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Updated on Thursday, June 25, 2015
Updated January 5, 2015
Linn Area Credit Union is one of the many lenders who seek to simplify your finances by consolidating and refinancing your student loans into one convenient payment.
After diving into its terms, fees and rates, we found this refinance option isn’t one of the best available to grads. Read on for the inside scoop on what Linn Area Credit Union has to offer and why you may not want to add it to your list of refinances to consider.
Linn Area Credit Union will refinance both private and federal student loans (make sure you understand the benefits of your federal loans before refinancing them). The minimum amount you can borrow is $7,500. The maximum amount is $125,000 for undergraduate loans and $175,000 for graduate loans. The only loan term available is 20 years.
This refinance only offers variable interest from 5.30% to 9.61% APR (with a 21% cap). Choosing a loan with variable interest means your rate can change based on market conditions which can put you in a vulnerable spot. We don’t recommend taking out a variable interest loan unless it has very low interest and you can pay off the loan quickly.
Variable interest starting at 5.30% APR isn’t the lowest in the market, so you should consider other options before this one, even if a variable rate works for you. We’ll discuss other refinance options available when we compare Linn Area Credit Union to competitors later in this post.
Another thing to note, the rates above include a 0.25% discount for using autopay. If autopay is suspended at any time during the life of your loan the rate discount will no longer apply.
To refinance with Linn Area Credit Union you must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident who graduated from an eligible school. You must also be a member of the credit union. You’ll find out if your school is eligible during the beginning stages of the application process. In order to qualify for membership, you must live or work in one of the following Iowa counties:
Benton, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Iowa, Jackson, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, Poweshiek, Scott, Tama or Washington. Or be related to someone who’s already a member.
When it comes to creditworthiness, Linn Area Credit Union looks for applicants that have a good to excellent credit score (high 600’s or above), low debt-to-income ratio and an income of at least $2,000 per month.
If you don’t meet the minimum income requirement you can find a cosigner, but you’re still required to have a stable source of income and your cosigner has to make at least $2,000 per month. Cosigners can be released if you meet certain credit criteria after making 24 consecutive, on-time payments of principal and interest.
Fees & Gotchas
This refinance will cost you; an upfront fee of 2.5% is charged at disbursement of the loan and added to your principal. The credit union doesn’t charge a fee for loan prepayment.
Pros and Cons
There are few major red flags with the Linn Area Credit Union refinance.
You should be weary of variable interest refinances. Since interest rates are currently at an all-time low, if you refinance with Linn Area Credit Union your rate will likely increase at some point within your 20 year loan term.
The upfront fee of 2.5% is a fee you could avoid elsewhere. Depending on how much you need to refinance the fee can be pretty steep. And hardly any other student loan refinance includes a fee like this one.
What are the pros of refinancing at Linn Area Credit Union?
It does allow qualified borrowers to make interest-only payments for up to 4 years which may come in handy if you need to make partial payments. Forbearance is also available for 6 month periods if you run into money trouble.
Student Loan Refinance Alternatives
Other refinances offer variable and fixed interest options with far better rates and no upfront fees. For instance, Laurel Road Bank (formerly known as DRB) Student Loan refinance has variable rates from 1.89% to 5.90% APR and fixed rates from 2.80% to 6.00% APR. Loan terms are available for 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years. Laurel Road Bank also offers loan benefits similar to Linn Area Credit Union including forbearance and deferment.
All credit products are subject to credit approval. Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
Citizens Bank has variable rates from 1.99% to 8.24% APR with 5, 10, 15 and 20 year terms available. It also has fixed interest rates which range from 2.99% to 8.49% APR.
Lastly, CommonBond has variable interest rates starting at 1.99% APR and fixed interest from 2.98% APR with terms available for 5, 7, 10, 15 and 20 years. Although you must have an advanced degree from an eligible program to qualify for a CommonBond refinance.
Bottom line: you may be able to save much more money on interest and fees over the life of the loan with these three refinances than you can at Linn Area Credit Union.
Who Will Benefit Most From This Refinance
Based on its rates, terms and fees, the Linn Area Credit Union refinance is definitely not the first option anyone should consider to refinance student loans.
If you have good to excellent credit and a decent income you can find more competitive rates with no fees like the ones we covered above. Before settling on any student loan refinance make sure you shop around to find the loan that’ll save you the most money and offers you your best benefits.
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