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PenFed Student Loans Review


Find the Best Student Loan Refinance Lenders

PenFed refinances all types of student loans including federal, private and federal Parent PLUS loans via Purefy.

PenFed student loan refinancing is powered by Purefy and offers an online application process. You’ll begin by going through a preapproval application, which takes about 15 minutes, using the Find My Rate tool. You’ll be asked about your school background, your credit score, if you plan to have a co-signer and other basic information.

The tool will then generate the interest rates you could qualify for depending on the repayment terms. If you are happy with one of the options, you can move forward with the official loan application.

The next step involves submitting documentation to verify your identity, your schooling and your income. The process is all done online, and you can upload photos and screenshots of the requested documents, which will include:

  • Income documents – pay stub, tax return, W-2s.
  • Identification – driver’s license, passport or state ID.
  • Payoff verification – servicer statements with projected payoff amounts.
  • Graduation verification – diploma or transcripts.

You’ll also have to apply for a PenFed membership as part of the overall loan application, but anyone is allowed to join.

After your application is in, you can check the loan status anytime by logging into your PenFed account. If you’re approved, PenFed will send payments to close out your existing loans, and that will be processed between three and 14 days. You will have to pay your first PenFed bill 30 days from the loan disbursement date.

PenFed has no application fees, origination fees or prepayment fees for its refinance borrowers. Borrowers have the option to choose a five-year, eight-year, 12-year or 15-year repayment term.

For student loan refinancing, rates are determined by credit and the type of degree the borrower has, but loan amount has no impact.

The fixed annual percentage rate range is 2.89% to 5.08%, while the variable rates are 2.13% to 4.75%. For variable rate loans, the highest they can go is 9% for the five- and eight-year terms, or 10% for 12- and 15-year loans; the minimum variable rate is 2%.

PenFed does not offer any programs or incentives, like an APR discount for setting up autopay or for making a certain number of consecutive payments.

U.S. citizenship is required for all borrowers and co-signers, and borrowers must be employed. Starting Aug. 4, borrowers with an associate degree or higher may qualify.

Prequalified applicants will have their credit checked and will also have to submit documents to verify their income.

Borrowers without a co-signer who are applying for loans up to $150,000 must have an annual income of at least $42,000 to qualify. If borrowing with a co-signer, you need a minimum income of $25,000, and your co-signer must earn at least $42,000. If applying for loans more than $150,000, you need at least $50,000 in income, or you must earn $25,000 along with a co-signer earning at least $50,000.

For Parent Direct PLUS loan refinancing, applicants need a strong credit history, reliable income and at least one outstanding education loan.

For all refinanced loans, the minimum borrowing amount is $7,500, and the maximum is $300,000.

Credit score is an important factor for borrowing with PenFed, and in many cases, a co-signer might be necessary. Here’s how it breaks down.

Loans up to $150,000: If your credit score is between 670 and 675 (or you don’t meet the income criteria), you’ll need a co-signer with a credit score of 720 or higher (who also meets the income requirements).

Loans of more than $150,000: For borrowers with scores between 670 and 724, you’ll need a co-signer. That person’s score must be 725 or higher for approval (assuming the person meets the income requirements).

Upon approval, your interest rates will be determined based on credit score and type of degree.

PenFed is headquartered in Tysons, Virginia. The credit union operates throughout the country, and all U.S. citizens are able to apply for membership and/or student loan refinancing.

PenFed has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, but it is not accredited. PenFed has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on TrustPilot. In 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received four complaints about PenFed regarding student loans. All were closed in a timely fashion.

PenFed offers phone customer service from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Members may also reach out via email or text anytime. It also responds to questions via Twitter. PenFed provides free consultations for those interested in student loan refinancing.

PenFed does not officially offer a deferment or forbearance program, but it will work with borrowers on a case-by-case basis should an extraordinary situation arise. Borrowers are encouraged to get in touch immediately to work out either a repayment schedule or some other remedy if they are facing a financial hardship.

The entire refinancing application process can be completed digitally, from getting a rate quote, to uploading documents, to e-signing. Once the loan is disbursed, you can automate your payments through your online account and monitor progress. You can also make payments and manage your account using PenFed’s mobile app.

  • Graduates with multiple student loans who wish to consolidate.
  • Those who prefer an online loan process.
  • Borrowers with strong credit and/or a co-signer.



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