Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loans Review

Navy Federal Credit Union offers private student loans and refinancing to military service members, DoD civilians, and their family members

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Navy Federal Credit Union

 Navy Federal Credit Union

Investopedia’s Rating
3.7

Our Take

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.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • 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

Cons
  • 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
  • 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.
Company Overview

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

 Navy Federal Credit Union

overall rating
3.7

Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR  Fixed APR 
Undergraduate loan 5.87%–14.54%  4.63%–13.74%
Graduate loan  5.87%–14.54%  4.63%–13.74% 
Refinance loan  4.66%–6.79%  3.69%–5.60% 

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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 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 whole academic year. 

Terms for Undergraduate Student Loans
Variable APR 5.87%–14.54%
Fixed APR  4.63%–13.74% 
Loan amounts  $2,000–$120,000 
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
Variable APR 5.87%–14.54%
Fixed APR  4.63%–13.74% 
Loan amounts  $2,000–$160,000 
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, 9 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 them 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

Loan Fees

Navy Federal does not charge an origination fee, application fee, or prepayment penalty. However, it does charge fees for late or returned payments.  

Loan Discounts

If you sign up for automatic student loan payments from your bank account, Navy Federal will knock 0.25% off your interest rate. 

Repayment Options

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 3.69%. 

You also have to be a current student or graduate of an eligible school, with a credit history that spans at least 21 months and a monthly income of at least $2,000. Alternatively, you can apply with a co-signer who makes at least $2,000 per month, as long as you’re bringing in a minimum monthly income of $100. 

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. 

Customer Service

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
  • Email 
  • 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. 

Alternative Choices

  Navy Federal SoFi  Discover 
Loan types offered Undergraduate; graduate Undergraduate; graduate; professional; health professions; parent Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional 
Undergraduate fixed APR  4.63%–13.74%  4.49%–13.80%  5.49%–14.99% 
Undergraduate variable APR  5.87%–14.54%  4.99%–13.07%  5.87%–15.12% 
Origination/administrative fee  None  None  None 
Repayment options  Fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing available  Yes  Yes  Yes 

Final Verdict

If you’re a service member, veteran, Department of Defense civilian, or have another affiliation that would make you eligible for Navy Federal Credit Union membership, it’s worth checking out the student loan and student loan refinance offerings. With its competitive rates and few fees, Navy Federal 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.

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
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  1. Navy Federal. "Student Loan FAQs." 

  2. Navy Federal. "Refinance Student Loans." 

  3. Navy Federal. "How to Add or Release a Co-signer From a Loan." 

  4. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Private Student Loans Rates & Terms." 

  5. Navy Federal Credit Union. "Rates & Terms." 

  6. Navy Federal. "Fees and Charges." 

  7. Navy Federal. "FAQ." 

  8. Navy Federal. "Private Student Loans." 

  9. Navy Federal. "How to Apply for Private Student Loans." 

  10. Navy Federal. "Student Loans & Refinancing." 

  11. Navy Federal. "Contact Us." 

  12. Navy Federal. "Branches and ATMs."