Wells Fargo advertises competitive interest rates and benefits like deferred payments while you’re still in school, but does this company do enough to help and protect its borrowers?
Let’s look at Wells Fargo’s terms, eligibility criteria, and borrower protections to see if going with Wells Fargo is really your best option.
Overview of Wells Fargo Private Student Loans
Wells Fargo, a nationwide bank, provides private student loans to undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents of students. Students who graduate can also refinance their federal and/or private student loans with Wells Fargo through a private consolidation loan.
Pros of Borrowing Student Loans from Wells Fargo
- Every borrower is paired with a dedicated student loan advisor
- Borrowers enrolled less than half-time are eligible to receive student loans while other lenders typically require at least half-time or full-time enrollment
- Several payment reduction options are available for borrowers struggling financially
Cons of Borrowing Student Loans from Wells Fargo
- Requires a hard credit check to see what rates you qualify for
- Only six months of forbearance available, which is less than most lenders
- You can only make minimum monthly payments via autopay
- Requirements for borrowing aren’t disclosed
- Only one loan term available
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Wells Fargo Private Student Loan Details
When you borrow from Wells Fargo, you won’t know what rates you qualify for—or if you qualify to borrow at all—without a hard credit check. This shows up on your credit report, negatively affecting your score. If you’re trying to compare multiple lenders, a hard credit check on your credit report could throw off your rates from another company.
Many other lenders offer rates and preapproval based on a soft credit inquiry, which doesn’t affect your credit score.
Rates & Discounts
Wells Fargo offers customers two ways to lower their interest rate:
- Customer Loyalty Discount: A 0.50% interest rate discount with a Portfolio by Wells Fargo relationship, a 0.25% discount with a qualified Wells Fargo checking account, or a 0.25% discount for a previous or existing Wells Fargo student loan.
- Autopay Discount: A 0.25% discount that begins when you enroll in autopay during repayment.
*The lowest rates listed above include the 0.25% customer loyalty discount.
Wells Fargo only provides one loan term—15 years. A longer loan term like this means you’ll pay more over the life of your loan. Other lenders offer terms ranging from 5 to 20 years.
Students can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any financial aid they receive. However, Wells Fargo institutes a loan limit of $120,000 for each borrower’s combined education-related debt. This means your federal student loans plus your Wells Fargo loans cannot exceed $120,000 even if you need more to cover college costs.
The minimum you can borrow is $1,000.
Wells Fargo doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty or any application or origination fees. This is good and on par with the best lenders out there. However, you’ll face a late fee of $28 every time your payment comes in late. Loans cost enough as it is, so finding a lender that doesn’t charge a late fee is ideal.
Unfortunately, Wells Fargo doesn’t disclose specific financial eligibility requirements. You won’t know if your credit score or income meets their requirements until after applying, which again means a hard credit check. As with most lenders, you can add a cosigner to help boost your approval odds.
Alternatives to Wells Fargo Student Loans
Starting to feel unsure about choosing a Wells Fargo private student loan? Don’t worry, you have plenty of other options. The lenders we work with all offer competitive interest rates, no fees, clear-cut eligibility requirements, and your choice of loan term.
Here are our trusted private student loan lenders:
Repaying a Wells Fargo Private Student Loan
You can choose to start immediately making full payments on a Wells Fargo private student loan while you’re in school, or you can defer payments until you’re out of school. After graduating or leaving school, you then have a 6-month grace period until you need to start making payments.
Remember, interest accumulates as soon as the loan is disbursed. Wells Fargo gives you the option to make occasional payments during deferment or your grace period.
Unfortunately, Wells Fargo does not all biweekly payments via autopay or greater-than-minimum payments via autopay. You must login online to your account or call to make additional payments.
Wells Fargo’s biggest perk as a lender is its wide range of forbearance options. Should you face economic hardship, Wells Fargo has plenty of solutions.
Check out their many post-school forbearance options:
- Loan Modification Program: Apply to have your payment lowered temporarily or permanently
- Past Due Payment Option: Borrowers might be eligible for payment relief on past due loans.
- Death or Disability Discharge: Available for all borrowers.
- In-School Forbearance: Postpone payments while you’re in college up to a maximum of 48 months. You might qualify even if you’re enrolled less than half-time.
- Grace Period Extension: If you had in-school forbearance while you continued your education, you can request another six-month grace period.
- Financial Hardship Payment Relief: Forbearance of up to six months due to financial hardship. While still a good perk, other lenders do offer much longer periods of forbearance.
- Short-Term Payment Relief: If you consistently make on-time payments, you may be eligible for up to two months of payment relief. This includes a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, or an extended repayment term for two months.
- Military Forbearance: Borrowers on active duty military service may be eligible to postpone payments for up to three years.
- Fellowship, Residency, Internship Forbearance: Medical students may be eligible to postpone payments for up to 36 months.
- FEMA Disaster Forbearance: Borrowers may be eligible to defer payments when FEMA declares a disaster.
Where Wells Fargo Falls Short
Wells Fargo’s biggest draw is for its current customers and students who are enrolled at least part-time. This company also offers an impressive number of forbearance options should you need them.
Unfortunately, this big bank falls short in a few areas:
- Wells Fargo doesn’t disclose its financial eligibility requirements, so you can’t even check your credit score and income against minimum requirements before applying
- You won’t know what rates you qualify for without a hard credit check inquiry, which affects your credit score
- Maximum borrowing limit of $120,000 restricts students who attend pricier institutions
- Even with the customer loyalty discount, the lowest advertised interest rates are higher than our trusted lenders’ rates
- You cannot make additional or biweekly payments using autopay, so paying off your loan faster requires extra steps
- Borrowers only have 6 months of forbearance available whereas other lenders offer up to 24 months
Final Thoughts on Wells Fargo Private Student Loans
Borrowing for college is a big decision—one that stays with you until you make that final payment. Be smart about who you borrow from to make sure you’re getting the best deal and the best support possible. While Wells Fargo might be a great choice for someone who’s just taking a class or two at a time, it’s not right for everyone.
Compare the Best Student Loan Refinance Rates
Here are our top student loan refinance picks for 2019
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Student Debt Relief Loan Refinancing Advertiser Disclosure
College Ave: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
1 – The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
2 – $5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 04/26/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 – This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
ELFI: Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply. To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution.
LendKey: Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
CommonBond: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate.
Splash Financial: Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval.com
Earnest: To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest’s fixed-rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with autopay) to 7.89% APR (with autopay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.50% APR (with autopay) to 7.27% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms of 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 0.26% and 5.03% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 23, 2019 and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay Discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/23/19. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice.
Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 303 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.