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.
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