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Tuesday, January 18th
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.
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.
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.
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:
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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