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First Tech Federal Credit Union Student Loan Refinancing Review

First Tech has a team of student loan specialists and lets borrowers choose to make lower monthly payments starting out.
Sept. 13, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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3.5 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: An option for borrowers in the technology industry or those who want to make lower monthly payments starting out.

Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing
Interest rates (APR)Fixed: 3.75% - 7.15%.
Variable: N/A.
Loan terms5, 10, or 15 years
Loan amounts$5,000 minimum. N/A maximum
Co-signer release availableNo
Can transfer a parent loan to the childNo

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Three repayment options: Fixed, interest-only or balloon.
  • Greater-than-minimum payments allowed via autopay.

Cons

  • No option to temporarily pause payments through forbearance.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.

Full review

First Tech Federal Credit Union primarily serves the technology industry — people who work at places like Amazon, Intel and Microsoft.

But with repayment options that allow lower monthly payments starting out, its student loan refinancing product could be a fit for other professionals whose incomes are expected to grow over time.

You must be — or become — a member of First Tech to be eligible for its student loan refinance product. You qualify for membership if you work for one of the hundreds of technology and telecom companies First Tech partners with. There are also other relatively easy ways to qualify for membership, such as joining the Financial Fitness Association.

» MORE: First Tech Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings and Certificates

First Tech at a glance

  • Three repayment options: Fixed, interest-only or balloon.
  • Student loan specialists to walk you through the process.
  • No option to temporarily pause payments through forbearance.

HOW FIRST TECH COULD IMPROVE

First Tech could improve by:

  • Offering forbearance to let borrowers temporarily pause payments during financial hardship.
  • Giving personalized rate estimates without a hard credit check.
  • Allowing borrowers to refinance their parents’ PLUS loans.

How much can refinancing save?

First Tech student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.
  • Loan terms: 5, 10 or 15 years.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum. N/A maximum.
  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child : No.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; $25.

Compare First Tech Federal Credit Union’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate First Tech Federal will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Did not disclose.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Did not disclose.

Other

  • Citizenship: Applicants must be U.S. citizens or Permanent Resident Aliens.
  • Location: All 50 U.S. states.
  • Must have graduated: Did not disclose.
  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Did not disclose.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

Membership

You must become a member of First Tech Federal Credit Union. You’ll qualify for membership if you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Work for the state of Oregon.
  • Work for a technology or telecom sponsor company.
  • Live or work in Lane County, Oregon.
  • Are a member of the Financial Fitness Association or the Computer History Museum.
  • Are an immediate family member of a First Tech Federal Credit Union member.

First Tech Federal Credit Union offers three types of loans with different repayment options:

  • Fixed: Make equal monthly payments throughout the life of the loan. You’ll get a lower interest rate if you choose this option.
  • Balloon: Make smaller monthly payments throughout the life of the loan, but owe one large payment of 40% or 50% of the original loan amount at the end of your loan term. The 15-year repayment schedule is the only term length available with this option.
  • Interest-only: Pay just the interest for the first 10 years, then larger monthly payments for the remaining five years. The 15-year repayment schedule is the only term length available with this option.

Repayment preferences

  • Academic deferment: Not available.
  • Military deferment: Did not disclose.
  • Disability deferment: Payment protection is available.
  • Reduced payments for medical and dental residents: No.
  • Forbearance: Not available.
  • Co-signer release available: No.
  • Death or disability discharge available: No.

repayment preferences:

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: First Tech Federal Credit Union.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: No.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time from approval to payoff: 1-2 business days.

If you refinance student loans with First Tech Federal Credit Union, you’ll get the following perks:

  • 0.25% off auto loan rates at First Tech.
  • $100 when you open a First Tech Dividend Rewards Checking account.
  • 20,000 bonus reward points with a new First Tech Choice Rewards Credit Card.

How to refinance with First Tech

You can apply for a First Tech refinanced student loan on its website. Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer for borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

» MORE: How to refinance student loans in 6 steps

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 student loan 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.

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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