Updated January 5, 2015
You made it through college, through all of those tough classes and all-nighters, and you finally have a degree you’re proud of. Six months later, though, your student loans have started to come due, and you realize that your interest rate and monthly payment is completely out of control.
Interest rates on student loans can be astronomical in some cases, and if you find yourself with large interest rates on your student loans, then refinancing them through a credit union such as Everence could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
Everence is a credit union only open to members who have a relationship with a church or church organization that is Mennonite or an eligible Anabaptist-related church. You could also be eligible for membership through an employer, volunteer work in missions or study in a Mennonite or Anabaptist institution. You could be eligible if your spouse or guardian is a member. And lastly, “Share values with the stewardship principle that all I am and all I have are from God (Psalm 24). In response to God’s generosity, I practice stewardship of all my resources.”
It offers student loan refinance options from $7,500 to $175,000 with competitive interest rates. Student loan refinance through Everence includes the following features:
- Competitive Rate: Rate is as low as 3.98%.
- No Origination Fee: Everence does not charge origination fees for regular student loans or student loan refinances
- Finance Up To $175,000: Everence will allow you to finance up to $125,000 in undergraduate loans and up to $175,000 in graduate loans.
- Interest-Only Option: Qualified borrowers have the option to pay interest only for up to 4 years, followed by a level repayment for the remaining term.
- Cosigner Release; A cosigner is initially required to refinance your student loans through Everence, unless you have “sufficient qualifications”, but after 24 consecutive on-time principal and interest payments, cosigner release is available. The borrower must meet non-cosigned credit and income requirements. The borrower must also request the cosigner be removed and the co-signer must complete and submit a cosigner release application.
- 0.25% APR Reduction: Enrolling in automatic payments with Everence entitles you to a 0.25% APR reduction.
- Loan Terms of Up To 15 Years
The Application Process
Everence’s loan application process is fairly straightforward and based upon credit history, employment, and income. Income requirement are very specific, although not very strict:
- Borrower: Must have a reliable monthly gross income of at least $2,000
- Cosigner: Must also have a reliable monthly gross income of at least $2,000
- Rate as low as 3.98%
- No origination fee
- Maximum loan amount of $175,000
- Cosigner release after 24 months
- 0.25% APR reduction for automatic payments
- Must be an Everence member
- Variable APR
- Failed or cancelled automatic payment will result in a rate increase of 0.25%
- Maximum loan amount varies by lender (through LendKey)
The Fine Print
You must be a member of Everence Credit Union in order to refinance your student loans (see eligibility above). You can open and maintain an account with Everence for as little as $5, which will qualify you to apply for student loan refinance.
I spoke with a representative from LendKey who stated that the maximum loan amount varies depending upon the lender. Program lenders (through LendKey*) can lend up to $125,000 for undergraduate loans and up to $250,000 for graduate loans. Custom Lenders through LendKey could have maximum loan amounts that are larger or smaller, depending upon the lender.
It is also important to note that cosigner release is not guaranteed. In order for your cosigner to be released, you must make 24 on-time principal and interest payments. Once you have completed that requirement, Everence will evaluate your account to determine if it is willing to release your cosigner.
The APR on an Everence student loan is variable. Everence Credit Union’s student loan program operates through LendKey, which offers loan refinance options from more than 300 banks and credit unions. Very few lenders that operate through LendKey offer fixed rates.
Everence offers a 0.25% APR reduction for enrollment in automatic payments. However, if you cancel automatic payments at any time, or an automatic payment is denied, your rate will be raised by 0.25%.
How It Stacks Up
If saving money is your primary concern in refinancing your student loans, then Social Finance, also known as SoFi, is a good alternative. It offers variable rates as low as 2.31% and fixed rates as low as 3.46%. Similar to Everence, it offers loan terms of up to 20 years, but the maximum loan amount is $100,000.
CommonBond is another lender that offers variable rates as low as 1.81% and fixed rates as low as 3.21%. It offers loan terms up to 20 years, and has no maximum loan amount.
If you are looking to save money on your student loans by refinancing, there are more competitive offers that you should pursue first. You can find the best places to refinance your student loans here. If, however, you are looking for an institution to refinance your student loans with that operates on a foundation of similar faith and values, then Everence Credit Union’s student loan refinance program may be a good fit for you.
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