Frequently Asked Questions
The Department of Education clarifies that the term “Stafford Loan” refers to a subsidized or unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loan made to students on or prior to July 1, 2010. However, many people and schools also informally use “Stafford Loans” or “Direct Stafford Loans” to refer to both direct subsidized and unsubsidized student loans made via the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. When a school says they offer “Stafford Loans”, this means they offer Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans. Read the full article on the Federal Student Aid website.
Yes. You must be continually enrolled in a degree-granting program and meet your school’s minimum Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) criteria to be eligible. For fall and spring terms, you must be enrolled at least half-time. For summer term, you may be enrolled less than half-time. Should you drop below half-time in the fall or spring, withdraw during any term, or fail to meet SAP requirements, your funding request can be denied, your line of credit may close, and you may enter repayment.
Graduated Repayment is repayment of principal and interest using an extended amortization period intended to lower the monthly payment amount, after which payments are higher and based on the remainder of original term.
University Accounting Service (UAS) will service your loan. Once your loan has been disbursed or entered repayment, you may contact UAS with questions, or access your account online.
The maximum amount you can borrow varies by credit union lender. In general, the amount is based on your school’s certified costs minus the amount of other financial aid you have already received (such as federal student aid, scholarships, and grants). You can view loan limits on our lenders’ websites or within your results from our matching tool.
Many of our credit union lenders offer a cosigner release option based on on-time payment history and other requirements. We recommend reviewing specific criteria on the credit union lender’s website.
Many of our credit union lenders offer a 0.25% interest rate reduction when the borrower signs up for automatic debit payments and is in active repayment. We recommend reviewing the credit union lender’s website for details about a potential discount for automatic payments.
Student Choice was founded in 2008 by a group of credit unions who wanted to provide innovative private student lending solutions for borrowers. Today we partner with 300 credit union lenders to provide options for your education borrowing needs, and can help match you with one!
In the past, credit union membership was somewhat limited based on where members lived, worked, worshipped, or attended school. The good news is just about anyone can join a credit union now and take advantage of the benefits of being a member!
Fixed Interest Rate
A fixed rate loan is exactly as it sounds – the interest rate is fixed, or stays the same, for the entire life of your loan.
Pros: You’ll know what your interest rate is and won’t have to worry about fluctuations down the road.
Cons: The tradeoff for knowing what your rate will be for the long haul is that it is often a higher rate to start than a variable rate option.
Variable Interest Rate
When you select a variable rate loan, your interest rate will fluctuate over time based on the current index rate. Your lender adds a percentage to that base according to your credit score and history, and there is usually a limit or “ceiling rate” on how high your rate can go if the index increases.
Pros: Variable rate options are typically lower than fixed rate at the start of your loan. Additionally, if the index decreases in the future, so will your interest rate.
Cons: There is risk involved; while your rate could go down, it could also increase, meaning you will pay more in interest over time.
You can refinance all or some of your student loans – whichever option is best for you. Some borrowers choose not to refinance their federal student loans so they can hold on to existing benefits such as income based repayment plans or loan forgiveness.
Our private student loans can be used for any items listed in your school’s cost of attendance, or other education-related expenses. The amount you are eligible to borrow will be certified by your school, and the funds are sent directly to your college.
If some of the loan will be used to cover items not directly paid through the school, such as books, off campus rent, or a laptop, the school will issue you a refund for the excess amount.
Your student loans can be refinanced if they are in grace or repayment after you’ve graduated from an approved school.
Yes! If you have previously refinanced some or all of your student loans, you may wish to refinance again to take advantage of a lower rate.
With our undergraduate and graduate line of credit products, you will only have to complete the application process once. However, your loan is subject to annual review and credit qualification, and you must continue to meet your school’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) and enrollment requirements.
Processing times vary based on time of year, document submission, and the school’s own certification process. In general, you can expect the process to take anywhere from 5-45 days, depending on the documentation available.
A borrower is not required to apply with a co-borrower. However, applying with a credit worthy co-borrower may improve a borrower’s chance of meeting the credit union’s approval criteria and potentially qualify for the line of credit at a lower interest rate.
Yes, you should continue to make your payments while your application is in process. You will be notified when the funds have been sent to the applicable servicers.
The CARES Act was passed in response to events related to the Coronavirus pandemic and includes broad relief measures for federal student loan borrowers. If you are considering refinancing your federal student loans, please make sure to review these measures at www.studentaid.gov/coronavirus to understand your options.
Credit unions operate to serve their members and communities. One way they do that is by promoting thrift and offering competitive rates with a focus on the best interest of the borrower – in this case students. When you choose your credit union to pay for college, you’ll benefit from great rates, low fees, convenient repayment terms, and most importantly, a life-long relationship with a lender you can trust.
Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that exist to serve their members rather than maximize corporate profits. Like banks, credit unions provide a variety of financial services, but as member-owned cooperatives, they focus on providing a safe place to save and borrow at reasonable rates while returning income to their members in the form of dividends.
All loans being refinanced must be post separation from school.
Federal Education Loans:
- Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP)
- Subsidized or Unsubsidized (aka Stafford Loan)
- Grad or Parent PLUS William D. Ford Direct Loan Program Subsidized or Unsubsidized (aka Direct Stafford Loan)
- William D. Ford Direct Loan Program Undergraduate, Grad or Parent PLUS
- Perkins, Nursing or Health Education Assistance (HEAL)
If you choose to refinance a federal loan, you will lose federal student loan benefits such as income driven repayment or loan forgiveness options that may be available on your current federal loan(s). In addition, federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance options that may not be available to you if you take out a private refinance loan. You may qualify for a Federal Direct Consolidation Loan. For additional information about a consolidation option for federal loans, contact the Department of Education at: studentaid.gov. See disclaimers for more details.
Private Education Loans:
Institutional Education Loans:
Consolidation means you are simply combining existing loans. Your total payment amount and total interest will likely remain the same, but you’ll have the convenience of making one payment rather than multiple payments. This type of loan is usually associated with federal government student loans.
When you refinance, you are taking out a single new loan to pay off your old ones. You’ll probably have a new interest rate, new terms, and a different monthly payment amount. This is the loan solution offered by your credit union.
Information you’ll need to successfully complete the application:
- Personal information (such as name, date of birth, Social Security number)
- Sufficient income information for either the borrower or co-borrower (if applicable)
- School enrollment information, if known
- Amount needed for your current school term
- If applying with a co-borrower, you’ll want to have them present. The co-borrower will also need to provide the same type of personal information as the student borrower. If they cannot be present, you should have their primary email address on hand – we’ll send them a notification to input their information.
You do not need to be a member to start the application, but you will need to be a member of the credit union before you can receive funding.
Need to find a credit union? We can match you with some options.