Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money Review: Private Student Loans

Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money offers private student loans to students at just over 20 schools nationwide.

Anna HelhoskiDecember 2, 2020
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Our Take

4.5

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money is best for students who don’t have a co-signer, have a strong GPA and attend one of the schools A.M. Money works with. It is only available to students attending a small list of schools.

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.08 - 8.06%

Min. Credit Score

None

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • GPA is used to determine eligibility instead of credit or a co-signer.

  • Offers a hard-to-find, temporary income-based repayment option for up to 36 months.

  • All borrowers get the same fixed rate, benchmarked to the federal PLUS loan rates.

Cons

  • Works with a limited list of schools.

  • Charges an origination fee.

  • You can’t pay more than the minimum via autopay.

Compare to Other Lenders

CommonBond Private Student Loan
Ascent Private Student Loan
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Fixed APR

6.98 - 10.74%

Fixed APR

3.39 - 14.50%

Variable APR

6.61 - 9.42%

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.17% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.

Variable APR

2.46 - 12.98%

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 12/01/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.

Min. Credit Score

660

Min. Credit Score

680

Full Review

Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money offers a unique selling point with its private student loan product: Approval is based on academic performance, rather than credit history. Students also don’t need a co-signer to qualify.

Everyone who is approved gets the same fixed interest rate, which is benchmarked each year to federal parent PLUS loans. For 2020-21 the rate is 5.30%. When borrowers graduate and begin paying back their loans, A.M. Money also offers an income-based repayment option for up to 36 months.

To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who attends one of 22 schools that A.M. Money works with, which are located in Illinois and around the country. You must also have at least a 2.8 GPA.

A.M. Money private student loans at a glance

  • GPA is used to determine eligibility.

  • Everyone gets the same interest rate.

  • Loans are available nationwide, but the school list is small.

How A.M. Money could improve

  • Expand its eligible schools list.

  • Expand its autopay options.

A.M. Money private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: N/A. All users get the same rate and approval depends on GPA.

  • Loan terms: 10 years.

  • Loan amounts: $2,001 up to the full cost of attendance, maximum $50,000

  • Application or origination fee: Origination fee of 4.5%.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: No.

When lenders charge an origination fee, it will increase your total APR. A.M. Money says its APR ranges from 7.53% to 8.85%, depending on the number of months you have left before graduation.

Compare A.M. Money’s fixed interest rates with other . To find out if you qualify, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Not considered. GPA and school transcript are the only qualifications.

  • Minimum income: Not considered. GPA and school transcript are the only qualifications.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: N/A.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: N/A.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Information unavailable. Not considered.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Not considered.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available to borrowers who attend one of the schools A.M. Money works with.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: No, however a borrower enrolled less than half time may trigger repayment to begin.

  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend an eligible Title IV or nonprofit school that A.M. Money works with.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: None. A co-signer isn't required.

In-school repayment options

Many lenders are offering relief related to COVID-19. Check this list of private loan relief options to see what this lender offers.

  • Immediate repayment: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school. There is no prepayment penalty to do this.

  • Deferred payments: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school and for six months after graduating.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months.

  • Academic deferment: No, they must use other deferment options.

  • Military deferment: No, they can use other deferment options.

  • Temporary income-based partial deferment: Yes, for up to 36 months. The payment is calculated based on current household size, poverty level and total adjusted gross income. You’ll pay 15% of the difference between your adjusted gross income and 150% of the official poverty guideline for your family size and state, then the amount is divided by 12 to get your monthly payment. The minimum payment amount is $50.

  • Temporary economic hardship deferment: Postpone loan payments for up to one year.

  • Co-signer release: No co-signer needed for this loan.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, the loan will be forgiven if the borrower dies.

  • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No co-signer needed for this loan.

Repayment preferences

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

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: AES/PHEAA.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: Yes.

  • Average time from application to approval: One to two days.

Before applying for an A.M. Money student loan

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

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 aren’t eligible for an A.M. Money student loan

If A.M. Money denies your student loan application, you may want to consider other lenders. If you don't have a credit history, you'll need to apply with a co-signer.

If you don’t have access to a co-signer — or still aren’t eligible with one — consider lenders that don’t require co-signers or specialize in bad or no credit student loans.

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.

Frequently asked questions