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SunTrust Private Student Loan Review

SunTrust offers multiple repayment options with its Custom Choice private student loan.
June 10, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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4.0 NerdWallet rating

SunTrust offers private student loans for undergraduates and graduate students. Its Custom Choice loan offers borrowers deferment, interest-only and partial-interest repayment options while in school and — if they can’t afford their payments after graduating — a generous 36-month interest-only repayment option.

SunTrust at a glance:

  • Discounts can lower your interest rate by up to 1%.
  • Offers greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.
  • Borrowers can request up to 36 months of interest-only payments.
  • Allows for co-signer release after 36 months of full payments or equivalent lump sum.
SunTrust Private Student Loan Review
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan
Loan terms7, 10 or 15 years
Loan amounts$1,001 minimum. $65,000 annual maximum, for a total $150,000 maximum per borrower
Grace period6 months
Co-signer release availableAvailable after 36 on-time payments
Related productsGraduate student loans

How SunTrust scores

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see whether SunTrust ranks below average, average or above average compared with other private student lenders.

Enables faster repayment:
Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.

Discloses requirements, limits costs:
Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying.

Serves range of borrowers:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations, and with varying citizenship statuses.

Offers payment flexibility:
Below average
Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.

Supports customers:
Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch, and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

How SunTrust could improve

SunTrust could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Personalized rate estimates without affecting credit.
  • biweekly student loan payment option.
  • Offering loans to borrowers in all 50 states.

SunTrust student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: No.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes. If the scheduled payment is not received within 10 calendar days after the payment due date, a late fee in the amount of 5% of the overdue payment is charged.

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


  • Minimum credit score: 600+ without a co-signer; co-signer must have a score of 625+.
  • Minimum income: $1+.
  • 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: Does not use debt-to-income to underwrite loans.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes. To qualify, there can be no record of a bankruptcy in the past 10 years.


  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Not available in Iowa or Wisconsin.
  • Must attend a Title IV-accredited school: Yes.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 50%+ of applicants apply with a co-signer.

In-school repayment options:

  • In-school deferment: You won’t make payments while enrolled at least half-time in an approved school; payments start six months after leaving school.
  • Immediate repayment: Payment of principal and interest begins 30 to 60 days after the final disbursement. The minimum monthly payment is $50. There is no grace period.
  • Interest-only: Pay interest-only while enrolled at least half-time at an approved school. Combined interest and principal payments begin six months after you leave school.
  • Partial interest: A payment of $25 per month is available on loans of $5,000 or more while borrowers are enrolled at least half-time at an approved school. Payments covering full interest and principal begin after the six-month grace period ends.

Post-school repayment options

  • Forbearance: Borrowers experiencing a financial hardship may receive forbearance for up to 12 months, in three-month increments. Interest will accrue during this time.
  • Additional deferment: Borrowers having problems making payments may be eligible for up to 36 months of interest-only payments. This must be made at the borrower’s request.
  • Academic deferment: Yes, up to 48 months of additional deferment for re-enrollment.
  • Military deferment: Yes, up to 36 months if the student borrower and/or co-signer is unable to repay the loan while deployed on active-duty status in the armed forces of the United States.
  • Are loans discharged in the event of death/disability of borrower? Yes, in the event the student borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled, the loan can be forgiven with proper documentation and the cosigner won’t be responsible for repayment.

Repayment preferences

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

  • Loan servicer: American Education Services.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.
  • Average time for approval: A credit decision is made in under a minute after submitting an application. Loan approval will depend on the documentation provided.

  • SunTrust offers its borrowers three borrower benefit reductions:
    • • 2% principal reduction upon graduation.
      • Up to 0.50% interest rate reduction for enrolling in autopay.
      • A 0.50% interest rate reduction for a new Custom Choice Loan, now through August 31, 2019.
  • Borrowers may apply for a loan to cover expenses in the prior academic period, but they must apply within three months of the past-due academic period.
  • How to apply for a SunTrust student loan

    Before taking out a SunTrust student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

    » MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

    Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

    If you’re ready to borrow with SunTrust, visit its website.


    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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