Editorial Review

College Ave Reviews: Private Student Loans and Student Loan Refinancing

College Ave offers private student loans with multiple repayment options and lets borrowers refinance at any repayment term between five and 20 years.

Ryan LaneMay 8, 2020

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Student loan ratings

College Ave
  • Private student loan

  • Student loan refinancing

  • Parent loan

  • Graduate student loan

The bottom line: College Ave is an online lender founded in 2014 that offers both private student loans and student loan refinancing. Its private loan is best for students who want to make payments while they're still in school. Its refinance loan is best for borrowers who want a nonstandard loan term — six or nine years, for instance.

Private student loan review

Best Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.99%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.98%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.

Cons

  • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.

Best for students who want to make payments while they're still in school.

Full Review

College Ave’s undergraduate private student loans are best for those who want to make payments while in school; borrowers can opt for immediate, interest-only and fixed $25 payment plans, instead of deferring repayment. You can also defer payments until after graduation.

More than 95% of College Ave undergraduate loans have a co-signer. You must be at least halfway through your repayment term to release the co-signer from the loan, as well as meet additional criteria. For a standard 10-year repayment term, that would mean making at least 5 years of payments, which is longer than other lenders require to release a co-signer.

You could refinance the loan earlier in your repayment term instead. But that would change the terms of the existing loan and require meeting the refinance lender's qualifications.

College Ave private student loans at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Grace period extension is available.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Letting borrowers qualify for co-signer release faster.

  • Allowing borrowers who have previously filed for bankruptcy to qualify.

College Ave private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: 5, 8, 10 or 15 years.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less, if payment isn't made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare College Ave's range of interest rates with other private 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 College Ave will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600s.

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Mid-700s.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: About $120,000 per year.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Depends on credit characteristics; up to 90% in some instances.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: No.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available in all 50 states.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: No.

  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at an eligible school.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 95%.

In-school repayment options:

  • Immediate: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.

  • Deferred: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.

  • Fixed: Pay $25 every month while enrolled in school.

  • Interest-only: Pay interest every month you’re in school.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months for undergraduates; 9 months for graduate students.

  • In-school deferment: Yes, borrowers can request to defer payments when returning to school.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Grace period extension: Yes, up to an additional 6 months.

  • Forbearance: Up to 12 months available, in 3- or 6-month increments.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers can postpone payments if they're involved in a natural disaster, as determined by FEMA.

  • Co-signer release: Yes, if the borrower has finished more than half of the scheduled repayment period and meets additional eligibility criteria.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, if the primary borrower dies or suffers a permanent disability.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: College Ave.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes; call center staffed by third-party company.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from application to approval: Credit decision in three minutes.

  • College Ave offers various promotions throughout the year for college students. These have included sweepstakes to win college textbooks for a year and a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

How to apply for a College Ave student loan

Before taking out a College Ave student loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. 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.

How does this loan compare?

College Ave Private Student Loan
Earnest Private Student Loan
Education Loan Finance Private Student Loan
Check RateCheck RateCheck Rate
Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.99%

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.78%

Fixed APR

4.99 - 11.19%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.98%

Variable APR

1.78 - 11.44%

Variable APR

3.95 - 10.03%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Min. Credit Score

650

Min. Credit Score

680

Student loan refinancing review

College Ave Student Loan Refinance
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.89 - 9.24%

Variable APR

3.89 - 9.24%

Min. Credit Score

Upper 600s

Pros

  • You can choose any loan term between five and 20 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.
  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.
  • Loans aren’t available in Maine.

Best for borrowers who want a nonstandard loan term — six or nine years, for instance.

Full Review

College Ave lets borrowers choose any repayment term between five and 20 years, making it best for those who want a nonstandard term — six or nine years, for instance. It’s not ideal for borrowers who want to take over their parent's PLUS loans, as student loans must be in your name to qualify with College Ave.

College Ave at a glance

  • Choose any loan term between five and 20 years.

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • No co-signer release option.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave could improve its student loan refinance product by:

  • Offering academic deferment to those who return to school.

  • Refinancing loans for borrowers without a degree, visa holders and those who want to refinance their parents’ PLUS loans.

College Ave student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: Choose a term between 5 and 20 years.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $150,000, or up to $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary degrees.

  • Can transfer a parent loan to a child: No.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the unpaid amount or $25, whichever is less, if payment isn’t made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare College Ave’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 College Ave will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Upper 600s.

  • Minimum income: $38,000 per year.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Mid-700s.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $100k+ per year.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50%, meaning total monthly debt payments must not exceed 50% of income.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: No.

Other

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

  • Location: No loans available to customers in Maine.

  • Must have graduated: Yes, with an associate degree or higher.

  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: About 20%.

  • In-school deferment: No.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Forbearance: Up to 12 months available, in 3- or 6-month increments.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers can postpone payments if they’re involved in a natural disaster, as determined by FEMA.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, if the primary borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled.

Repayment Preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: College Ave.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes; call center staffed by third-party company.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from approval to payoff: Two to three weeks.

How to refinance with College Ave

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 borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

Parent loan review

Best Student Loan for Parents

College Ave Parent Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Parent Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.97%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.96%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Up to $2,500 can be disbursed to you directly for school-related expenses.
  • You can choose your monthly payment while the student is in school, provided it covers at least the interest.

Cons

  • No co-signer option.
  • Estate is still responsible for the loan if the parent borrower dies.

Best for parents who want to control some of their student's spending.

Full Review

College Ave parent loans are best if your child needs extra money for college. Parents can take out loans up to the school's cost of attendance, plus an additional $2,500. That extra money is sent to the parent — not the school — to help with school-related expenses, like books or dorm supplies.

You cannot defer a College Ave parent loan while your child is in school, but flexible payment options are available. You can pay just the monthly interest, monthly interest plus a fixed amount (in increments of $20) or full payments. You can also choose any payment term between 5 and 15 years.

College Ave parent student loans at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • Payments are due immediately.

  • You can receive $2,500 directly, provided you borrow at least $1,000 that is disbursed to the school.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Allowing co-signers on parent loans.

  • Allowing borrowers who have previously filed for bankruptcy to qualify.

College Ave parent student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years, or any year in between.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance, plus an additional $2,500 that can be sent directly to the parent.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less, if payment isn't made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare College Ave's range of interest rates with other private 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 College Ave will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600s.

  • Minimum income: $70,000 per year.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Mid-700s.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Greater than $150,000 per year.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Depends on credit characteristics; up to 90% in some instances.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: No.

Other

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

  • Location: Available in all 50 states.

  • Student must be enrolled half-time or more: No.

  • Types of schools served: Students must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at an eligible school.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: College Ave parent loans do not have cosigners.

In-school repayment options:

  • Immediate: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed.

  • Interest-only: Pay interest every month your child is in school.

  • Flat: Pay interest plus a fixed amount of your choosing (in increments of $20) while your child is enrolled in school.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: There is no grace period.

  • In-school deferment: No.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Forbearance: Up to 12 months of forbearance is available, in 3- or 6-month increments.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers can postpone payments if they're involved in a natural disaster, as determined by FEMA.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, if the child benefitting from the loan dies or suffers a permanent disability. The estate is held responsible if the parent borrower dies.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: College Ave.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes; call center staffed by third-party company.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from application to approval: Credit decision in three minutes.

  • College Ave offers various promotions throughout the year for college students. These have included sweepstakes to win college textbooks for a year and a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

How to apply for a College Ave parent loan

Before taking out a College Ave parent loan or any other parent student loan, your child should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, and max out their federal loan options. And make sure the loan payments won't stop you from reaching other financial goals, like saving for retirement.

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.

Graduate student loan review

College Ave Graduate Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Graduate Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.99%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.98%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • Nine-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.

Cons

  • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.

Best for graduate students who'll need extra time before starting repayment.

Full Review

College Ave offers a student loan for graduate students, as well as specific lending products for medical school, dental school, law school and business school.

The underlying terms of all College Ave graduate student loans are similar. But the individual loans have different interest rate ranges, and the following features also vary:

  • How long you have to repay. All graduate students can choose a repayment term of 5, 8, 10, or 15 years. But if you're in medical, dental or law school, you also have access to a 20-year repayment term.

  • When payments start. College Ave graduate, business and law school loans receive a 9-month grace period before payments are due. Dental school loans have a 12-month grace period, and medical school loans get 36 months before payments start.

All graduate students can also receive a 6-month grace period extension after leaving school, while longer deferments are available for law students during clerkships (12 months) and dental and medical students during residency (12 months and 48 months, respectively).

These grace periods are longer than many lenders offer — especially the 9 months for non-health professional students. That makes College Ave a good option if you're a graduate student who'll need extra time before starting repayment.

College Ave graduate student loans at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • Interest rates vary by graduate school product.

  • International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Letting borrowers qualify for co-signer release faster.

  • Allowing borrowers who have previously filed for bankruptcy to qualify.

College Ave graduate student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.

  • Loan terms: 5, 8, 10 or 15 years. Law, dental and medical students can also choose a 20-year term.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance.

  • Application or origination fee: No.

  • Prepayment penalty: No.

  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less, if payment isn't made within 15 days of the due date.

Compare College Ave's range of interest rates with other graduate 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 College Ave will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: Mid-600s.

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Mid-700s.

  • Typical income of approved borrowers: About $125,000 to more than $150,000, depending on the graduate loan type.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: No more than 80% with FICO credit score above 750; 50% if your credit score is below 750.

  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: No.

Other

  • Citizenship: International students are eligible if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Location: Available in all 50 states.

  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: No.

  • Types of schools served: Borrowers must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at an eligible school.

  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Varies by loan type.

In-school repayment options:

  • Immediate: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.

  • Deferred: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.

  • Fixed: Pay $25 every month while enrolled in school.

  • Interest-only: Pay interest every month you’re in school.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 9 months for graduate, law and MBA students; 12 months for dental students; 36 months for medical students.

  • In-school deferment: Yes, borrowers can request to defer payments when returning to school.

  • Military deferment: Yes.

  • Clerkship deferment: Yes, law students can request to defer payments up to 12 months during a clerkship.

  • Residency deferment: Yes. During residency, dental students can request to defer payments an additional 12 months and medical students can defer payments up to 48 months.

  • Grace period extension: Yes, up to an additional 6 months.

  • Forbearance: Up to 12 months of forbearance is available, in 3- or 6-month increments.

  • Natural disaster forbearance: Borrowers can postpone payments if they're involved in a natural disaster, as determined by FEMA.

  • Co-signer release: Yes, if the borrower has finished more than half of the scheduled repayment period and meets additional eligibility criteria.

  • Death or disability discharge: Yes, if the primary borrower dies or suffers a permanent disability.

Repayment preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

  • Loan servicer: College Ave.

  • In-house customer service team: Yes; call center staffed by third-party company.

  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.

  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: No.

  • Average time from application to approval: Credit decision in three minutes.

  • College Ave offers various promotions throughout the year for college students. These have included sweepstakes to win college textbooks for a year and a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

How to apply for a College Ave graduate loan

Before taking out a College Ave graduate student loan or any other private student loan, you'll generally want to exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

Compare your graduate 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.

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.