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Updated on Thursday, June 25, 2015
Do you serve in the Armed Forces, Coast Guard, or National Guard? Are you Department of Defense personnel? If so, you’re eligible for membership with the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU). That also means you can apply to consolidate your student loans through its program.
If someone in your family is a NFCU member, you’re also eligible for membership. For a complete list of membership eligibility, you can refer to the sidebar on the website.
Interested in learning more? Let’s take a look at NFCU’s student loan consolidation program.
Navy Federal Credit Union Consolidation Terms
There’s one catch you need to know about before applying to consolidate your student loans with NFCU: only private loans are able to be consolidated. Federal loans aren’t eligible.
You can consolidate $7,500 – $125,000 in undergraduate student loan debt, or $7,500 – $175,000 in graduate (or combined) student loan debt.
All loans are refinanced on a 15 year term , and only variable interest rates are offered. APRs range from 2.89% – 11.45%, though you can get a 0.25% interest rate deduction by enrolling in automatic payments.
A payment example: if you borrow $10,000 with an APR of 4% on a 15 year loan term, your monthly payment will be $73.97.
Pros and Cons of Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loan Consolidation
The one obvious downside is that only private student loans are eligible to be consolidated with NFCU. Many graduates carry federal student loans, so double check to ensure your loans are private before applying.
Another negative is that only variable interest rates are available. That means your interest rate can go up at any time during the life of your loan. While interest rates for student loans are capped at 18% (and the chances of that cap being hit are slim), having your payment fluctuate often may make it difficult to fit your student loans into your budget. Fixed rates offer stability.
One positive is that applicants can apply with a cosigner, and cosigners can apply to be released after 12 consecutive, on-time payments are made. Some lenders don’t offer cosigner releases, or they don’t allow you to apply with a cosigner at all. Cosigners can help get you more favorable rates, especially if your credit history isn’t very established yet.
Another positive is that forbearance is available if you face a period of economic hardship. You can only request forbearance once throughout the life of your loan, and it’s available for up to 18 months. Interest continues to accrue when your loan is in forbearance, but having repayment assistance of any kind, especially with private student loans, is good to have.
Who Qualifies to Consolidate with Navy Federal Credit Union?
To apply to consolidate your student loans with NFCU, you need to be a member, a graduate of an eligible school/program, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and a legal adult in the state you reside in. You can check to see if your school is eligible on the first page of the application.
You also need to have a gross monthly income of $2,000, and that income should be reliable. If it’s not, or you don’t earn that much (you should at least be employed), you can apply with a cosigner. They need to be employed, earn $2,000 gross monthly income, and be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Application Process and Documents Needed to Consolidate
The standard documents and information are needed to apply to consolidate your student loans with NFCU:
- Personal information (name, address, phone number)
- Photo ID (Driver’s License, Passport)
- Information on your existing student loans
- Navy Federal Access Number
- A copy of your degree, diploma, certificate, or transcript
- Two most recent pay stubs, dated within the last 60 days
- The previous two years’ tax returns and required schedules, if you’re self-employed
- The previous two years’ W-2 forms and two recent pay stubs dated within the last 60 days if you’re a commission-based employee
- A payoff letter from your lender, or a screenshot with your loan’s payoff amount within the next 30-45 days
Cosigners should be ready to provide:
- Two most recent pay stubs
- Most recent W-2 form or tax return
- Pension, Social Security award letter, or 1099R if retired
By applying, your credit will undergo a hard inquiry. The same goes for your cosigner if you apply with one.
There are 6 stages to the application process – applying, reviewing, gathering, approving, signing, and disbursing. You can check to see which stage your application is in by logging into your account.
Who Benefits the Most From Consolidating With NFCU?
Those that are eligible for membership and who don’t have federal student loans (or only need to refinance private student loans) benefit the most from consolidating with NFCU.
The lowest APR (3.51%, with the .25% deduction) isn’t horrible, especially if your private loans are already on variable rates much higher than that. However, there are better options available that will also let you refinance federal student loans.
The Fine Print
There’s no origination fee or prepayment penalty fee associated with the loan .
Unfortunately, when we called to get clarification on late payment fees, the representative that answered the phone wasn’t able to give us an answer. Late fees are considered a different department. The standard late payment fee for student loans is $25 , though.
Alternative Student Loan Consolidation Options
You should shop around. You can find your best options to refinance your student loans here.
Here are two options:
SoFi has competitive fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed APRs range from 2.99% – 6.09%, and variable APRs range from 2.25% – 6.09% with autopay. You can borrow on terms up to 20 years, and there’s no cap on how much student loan debt you can refinance.
SoFi also offers forbearance in the form of an unemployment program it offers to borrowers. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, SoFi will help get you back on your feet by assisting you with your job search and interview techniques. Plus, your payments can be stopped during this time.
You can get your initial rates and terms with SoFi by applying with them – it won’t affect your credit. If you choose to select the loan you’re offered, a hard credit inquiry will then be used. You must have also graduated from an eligible school or program to refinance with SoFi.
Another lender worth mentioning is Earnest. It’s a close competitor to SoFi, but with a few additional perks. There’s no limit to how much student loan debt you can refinance with Earnest, and you can borrow on terms up to 20 years. Fixed interest rates start as low as 2.98% and variable interest rates start at 1.99%.
The additional perks of Earnest are getting to skip a payment (if you need to – but impacts the interest you pay), and being able to switch between variable and fixed rates. It also lets you get a look at what rates and terms are available to you with a soft credit pull (with a hard pull later on if you want to proceed with the loan).
Earnest and SoFi don’t focus exclusively on any one factor when it comes to determining whether or not to lend to an applicant, which is great if you’re a recent graduate. Your education, employment history, salary, debt-to-income ratio, and cash flow are all taken into consideration. While having a credit score around 700 will help get you approved, it’s not the end of the world if your credit history is on the thinner side.
Shopping around for your best rates is always a good idea when it comes to refinancing your student loans. The purpose of refinancing is to get better terms that make your loans more affordable, and to save you money on interest.
You’re never obligated to take any offers you receive. For example, if you check your preliminary rates with SoFi or Earnest, you can walk away, no questions asked. Lenders know you have to do what’s right for you, and so do the credit bureaus. That’s why as long as you shop around within a period of 30 days, your credit score won’t take too much of a beating. Use that time to your advantage!
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