Credit Union Student Loans (What to Know Before Signing Up)

If you’re leaving the nest for the first time to begin your third-level journey, or if you’re returning to try something new, talk to your local credit union today about the Credit Union Student Loans we have available to help you cover all the expenses that college can throw at you.

Because we’ve got you covered with our monster loan range for all of your dreams, big, small, or strange. There are numerous institutions that provide student loans, but some may offer more possibilities or lend at lower interest rates than others. Don’t overlook credit unions when looking for private student loans through banks and online lenders.

Credit Union Student Loan (What to Know Before Signing Up)

When compared to other lenders, credit unions frequently offer very competitive rates to their members. As a result, extending your search may provide you with more—and sometimes better—options. Here’s how to locate the top credit union student loan providers.

Credit unions are an excellent choice for customers who miss the personal touch and emphasis on customer service that was once the norm in local banking. Furthermore, believe it or not, your credit union may provide a variety of loan options, including student loans.

While credit union student loans are still private loans with fewer benefits and protections than federal student loans, many credit unions offer competitive interest rates and lower fees when compared to national banks and online lenders.

Comparing credit union student loans

A student loan from a credit union functions similarly to one from a bank or online lender. To be sure you’re getting the greatest loan for your needs, evaluate interest rates, payback lengths, cosigner release programs, forbearance programs, and other features before finalizing the deal.

Make sure you are aware of the loan’s conditions and whether payments are required while you are a student.

Credit UnionTypes of Student LoansWho’s Eligible
LendKey*Undergraduate and graduateCitizens and residents of the United States who are enrolled at least half-time
Navy Federal Credit UnionUndergraduate and graduateMilitary personnel, both active and retired, and their immediate families
Thrivent Federal Credit UnionUndergraduate and graduateClients of Thrivent that are members of or connected to various church organizations
Saratoga Community Federal Credit UnionUndergraduatepeople who are employed, worship, or go to school in Saratoga County, New York
Affinity Plus Federal Credit UnionUndergraduate and graduateIndividuals in Minnesota who meet certain requirements for employment, education, and living

Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loans

Service personnel, Department of Defense employees, and their immediate families can join Navy Federal Credit Union. You won’t be allowed to join and obtain a student loan if you don’t satisfy those conditions.

  • offered to service personnel and their families
  • Every student loan includes access to a job search training system online.


  • After graduation, a grace period of six months is offered.
  • 12-month program of forbearance


  • membership is difficult to qualify for
  • Higher interest rates than offered by other lenders
  • Payments are necessary while you are enrolled
  • There is only one payback period offered.

Key Factors

  • Variable rates: Start at 3.16% APR
  • Fixed rates: Start at 4.99% APR
  • Loan amounts: Minimum is $2,000
  • ​Cosigner release: After 24 straight months of timely principal and interest payments
  • Fees: ​No prepayment, origination, or application fees
  • Discounts: Discount of 0.25% off the interest rate for automatic payments
  • Funding time: ​Not stated
  • Grace period: Six-month grace period
  • Repayment term: 10 years

LendKey Credit Union student loans

Student loans are not directly available from LendKey. Instead, you’ll fill out a loan application with the business, which it will then send to a number of lenders, including credit unions and neighborhood banks. LendKey matches you with potential lenders, including a number of credit unions, when you apply for a loan.

  • Utilize a single application to connect with numerous community banks and credit unions.
  • Free of charge to apply


  • As of May 27, 2022, LendKey has received more than 300 reviews and a Trustpilot rating of 4.4 out of 5.
  • Possible to obtain a loan covering the entire cost of education.
  • To qualify, one only needs to be a part-time student.


  • It’s difficult to determine what you qualify for before applying.

Key Factors

  • Variable rates: 5.21% – 10.37% APR
  • Fixed rates: 4.89% – 10.39% APR
  • Loan amounts: Maximum loan is equal to the cost of attendance less any financial aid, with a minimum loan amount of $2,000 available.
  • ​Cosigner release: Depends on the specific lender
  • Fees: ​No origination, application, or prepayment penalties
  • Discounts: 0.25% interest rate discount for automatic payments
  • Funding time: At least one month
  • Grace period: Depends on the specific lender

Thrivent Federal

A faith-based credit union is Thrivent Federal Credit Union. You must be a member of one of the many Lutheran churches to be eligible for membership. You can join the credit union for a fee of $19.95 if you are not a member of one of those churches.

For its student loans, Thrivent does not offer variable interest rates, and the fixed rate is significantly higher than what rival lenders charge.

  • accessible to both graduates and undergraduates
  • The maximum loan amount is $80,000


  • The co-signer need not be a Thrivent member.
  • There are three alternatives for repayment.
  • easy to sign up as a member


  • high rates of interest
  • There is only one repayment term offered.

Key Factors

  • Variable rates: Not available
  • Fixed rates: Between 6.12% and 9.77% APR
  • Loan amounts: Minimum loan amount is $1,000. The maximum aggregate total is $80,000.
  • ​Cosigner release: Available following 24 months of timely monthly payments
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment penalties
  • Discounts: 0.25% off for establishing automatic payments
  • Funding time: ​NIL
  • Grace period: Six months
  • Repayment term: 15 years


Ways in Which Credit Union Student Loans Differ From Banks

Banks and credit unions provide many of the same products, such as checking and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, and mortgages,. They do, however, differ in a few key areas.

Banks are for-profit companies that can be privately or publicly held. Banks, which must turn a profit, may impose greater fees and interest rates than credit unions, which are nonprofit institutions. Additionally, banks are less picky about who they permit to open an account, and the majority of people are qualified to use a bank’s services.

Credit unions, in contrast, are owned by their members. There are frequently prerequisites to join because credit union members own a portion of the business.

You might need to belong to another group, such as a labor union, church, or school, or you might need to work for a particular employer, live in a particular location, or both. You might be permitted to join if a member of your family satisfies the conditions.

Additionally, because credit unions are nonprofit organizations, they are able to distribute profits to their members. Credit unions typically do this by charging fewer fees, charging lower interest rates on loans, and charging higher interest rates on savings accounts. You might find possibilities that are better than those provided by conventional banks or Internet lenders, which is why gaining a student loan through a credit union might be helpful.

Credit union student loans

Search for Credit Union Student Loans in Your Area

It is sensible to start your search in your neighborhood because many credit unions have membership requirements. Local credit unions can easily be found online by performing a basic “credit unions near me” search. To get a complete list, you can also utilize the credit union locator provided by the National Credit Union Administration.

Before deciding, it’s crucial to research each credit union, just like with banks and internet lenders. Examine such things as:

  • Some credit unions may not offer student loans or may only offer a limited range of goods and services.
  • Verify your eligibility for membership with each credit union you consider before applying. Before you may apply for a student loan, some credit unions may ask that you join and become a member for a particular period of time. Some organizations might permit you to apply for a student loan and become a member simultaneously.
  • costs and interest rates: Examine and contrast the interest rates offered by the various local credit unions to see which ones have the lowest costs and interest rates.
  • Find out what is required to be eligible for a student loan. For instance, you might have to have a specific income level or a minimum credit score to be eligible. Your credit history is taken into account heavily because these are private student loans rather than federal student loans, which are provided by the government.

What Sets Credit Union Student Loans Apart?

Despite the fact that lending institutions often offer identical products, credit unions, banks, and private lenders approach student loans in slightly different ways. What can you anticipate from a credit union student loan?

a more compact network

When you get a loan from a national bank or an online lender, you usually have access to it whenever you want. You can probably phone or talk to someone through an online chat whenever you want, in addition to a mobile app and a website.

Individualized Service

You might receive more individualized service because credit unions are often community-based and have a smaller customer base than large banks or lenders. Additionally, because credit unions are member-owned and -operated, you have the right to vote on some corporate matters, including choosing the board of directors.

Of course, not every credit union is the same. Read online testimonials or seek out personal recommendations from your network if you’re unsure about a credit union’s reputation.

More Aware of Member Needs

If you’re having trouble qualifying for a private student loan through a bank or online lender, a credit union may have more options and less rigorous lending standards. If you already belong to a credit union in your town, you may have an easier time applying for a student loan.

3 Credit Unions That Refinance Student Loans

  • LendKey Student Loan Refinance: Borrowers that value payment flexibility should choose this option.
  • Navy Federal Student Loan Refinance: Borrowers with an associate degree are the best candidates.
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union Student Loan Refinance: Borrowers who expect their income to grow over time will benefit the most.

Take Away

If you prefer credit unions to banks, or if it offers the lowest interest rate you qualify for or a unique feature you appreciate, such as initial interest-only payments, a credit union student loan refinance lender may be perfect for you.

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