Advertiser Disclosure

LendKey Review: Refinancing and Borrowing Student Loans

March 9, 2018
Loans, Student Loans
LendKey Review

LendKey is a platform that connects borrowers with community banks and credit unions that provide private loans for undergraduate and graduate students and refinance loans for college graduates.

Not all of the 280 lenders on LendKey’s marketplace work with every borrower. Credit unions often have eligibility rules based on where you live or work. To use a community bank, you typically have to live in the geographical area that bank serves. LendKey will help you find the loans for which you’re eligible.

The requirements below are reflective of loans available to all borrowers. But once you choose a loan, make sure you understand that lender’s specific terms. We’ll focus here on LendKey’s options for refinancing and borrowing undergraduate student loans.

IN THIS POST

LendKey student loan refinancing review

LendKey private student loans review

LendKey student loan refinancing review

When you refinance student debt, a private lender replaces multiple student loans with a single loan at a lower rate. Consider refinancing with LendKey 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 take part in those programs if you refinance federal loans.
  • Have a college degree, good credit, a stable income and a history of making on-time debt payments
  • Like the idea of working with a community bank or credit union that you may have a personal connection to

Opt for the shortest repayment term you can handle when refinancing. If you choose a longer term than before, you likely won’t enjoy the savings from a lower interest rate.

» MORE:  Compare student loan refinance lenders

LendKey
Type of loanStudent loan refinancing
NerdWallet rating4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Interest ratesFixed: 3.15% - 8.12%
Variable: 2.58% - 7.96%

Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years
Loan amounts$7,500 minimum. Maximum: $125,000 for undergraduate degrees; $250,000 for graduate degrees; $300,000 for medical, dental or veterinary degrees.
Rates updated April 30, 2018.
APRs include 0.25% rate reduction that borrowers get for signing up for automatic payments.
Check Rates at LendKey

Can you qualify?

While you can use a co-signer to refinance student loans with LendKey, the company says only 17% of customers do; the vast majority qualify on their own. You’ll be in the best position to refinance if you:

  • Have a credit score of at least 660. Approved LendKey borrowers have credit scores of 757 on average.
  • Earn at least $24,000 a year. Approved borrowers earn $63,000 a year on average.
  • Earn at least three times your debt load. The minimum debt-to-income ratio LendKey will accept is 33%, not including housing costs. That means your monthly debt payments should equal no more than 33% of your monthly income. The typical LendKey borrower has a debt-to-income ratio of 19%.
  • Graduated from an eligible school. Borrowers must have graduated from a school that participates in the federal government’s Title IV federal student aid programs.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Do not live in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia. LendKey does not refinance loans for borrowers in these states.

How to refinance student loans with LendKey

Compare multiple refinancing 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 what options you have for pausing payments in case of job loss or a medical emergency.

If you’re ready to refinance with LendKey, apply on its website. Here’s how:

  1. Check your interest rate. After entering some basic personal details, LendKey will do a soft credit check and let you know what interest rate you qualify for. This takes about three minutes and won’t affect your credit.
  2. Complete a full application. When you’re ready to officially apply, LendKey requests your ID, proof of income, proof of college graduation and documentation from your loan servicer showing how much loan debt you plan to refinance.
  3. 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.
  4. Choose a loan term. LendKey will show you loans only from credit unions and community banks whose eligibility rules you meet, or that are free to join. Borrowers see four to five loan options on average.
  5. Wait for the loan to be disbursed. The typical time from approval to funding is 27 days, according to LendKey.
Check Rates At LendKey

LendKey student loan refinancing details

  • Loan servicer: LendKey services all loans
  • Application or origination fee: No
  • Prepayment penalty: No
  • Late fees: $5 to $15, depending on the lender
  • Co-signer release option: Yes, after 12 on-time payments

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

LendKey functions as the student loan servicer for all the loans its members fund. That means borrowers have access to strong, modern customer service along with the borrower-friendly loan terms credit unions and community banks are known for.

  • Forbearance: LendKey offers a tiered system for granting hardship forbearance if you have trouble making payments. For 5, 7- and 10-year loans, borrowers receive 12 months of forbearance total in up to 4-month chunks. For 15- and 20-year loans, it increases to 18 months total in up to 6-month chunks.
  • Interest-only payments: Borrowers with 15- or 20-year loan terms can make lower, interest-only payments for the first four years. That gives you the flexibility to pay less if you want to focus on other financial priorities without letting interest build in the meantime.

But refinance borrowers should choose the shortest term they can manage to get the biggest savings. That means a 15- or 20-year term may not be the best choice for you.

FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 12 on-time payments, and as long as the primary borrower qualifies based on his or her own financial profile.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? Yes; after five years.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t go to a Title IV-accredited school? No.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t graduate? No.

» MORE: Read more student loan refinancing FAQs

LendKey private student loans review

LendKey is a platform that connects borrowers with community banks and credit unions that provide private loans for undergraduate and graduate students. We’ll focus here on LendKey’s options for undergraduate student loans.

As is true for other lenders, more than 90% of college loans funded by LendKey are co-signed. That means if you can’t qualify on your own as an undergrad, you’ll need to add someone with a credit score of at least 660 to the loan. You can take your co-signer off the loan after you’ve made 24 on-time monthly payments. A LendKey student loan might be a smart move if you:

  • Need to fill a gap in the financial aid you received for college after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA.
  • Have good or excellent credit, or access to a co-signer who does.
  • Like the idea of working with a community bank or credit union that you may have a personal connection to.

» COMPARE:  Private student loans

LendKey
Type of loanPrivate student loan
NerdWallet rating4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 out of 5.0 stars
Loan terms10 years
Loan amounts$2,000 minimum. Maximum: $160,000 for undergraduates.
Check Rates at LendKey

 

Before getting a private student loan, complete the FAFSA so you’re eligible for federal loans, grants and work-study. Borrow up to the maximum amount of federal loans available first; they have more repayment options than private loans and don’t require a co-signer.

» MORE:  NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Can you qualify?

You’re in the best position to qualify for a LendKey loan if you:

  • Have access to a creditworthy co-signer. Since most borrowers can’t qualify without one, consider adding a co-signer to your application. He or she must have a credit score of 660 or higher, income of $24,000 or more a year and a maximum debt-to-income ratio of 33%. Approved co-signers typically have a credit score of 774, income of $87,000 and a debt-to-income ratio of 14%.
  • Attend an eligible school. Borrowers must attend a school that participates in the federal government’s Title IV federal student aid programs.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Do not live in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island or West Virginia. LendKey does not lend to borrowers in these states.

» SIGN UP:  Check your credit score for free

How to apply for a LendKey undergraduate student loan

To make sure you’re getting the best interest rate available, compare multiple private loan options. Understand not only how much you’ll pay per month and in total, but what options you have for pausing payments in case of job loss or a medical emergency.

Ready to borrow through LendKey? Apply on LendKey’s website. Here’s how:

  1. Complete an application. Like many lenders, LendKey doesn’t offer a soft credit check that shows you what interest rates you qualify for. Fill out a full application that includes your education, citizenship and income information.
  2. Add a co-signer. Co-signers will click the “Co-sign a Loan” button on the application and enter their own personal and financial information.
  3. Consent to a hard credit check. While this will affect your credit score, it’s a necessary step in order for lenders to approve you for a loan.
  4. Choose an offer. LendKey will show you loans only from credit unions and community banks whose eligibility rules you meet, or that are free to join. Borrowers see four to five loan options on average.
Check Rates At LendKey

LendKey undergraduate student loan details

  • Origination fee: None
  • Grace period: 6 months
  • Loan servicer: LendKey services all loans
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fees: $5 to $15, depending on the lender
  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 24 consecutive on-time payments

General repayment options

LendKey offers just one 10-year loan term, and borrowers must pay a flat fee of $25 a month while in school. You’ll pay the full amount — principal plus interest — after your 6-month post-graduation grace period has ended.

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

Undergraduate borrowers can get up to 18 months of forbearance over the course of their loan terms, in periods of up to six months at a time.

FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes. The primary borrower must first make 24 consecutive on-time payments.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? Yes; after five years.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t go to a Title IV-accredited school? No.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t graduate? No.

Contact LendKey

Email customer.care@lendkey.com or call 888-549-9050.

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.

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

About the author