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College Students and Recent Grads, Pay Down My Debt, Reviews

Education Success Loans Review

Written By

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Updated March 3, 2016

Disclaimer: Education Success Loans is not accepting new loan applications at this time. Check out other options here.

The Student Loan Finance Corporation offers Education Success Loans for borrowers looking to refinance their student loans.

If you’ve been struggling to make payments according to the current terms of your student loans, or can’t keep up with how many lenders you’re paying, then refinancing could be a good option for you.

Education Success Loans sets itself apart by offering a different type of loan – a hybrid that starts with a fixed interest rate, and ends with a variable interest rate. Let’s take a look at all the details to see if this is a good option for you.

The Pros and Cons

The pro is the repayment period – 25 years is on par with what income-based repayment plans offer. Extending your repayment term is an easy way of lowering your monthly payment.

However, be aware it also causes you to pay more over the life of the loan due to how much in interest you’ll be paying.

The other negative that goes along with that is all three loan options switch over to a variable rate at some point. This means your payments will likely increase. You need to make sure you can either 1) pay off your loans before the variable rate kicks in, or 2) are earning more money at that point in time to cover the increased payment.

According to its FAQ, “Limited deferment options may be available,” but, “There is no repayment forbearance option available with this loan.” If you have federal loans, be aware that refinancing with private lenders will eliminate the benefits that federal loans offer (forbearance, income-based repayment options, forgiveness, etc.).

Another positive to consolidating your student loans means owing less money to lenders. Consolidating and owing one lender will simplify your student loans.

What You Need to Qualify

Education Success Loans list the following requirements:

  • You must be the legal age of majority of the state you reside in
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You need a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an eligible Title IV school
  • Your debt-to-income ratio (including housing) should be between 40%-43%
  • You must earn $24,000 annually
  • You have to have been out of college for at least 30 months before applying.

Refinancing is not offered to those that reside in AZ, IA, IL, or WI.

If you need to have a co-borrower apply with you, they are accepted.

There’s a minimum credit score needed to apply, but it’s not available to the public. Education Success Loans will look at other factors such as your credit history and DTI. You shouldn’t have any minor issues with your credit (late payments) within the last two years.

Additionally, you may be able to consolidate loans that are currently in forbearance or deferment. However, Education Success Loans will go into repayment immediately, though, so if you can’t afford to pay right now, you should wait.

Application Process and Documents Needed to Apply

The application process is straightforward, and after applying, you can expect to hear back within 3-7 days.

While you can apply online, you can also apply via fax or by mail. The application is available for download here. Note: Education Success Loans is not accepting new loan applications at this time.

When you apply to refinance, Education Success Loans will conduct a hard inquiry on your credit.

It’s likely you’ll need to provide pay stubs or tax returns to verify your income, and if any additional documentation is needed, the customer care team will notify you.

Who Benefits the Most from Refinancing Student Loans with Education Success Loans?

Considering the standard repayment for student loans is 10 years, and the max you can have a fixed rate for is 10 years, those that can pay off their student loans within that time will benefit the most.

If you’re having difficulty making payments right now, and have federal loans, try looking into the income-based repayment options available. You can extend your repayment term and still keep benefits such as forbearance and deferment.

The Fine Print

There’s no prepayment penalty or origination fee with the Education Success Loans.

If your payment is 10 days past due, you’ll be charged a late fee of 5% of the unpaid amount or $25, whichever is less.

If your payment doesn’t go through and it’s returned, you’ll be charged a $30 returned check fee.

Should you default on your loan, up to 25% of the principal balance can be assessed for collection efforts depending on where you live.

Remember that rates are variable after 1, 5, or 10 years, depending on the loan option you choose. Education Success Loans states that variable rates can be adjusted quarterly on the first day of January, April, July, and October. The interest rate is capped at 15%..

For this reason, and no cosigner release option, Education Success Loans earned an F transparency score.

Alternatives for Student Loan Refinancing

Not thrilled with the half fixed rate, half variable rate option? It’s not a common model when looking at student loan refinancing. It’s understandable to want a stable fixed rate so you can budget your payments accordingly.

SoFi* offers both fixed and variable rates. Its fixed rate APR range is 3.49% – 6.67%, and its variable rate APR range is 3.21% – 6.67% if you’re enrolled in autopay, both favorable and currently the best for student loan refinancing. It also offers a repayment term of 20 years.

If you need to refinance a larger amount, SoFi doesn’t have a cap on how much you can borrow, and it conducts a soft credit inquiry when you apply.

SoFi also offers Unemployment Protection, so if you fall on hard times and can’t make a payment, you might be eligible for forbearance. SoFi also helps borrowers with job placement.

SoFi

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Another good option is CommonBond*. It offers a hybrid loan option, but also offers fixed and variable rate loans. Its fixed rate APR range is 3.22% – 6.45%, its variable rate APR starts at 3.22%.

CommonBond

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The repayment terms offered are the same as SoFi, though the hybrid option is only available on a 10 year repayment term. CommonBond also does a soft credit pull. The downside: only certain schools and programs are eligible under its refinancing program, though it is expanding.

Beware the Hybrid Loan Option

Take care when considering if a hybrid loan is going to improve your student loan situation. The low fixed interest rates look great, but keep in mind they can, and will, increase. We all hope to be more successful later on in life, but losing your job or changing careers and taking a pay cut can happen. Don’t put yourself in a situation you might regret a few years down the line.

There are other lenders who offer lower fixed rates if you have great credit, and it doesn’t hurt to apply, especially when those lenders are only conducting a soft credit pull. For lenders who conduct hard credit inquiries, be sure to shop around within a period of 30 days, as this won’t have as much of a negative impact on your credit score.

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Personal Loans, Reviews

Santander Personal Loans Review

Written By

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Santander Bank, N.A Bank was founded in 1857 and has thousands of branches worldwide. In the United States, its branches are primarily located in the Northeast.

If you’re looking for a personal loan with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank, Santander’s personal loan may be right for you.

Let’s take a look at the details of the loan, what you need to qualify, and how it compares against other lenders.

APR

6.99%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

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Santander’s personal loan might be a great option for you if you want to work with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. ... Read More


To get a Personal Loan (“Loan”) with the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown, you must reside in MA, MD, RI, CT, NH, NJ, PA, NY,DE, ME, VT, or DC, meet our highest credit standards, and use automatic payment (ePay) from any Santander Bank N.A. checking account. Fixed loan APRs (with ePay) range from 6.99% to 16.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. The minimum Loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $50,000. The APR on the Loan will increase by 0.25 percentage points and the payment will increase, if ePay is not elected or is discontinued. APRs and other terms are accurate as of 10/01/2018 and may change thereafter. A Santander checking account is not required to qualify for a Loan, but use of ePay from a Santander checking account will result in an interest rate discount. Personal Loans cannot be used to finance post-secondary educational expenses. Loan accounts are subject to approval.

Personal Loan Details

With Santander personal loans,  you can borrow $5,000 to $50,000. No collateral is required.

It offers several repayment terms: 24 to 60 months are available. The only repayment option for a personal loan is principal and interest – there’s no interest only option.

Santander has fixed annual percentage rates (APRs) ranging from 6.99% to 16.99%. APRs are with the 0.25% “ePay” discount it offers, which you can get by opting into automatic payments.

What does an example payment look like? If you borrow $10,000 on a 5 year term at an APR of 6.99%, your monthly payment will be $197.96.

Just to clarify, if you look at Santander’s website, you’ll notice it offers a regular personal loan (which is an installment loan), and a personal line of credit (a revolving line of credit that you can draw from when needed). We’re focusing solely on the personal loan, not the line of credit, which has different terms and fees.

The Pros and Cons

Do you feel better about getting a personal loan from an actual brick-and-mortar bank, as opposed to an online lender? If so, consider it a pro that Santander requires you to sign your loan documents in a branch.

Unfortunately, that means its loans aren’t widely available, as Santander’s branches are mostly located in the Northeast. Its personal loan isn’t available for anyone outside of its service area.

The upside is its rates aren’t horrible, especially for a bank (Wells Fargo Bank‘s APR starts at 5.24%, for example).

What You Need to Qualify

To apply for Santander personal loans, you must reside in one of the following states: MA, RI, CT, NH, NJ, PA, NY, DE, ME, VT, or DC can also apply.

To be eligible for your absolute best APR, you need excellent credit and you have to opt-in to automatic payments to receive the 0.25% ePay discount.

While it’s not explicitly stated on the website, you normally have to be 18 years or older to apply for a personal loan. Santander also allows for a co-applicant, so if you want to apply with your spouse, you can.

What about minimum credit requirements? When asked, a Santander representative said it varies, as its underwriters look at your credit worthiness instead. For example, if you have an excellent credit score, but a high debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, the high DTI will count against you. Your income, how many lines of credit you have open, and whether or not you make timely payments is all taken into account. However, you likely need a credit score of at least 680 to be eligible.

Application Process and Documents Needed to Apply

The entire funding process typically takes about one week, and Santander’s online application should only take about 10 minutes to complete. It’s recommended to have the following on hand when you apply:

  • Social Security Number
  • Address and prior address if you’ve moved within the last 2 years
  • Employment information
  • Income information
  • If you’re a customer with Santander, you should also have your bank account information

Be aware that completing the application will authorize Santander to conduct a hard credit inquiry, which will affect your credit.

Once you complete the application, you’ll be able to check on the preliminary status of your loan within 48 hours. During this time, your application will be reviewed by the underwriting team.

If underwriting needs more information, you’ll be contacted to supply any extra documents (such as paystubs or W-2s).

Should you choose to move forward with your approval, Santander will contact you to set up an appointment at a local branch, and you’ll sign the loan documents there.

Who Benefits the Most from a Personal Loan with Santander

You need to reside in a state where Santander offers a branch in order to be eligible. If you already have an account open with Santander, the process may go smoother, but it’s not required.

The Fine Print

There is no origination fee and no prepayment penalty with Santander’s personal loans, but there are other fees to watch out for:

  • Late Fee: This will be assessed after 15 days have passed without payment. The fee is 10% of the unpaid amount due, or $20, whichever is greater.
  • Returned Payment Fee: If your payment doesn’t go through, you’ll be charged a $35 fee.
  • Duplicate Statement Fee: $5
  • Check Copy Fee: $5

These are sadly greater than many of the fees from other lenders that have been reviewed, but they’re standard for a bank. One of the best things you can do to safeguard yourself from incurring a fee is to make sure you pay on time and have enough in your account to cover the payment.

Transparency Score

Santander earned a B transparency rating due to the hard pull to determine APRs and need for an in-person appointment.

As Santander is a bank and offers multiple financial products, its personal loan section is very thin. It also doesn’t have a dedicated FAQ section for how its personal loans work.

However, calling Santander only required going through a few menu options, and the representative was very knowledgeable.

APR

6.99%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Santander’s personal loan might be a great option for you if you want to work with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. ... Read More


To get a Personal Loan (“Loan”) with the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown, you must reside in MA, MD, RI, CT, NH, NJ, PA, NY,DE, ME, VT, or DC, meet our highest credit standards, and use automatic payment (ePay) from any Santander Bank N.A. checking account. Fixed loan APRs (with ePay) range from 6.99% to 16.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. The minimum Loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum is $50,000. The APR on the Loan will increase by 0.25 percentage points and the payment will increase, if ePay is not elected or is discontinued. APRs and other terms are accurate as of 10/01/2018 and may change thereafter. A Santander checking account is not required to qualify for a Loan, but use of ePay from a Santander checking account will result in an interest rate discount. Personal Loans cannot be used to finance post-secondary educational expenses. Loan accounts are subject to approval.

Alternative Personal Loan Solutions

For an easier (and quicker) process, you should look at online lenders, as they won’t require you to make an in-person appointment. Most, if not all, of these lenders accept electronic signatures.

First, let’s mention Discover Bank, as it offers a similar personal loan and is still a bank, even if it’s only available online.

You can borrow up to $35,000 with Discover Bank, and its fixed APR ranges from 6.99% to 24.99%. It offers repayment terms from 36 to 84 months, which gives you more time to pay your loan off.

Discover Bank also has a quicker funding process – it claims you can have a decision the same day you apply, and that you can receive funding the next business day.

Similar to Santander, Discover also conducts a soft pull on your credit, though it has a 30 day money back guarantee. If you find a loan with better terms, you can cancel your loan with Discover.

Discover Bank
APR

6.99%
To
24.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

36 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Discover is a financial services firm that offers credit cards, deposit accounts and personal loans. ... Read More


The APR ranges from 6.99% to 24.99% APR based on creditworthiness at time of application. Loans up to $35,000. Fast & Easy Process. Terms are 36 to 84 months. No prepayment penalty. This is not a firm offer of credit. Any results displayed are estimates and we do not guarantee the applicability or accuracy to your specific circumstance. For example, for a $15,000 loan with an APR of 10.99% and 60 month term, the estimated monthly payment would be $326. The estimated total cost of the loan in this example would be $19,560.

If you have great credit (700+) and want a lower interest rate, SoFi* might be worth a shot. Its fixed rate APR range is 5.99% – 19.96% (with autopay), and you can borrow $5,000 all the way up to $100,000.

SoFi charges no fees, including no late fees. It also conducts a soft pull initially, so you don’t need to worry about your credit being affected.

SoFi
APR

5.99%
To
19.96%*

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More


Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 19.96% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of May 14, 2020 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

If you want the security and peace of mind that can come with getting a loan from a larger bank, you might want to take a look at Marcus by Goldman Sachs®. Marcus offers APRs from 6.99% to 19.99%  with a number of different terms that range between 36 to 72 months. You could be approved for a Marcus by Goldman Sachs® from $3,500 to $40,000.

One of the best parts about getting a personal loan with Marcus is that there are absolutely no fees. There are no origination fees associated with getting a personal loan with Marcus, but there are also no late fees (late payment will simply accrue additional interest and add to your total payment).

In addition, Marcus by Goldman Sachs® offers those that make on time payments for a full year the ability to defer payments, which can help you to avoid late payments, hurting your credit score, or even defaulting on your loan if you encounter unforeseen financial hardship.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
APR

6.99%
To
19.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

36 to 72

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Marcus by Goldman Sachs® offers personal loans for up to $40,000 for debt consolidation and credit consolidation. ... Read More


Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans).Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions. For New York residents, rates range from 6.99% to 24.99% APR.

Beyond that, it offers forbearance for those who experience financial difficulty and job placement help for the unemployed.

Shop Around for Your Best Options

Santander’s personal loan is only good for those that live in the Northeast and who want to sign for their loan in person. If you think that’s a hassle, then you should choose an online lender instead.

Many online lenders will also only conduct a soft credit inquiry, so you can shop around for your best rate without worrying. If you decide to apply for a personal loan with Santander, Discover, or any other lender that conducts a hard inquiry, be sure to do it within a period of 30 days. This will lessen the damage done to your credit.

*We’ll receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations. You can learn more about how our site is financed here.

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Consumer Watchdog

Consumer Watchdog: Verifying a Collections Agency Really Has Your Debt

Written By

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You’re home after work and suddenly the phone rings with a number you don’t recognize. You pick up and an aggressive voice starts bombarding you about owing $360 for a doctor’s bill you never paid and begins shaming you about your life choices.

Debt collectors can get over-the-top aggressive incredibly quickly on a phone call. But before you let this intimidate you into paying a bill, you need to know your rights and be certain the debt is actually yours.

[Read the 7 things you need to know if you have debt in collections]

Collections agencies aren’t infallible and its information on you may be either incorrect or someone might have gotten ahold of your identity and run up a tab without your knowledge.

So, if you pick up the phone and hear a collections agent on the other end, you should start off the conversation by asking him to prove the debt is yours.

Most likely, you’ll need to send a written request to a collections agency asking it to verify the debt is indeed yours. Be sure to hold on to proof that you sent this letter (for example use certified mail and keep a copy).

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides templates of letters to send to a collector if one of the following situations has occurred:

  • You do not owe the debt
  • You need more information about the debt
  • You want the debt collector to stop calling
  • You want the debt collector to only make contact through a laqyer
  • You want to specify how you can be contacted

You can find those templates here.

Debt collectors are required by law to divulge certain information to you including:

  • The name of the creditor claiming you owe money
  • The amount you owe
  • How to dispute the debt or get verification its yours

Therefore, if you feel the debt isn’t yours or need more information it’s 100% within your rights to ask. The collector cannot withhold this from you. If the collector immediately starts threatening you or is insistent on not giving you the information, it may be a scam. Be sure not to divulge any personal, financial information and tell the collector he cannot call back until you get a written validation notice.

If all this fails and you continue to feel harassed or believe the debt a collection agency claims is your does not belong to you, then file a complaint with the CFPB.

If the debt is legitimate, try negotiating and reaching an agreement about how much you will pay.

[Read how to handle having debt in collections]

Be careful when you decide to make a payment to a collections agency to ensure you aren’t going to get ripped off. Don’t give the debt collector access to your bank account. This means no electronic payments, no written checks and no paying with a debit card. You can use a money order, a certified check or open a separate account specifically for paying off this debt.

[How to make a payment to a collections agency without getting ripped off]

If you’re dealing with a harassing debt collector and need help, reach out to us at [email protected].

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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