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College Ave Review

Saturday, August 20th

2022 Student Loan Provider Reviews

College Ave Review 3 Star Rating

College Ave

3 Star Rating
  • "A+" rated and accredited by the BBB
  • Specializes solely in student loans
  • Competitive rates on both variable-rate loans and fixed-rate loans (both offer a 0.25% autopay discount)
  • Loans available for undergraduate studies, graduate programs (including MBA/Medical School/Dental School/Law School, career students and parents
  • Payment terms from 5-15 years
  • 4 repayment options: full principal/interest, interest-only, $25 flat payments, deferred
  • 90% approval of additional loans after the first year

There's something reassuring about getting a student loan from a provider that only does that: no mortgages, personal loans, or other financial products to worry about, just educational funding. You'll get that with College Ave. Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, this lender is "A+' rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

Use the Loan Estimator for a general reference

We used the Loan Estimator to get started with College Ave. It gave us a general understanding of how different student loan scenarios would work out, but it wasn't tied to our specific information. To get those details, we had to click on the "let us help you" link where we were asked if we wanted to walk through the steps of prequalification - which doesn't impact credit reporting. What it asks for is basic: type of loan, desired loan amount, name, address and date of birth.

Does anyone actually prequalify here?

We were staggered to be told that we didn't prequalify for the loan on our own and that we should apply with a cosigner "who has good credit" . We tried to prequalify with a credit score over 800 and an excellent credit history and were told we weren't eligible. Reaching out to College Ave's live chat, the rep told us to enter the information of a cosigner with good credit and see if that person would qualify. Even entering the information of another individual with an 800+ credit score and exceptional credit, that person didn't prequalify either. Short of allowing College Ave to run a hard credit check by clicking on "Apply Now" (which, incidentally, would impact our good credit), there was no way to find out what our loan terms would be here. Compared with rival lenders who prequalified us easily, College Ave left us with a lot of unanswered questions. (And, making things even weirder, we did prequalify with College Ave when we went through a referral service.)

Many options available for terms and repayments

However, in general, here's what this lender says you can expect from their student loans. They offer all types of loans, from undergraduate to graduate degree programs, parent loans and so on. You can choose a loan term of 5, 8, 10 or 15 years, either fixed-rate or variable-rate. Finally, the four repayment options are similar to most student loan providers: in-school payments of full principal and interest, interest-only, or $25 flat payments, or deferred payments until you're out of school.

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Easy to get approved for subsequent loans

For undergraduate student loans, you only have to be enrolled half-time or more: a nice advantage over lenders who require full-time enrollment. College Ave says that they have "multi-year peace of mind" , with 90% of their undergraduate students approved for further loans after their first year (but keep in mind that the approval rate applies to students who apply with cosigners).

Plenty of praise for this lender...

College Ave gets slightly mixed reviews from borrowers. There were almost 1000 on their site, and over 900 of them gave the lender a 4- or 5-star rating. Students describe the process as quick and easy, and they report that the funds were disbursed to their schools within a few weeks. College Ave's reputation with the Better Business Bureau is solid as well: "A+" and accreditation, with only 30 complaints filed in the three years leading up to our evaluation. That's hard to beat!

...but several concerns as well

On the other hand, we found more than a few students commenting elsewhere (outside of the BBB listing and College Ave's posted reviews) that interest rates here were much higher than average. This lender's advertised rates for both fixed-rate and variable-rate loans are competitive with other lenders (including a 0.25% autopay discount). However, if you look at the fine print at the bottom of the College Ave site, it says the "typical loan terms" for a freshman borrower have interest rates that are much higher than the low end of the advertised ranges. We're not sure who's qualifying for the low end of the rate spectrum, but given that we didn't even prequalify, we'd bet that virtually no students get loans with interest rates that low.

Decent reputation, frustrating process in general

College Ave could be a decent place to get a student loan - if you manage to qualify for one. We're glad to see plenty of positive reviews from happy borrowers, but we still have serious concerns about this lender's application process. It shouldn't take a full application (with hard credit check) to get loan rates for two people with excellent credit, and College Ave was definitely a let-down in that regard. You may want to see what loan options you have with a higher-ranked student loan provider before counting on College Ave.

Where Can You Find the Best Student Loans?

With 45% of high school graduates finding it necessary to take on student debt to finance their higher learning, that's an important question to answer. While most student loan debt comes from federal loans, some people discover that their government loans just aren't enough to cover the full costs of tuition, room and board, expensive textbooks, and everything else necessary for their college education.

If you find yourself in that situation - for your studies or your children's - you might get overwhelmed trying to figure out where the money will come from. And even once you've selected a lender, you still need to decide what repayment terms are best. Fixed- or variable-rate? Interest-only or small fixed repayments while still in school or fully deferred for 6-9 months after graduation? Repaying over five years or twenty? There are a lot of factors to consider that are unique to you.

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Student Loan Provider FAQ

Most students need a loan to fund the full cost of their college education. While the majority of student loans in the United States come through federal programs, there are also private loans available. You usually have to start making repayments on student loans six months after your last semester, though you can start sooner if you wish. Student loans often have repayment terms of at least 10 years.
Yes, very easily. If you're applying for federal student loans, you'll complete the FAFSA online. For private student loans, there are several ways to apply: either directly with a financial institution, like Discover or Wells Fargo, or using a platform that connects you with multiple lenders using a single quote request or application.
Unlike many other types of borrowing, student loans are designed to be affordable - it's rare to be charged an application or origination fee, and you should be able to pay off your loan early with no penalties. Interest rates are also much lower than credit cards and personal loans, and you'll usually have very long repayment terms: starting 6 months after your last semester and often stretching 10 years into the future. Expect interest rates between 1% and 6%, but watch out for fixed vs. variable APRs.
Your student loan will probably be disbursed directly to your school, not deposited to your personal bank account. That's a good thing if you want to ensure that your loan money actually gets used for your education! Because the process requires your school to certify the loan amount, the process can take a few days or more. It's a wise idea to start the loan application process early, to make sure there's plenty of time to meet your school's payment deadlines.
If you have a financial hardship or other eligible circumstance, you can request to defer your student loan repayments. Most lenders allow you to suspend your payments for up to three years if you qualify. Contact the servicer of your student loan to find out what requirements you need to meet to defer your loan.
Forbearance is similar to deferring your student loan payments. If you don't qualify for a deferral but still can't pay your student loan, you might be able to get your payments reduced or suspended temporarily, for up to 12 months. You'll need to get in touch with the servicer of your student loan to see if you're eligible for a forbearance arrangement.
In limited circumstances, yes. It usually depends on the type of student loan you have, the lender, and your situation. Student loans may be forgiven (or, essentially, written off) in the event of the disability or death of the borrower; issues with the school, like closure, error or fraud; income-driven repayment plans or employment-based forgiveness programs.
Yes, most of the time. Tax laws are changing constantly, but in the past students have been able to reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 based on student loan interest paid, as long as they meet eligibility criteria (like having a qualified student loan that was used exclusively for educational expenses).
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Fortunately, there are quite a few providers of student loans that can help you not only figure out those answers but also connect you with the money you need to pay for school. Many of them can even prequalify you for a loan with just your name, address and birthdate, with no impact on your credit report. Rest assured that millions of students (and many of their parents) have successfully navigated this process - and you can too.

Here are several aspects of student loan providers to keep in mind as you decide which ones merit further consideration:

  • Referral service or direct lender: Some sites serve as a comparison shopping platform, allowing you to get preliminary information about what loans might be available to you. These referral services may or may not use your information to complete some of the first steps of the application process. Other student loan sites directly connect you with the funding you need.
  • Interest rates. Don't be overly impressed by the super-low interest rates posted by any student loan provider: they almost always come with the caveat that only the "most qualified" candidates qualify for the best rates (and we've yet to find anyone that actually got a loan with rates that low). Just make sure that the rate you're offered is reasonable and competitive with other loans.
  • Repayment options. There are so many different ways to configure a student loan, like repayment terms ranging from 5-20 years, fixed and variable rates, and repayments either while still in school or deferred until after graduation. The more choices available to you, the more likely it is that you'll get loan terms you can afford.
  • Loan servicing. Getting a student loan is just the beginning. Take into account what other students have said about the experience after the application has been approved. Are funds disbursed quickly? Does the customer service team handle issues well? Can you expect any unpleasant surprises (like payments not being recorded accurately or not being able to reach support)?

To help you get the funds you need for your education, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for student loans today. We're confident that this information will make it possible to find the right way to cover the costs of your tuition, books and more!

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