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Saturday, October 1st
For 25+ years, LendingTree has served as an online loan marketplace for everything from credit cards to personal loans. They've connected over 100 million customers with more than $50 billion in funds. With respect to student loans, this service can help you get an idea of which lenders might be available for the school you attend, but you'll have to go to each lender's site to determine if you actually prequalify.
Does your school qualify?
You'll start by entering your school name, because that determines which LendingTree partners will show up in your list of possibilities. For example, a popular large university in Florida matched with eight lenders, while a small liberal arts college in Michigan came up with none (and neither did the state's largest university). That's far from ideal, but at least LendingTree lets you know right away if you're not going to be eligible for a loan with their partners, instead of making you walk through a multi-step prequalification application first.
Find your matches
Let's say your school qualifies for LendingTree's service. What can you expect next? First, you'll get a list of lenders that might be a good match. For the school in Florida we entered, we were given eight to consider: College Ave, Sallie Mae, Ascent, Earnest, Funding U, Education Loan Finance, SoFi, and Citizens Bank. You'll find in-depth reviews for all but one of those lenders in our other evaluations.
More information, please
Unfortunately, LendingTree doesn't take that extra step of offering borrower feedback or even expert reviews of those financial institutions. All you get is a "see more details" button that tells you some of the highlights, like whether or not there are fees and if they offer interest rate discounts. If you click the "Apply Now" button, you're taken directly to the lender website to begin the application process.
Good reputation overall
That's really the extent of what you'll get with LendingTree for student loans. Yes, this company is "A+" rated and accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and over 8200 people give LendingTree a 5-star rating too (across all products, not just educational loans). And yes, you can learn a lot about student loans on their website, which has everything from a payment calculator to helpful blog articles to help you understand how loans work, the differences between federal and private loans, and much more.
You'll still have to apply directly with a lender
But to earn a higher ranking among student loan providers, LendingTree would have to expand what they offer: at a minimum, maybe a rating and analysis for the lenders they include, and ideally a way to prequalify for those preferred lending partners without having to go to each website individually. After all, that's what their competitors do! You could use LendingTree to do some research, but ultimately you'll get your loan somewhere else - because that's how this service is designed.
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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