You got into college, and now comes the hard part — figuring out how to pay the tuition for it. If you’ve gone through your grant and scholarship options, but they don’t cover all of your education costs, you can explore student loan options.
An unlikely place to look for student loans is your local credit union. Read on to learn more about credit union student loans and what to consider.
How credit union student loans differ
If you need to borrow money for your college education, you can take out either federal or private student loans. It’s best to fill out the FAFSA and get federal student loans first. Federal loans are funded by the government and offer benefits like various income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs.
But sometimes, federal loans don’t cover the amount you need for school. The whole private student loan market was created because some students had a financial gap even after receiving federal loans.
Private student loans come from non-government lenders, like banks and credit unions. Aside from where the loan funds come from, private loans carry other important distinctions, too. Federal loans have many benefits like flexible repayment options and offer student loan forgiveness, like PSLF. Many private student loans have limited perks by comparison.
One reason that a private credit union student loan might be attractive is because credit unions prioritize their members’ interests first. When it comes to credit union loans, this is often seen through lower interest rates compared to other private, commercial banks.
As non-for-profit institutions, credit unions share their profits with members in the form of reduced rates and increased savings. To access credit union student loans, you must be a member of the credit union.
Membership is based on a common factor, like where you live, your profession, or other affiliation. As a membership co-operative, credit unions share their profits with members resulting in competitive interest rates.
Where to find credit union private student loans
If you’re in the market for student loans and need to take on private loans to cover all of your educational expenses, check out credit union student loan rates. A lower interest rate can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars over your loan term. Here’s where to shop around for credit union private student loans.
1. Your local credit union
It’s hard to mention specific credit unions that would work for you as many are based on your location such as city or your profession.
One way to find local credit unions in your area is to visit:
- ASmarterChoice.org — this site helps you find a credit union in your area and explains the difference between a bank and credit union.
- YourMoneyFurther.com — this website has a direct and simplified credit union finder. Put in your zip code and see what’s available in your area.
- MyCreditUnion.gov — this official U.S. government website helps you track down credit unions in your area. Click on your state on the map, then put in your address to see credit unions nearby.
Using these options, you can fill in your location using your zip code, for example, and see the credit unions near you. From there, review each credit union’s loan options to see if it offers student loans, and whether you meet its membership eligibility requirements.
When you find a credit union that offers student loans in your area, compare its student loan repayment terms and rates against other private lenders to find the most affordable option.
If you’re looking for credit union private student loans and want a more centralized experience, browse the credit union lenders on LendKey.
LendKey is a website that aggregates loan information from more than 13,000 community lenders and credit unions, and connects lenders with borrowers. According to LendKey, it’s helped over 120,000 student loan borrowers and funded 4.1 billion dollars in loans.
Using LendKey, you could score even better credit union student loan rates. There are no application fees and you can choose between variable rates or fixed rates. If you don’t have strong credit, you’ll likely need a cosigner to help you get approved for a loan.
Alternatives to credit union student loans
If you need money for school, looking into credit union private student loans makes sense. In some cases, local credit unions can give you the best interest rates and might have additional perks.
However, if you don’t meet the eligibility requirements for membership, here are some private lenders to consider:
- Sallie Mae. Sallie Mae offers multiple options for student loans, and has no origination fee or prepayment penalty.
- Earnest. Similar to Sallie Mae, you can get various types of private loans with Earnest. You can also check your eligibility in just two minutes.
- SoFi. This lender is known for student loan refinancing, but SoFi also offers private loans. You can find undergraduate loans, graduate loans, MBA loans, law loans, and parent loans, based on your needs.
- Ascent. Ascent is unique in that it offers cosigner credit-based loans and outcome-based loans without a cosigner. It also offers non-cosigned, credit-based loans that might offer a lower interest rate.
Although these aren’t credit union student loans they’re still within the category of private student loans. Since lenders and their loan details vary, you can compare which ones offer competitive rates or increased eligibility. And since national lenders, like Sallie Mae, don’t have a membership requirement, there are less hoops to jump through to find a student loan.
If you’ve already maxed out all of your federal aid, including federal loans, and you still have funding gaps, private student loans might be the next solution.
Check out credit union private student loans and private loans from national lenders to find the most competitive offer that you qualify for. Make sure to review details, like minimum or maximum loan amounts, rate discounts on automatic payments, deferment and grace periods. The key is finding the best interest rates and terms that make sense for your situation.
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2Earnest: All rates listed above represent APR range. Rate range above
includes optional 0.25% Auto Pay discount. Earnest disclosures.