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      February 17, 2020

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SunTrust vs College Ave

To help you find the Best Student Loans, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of SunTrust and College Ave.

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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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2020

Student Loan Reviews

5 stars
SunTrust

SUNTRUST

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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
  • Cosigner release option after several years of on-time payments
  • Variable interest rates from 3.864% to 9.262% APR
  • Fixed interest rates from 4.599% to 10.329% APR
  • Minimum monthly payment of $50 during repayment period
  • Customer service: 866-232-3889

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award SunTrust's motto is "Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being", and they place a strong emphasis on helping the average American to move from financial stress to confidence. Their student loans fit well with this goal, with a wide variety of options and borrower-friendly advantages.

In order to be eligible for one of SunTrust's two main student loans, Custom Choice or Graduate Business School, you will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in a Title IV program at an eligible school (which you can find on the first page of the loan application; after entering your school's state, you'll find a dropdown box with all of the eligible schools included)
  • Be the legal age of majority (or at least 17 if applying with an older cosigner)

One small note to keep in mind: SunTrust Custom Choice and Graduate Business School loans are not currently available to students whose permanent state of residency is Iowa or Wisconsin.

As with most of the private student loan providers we reviewed, SunTrust has no application or origination fees, no penalties for paying off loans early, and no payments required until six months after you leave school. But, compared with the competition, SunTrust has interest rates that are considerably lower (see above in the list of features), along with more beneficial interest rate reductions available, such as:

  • 1% reduction of your principal balance when you graduate
  • Up to 0.50% rate reduction for automatic payments
  • Seasonal offers of 0.25% interest rate reduction

As the name implies, the Custom Choice program has a number of options for your loan (the Graduate Business School loans do as well, but their options are slightly more limited. See the business school loan page for more details). Once your student loan application has been approved, you will be able to compare the available loan options:

  • Rate type: fixed or variable
  • Loan term: 7, 10, or 15 years (7 or 10 for Graduate Business School loans)
  • Repayment options: immediate repayment, interest-only, partial interest, or full deferment until 6 months after leaving school

Be aware that, unless you have a solid employment history and a very good credit score, you'll likely need a cosigner who does meet those criteria: the average borrower (or cosigner) who qualifies for a SunTrust student loan has a FICO score of 750, with a minimum requirement in the mid-600s.

We were genuinely impressed by SunTrust's compassionate approach, for lack of a better phrase, to the structuring of their student loans. For example, while some lenders have no mercy when it comes to the death or disability of the primary borrower and still insist on being repaid, SunTrust offers loan forgiveness in the event of the primary borrower's death or disability (with proper documentation, of course). Also, if you need a cosigner to qualify for a loan from SunTrust, that cosigner can be released after payment of the first 48 consecutive, on-time monthly payments.

Because of their lower interest rates and borrower-friendly repayment terms, we give SunTrust student loans our highest rating of 5 stars as our top pick for student loans.

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4.5 stars
College Ave

COLLEGE AVE

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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 with automatic payments
  • Variable interest rates from 2.20% to 9.29% APR
  • Fixed interest rates from 4.99% to 11.24% APR
  • Loan repayment terms of 8, 10, 12, or 15 years
  • Deferment and forbearance options available
  • Cosigner release option after 24 consecutive months of on-time payments
  • Customer service: 844-422-7502

As a partner of University Account Service (UAS), College Ave Student Loans provides funding for students starting at $2,000 up to 100% of educational costs verified by a college or university. At the time of our review, College Ave maintained an "A" rating as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau, evidence of their commitment to integrity and quality of service in the student loans industry.

In order to be eligible for a College Ave student loan, you'll need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be enrolled in a degree program, attending classes at least half-time
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (this also applies to any cosigner on the loan)
  • Have a qualifying credit score. College Ave doesn't specify exactly what credit score a borrower/cosigner will need, but they do have a free credit pre-qualification tool that can help you decide if you want to submit a full application

One unique feature of College Ave student loans is the ability to customize, or "configure", the terms of the loan to meet your specifications. By clicking on the yellow box that says "Configure It Out", you'll be taken to a page that allows you to enter your basic information, from the approximate amount of money you'd like to borrow to your preferences for making payments while still in school or deferring until after graduation. Your results page will show you an approximation of the loan terms for which you might qualify, and you can use the sliders on that results page to change any of the assumptions that were made while calculating the details of your prospective loan.

We found that College Ave has interest rates that are extremely competitive, with a variety of repayment options that make it easy to stick to a budget. Also, if you sign up to have your payments automatically deducted from your bank account, you'll receive a 0.25% discount on your interest rate. Unlike some of their competitors, College Ave does not punish borrowers or cosigners in the event of permanent disability or death of the student: they forgive all loans 100% when the student borrower dies or suffers a permanent disability.

Also, College Ave allows cosigners to be released from the loan after 24 consecutive on-time payments. This is a fairly standard timeframe among providers of student loans, although some lenders require four to five years of on-time payments prior to releasing the cosigner.

The only caveats to consider when looking at getting a student loan with College Ave are their short time in operation - their first loans were funded in December 2014 - and the fact that College Ave was founded by two former executives from Sallie Mae, one of the lowest-ranked student loans providers in our review. As College Ave continues to prove itself as a strong contender in the student loans market, however, we wouldn't be surprised to see their rating increase.

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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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