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College Ave Review 2022: Is It Right for You?

College Ave is a private student lender with funding for career, undergraduate, and graduate programs. The company offers graduation incentives, online administration, and minimal fees.

9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Andrea Miller
Senior finance writer and editor
June 19, 2022

Overview

Like many lenders, College Ave claims to take the stress out of private student loans with simple tools and outstanding customer support. The company receives positive reviews for its diverse range of private student loan options with competitive interest rates. You may appreciate the ability to customize your loan term and repayment schedule.

You can fund up to 100% of the cost of your degree or certificate program if you receive loan approval from College Ave. Students who complete their schooling receive a statement credit of $150 toward their loans. This lender also offers monthly scholarship drawings and periodic drawings for prizes such as money for books, scholarship funds, and Visa gift cards.

College Ave offers comprehensive online application, loan processing, and management. You may want to consider this lender if you’re seeking a private loan for the cost of your career, undergraduate, graduate, or professional degree. The company also offers parent loans and refinance loans, with all products available in all 50 states.

Although you will need steady income and a good credit score to qualify for a college loan independently, College Ave says that most borrowers have cosigners. A cosigner helps your loan eligibility by taking financial responsibility if you default on the payments. You may consider this route if you have a parent or family member willing to be your cosigner.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

OUR CHOICE 2022
9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
College Ave
Quick view:
Editorial Score
9.0 / 10
Online Services
Applications, Quote management, etc.
10 / 10
Customer Service
9.0 / 10
Available in all states
10 / 10
Available loan types
9.0 / 10
Products
10 / 10

Products & Services

College Ave offers private student loans in several categories as well as student debt refinance loans. Both students and parents can apply for education funding through this lender.

Undergraduate Loans

With an undergraduate loan from College Ave, you can fund the cost of a two-year or four-year college or university program including tuition, books, fees, room and board, and other expenses. The lender has a Multi-Year Peace of Mind Program that allows you to seek approval for your entire degree program with just one application.

As long as you maintain half-time attendance at an accredited school, your loan repayment does not begin until six months after you complete an undergraduate degree. However, the loans continue to accrue interest during this type. You can instead reduce the total interest you pay over the life of the loan by choosing one of these options from the lender:

  • $25 per month payments while enrolled
  • Interest-only payments while enrolled
  • Full payments while enrolled

The sooner you begin repaying your student loans, the less you will pay in interest over the life of the loan.

Graduate Loans

College Ave offers funding for both masters and doctorate degree programs.. You can apply for professional school loans for dental, law, medical, health sciences, and pharmacy degrees. Law, dental, and medical loans from this lender have longer-than-average repayment terms of up to 20 years and grace periods of up to 36 months.

Through this lender, you can also obtain a medical school loan for a podiatric medicine, veterinary medicine, osteopathic medicine, or doctor of medicine degree. With medical and dental school loans from College Ave, you can defer repayment while you complete your residency program.

Law school loans provide the option of payment deferral during your post-graduate clerkship. College Ave also has preferred lender status with Harvard Law School.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

Career Loans

College Ave offers flexible career loans that can fund certificate programs and associate degree programs at certain universities. You may want to consider this route if you are pursuing a career that requires an associate’s degree or have an established career but want to obtain a certificate to further your opportunities beyond your bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Students who successfully complete their career programs receive a statement credit of $150 through College Ave’s Success Rewards incentive. The lender will reduce your principal balance by $150.

Parent Loans

Parents who want to provide financial assistance for their child’s education can consider this type of funding. If you take out a parent loan from College Ave, you can retain control of up to $2,500 from the loan proceeds. This arrangement lets you pay directly for supplies, fees, books, and other items your student needs.

College Ave does not offer deferment for parent loans. Parents must pay at least the interest on the loan each month while their child is in school.

Refinance Loans

You can potentially refinance your existing loans through College Ave with no application or origination fees. Refinance loans carry fixed interest rates of 2.99 to 7.84% or variable rates of 2.94 to 7.74%. You can refinance up to $150,000 for a qualifying undergraduate or graduate degree or up to $300,000 in student debt from a doctorate or professional degree.

Loan repayment options vary from five to 20 years with many options in between. However, College Ave does not offer refinancing for parent loans.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

Rates and Terms

Private student loans from College Ave offer fixed-rate APRs from 3.22 to 13.95% if you opt for autopay from your bank account. If you choose a variable rate loan, you can access APRs from 0.94 to 12.99% with autopay. This lender has student loan terms of five, eight, 10, or 15 years.

Loan amounts range from $1,000 to the certified cost of attendance from your program. The certified cost of attendance is the average students spend for tuition, housing, fees, books, and other expenses at that institution.

College Ave charges late payment fees of 5% of the unpaid amount to a maximum of $25. However, this lender does not have an application, origination, or prepayment fee.Students can also take advantage of incentives for successful degree or certificate completion.

You can apply to have a cosigner released from your student loan if you meet these requirements:

  • Complete at least 50% of the repayment term
  • Make on-time payments for the previous 24 months without forbearance
  • Have a positive credit history for the past 24 months
  • Display an annual income of at least 200% of your total student loan balance for the past two years

The lender does not advertise forbearance or deferment programs for borrowers who have financial hardship. However, it will review your account if you cannot make your payments because of a situation such as illness or job loss.

College Ave also cancels the loan balance if you die or become disabled. You can use the loan funds to cover past-due tuition if applicable.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

Application Process and Qualifications

While College Ave does not report the credit score it requires for loan eligibility, it does note that most approved borrowers have a FICO score of at least the mid-600s. You can also apply with a cosigner to increase chances of approval with an average or lower credit score.

Borrowers or cosigners must also have a minimum annual income of at least $35,000. The company reviews your debt-to-income ratio to make sure you don’t have too much debt to repay the requested student loan as agreed.

Unlike many lenders, College Ave does not require you to maintain half-time status in school to qualify for a loan. However, you will lose loan eligibility if you do not display satisfactory academic progress (SAP). Each school has its own SAP standards which may include minimum credits per semester, minimum grade point average, or other metrics.

College Ave accepts only online loan applications. You can complete the process on your laptop, phone, or any other connected device in just a few minutes. The lender provides a decision right away when you submit your application. College Ave performs only a soft credit check at this stage, which does not impact your credit score.

To complete your College Ave application, you must provide:

  • Your Social Security number
  • The name of the school you plan to attend
  • The amount of money you want to borrow
  • Your estimated annual income

You should also provide a Social Security number and income information for your cosigner if you have one. If you decide to move forward with a loan offer, you will have to gather additional documents such as proof of income.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

Approval Time

Most students receive a loan decision within three minutes of completing the online application form. If you are approved for a loan with College Ave, you should receive the funds within 10 business days after e-signing loan documents.

To ensure you have the funds in time to register for classes, College Ave recommends starting the application process 90 days in advance of your deadline in case of delays.

Customer Service

College Ave oversees a customer service call center managed by a third-party vendor. They also offer text and email support. Clicking on the lender’s Email Us link took me to a simple online form where I entered my contact information along with my question. I received this message after clicking Submit, but have not yet received a response at press time:

“Thanks for submitting your question. We review submissions as they are received, and you’ll receive a response from one of our customer service team members by the end of the next business day.”

I also received an email autoresponse from ZenDesk confirming receipt of my email.

You can also text a College Ave customer service agent at 855-910-0510. My text immediately received this autoresponse:

Customer Service

After about 15 minutes, I received a response indicating that College Ave credit score information is proprietary and directing me to the refinance page of the lender’s website.

You can reach customer service by phone Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. I selected Option 2 from the menu to ask about refinance loans and my call was answered by a friendly, helpful representative within seconds. For a fast response, phone seems to be the best way to connect with College Ave customer service.

Summary

If you decide on private student loans to fund your education, College Ave has a range of programs that may fit your needs. This lender sets itself apart from competitors with loans for parents and international students. It also provides the benefit of limited fees and low interest rates, especially compared to other private student lenders.

Diverse available repayment schedules are another benefit of borrowing from College Ave. You can balance an affordable monthly payment with the opportunity to save on the cost of your education by paying extra toward your principal while still in school.

Although College Ave stands out as an affordable option in this lending category, keep in mind that federal student loans are the best choice for many students. Most financial experts recommend exhausting available federal education funding and then using private loans to cover remaining expenses.

See Student Loan Offers on College Ave

FAQ

Does College Ave affect your credit score?

When you apply for a loan with College Ave, the initial approval does not affect your credit score. However, if you decide to accept a loan offer, the lender will do a “hard” credit pull that could lower your score, especially if you have more loan inquiries than average in a short amount of time.

Is College Ave the same as Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is not the same as College Ave, although both companies offer private student loans. These lenders compete with one another.

Is College Ave a federal loan?

College Ave provides private student loans, not federal student loans. To obtain a federal student loan, you must fill out the annual Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to determine eligibility.

Do you need a cosigner for College Ave?

While you do not need a cosigner to apply for a College Ave loan, having one can increase your chances of approval. You should consider applying with a cosigner such as a parent or family member if you do not have steady income or a strong credit history.

Andrea Miller
Written by

Andrea Miller has been a writer and editor for more than two decades. She has previously covered financial topics for Solvable, Kabbage, and Credit.com. Outside of work, she spends most of her time with her husband, daughter, and son and enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.

Pros:
  • Ability to borrow 100% of the certified cost of attendance
  • No origination or prepayment fees, unlike many competitors
  • Instant approval decision without a hard credit check
Cons:
  • Lender does not publish details about eligibility requirements
  • Only limited deferment and forbearance plans available
  • No discount programs beyond 0.25% interest reduction for autopay
Bottom Line

You may want to consider College Ave for flexible student loans that allow you to save on interest by making payments before you graduate. This lender is also a good option for students who want to apply with a cosigner and parents applying for student loans on behalf of their children.

While many lenders only offer student loans to U.S. citizens, College Ave accepts applications from non-citizens attending college in America if they have a cosigner who holds permanent residency or citizenship. However, you cannot qualify with a previous bankruptcy.