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Updated on Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Updated January 5, 2016
The North Jersey Federal Credit Union (NJFCU) doesn’t actually service its student loans in-house. Rather, student loan refinancing gets outsourced to a company called LendKey*. While this may be off-putting to some, there are major benefits gained by outsourcing student loan refinancing. LendKey works with over 300 credit unions. NJFCU takes its low interest rates and applies them to the powerhouse student loan-refinancing program, which is LendKey. It’s the low rates of a credit union, combined with the resources of a large servicer.
You are eligible for membership if you live, work, worship, attend school or regularly conduct business in Passaic, Morris, Hudson, and Bergen Counties or the underserved areas of Essex or Union Counties or the City of Newark. This area is bigger than most credit unions cover. I found this resulted in a pretty fantastic customer service team to help get your questions answered.
Student loan refinancing should never be taken lightly. There are many pros and cons to be considered. Keep these pros and cons in mind should you choose the NJFCU:
- No loan origination fee
- You can refinance both federal AND private loans with the NJFCU
- Simplify your loans with one easy monthly payment
- Cosigner release available after 12 consecutive on-time payments. Having a cosigner upon applying means a better chance for acceptance and probably a lower interest rate upon being accepted . This is strongly encouraged by the NJFCU.
- Even lower payment possible with extended repayment plan
- Competitive interest rates
- Automatic payments may drop your interest rate by 0.25%.
- Variable and fixed rates available
- You must have graduated to be eligible.
- All refinanced loans are subject to a 2.99% floor rate.
- Credit will be pulled for both the borrower and the cosigner. This may ding your credit score about 5 points.
- Not every school which issues loans is accepted. However, page one of the application reveals whether or not your school has been accepted. No need to complete the entire application just to find out.
The Fine Print
- The minimum monthly payment is $50 – not out of the ordinary but something you should be aware of.
- Your grades come into play. LendKey uses the Academic Credit Score to assign creditworthiness. There are many different methods used for creating a credit score. This one takes into account the student’s academic characteristics such as GPA, course of study, and class standing.
- There are dollar amount parameters you must follow. The maximum you can borrow is $125,000 for undergraduate debt and $250,000 for graduate debt. Also, the minimum you can refinance is $7,500.
Who is an ideal fit for this program?
The NJFCU student loan refinancing program is for people who want to simplify their loans while also obtaining a single low interest rate. Before going through the process, visit the NJFCU website which offers suggestions as to whether or not you are a good candidate for refinancing.
The Ideal Candidate:
- Applicants must have reliable gross monthly income of $2,000 to apply alone. To apply with a cosigner, applicants must have reliable gross monthly income (not specified) and cosigners must have reliable gross monthly income of $2,000.
- The candidate must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident.
You can also use this handy calculator to see if you can save money with refinancing by going with this institution.
What does a person need to qualify?
- Be a member of the NJFCU.
- The loans must have originated from an eligible school.
- A person must provide proof of graduation.
- A person must provide two most recent paystubs.
- Depending on creditworthiness, a person may need a cosigner.
Variety is the spice of life. You should consider shopping for the best options to refinance your student loans using MagnifyMoney’s tools.
There are alternatives to the North Jersey Federal Credit Union and LendKey partnership:
Garden Savings Federal Credit Union
This is one of the few local competitors of the North Jersey Federal Credit Union. Not many other New Jersey credit unions offer student loan. Its program is also radically different than NJFCU’s. First off, a person can only refinance up to $30,000. The minimum loan amount is $1,000. GSFCU also lends to anyone in the entire country.
With no application fee, you may want to see how its offer stacks up against that of the NJFCU refinance program.
With variable rates as low as 1.99%% APR, CommonBond deserves your attention. For this service, interest rates are all over the board. Some rates appear high, some low. It depends on what type of refinancing program you go with. It’s worth plugging in your numbers to see what CommonBond can do for you. As with all the programs being mentioned, there is no application fee.
CommonBond definitely stands out because it allows very large loan amounts. However, it has rather strict underwriting. The organization also just does a ‘soft’ credit pull when considering your application. This does not affect your score. This may be helpful to know if you are trying to convince someone to cosign on your behalf. CommonBond assigns rates based on either you or your cosigners credit score (whoever’s is higher). However, once you’re ready to be assigned an interest rate, CommonBond will do a hard pull.
SoFi’s website claims the organization refinances loans for as little as variable 2.25%% APR with autopay. SoFi also offers something called Unemployment Protection. This means your payments will be paused, should you lose your job (but not if you quit). It’s worth noting that the minimum amount you can borrow is $5,000. It’s also interesting that with SoFi, the organization ‘occasionally accept’ cosigners. All the other student loan refinancing programs noted in this article have strongly encouraged cosigners.
One last convenient feature is a telephone number you can call to get a free consultation. It’s far less intimidating taking this route than jumping right into a loan application. For anyone looking to refinance, SoFi should be considered. After all, it’s hard to ignore a variable 2.25%% APR!
Do what’s best for your specific situation and comfort level. Don’t feel obligated to go with the local institution you’ve been loyal to in the past. Shop around. Often, the best rates either come from institutions which outsource the student loan refinancing or the online only organizations. ‘Going local’ is very hard to do with student loan refinancing.
If the application requirements are similar for each organization and the customer service is decent, go with whatever company can save you the most money. After all, that is probably the reason you’re refinancing.
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