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      April 7, 2020

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iHelp vs Wells Fargo

To help you find the Best Student Loans, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of iHelp and Wells Fargo.

To see ALL of our reviews for the Best Student Loans, please Click Here

Apply for Your Student Loan at SunTrust Today As the costs of higher education rise, so does the need for student loans. While some individuals are eligible for federal loans, those loans don't always cover the full cost of getting an education - not just tuition and room/board, but books, laptops, transportation and other expenses. And, people who are ineligible for federal loans don't necessarily have overflowing savings accounts to match their college or university costs.

Private student loans are the way that many students close that gap. On average, students have nearly $40,000 in student loan debt at the time of graduation; without those funds, their aspirations of being a teacher, engineer, or social worker may have been put on hold indefinitely.

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Best Reviews

2020

Student Loan Reviews

4 stars
iHelp

I HELP

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Features:

  • No application or origination fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • No payments required until 6 months after leaving school
  • Interest rate discount available after 24 on-time payments (highest rate only)
  • Cosigner release option after two years of on-time payments
  • ONLY offers variable interest rates, from 3.18% to 8.71% APR
  • Loan repayment term: 20 years
  • Deferment and forbearance options available
  • Customer service: 800-645-7404

If you like the thought of having your student loan financed by a community bank rather than a big-name financial institution, you'll want to check out what iHelp has to offer. Since 2010, they've managed more than $600 million in private student loans as a subsidiary of the Student Loan Finance Corp. (which maintained an A+ rating as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review).

It's important to note that iHelp has a single student loan product: a variable-rate Private Student Loan with a 20-year repayment term, so if you feel more comfortable with fixed-rate products and/or shorter terms, you will want to choose another lender. On the other hand, if current market interest rates leave you feeling like a variable-rate loan is a good thing (as it often is), here's what iHelp requires for eligibility:

  • You're a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or applying with a cosigner who meets one of those two requirements
  • You're enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school (see site for list of eligible institutions)
  • You and your cosigner are of legal age in your state(s) of permanent residence
  • You and your cosigner have at least 3 years of positive credit history
  • You or your cosigner has an annual income of at least $18,000 for the past 2 years

Your loan must be a minimum of $1000 ($3000 in Georgia) and can be a maximum of $100,000 for undergraduate studies and $150,000 for graduate programs.

Your interest rate will be based in the LIBOR, the interest rate London banks charge each other for loans, which is a common benchmark used for bank rates around the world. At the time we looked at iHelp, their interest rates were as follows:

  • LIBOR + 2.50% (3.18% APR)
  • LIBOR + 4.50% (5.08% APR)
  • LIBOR + 5.75% (6.23% APR)
  • LIBOR + 8.50% (8.71% APR)

Unlike the majority of the lenders we considered, iHelp does not offer a rate discount for making automatic payments to the account. On the other hand, for borrowers who qualify only for the highest interest rate, you may be eligible for a reduction of 0.30% after you have made your first 24 payments on time. We also like that cosigners can be released after those same 24 on-time payments, regardless of the interest rate on the loan.

iHelp also has a great range of possibilities for loan repayments. If you're attending school at least half-time, you can opt to make interest-only payments, which lower the overall cost of the loan; no payments at all until you graduate or attend less than half-time; or making principal and interest payments as normal. Or, after your loan enters the repayment period; you can also choose principal and interest; interest-only for 24 months, or graduated repayment, which starts with interest-only repayments and moves up gradually until you're making the full principal plus interest payment amount.

iHelp also has one of the most generous deferment and forbearance options we've found. Like most lenders, you can defer repayments as long as you're enrolled half-time or more at an eligible school. But, what happens if you have a temporary financial difficulty, military service, or a natural disaster? iHelp will work with you to forbear your payments for up to 24 months, or to make partial payments, if you can demonstrate the need.

Overall, if you're comfortable with the relative uncertainty of a variable-rate loan and like the idea of borrowing from a community bank, iHelp is an excellent option for your student loan.

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2 stars
Wells Fargo

WELLS FARGO

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Features:

  • No application or origination fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • No payments required until 6 months after leaving school
  • Interest rate discounts available
  • Variable interest rates from 3.39% to 10.49% APR
  • Fixed interest rates from 5.94% to 12.99% APR
  • Minimum monthly payment of $50 during repayment period
  • Customer service: 888-511-8086

Wells Fargo is a well-established name in the financial industry, from checking accounts to mortgages and investments. They offer a variety of student loans, including Wells Fargo Collegiate and Wells Fargo Graduate programs.

In order to be eligible for a Wells Fargo student loan, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, seeking a degree, certificate, or license (you can be enrolled less than half-time)
  • U.S. citizen or national, permanent resident alien, or international student who is a temporary resident alien with a current US address and evidence of eligibility
  • Meet certain credit/employment/debt-to-income requirements OR have a cosigner (US citizen cosigner required for permanent and temporary resident aliens)

Before starting an application, we recommend that you click on the green "Check Rates" arrow in the middle of the main student loans page. You'll enter your school's information (state and name), along with your field of study. You'll then be taken to a page that will show you all of the current interest rate ranges for your loan, whether that's a fixed-rate loan for graduate school or a variable-rate loan for your four-year degree.

During the actual application process, you'll need to provide your school's information, your Social Security number, your permanent (home) address, employment and income information for you (and your cosigner, if you have one), the costs of attendance, and, finally, the amount of financial assistance you expect to receive from any source.

Wells Fargo offers several ways to reduce your interest rates. First, if you set up your monthly payments to be automatically withdrawn (known as ACH), you may qualify for a discount of 0.25% off your interest rate. Also, they offer three "relationship interest rate discounts" if you or your cosigner have an established history with Wells Fargo before you complete the loan process: 0.25% discount if you have a prior federal or private student loan through Wells Fargo, 0.25% discount if you have a qualifying consumer checking account with Wells Fargo, or a 0.50% discount for a Wells Fargo PMA Package (a combination of a specific number and type of accounts, including Premier Checking, investments, and so on). Finally, if you have newly-established (or poor) credit, having a cosigner with good credit can both help you qualify for a student loan and get a lower interest rate.

Wells Fargo also saves you money with no application or origination fees, and no prepayment penalties if you pay off your loan early.

With Wells Fargo student loans, you will not be required to make any repayments until 6 months after you graduate or leave school. Be aware that there's a maximum in-school period: you have four years from your first loan disbursement if you attended a 2-year school, five years if your loan covers graduate school, and seven years from your first disbursement if you attended a 4-year school. In other words, Wells Fargo doesn't penalize you for being on "the 5-year-plan" (taking longer than the traditional 2- or 4-year period expected with an Associate or Bachelor degree), but you can't claim to still be in school for an unlimited period of time without beginning the process of repayment.

Unfortunately, we found hundreds of reviews from students with loans through Wells Fargo that expressed deep dissatisfaction with the service they received once the loan was disbursed. Some of the problems we frequently found were errors on Wells Fargo's side that cost borrowers money and hurt their credit score, unhelpful representatives, and lack of flexibility when the unexpected occurs (such as death or disability interfering with borrowers' ability to repay). Across multiple websites, it was difficult to find reviews from students who were happy with the service they received from Wells Fargo over the course of their student loans, even when those individuals had been paying their loans faithfully over several years.

While Wells Fargo has the advantage of being a major player in the financial industry, it seems that they don't apply that experience and skill to their servicing of student loans. You may be more satisfied with the service you receive from another lender in our review.

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Continued from above

Fortunately, there are many lenders who want to make it as affordable and simple as possible to complete undergraduate and graduate-level studies. Some represent well-known, established financial institutions, while others work directly with networks of community banks to get much-needed cash into the hands of eager learners.

Comparing offers from lenders can be as easy as going online; in a matter of minutes and mouse clicks, you can see a variety of interest rates, repayment terms, and other details of each program for which you are eligible. This saves you significant time compared with going hat in hand to your local bank or other lending institution, hoping that they will say yes to your loan application.

When deciding on which lender to use for your student loan, you should consider the following factors:

  • Interest rates. The higher your interest rates, the more you pay over the life of the loan. Does the lender have rates that are competitive? Does the lender offer you the choice between fixed and variable rates?
  • Loan terms. What is the repayment term? Does it give you enough time to get a good job and pay it back? Can you pay it off in advance with no penalty?
  • Discounts. Can you get your interest rates lowered by setting up automatic payments from your checking account? Will you get any perks for having a relationship with the lender in other ways, such as a checking account or credit card?
  • Reputation. Some lenders have a solid history of working with borrowers, while others have a not-so-great track record when it comes to customer service after the loan has been disbursed. How does this lender measure up?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Student Loan providers available today. We hope this information helps you to get the money you need for your studies right away!

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