, technological advances, technology-related changes and market trends across every industry have made it more difficult than ever for people without a higher education to compete or pursue their dreams.

You do not need to wait to have that education or go broke afterward trying to pay off your loans via high monthly payments. Banks work with students and graduates to set up affordable loans and consolidation and refinancing options. The first step in finding those financial institutions and products is research. Allow us to help you. Check out our consumer student loan banking reviews today.