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College Ave Reviews: Refinancing and Borrowing Student Loans

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With College Ave Student Loans, you can refinance existing federal or private student loans or borrow a new private student loan to cover your college costs.

Below, we review College Ave’s refinance loan and private student loan options.

Jump to College Ave private student loan review

College Ave student loan refinancing review

Though College Ave Student Loans hasn’t been around long, its flexible repayment terms and quick application process set it apart from other student loan refinancing lenders.

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refinancing at a glance

  • Fixed: 3.35% to 7.50% APR. Variable: 2.75% to 7.25% APR.
  • Choose your own repayment term, from five to 15 years.
  • Introductory two-year interest-only period available.

*Rates updated Dec. 4, 2017.

Repayment options

Student loan refinancing is often most useful for grads who built up their credit in the years after college and can now qualify for a lower interest rate than they initially received on their loans. If you don’t meet College Ave’s credit or income requirements on your own, consider applying with a co-signer, such as a parent or sibling who has strong credit. Your co-borrower will be responsible for the loan if you can’t repay it.

College Ave targets customers who also want a lower monthly student loan payment, not just a lower interest rate that will save them money over time, says Joseph DePaulo, CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans.

For instance, the company lets you pay just the interest that accrues for the first two years of your term, instead of your full principal and interest payment. That could let you focus on other expenses first, like paying off high-interest credit card debt. If you can manage the full monthly payment from the beginning, though, that will save you the most money in the long run.

» COMPARE: Student loan refinancing options

Do you qualify?

 Minimum qualificationsThe typical borrower
Credit scoreHigh 600s750+
Annual incomeGenerally double a borrower’s debt load$100,000+

Where College Ave refinancing shines

Quick application process: Many refinance lenders require a payoff statement from your loan servicer, which shows how much is left to repay on your loan. College Ave pulls that information from your credit report, so you don’t need to find the paperwork on your servicer’s website.

Flexible repayment terms: College Ave lets you pick how long you’ll take to pay off your refinanced loan, as long as it’s between five and 15 years. That may make more sense for you than having to choose among the standard five-, 10-, 15- or 20-year terms that many lenders offer. Earnest also lets you pick your own loan period.

Say you’ve been repaying your loans for three years. Refinancing into a five-year term might make your monthly payment too high, and 10 years would extend your repayment period. A seven-year term could bring a more manageable monthly payment, while still ensuring you pay off your loans in the standard 10 years.

Remember, though, that no matter which lender you go with, you can always pay more than your required monthly payment so you get rid of your loan faster.

Where College Ave refinancing falls short

Interest rates: The most creditworthy borrowers, or those who have a co-signer with excellent credit, may be able to get lower interest rates through other lenders.

Next steps

You can apply for a College Ave refinance loan on the company’s website, but it’s smart to compare offers from multiple refinance lenders first.

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College Ave private student loan review

Although College Ave only recently started offering student loan refinancing, it’s been offering original private student loans since late 2014. Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as parents, can borrow through College Ave.

Before you take out any private student loans, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. If scholarships and grants don’t cover your college costs, take out all the federal loans you can before turning to private loans, because federal loans offer more borrower protections.

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student loans

  • Fixed: 6.22% to 12.52% APR. Variable: 3.69% to 10.10% APR.
  • Eight-, 10-, 12- and 15-year terms for students; five- to 12-year terms for parents.
  • Grace periods: six months for undergraduate students, nine months for graduate students.

*Rates updated Dec. 4, 2017.

Like many private student loan lenders, College Ave will let you defer your loan payments if you go back to school or enter the military. The company will also consider letting you pause your payments temporarily by giving you a forbearance. But unlike with many other lenders, there aren’t “black and white limits” on how many months of forbearance you can get, DePaulo says.

The average interest rate for College Ave fixed- and variable-rate private loans is 7%, says Angela Colatriano, the company’s head of brand and product marketing. College Ave’s variable rates are subject to chance once a month, but they’ll change only if the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) changes. LIBOR is an economic indicator that many private lenders use to set interest rates.

» COMPARE: Private student loans

Do you qualify?

 Minimum qualificationsThe typical borrower
Credit scoreMid-600sMid-700s
Annual income$35,000
(without a co-signer)
(with a co-signer)

Repayment options

If you borrow an undergraduate or graduate loan, you have four options for how much you pay during school. You can:

  • Make full monthly payments, including interest and principal.
  • Pay only the interest on the loan.
  • Make a flat, $25 monthly payment.
  • Defer your payments until after you leave school.

You’ll save the most on interest by making payments while you’re in school; the more you can pay, the better.

Parent loan borrowers have three repayment options. To save the most money, they can start making full monthly loan payments immediately. They also can opt to make smaller payments while their student remains in school, either paying just the interest or the interest plus an additional amount they choose.

Where College Ave private loans shine

Easily customizable loan terms: College Ave’s website has a user-friendly tool that can help you decide what term length, type of interest rate and repayment plan are best for you. You can easily drag sliding bars and see how adjusting each of those variables will change your monthly payment both during school and after you graduate, and the total amount you’ll owe throughout the life of the loan.

Tailored repayment periods: You have to repay many private loans within 10 or 15 years. But College Ave also gives undergraduate and graduate students the option to repay in eight or 12 years. You’ll save the most money in interest if you choose the eight-year term. To save more, make larger payments than you’re required to.

Flexible parent loan options: Like many private lenders, College Ave offers loans for parents who want to help cover their kids’ college costs. But College Ave parent loans are more flexible and generally have more competitive interest rates than the parent loans that other private lenders offer. Parents can choose to repay their College Ave loan in five years, 12 years or any number of years in between.

Where College Ave private loans fall short

It doesn’t service its loans: If you get a College Ave loan, you won’t be making payments directly to College Ave. The lender outsources payment processing and account management to a company called University Account Services.

Fewer borrower protections compared with federal student loans: Generally, private student loans don’t offer as many perks as federal student loans do. College Ave, for example, doesn’t have specific repayment or forgiveness programs to help borrowers who are struggling to make payments. With federal loans, you can sign up for an income-driven repayment plan to cap your monthly payments at a percentage of your income or a forgiveness plan to cancel some or all of your loans, if you qualify.

Next steps

You can apply for a College Ave private student loan on the company’s website, but it’s smart to get rate estimates from multiple private student loan lenders first to find the lowest rate.

Brianna McGurran is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @briannamcscribe.

Teddy Nykiel is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @teddynykiel.