LendKey Student Loans Review

LendKey simplifies student loans, connecting you to credit unions and banks

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Lendkey

Lendkey

Investopedia’s Rating
3.9

Our Take

LendKey can make it easier for students to shop for student loans. By filling out one simple form, LendKey will connect borrowers to its network of partner credit unions and banks to find the right loan for them. However, policies and conditions can vary by lender, so borrowers should double-check their loan agreements before signing the contract.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance

  • Connect with multiple lenders by submitting one form

  • Borrowers have a six-month grace period

Cons
  • Only one repayment term

  • Not all lenders offer hardship forbearance

  • International students aren't eligible for in-school loans

Key Takeaways
  • LendKey is an online platform that was founded in 2009.
  • It partners with hundreds of credit unions and banks to offer private student loans and student loan refinancing.
  • Private student loans can have variable or fixed interest rates. 
  • There are no origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties. 
  • It also offers unsecured home improvement loans.
Company Overview

LendKey is a lending platform that connects borrowers with banks and credit unions to provide private student loans and student loan refinancing options. LendKey currently services over $2 billion in loans. 

Its platform was built in partnership with Student Lending LLC, a network of credit unions offering private student loans. In 2022, the partnership won the 2022 Fintech Futures Banking Tech Award for its use of information technology.

LendKey has a strong reputation among borrowers, too. It has a 4.5 out of 5 (Excellent) score on Trustpilot based on over 350 reviews.

  • Year Founded 2009
  • Official Website www.lendkey.com
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, graduate, refinance
  • Customer Support Phone: ​​(888) 549-9050. Email: customercare@lendkey.com

Pros Explained

  • Students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance: Some private student loan companies have annual caps on how much students can borrow. But with LendKey, students can borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. 
  • Connect with multiple lenders by submitting one form: By filling out one form, LendKey will connect you to its network of credit unions and banks, making it easier for you to shop around and find a lender. 
  • Borrowers have a six-month grace period: All loans issued through LendKey have a six-month grace period, giving you time to find a job and create a budget before you have to make full payments against the principal and interest. 

Cons Explained

  • Only one repayment term available: Although other lenders offer multiple repayment terms, often ranging between 5 and 15 years, LendKey only has one term option. All loans have 10-year terms. 
  • Not all lenders offer hardship forbearance: LendKey’s forbearance policy is confusing. A media spokesperson told us that borrowers can qualify for up to 18 months of forbearance, but LendKey’s website states that financial hardship policies vary by lender. Before finalizing a loan, review the lender’s policies for financial hardships and forbearance. 
  • International students aren't eligible for in-school loans: Some lenders offer loans to international students if they have co-signers that are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. However, LendKey doesn’t have that option. Only students that are U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible for loans through LendKey. 

Student Loans Offered by LendKey

LendKey is a lending platform that connects borrowers to its partner lenders. Its partners include hundreds of banks and credit unions nationwide. Through LendKey, borrowers can apply for private student loans for undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as student loan refinancing

Loans issued through LendKey can have fixed or variable interest rates, and all in-school loans have 10-year repayment terms.

  Fixed Interest Rates*  Variable Interest Rates* 
Private Student Loans  As low as 4.89% As low as 5.21% 
Student Loan Refinance  As low as 4.49%  As low as 4.38% 

*Lowest rates include autopay discount

Loan Eligibility and Approval

Although LendKey is an online student loan marketplace, all of its partners share some basic eligibility requirements: 

  • Borrowers must earn at least $24,000 per year and have at least 36 months of credit history. Otherwise, they will need a creditworthy co-signer. 
  • All borrowers must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
  • Students must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program from an approved school.
  • The borrower must be the age of majority in their state.

LendKey doesn’t have parent student loan or international student loan options. 

In general, private student loans have higher interest rates and fewer benefits than federal student loans. Be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get the maximum amount of federal aid before turning to private options.

Are Co-Signers Required?

With LendKey, a co-signer isn’t required. However, most college students will need one since they usually aren’t working full-time and may not have an established credit history. 

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

LendKey has a pre-qualification tool for student loan refinancing that allows you to check your rates without affecting your credit score. However, pre-qualification is not available for private student loans. 

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

LendKey recommends that students apply at least one month before the funds are needed since it can take lenders several weeks to certify loans with the colleges. 

If your application is approved, the funds are sent directly to the school. If there is money left over after the school applies the loan to your tuition and other fees, the college may release the remaining funds to you. 

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

LendKey and its partner lenders don’t charge application fees or origination fees. However, the following fees apply: 

  • Late fee: If a payment is 15 days or more late, there is a late fee of 5% of the unpaid installment amount. In Wisconsin, the fee is 5% or $10, whichever is less. 
  • Returned payment fee: If your check is returned because of insufficient funds, there is a $15 fee. 

Loan Discounts

If you sign up for automatic payments, you can qualify for a 0.25% autopay discount. 

Repayment Options

All LendKey loans feature 10-year repayment terms and six-month grace periods. However, students can choose from the following repayment options: 

  • Interest-only: With interest-only repayment, the student makes payments against the interest while they’re in school and during the loan’s grace period. Full payments against the principal and interest begin once the grace period ends. 
  • Fixed payment: If students opt for the fixed (or “flat”) payment option, they will pay $25 per month while they’re in school and during their grace period. After that, they make full payments against the principal and interest. 
  • Full payment: Full principal-and-interest payments begin after the six-month grace period.

Rewards

Borrowers can qualify for a $200 bonus if they refer a friend who successfully refinances their loans through LendKey. 

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

A spokesperson said that LendKey borrowers may be eligible for up to 18 months of hardship forbearance. However, not all of LendKey’s partners may offer forbearance, or they may offer shorter periods of forbearance. 

LendKey doesn’t disclose information about how cases of death or disability are handled.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

Borrowers can refinance their loans through LendKey as long as they have at least $5,000 in outstanding student loans. Loan terms range from 5 to 20 years, and loans can have variable or fixed interest rates. 

Adding a co-signer to your application can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and a lower interest rate, and some of LendKey’s partners offer co-signer releases. 

You can refinance your loans if you’re still in school as long as you have earned at least an associate degree, but LendKey doesn’t offer parent loan refinancing. 

Customer Service

Prospective borrowers can reach customer support by phone or email Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time: 

While many marketplaces outsource loan servicing to other companies, LendKey acts as the loan servicer for all student loans originated through its platform. Existing borrowers can get help with their loans by calling or emailing the loan servicing center Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET:

Applying for a LendKey Student Loan 

LendKey allows borrowers to apply for private student loans and student loan refinancing entirely online. 

To apply for a student loan, you must provide the following information: 

  • Name of your college
  • Major
  • GPA
  • Enrollment status
  • Citizenship information
  • Desired loan amount
  • Expected graduation date
  • Academic period start date

You will also have to consent to a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit score. If you have a co-signer, they can fill out an application online too. 

LendKey has a scholarship search tool you can use to find scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options that would reduce the need for student loans.

Alternative Choices

  LendKey Credible  MEFA 
Loan Types Offered Undergraduate; graduate Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional Undergraduate; graduate 
Undergraduate Fixed APR  As low as 4.89%  3.65%–16.43%  4.89%–6.99% 
Undergraduate Variable APR  As low as 5.21%  3.99%–15.33%  N/A 
Origination/Administrative Fee  None  None  None 
Repayment Options  Interest-only; fixed payment; full payment  Varies by lender  Deferment; interest-only; immediate; Full payment 
Refinancing Available  Yes  Yes  Yes 

Final Verdict

LendKey has a broad network of credit unions and banks that allows it to connect borrowers to multiple private student loans and student loan refinancing options. However, policies can vary by partner lender, so it can be difficult to compare important factors like the availability of co-signer releases or financial hardship options. For borrowers that prioritize those features, the lack of transparency is a significant drawback.

LendKey can be a great way to shop for student loans, but there are many other lenders out there. Our picks for the best student loans are a great place to start.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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  3. LendKey. "LendKey Reports Record Revenue Growth." 

  4. LendKey. "Member Student Lending LLC and LendKey Technologies Partnership Wins 2022 Fintech Futures Banking Tech Award." 

  5. TrustPilot. "LendKey.com." 

  6. LendKey. "2022 Private Student Loans." 

  7. LendKey. "Private Education Loan Application and Solicitation Disclosure Form." 

  8. Federal Student Aid. "Federal vs Private Loans." 

  9. Lendkey. "Private Student Loans."

  10. LendKey. "Refer & Earn!

  11. LendKey. "Take Control of Student Loan Debt." 

  12. LendKey. "FAQ - Student Loan Refinancing."