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.
Cecilia Clark
By
Last updated on April 16, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Karen Gaudette Brewer
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Student loan ratings

College Ave Private Student Loan
College Ave Private Student Loan
College Ave Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating
The Nerdy headline:

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.

College Ave Private Student Loan review

2024 BEST Private Student Loan Overall
College Ave Private Student Loan
College Ave Private Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-16.39%
Variable APR
5.59-16.85%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

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. You can also defer payments until after graduation.

Borrowers who elect to make payments while in school and select shorter repayment terms can qualify for lower interest rates than they otherwise would.

Ninety-two percent 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 may be 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.

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave 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, 12 or 15 years.

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

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: If a borrower hasn't made the minimum payment, a late fee may be applied 15 days after the payment due date. The late fee would be 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less.

    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 for borrowers without a co-signer. No minimum credit score if applying with a co-signer. Mid-600s for co-signers.

    • Minimum income: $35,000 per year for borrowers without a co-signer. No minimum income requirement for co-signers or borrowers applying with a co-signer.

    • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 761.

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: $40,000 per year for borrowers without a co-signer, and $5,900 annually for borrowers with a co-signer.

    • Typical income of approved co-signers: $120,000 per year.

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: College Ave’s maximum DTI ratio for borrowers is 50%. Median debt-to-income ratio for borrowers without a co-signer is 21% — meaning debt takes up, on average, 21% of the borrower's monthly payments. Borrowers with a co-signer have a median of 7%, while co-signers have a median of 22%.

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

    Other

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

    • DACA borrowers: International and DACA 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, and Washington, D.C.

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

    • Loan can be used for past due tuition: Yes.

    • Types of schools served: Borrowers must attend an eligible, degree-granting school, but can be enrolled in a non-degree program (like a certificate program).

    • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: 92%.

  • In-school repayment options:

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

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

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

    • Full in-school deferment: Yes.

    Post-school repayment options

    • Grace period: Six months including the option to extend the grace period by six additional months.

    • Income-based repayment option: No.

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

    • Military deferment: Yes.

    • Forbearance: Borrowers can request forbearance for their student loans for up to 12 months in three-month increments.

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

    • Residency deferment: Yes, borrowers who have obtained a medical loan from College Ave can defer up to 48 months after the grace period during their fellowship.

    • Other deferment options: Yes, custom programs are available based on the borrower's situation and supporting documentation

    • 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.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

    Repayment preferences

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

    • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: Yes.

    • Loan servicer: University Account Service.

    • In-house customer service team: Yes.

    • 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 or less. The earliest that loan funds can typically be disbursed is seven days due to certification processes.

    • College Ave offers various promotions throughout the year for college students. These have included a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway, and funds for college-related expenses. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

Before applying 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.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Compare private student loans
Lender
Fixed APR
Min. credit score
Variable APR
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student LoanSallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan
4.5
COMPARE RATESon Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
4.50- 15.49%
Mid-600's
5.37- 15.70%
College Ave Private Student LoanCollege Ave Private Student Loan
4.29- 16.39%
Mid-600s
5.59- 16.85%
Ascent Credit-based Student LoanAscent Credit-based Student Loan
4.29- 15.96%
Low-Mid 600s
6.23- 16.09%
Custom Choice LoanCustom Choice Loan
4.43- 14.04%
600
5.38- 15.56%
Education Loan Finance Private Student LoanEducation Loan Finance Private Student Loan
4.50- 14.22%
680
6.00- 14.22%

College Ave Student Loan Refinance review

College Ave Student Loan Refinance

4.5
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
6.99-13.99%
Variable APR
6.99-13.99%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can choose any loan term between 5 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.

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

College Ave Parent Student Loan review

College Ave Parent Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-16.39%
Variable APR
5.59-16.85%
on College Ave's website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • 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.

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.

In instances of total and permanent disability, undergraduate and graduate loans are discharged if the borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled. Parent loans are discharged only if the child benefitting from the loans becomes totally and permanently disabled.

To protect themselves, parents looking at College Ave loans should consider co-signing an undergraduate loan instead of taking out a parent loan. The College Ave loan is a better option only if the parent doesn’t want the child’s name on the loan.

College Ave parent student loans at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.

  • Payments are due immediately.

How College Ave could improve

College Ave could improve by offering additional programs such as:

  • Discharging student loans if the parent borrower dies or becomes disabled.

  • 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.

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: If a borrower hasn't made the minimum payment, a late fee may be applied 15 days after the payment due date. The late fee would be 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less.

    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: 775.

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: Greater than $195,000 per year.

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50% debt-to-income ratio.

    • 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, including Washington, D.C.

    • 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 cannot 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: There are no pre-determined deferment options. College Ave will work with borrowers on a case-by-case basis.

    • Military deferment: Yes. They offer deferment for Armed Forces and National Guard members called to active duty for more than 30 days.

    • Forbearance: Up to 12 months of hardship forbearance, in three-month increments, is available over the life of the loan.

    • Natural disaster forbearance: Yes. They provide forbearance for customers affected by federal disasters, 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.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: N/A.

    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 or less.

    • College Ave offers various promotions throughout the year for college students. These have included a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway, and funds for college-related expenses. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

Before applying 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.

If you aren’t eligible for a College Ave parent loan

If College Ave denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other parent loan options or, if you haven’t already, try applying 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.

College Ave Graduate Student Loan review

College Ave Graduate Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.39-14.49%
Variable APR
5.59-14.49%
on Credible’s website

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, 12, 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 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, 12 or 15 years.

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

    • Application or origination fee: No.

    • Prepayment penalty: No.

    • Late fees: If a borrower hasn't made the minimum payment, a late fee may be applied 15 days after the payment due date. The late fee would be 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less.

    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 for borrowers without a co-signer. There’s no credit score minimum for borrowers with a co-signer, while the minimum for co-signers is in the Mid-600s.

    • Minimum income: $35,000 per year for borrowers with no co-signer. There is no minimum for borrowers with a co-signer or for co-signers.

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

    • Typical income of approved borrowers: Borrowers without a co-signer have a median income of $45,000. Borrowers with a co-signer have a median income of $6,000, while the co-signer’s median is $130,000.

    • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50% debt-to-income ratio.

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

    Other

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

    • DACA: International and DACA 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, including Washington, D.C.

    • 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: Roughly 60%.

  • 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 for an additional 12 months. Medical students, including veterinary, pharmacy, and nursing students, can defer payments for 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-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.

    • Loan discharge if co-signer dies or becomes disabled: No.

    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 a $1,000 monthly scholarship giveaway, and funds for college-related expenses. Visit the College Ave website for a list of current opportunities.

Before applying 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.

If you aren’t eligible for a College Ave graduate student loan

If College Ave denies your student loan application, the lender will let you know why. Depending on the reason, you may want to consider other graduate loan options or, if you haven’t already, try applying 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.

College Ave Dental Student Loan review

College Ave Dental Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-14.47%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Twelve-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 12 months during residency after your grace period.

Cons

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

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

College Ave Law Student Loan review

College Ave Law Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-14.47%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Nine-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 12 months during clerkship after your grace period.

Cons

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

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

College Ave MBA Student Loan review

College Ave MBA Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-14.49%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

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 MBA students who'll need extra time before starting repayment.

College Ave Medical Student Loan review

College Ave Medical Student Loan

5.0
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.29-14.47%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

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.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 48 months during fellowship after your grace period.

Cons

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

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

College Ave Pharmacy Loan review

College Ave Pharmacy Loan

4.5
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.07-14.47%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Nine-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 48 months, in 12-month increments for residency adn fellowship, after your grace period.

Cons

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

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

College Ave Veterinarian Loan review

College Ave Veterinarian Loan

4.5
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
Fixed APR
4.07-14.47%
Variable APR
5.59-14.47%
on Credible’s website

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Thirty-six month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 48 months during fellowship after your grace period.

Cons

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

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

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Frequently asked questions

  • College Ave is a legitimate online lender that has been in business since 2014. College Ave offers private undergraduate, graduate and parent student loans while also refinancing existing student loans.

  • No. College Ave lends private student loans. Before taking out any private student loan, exhaust federal options first by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

  • College Ave only requires a co-signer if you're an international student. But applying with a co-signer may improve your chances of being approved for a private student loan or qualify you for a lower interest rate.

  • College Ave does not offer co-signer release on refinanced student loans. Co-signer release is available on other College Ave loans if you’re halfway through your repayment term, have made your previous 24 payments on time and meet additional criteria.

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