Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

You need to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for Federal Education Loans and you usually have to submit a FAFSA to apply for other types of financial aid as well.

The easiest way to do so is to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid online at fafsa.ed.gov. You can also get a paper FAFSA application from your high school counselor or college financial aid advisor.

Before you apply for a Private Student Loan, we recommend that you consider all of your options including Federal Education Loans.

What are some differences between federal and private student loans?

Federal student loans are available through the U.S. Department of Education. They offer fixed interest rates and several repayment options. They also provide more alternatives for borrowers who may have problems making payments after graduation. But there are limits on the amount you can borrow.

Private student loans, on the other hand, are education loans offered by credit unions, banks and other lenders. They offer fixed or variable interest rates and are credit-based, meaning students (and their co-signers) have to meet credit and other requirements set by each organization that lends. They can be used for amounts not covered by Federal student loans.

What other types of financial aid are available?

Learn more about grants, scholarships and other financial aid at studentaid.ed.gov. Also ask people you know, like your school's financial aid office or counselor, library, your or your parents' employer, and religious and community organizations.

Who is cuLearn?

cuLearn is a company we work with to process applications for our Student Loan program. When you submit an application, mail in documents, or call with questions, you will be working directly with cuLearn.

Am I eligible for a Private Student Loan?

You are eligible for a Private Student Loan if you meet your bank or credit union's membership eligibility and credit requirements and are enrolled at least half-time and working toward a degree in an eligible college or university graduate or undergraduate program. Generally, students must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but some states have different age requirements.

How is the loan amount determined for a Private Student Loan?

Your school determines the amount of money you are able to borrow. The minimum loan amount is $1,000. The loan amount is limited to the cost of education minus other financial aid the student will receive for the loan period (generally a semester or school year).

What is the total amount I can borrow?

You are eligible to borrow up to the cost to attend school minus any financial aid you receive. The most you can borrow during your time at school is $80,000.

What is the application process?

Typically, the process includes these steps:

• Student (and co-signer if there is one) completes an online application. At the same time, you and your co-signer will sign loan documents for the loan.
• If you are not already a member of the credit union you will be asked to complete a membership application.
• Credit union reviews the application(s), and may ask you for more information.
• Credit union decides whether to approve your loan application.
• If approved, you'll receive an approval letter from the credit union. You must accept the amount and rate of your loan to move ahead. You will have 30 days to do so.
• School validates amount of money being requested.
• Student receives a final letter with the loan amount and date funds will be sent to the school. If for some reason you need to cancel, you will have at least three business days to do so.
• Funds will be sent to your school. You can check with your school to confirm receipt and your school will send you any refund.

The selected Lender will keep you updated throughout the process.

How will I receive the funds?

The funds will be sent to your school. You can check with your school to confirm receipt and your school will send you any refund. In most cases, your school will instruct us to split your academic year funding so that half is disbursed for your Fall semester and the remaining portion is sent to cover your Spring semester. This saves you money, as interest on your loan does not start accruing until funds are actually disbursed when needed by the school.

Can I apply if I don't have a Social Security number?

No, you must have a Social Security number to apply for a loan. If you are applying with a co-signer, they also need a Social Security number, or, for a permanent resident, an alien registration number.

Will I need a co-signer?

Most student borrowers need a co-signer, simply because they don't make enough money to qualify for a loan by themselves. Typically, you need a gross annual income of at least $25,000 before you can sign for a loan by yourself.

Who should I ask to be a co-signer?

You can choose any qualified individual to be your co-signer, and it doesn't need to be a relative. The co-signer should be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. It's best if you choose someone with at least two years of credit history.

What does it mean to be a co-signer?

When you co-sign with a student, you are making a legal commitment to pay back the loan if the student does not pay. You and the student borrower share equal responsibility to make sure the loan is repaid.

If you're the cosigner, and any payments are late, you may also have to pay late fees or collection costs. And, this could have a negative effect on your credit record. As the lender, we are able to collect payments and late fees directly from the co-signer. This means we can take steps to collect from you, the co-signer, before we try to collect from the student.

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

The student borrower and their co-signer are equally responsible to make sure the loan is paid back. If you already have a student loan with us and are having trouble making payments, call your Lender’s loan servicer to talk about other options.

Can a co-signer be released from responsibility to pay the loan?

There are two ways a co-signer can be released from paying the loan, meaning he or she is no longer responsible to repay it. First, after making 24 consecutive monthly payments on time the student can request to have the co-signer released. Releases are not automatic. The student also has to meet certain credit requirements, which will be the same as or similar to those applicable to students applying for loans by themselves. Second, if the student borrower dies, the co-signer can be released and won't be responsible for repayment.

How does my co-signer apply?

Students and their co-signers can apply online. Typically, the student borrower will apply first. Before you apply, you and your co-signer should have the required documents ready.

Is the co-signer required to be a credit union member?

This varies by Lender.

Does my co-signer need a Social Security number?

Yes. A co-signer, as well as the student, must have a Social Security number or, for a permanent resident, an alien registration number.


What does refinancing my college loans mean?

Refinancing student loans involves applying for a new loan from a private lender with a new interest rate and loan repayment term. That loan is used to pay existing student loans. Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate may translate into a lower monthly payment. Depending on the rates and remaining terms of the loans that are refinanced, it may also mean less interest paid over the life of the new loan.

When is the best time to refinance student loans?

As with most financial decisions, there is rarely a right or wrong answer since every situation is unique. If you consider what you are trying to accomplish by refinancing, it may help you decide when the best time is for you. For example, if you are seeking to simplify monthly money management, refinancing can help by creating just one payment versus several from multiple lenders. If your goal is to save money by lowering a payment and/or reducing the amount of interest paid on your student loans, it may benefit you to refinance. Be sure to consider the benefits on your existing loans that you may give up by refinancing.

What are the benefits to refinancing my Student Loans?

A primary benefit is the convenience of combining multiple payments from various lenders into one payment. Other key benefits include the potential for a lower payment and a lower interest rate, which, depending on the rates and terms of the loans that are refinanced, can mean paying less in interest over the life of your new loan.

Are there benefits on my existing student loans that I might lose if I refinance?

Federal student loans typically have:

1. Fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a Federal student loan will never go up or down.
2. Certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
3. A feature making you eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service.
4. A feature if you are an active duty service member and you obtained your Federal student loan before you were called to active duty. You are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.

If you are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of Federal student loans, a refinance of your Federal student loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before you refinance.

How long will it take to process the refi loan and get my old loans paid off?

You should plan on 4-8 weeks to have the entire loan process complete and your old loans paid off. We strongly recommend that you continue making payments on your existing loans until you are sure the process is complete. Any overpayment will be returned to you.

The processing time will vary depending on a number of factors, like how many existing loans you have, how many lenders you have on those existing loans, the responsiveness of your existing lenders to requests for payoff information, the automation abilities of your existing lenders. To be safe, keep paying the existing loans until you are sure the new refi loan has paid off the old loans.

Can my spouse and I combine our student loans into one loan by refinancing?

You both may apply individually to refinance your respective student loans. However, no one may combine their loans with loans that were originally made to someone else.

Will I save money by refinancing my student loans?

There is a significant potential to save money when refinancing, especially if the interest rate on your refinanced loan is less than what you are currently paying on the loans you intend to combine. The terms of the loans will have an impact on whether and how much you save as well.

What is the difference between fixed interest rate and variable rate?

When refinancing student loans, you may choose the type of interest rate that is best for you. Select a fixed interest rate if you prefer a guarantee that your rate, and therefore your payment, will not change during the life of the loan as long as you make all of your payments on time. Or, you may choose a variable rate that could be lower to start out but may fluctuate, depending on factors that are beyond your control, such as economic market conditions.

Is interest paid on my refinanced loan income tax deductible?

If your original loans had tax-deductible interest, then the interest on the loan that refinances these loans will generally be tax deductible. There are limits on who qualifies for the tax deduction and you are advised to consult with your tax advisor.

Who is cuLearn?

cuLearn is a company we work with to process applications for our Student Loan program. When you submit an application, mail in documents, or call with questions, you will be working directly with cuLearn.

What is the application process?

Typically, the process includes these steps:

• Borrower (and cosigner if there is one) completes an online application. At the same time, you and your cosigner will sign loan documents for the loan. Part of the application includes identifying your existing loans that you would like refinanced through the Education Refi Loan.
• If you are not already a member of the credit union you will be asked to complete a membership application.
• Credit union reviews the application(s), and may ask you for more information.
• If approved, you'll receive an approval letter from the credit union. You must accept the amount and rate of your loan to move ahead. You will have 30 days to do so.
• Borrower receives a final letter with the loan amount and date funds will be sent to pay off your underlying loans. If for some reason you need to cancel, you will have at least three business days to do so.
• We will keep you updated throughout the process.

Is there a fee to apply for a Refi Loan?

No. We do not charge any application or origination fees for our Refi Loan.

Am I required to be a credit union member?

Yes. Typically, the borrower must be a member to be considered for a loan with a Credit Union. If you are not already a member, you'll be asked to apply for membership during the loan application process.

Can I apply if I don't have a Social Security number?

No. You must have a Social Security number to apply for a loan. If you are applying with a cosigner, they also need a Social Security number, or, for a permanent resident, an alien registration number.

Why is a credit check required for the Education Refi Loan?

Lenders will typically review your credit report whenever you borrow money. In an effort to minimize their risk that loans will be repaid, lenders look at a borrower's credit history and other factors and make lending decisions accordingly.

Am I required to have a cosigner before I refinance?

It depends. You may receive a lower rate with a cosigner, but you are not required to have a cosigner if you qualify. Some borrowers need a cosigner, simply because they don't make enough money to qualify for a loan by themselves. Typically, you need a gross annual income of at least $25,000 before you can sign for a loan by yourself. If you decide to use a cosigner, be sure you both understand that our refinance loan includes a cosigner release benefit that frees cosigners from all obligations after 24 consecutive months of payments, provided the borrower can qualify based on his or her own creditworthiness.

Who should I ask to be a co-signer?

You can choose any qualified individual to be your cosigner, and it doesn't need to be a relative. The cosigner should be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. It's best if you choose someone with at least two years of credit history.

What does it mean to be a co-signer?

When you co-sign with a borrower, you are making a legal commitment to pay back the loan if the borrower does not pay. You and the borrower share equal responsibility to make sure the loan is repaid.

If you're the cosigner, and any payments are late, you may also have to pay late fees or collection costs. And, this could have a negative effect on your credit record. As the lender, we are able to collect payments and late fees directly from the cosigner. This means we can take steps to collect from you, the cosigner, before we try to collect from the borrower.

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

The borrower and their cosigner are equally responsible to make sure the loan is paid back.

Can a co-signer be released from responsibility to pay the loan?

There is one way a cosigner can be released from paying the loan, meaning he or she is no longer responsible to repay it. First, after making 24 consecutive monthly payments on time the borrower can request to have the cosigner released. Releases are not automatic. The borrower also has to meet certain credit requirements, which will be the same as or similar to those applicable to borrowers applying for loans by themselves.

How does my co-signer apply?

Borrowers and their cosigners apply online.

Does my co-signer need a Social Security number?

Yes. A cosigner, as well as the borrower, must have a Social Security number or, for a permanent resident, an alien registration number.

What is a direct consolidation loan?

It is a government loan that consolidates your federal student loans into one loan with an interest rate that is a weighted average of the original loans you combine, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Any private loans you may have are not eligible for a direct consolidation loan.

What is the difference between consolidating and refinancing?

Both consolidating and refinancing involve combining student loans into one. The only option for consolidation is a federal program in which you combine just federal student loans together and pay an interest rate that is a weighted average of the original loan interest rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Refinancing with a private lender, on the other hand, allows you to combine all your student loans, not just federal ones. Refinancing may allow for a lower interest rate since the rate is not determined by taking an average of existing interest rates.

Are there deferment or forbearance options available?

Forbearances may be granted. Check with your selected credit union for details. Forbearance options may be granted in certain events such as bankruptcy, natural disaster, death or when needed to process a borrower request for change in repayment plan. Any periods of forbearance will not extend the repayment period.

What is the repayment term?

The repayment term on a Refi Loan from a Lender within the cuLearn network is 15 years (180 months). However, there is no pre-payment penalty if you choose to pay off the loan sooner.

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

As the borrower, you are responsible for repaying the loan. If you have a cosigner, both you and your cosigner share responsibility to repay the loan.