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Navy Federal Credit Union offers private student loans and student loan refinancing to its members, who include past and present military, Department of Defense civilians, and their family members. The credit union offers competitive rates but no full deferment option, instead requiring you to make small payments while you’re in school.
Offers both private student loans and student loan refinancing
Option to choose between fixed and variable rate
Co-signer release possible after 24 months
No application fee, origination fee, or prepayment penalty
Career assistance program for student loan borrowers
Only available to credit union members
Cannot defer payments completely while you’re in school
No option to pre-qualify online
Can’t refinance a parent PLUS loan in the student’s name
Limited repayment term options available
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
- Navy Federal Credit Union provides student loans and student loan refinancing to qualifying members, who include active duty military, retired military, veterans, Department of Defense civilian employees and retirees, and their family members.
- Founded in 1933, Navy Federal has been offering student loans since 2015 through its student loan servicing partner, LendKey.
- This credit union offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students at qualifying programs with no origination or application fee. Ineligible programs include certificate programs, trade schools, for-profit colleges, and foreign institutions.
- If you want to refinance existing student loan debt, you may do so through Navy Federal. The credit union doesn’t allow you to refinance a parent PLUS loan in your own name, though, and its repayment terms max out at 15 years.
Founded in the midst of the Great Depression in 1933, Navy Federal Credit Union serves military service members, veterans, and others associated with the military or the Department of Defense. It offers a range of financial products, including checking and savings accounts, car loans, and mortgages.
Navy Federal started providing private student loans in 2015 through its partner LendKey, which it offers to undergraduate and graduate students in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Borrowers can also refinance student debt with Navy Federal as long as they meet underwriting requirements or apply with a creditworthy co-signer.
According to the credit union, 9 out of 10 undergraduates apply for one of its in-school student loans with a co-signer. However, that co-signer doesn’t have to share debt forever—Navy Federal offers the option of co-signer release after 24 months of on-time repayment (or 12 months on a refinanced loan).
- Year Founded 1933
- Official Website www.navyfederal.org
- Loans Offered Undergraduate, Graduate, Refinance
- Customer Service Phone: (877) 304-9302). Web chat. Secure message
Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loans: Quick Look
|Loan Type||Variable APR||Fixed APR|
|Refinance loan||As low as 6.13%||As low as 4.60%|
- Offers both private student loans and student loan refinancing: You can borrow a private student loan to pay for an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree, as well as refinance existing student loan debt with competitive rates.
- Option to choose between fixed and variable rate: It’s up to you whether you want an interest rate that stays the same over the life of the loan or fluctuates with market conditions.
- Co-signer release possible after 24 months: If you’ve made on-time payments for two years, you can apply to get your co-signer removed from the loan agreement.
- No application fee, origination fee, or prepayment penalty: Navy Federal doesn’t charge any of these fees, though it does charge fees for late or returned payments.
- Career assistance program for student loan borrowers: You can access job search resources and interview advice.
- Only available to credit union members: You’ll need to meet Navy Federal’s eligibility requirements to join, which involve some sort of association with the military or the Department of Defense.
- Can’t defer payments completely while you’re in school: Navy Federal requires you to pay interest charges or $25 per month while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. Once this grace period ends, you’ll start making full payments.
- No option to pre-qualify: While some lenders let you check your rates with an instant online pre-qualification, Navy Federal doesn’t provide this option on its website. You’ll need to submit a full application to see your offers, which could ding your credit score by a few points.
- Can’t refinance a parent PLUS loan in the student’s name: Navy Federal doesn’t let you transfer ownership of a parent PLUS loan through refinancing, an option that some other lenders offer.
- Limited repayment term options available: You can only choose terms of 5 or 10 years on private student loans; 15- and 20-year terms are not available, unlike some other lenders.
Some lenders let you defer payments completely while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. Check out alternative options with our recommendations for the best private student loans.
Student Loans Offered by Navy Federal Credit Union
Undergraduate Student Loans
Whether you’re attending a community college or a four-year school, you can borrow up to $120,000 from Navy Federal Credit Union. You have the option of a fixed or variable interest rate and will be required to make small or interest-only payments while you’re in school and for six months after you graduate. As long as you’re enrolled at least half-time in an eligible program, you can apply for a Navy Federal student loan for the semester or the whole academic year.
|Terms for Undergraduate Student Loans|
|Loan terms||5 or 10 years|
Graduate Student Loans
Graduate students can also borrow from Navy Federal to cover the costs of their master’s or other advanced degree. Navy Federal lets you borrow an aggregate of $160,000 as a graduate student, and you can again choose between a fixed and variable rate.
|Terms for Graduate Student Loans|
|Loan terms||5 or 10 years|
Loan Eligibility and Approval
You’ll need to meet certain eligibility requirements to borrow a student loan from Navy Federal. Specifically, you must:
- Be (or become) a Navy Federal Credit Union member
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and a legal adult in your state
- Enroll at least half-time at an accredited degree-granting program at an eligible college or university
- Earn a minimum annual income of $15,000
Are Co-Signers Required?
Co-signers are not required to borrow a student loan from Navy Federal, but adding one to your application might increase your chances of approval. According to the credit union, nine out of 10 of its student borrowers have a co-signer on their loan. If you apply with a co-signer, your co-signer will also have to meet several of the above-listed requirements, including being a Navy Federal member and making at least $15,000 per year.
Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?
Navy Federal does not offer loan pre-qualification on its website. Some lenders let you pre-qualify for a loan online, meaning you can check customized rates with no obligation or impact on your credit score. Since Navy Federal doesn’t provide this option, you’ll have to submit a full application and consent to a hard credit inquiry before you can see the details of your loan offers.
Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement
Applying for a Navy Federal Credit Union student loan only takes about five minutes, but you’ll need to wait four to six weeks before your loan is disbursed. During this time, Navy Federal will contact your school to certify its cost of attendance.
Once the credit union has processed your loan, it will send the funds to your school, which will apply it to tuition and fees. Any amount that’s left over will be returned to you to use on your other costs of attendance, such as books and supplies.
You can apply for a loan on a semester or annual basis. If you need your loan quickly, the credit union recommends calling one of its student loan specialists at (877) 304-9302.
Loan Fees and Repayment Options
Navy Federal does not charge an origination fee, application fee, or prepayment penalty. However, it does charge fees for late or returned payments.
If you sign up for automatic student loan payments from your bank account, Navy Federal will knock 0.25% off your interest rate.
You can choose repayment terms of five or 10 years on a Navy Federal in-school student loan and terms of five, 10, or 15 years on a refinanced loan. With an in-school loan, you don’t have to start making full payments of your principal balance or interest while you’re enrolled at least half-time and for six months after you graduate or leave school. This period of time after you graduate is known as the grace period.
Before full payments start, however, you’ll still have to make small payments on your student loans. You have two options:
- Fixed payments: Pay $25 per month on your student loans while you’re in school and during your grace period.
- Interest-only payments: Pay the interest that accrues on your loans while you’re in school and during your grace period.
Career Assistance Program
Navy Federal offers a career assistance program to borrowers, which provides job search training, including a job search dashboard, interview advice, and other online tools and exercises to help you find a job.
Loan Forbearance Options
Apart from the six-month grace period for in-school borrowers, Navy Federal does not explicitly offer forbearance or deferment options.
If you’re struggling to afford payments, reach out to your loan servicer to see if it can temporarily adjust or pause your bills until you get back on your feet. Some private lenders let you pause payments if you lose your job or go back to school, but this option isn’t guaranteed.
Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?
Navy Federal lets you refinance existing student loan debt to a five-, 10-, or 15-year repayment term. You must be a member to refinance and can choose between fixed and variable rates that start as low as 4.60%.
You also have to be a current student or graduate of an eligible school, with an established credit history and an annual income of at least $24,000. For income verification, applicants must submit their two most recent pay stubs within the last 60 days. Alternatively, if you do not meet the minimum income requirements, you can apply with a co-signer.
Parents can also refinance parent loans that they took out on behalf of their child. However, Navy Federal does not allow students to refinance parent PLUS loans in their own name.
Navy Federal Credit Union offers 24/7 customer support over the phone at (888) 842-6328. You can also contact the Navy Federal support team via live web chat on its website. Members can sign into their accounts to send a secure message. Finally, you can get in-person support at one of the credit union’s 350 branches.
Applying for a Navy Federal Student Loan
You can apply for a Navy Federal student loan on its website in five minutes or less. You’ll need to provide the following information:
- Social Security number
- Permanent address
- Phone number
- Basic information about your academic standing
If you have any questions along the way, you can call Navy Federal to speak with one of its loan specialists. Note that you can only apply for a student loan online—you can’t complete the process over the phone or in person.
Since the loan approval and disbursement process may take four to six weeks, try to apply at least a month and a half before your tuition bill is due.
|Loan types offered||Undergraduate; graduate||Undergraduate; graduate; professional; health professions; parent||Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional|
|Undergraduate fixed APR||5.50%–13.30%||4.24%–13.55%||5.49%–14.99%|
|Undergraduate variable APR||7.07%–16.40%||5.24%–12.82%||6.12%–15.37%|
|Repayment options||Fixed; interest-only; full payment||Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment||Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment|
It’s worth checking out Navy Federal Credit Union's student loan and student loan refinance offerings. With competitive rates and few fees, they might be able to offer you an affordable student loan with relatively low costs of borrowing.
At the same time, this lender requires that you make small or interest-only payments as a student, which might be difficult if you don’t have a source of income. If you prefer a lender that offers full deferment during your grace period, you might want to explore alternative options for private student loans.
Looking for a lender that offers deferment, or just want to check out your options? Save some time by browsing our picks for the best student loans.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Do Navy Federal Student Loans Take?
Navy Federal claims the applications can be completed in about five minutes and you'll receive a preliminary decision immediately. However, it estimates the time it takes for schools to complete the certification process and receive funds to be from four to six weeks.
Is It Hard to Get Approved for a Loan at Navy Federal?
Unless you have an annual income of at least $15,000 and an established credit history, you'll need a co-signer. Many college students may not meet the standard of an established credit history, so the need for a co-signer is likely. The co-signer, like the applicant, must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member.
Are Navy Federal Student Loans Forgiven?
Navy Federal offers private student loans that do not qualify for the same benefits as federal student loans, such as forbearance, deferment, loan forgiveness, and more. This is the case whether it is a new loan with the credit union or a federal loan refinanced with the credit union.
What Score Do I Need to Get a Loan From Navy Federal?
Navy Federal does not specify an exact credit score you must have to be approved for a student loan. As with any loan, multiple factors are taken into account, including income, credit history, and more. Those with higher scores will be able to get the best interest rates.
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Navy Federal Credit Union. "Navy Federal Enters Private Student Loan Market Giving Members More Options, Helping Simplify Their Education Debt."
Navy Federal Credit Union. "About Us."
Navy Federal Credit Union. "Refinance Student Loans."
Navy Federal Credit Union. "Student Loans & Refinancing."
Navy Federal Credit Union. "How to Apply for Private Student Loans."
Navy Federal Credit Union. "Student Loan FAQs."
Navy Federal. "Rates & Terms."