College Ave Student Loans is an online lender that offers student loans for undergraduates, graduate students and parents and refinancing for college graduates. Below, we review the company’s refinancing and private student loan options.
In this post
College Ave student loan refinancing review
When you refinance student debt, a private lender replaces multiple student loans with a single loan at a lower interest rate. Consider refinancing with College Ave if you:
- Have private student loans
- Have federal student loans and don’t plan to use federal programs like income-driven repayment or public service loan forgiveness. You won’t be able to participate in these programs if you refinance federal loans.
- Have good credit, a stable income and a history of making on-time debt payments
College Ave lets borrowers choose their own repayment timeline of five to 15 years. That means you can pick a term taking into account both what you can afford and your other financial goals, like buying a home. You can also get an extra 0.25% interest rate reduction if you make automatic payments from a Nationwide Bank checking or savings account.
To get the most interest rate savings, choose the shortest repayment term you can manage.
|Type of loan||Student loan refinancing|
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
|Interest rates||Fixed: 3.25% - 7.25%
Variable: 2.88% - 6.98%
|Loan terms||5 to 15 years|
|Loan amounts||$5,000 minimum. $150,000 maximum for undergraduates and graduate students; $250,000 for medical, dental, veterinary, pharmaceutical students|
|Rates updated July 13, 2018
APRs include 0.25% rate reduction that borrowers get for signing up for automatic payments.
Can you qualify?
While you can use a co-signer to refinance student loans with College Ave, the company says less than 30% of customers do. To qualify on your own, you’ll need to:
- Have a credit score in the upper 600s. Approved College Ave borrowers have credit scores in the mid-700s on average.
- Have a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 50%. That means your total debts equal no more than half the amount you earn per month. The typical borrower has a debt-to-income ratio of less than 25%.
- Have graduated from an eligible school. Borrowers must have graduated from a participating school, which are listed on the College Ave application. The school must take part in the federal government’s Title IV federal student aid programs.
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Not have previously filed for bankruptcy.
A co-signer can help you qualify or get a lower interest rate. Co-signers must meet the same eligibility requirements as the primary borrower. College Ave doesn’t offer the option to release the co-signer after a certain number of on-time payments.
How to refinance student loans with College Ave
Before choosing a refinancing lender, compare multiple options to get the best interest rate you’re eligible for. Understand not only how much you’ll pay per month and in total, but how to pause payments in case of job loss or a medical emergency.
If you’re ready to refinance with College Ave, apply on its website. Here’s how:
- Gather data including your Social Security Number, your estimated annual income and the amount you plan to borrow. You’ll need these for the application.
- Complete a full application. College Ave says this takes about three minutes. You’ll enter school, employment and contact information, and you may be asked to upload proof of income or identification. Your co-signer, if you use one, will complete a separate application.
- Agree to a hard credit check. To provide you with final loan offers, lenders must perform a hard credit check. This will slightly impact your credit score. College Ave doesn’t offer the option to do a soft credit check to see your interest rate before applying.
- Choose a loan term.
- Wait for the loan to be disbursed. The typical time from approval to funding is 15 to 20 days, according to College Ave.
College Ave student loan refinancing details
- Loan servicer: Nationwide Bank
- Application or origination fee: No
- Prepayment penalty: No
- Late fees: After 15 days of nonpayment, 5% of the unpaid amount or $25, whichever is less
- Co-signer release option: No
Repayment options for struggling borrowers
Refinancing is best for those who likely won’t need the safety net of forbearance, which lets you pause payments for a period of time, or a reduced bill. Here’s what College Ave offers in the event you need more flexibility:
- Forbearance: College Ave does not have a specific forbearance policy; it works with borrowers on a case-by-case basis. Borrowers who think they’ll need hardship forbearance should consider lenders that guarantee relatively long payment-postponement periods.
- Interest-only payments: Borrowers can choose to make interest-only payments for the first two years of the repayment term, then full principal and interest when year three begins. This allows borrowers some breathing room if they think they’ll earn more money in the future. But it will cost more in the long term than making full payments right away, negating some of the savings refinancing typically provides.
» MORE: Student loan refinancing FAQs
College Ave private student loans review
Undergraduates, graduate students and parents can take out student loans through College Ave.
A private student loan may be a good choice if you need to fill a gap in funding for college after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA. College Ave offers a fast application process and unusual 8- and 12-year repayment terms, in addition to the more common 10- and 15-year terms. To qualify, College Ave says borrowers must have:
- A minimum credit score in the low 700s
- Annual income of $35,000 a year
- A debt-to-income ratio of no more than 80% if your credit score is 750 or higher; no more than 50% if your credit score is 750 or lower. (Many lenders do not offer this level of transparency in sharing debt-to-income ratio requirements.)
If that doesn’t sound like you, consider adding a co-signer to the loan. More than 90% of College Ave’s approved private loan borrowers do. To qualify, co-signers must have a minimum credit score in the mid-600s and, typically, income of at least $35,000 a year.
College Ave lets you release the co-signer from the loan after you make 24 on-time payments; can show that your income from the past two years was twice your loan balance; and have no late payments on other types of debt on your credit report in the prior two years.
» COMPARE: Private student loans
|Type of loan||Private student loan|
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
|Loan terms||5, 8, 10 and 15 years|
|Loan amounts||$1,000 minimum; maximum is cost of attendance|
Before you take out private student loans, complete 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. Federal loans offer more borrower protections and don’t require a co-signer.
» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide
Can you qualify?
You’re most likely to qualify for a College Ave student loan if you:
- Have access to a creditworthy co-signer. The average approved co-signer has an income of about $110,000 a year and a debt-to-income ratio of about 25%.
- Attend an eligible school. You must attend a degree-granting school that participates in the government’s Title IV financial aid programs.
- Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Your co-signer, if you use one, must be a citizen or permanent resident, too.
» SIGN UP: Check your credit score for free
How to apply for a College Ave student loan
Compare multiple private loan options to get the best interest rate you qualify for. Check out each lender’s repayment terms and how much flexibility they offer if you have trouble paying your bill in the future.
Ready to borrow through College Ave? Apply on College Ave’s website. Here’s how:
- Check your interest rate. Borrowers and co-signers can first use College Ave’s pre-qualification tool to see whether they can get a loan, and what interest rate they’ll likely receive. This won’t affect your credit. Many lenders do not offer this “soft credit check” option for undergrads.
- Fill out the full application. College Ave says this takes about three minutes. You’ll need your:
- Social Security number
- Estimated yearly income
- Requested amount to borrow
- Add a co-signer. Students can apply first on their own; within the form, they’ll see the option to add a co-signer to the application.
- Agree to a hard credit check. To get a loan, lenders must conduct a hard credit inquiry, which affects your credit. But it’s a necessary step in the loan approval process.
- Wait for the funds to be disbursed. Once your loan is approved, the money will be available based on your school’s timeline.
College Ave private student loan details
- Origination fee: None
- Grace period: 6 months
- Loan servicer: College Ave is responsible for customer service inquiries, though it uses a servicing website run by University Accounting Service
- Prepayment penalty: None
- Late fee: The lesser of 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25
- Co-signer release available: Yes, after making 24 on-time payments; showing that your income from the past two years was twice your loan balance; and having no late payments on other types of debt for the prior two years
General repayment options
Making payments while you’re in school is the cheapest option over time. If that’s not possible, you can wait until after graduation to repay your loan. Here are College Ave’s available repayment plans:
- Full principal and interest payment: With this option, you’ll start making full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school
- Interest-only payment: You’ll pay interest monthly as it accrues while in school, then make full payments after your grace period ends
- Flat payment: Make $25 payments each month while in school, then make full payments after graduation
- Deferred repayment: You’ll start repaying your loans, plus interest that has accrued while you were in school, once the post-graduation grace period ends. Accrued interest will be added to your total loan balance — and you’ll pay interest on top of that throughout the rest of your loan term.
Repayment options for struggling borrowers
Unlike most other lenders, College Ave does not provide a maximum number of months borrowers can pause payments, which could happen due to circumstances such as a job loss or a medical emergency. Interest will accrue when you’re not paying, which could increase your loan balance overall.
- Deferment: College Ave offers academic deferment if borrowers go back to school, along with military deferment for those on active duty
- Forbearance: College Ave does not have a specific forbearance policy; it works with borrowers on a case-by-case basis. Borrowers who think they may need hardship forbearance should consider lenders that guarantee relatively long forbearance periods.
College Ave undergraduate student loans FAQs
- Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes. It will likely help you qualify or get a lower interest rate.
- Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 24 consecutive on-time payments.
- Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? No. Your co-signer also cannot qualify if he or she has filed for bankruptcy.
- Can I qualify if I’m not attending a Title IV-accredited school? No.
Contact College Ave
STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY
NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s private student loans ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.
— Among the very best for consumer-friendly features
— Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features
— Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features
— Good; may not offer something important to you
— Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features
— Poor; proceed with great caution