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Tuesday, January 25th
Who is ZuntaFi? Based in the Midwest, this company offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate and medical school programs, refinancing for Federal and private student loans, as well as consumer loans. They aim to provide honest financial solutions no matter which type of loan you need.
Benefits that are on par with the competition
ZuntaFi offers some benefits on their student loans that are fairly similar to other lenders'. First, there are no loan origination or prepayment fees, and you'll get a 0.25% rate discount when you make automated repayments. Next, if you've applied for a loan with a cosigner, he or she is eligible to be released after 24 months of full, consecutive, on-time payments - as long as you meet the loan requirements yourself at the time that release is requested. Finally, ZuntaFi will release the cosigner and forgive the balance of the loan if the borrower passes away during the lending term.
Not the lender, just the originator/servicer
It's important to note that ZuntaFi isn't the lender for student loans. Your application allows them to match you with a lender for origination, and then ZuntaFi will service that loan once it's been funded.
Extremely limited range of eligible states
Why does that matter? At the time of our evaluation, this company was only originating loans in a handful of states: seven for undergraduate loans, twelve for graduate loans, and seven for medical school loans. Even though the site says to contact ZuntaFi if your state isn't included in the list, don't bother: in our call to the provider, the representative said that they only offer funding in those states (though they hope to have more in the future). She explained that their lenders were restricting loans to just those areas. Sounds like ZuntaFi needs to work on their lending network!
Very few eligible schools
It gets even more disappointing when you try to choose a school in one of the states serviced by ZuntaFi. Massachusetts? Only Harvard is in the list. New York? Just Columbia. Surprisingly, there were 14 schools in the West Virginia list - but think about how many students that covers, compared with all of the schools in New York and Massachusetts that weren't even on the list.
Not many loans to choose from
So, let's say that you're one of the lucky few who go to a school that ZuntaFi covers. You're not going to be blown away by your student loan choices. For example, the only options for Columbia undergrads we found were a 20-year variable loan and a 20-year fixed hybrid loan with rates slightly higher than other lenders. These were designated as iHelp loans, and that's the name that showed up on the caller ID when we dialed the toll-free number for ZuntaFi, but we're still unclear on the relationship between those two brands.
Feedback is hard to find
As you'd expect from a student loan provider with such a limited service area, borrower feedback on ZuntaFi is pretty scarce. The company has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau - always a reassuring sign. There were a handful of complaints registered with the BBB, but all of them received a timely, appropriate response from ZuntaFi representatives. But, as with many financial institutions, ZuntaFi has its share of unhappy customers who have complained about mistakes in recording payments, late fees and other penalties. Among the handful of negative reviews, more than one mentioned having a hard time reaching their loan representative. We got through to a ZuntaFi rep right away, but then again we were calling as a prospective borrower and not a current one.
Most students won't get loans here
Most students should look elsewhere for their student loans. ZuntaFi only operates in a few states - and covers an extremely small number of schools within those service areas. Plus, there's nothing so over-the-top amazing with their servicing that would give them an advantage over other student loan providers even for the states and schools they cover. ZuntaFi earns a below-average rating.
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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