While federal student loans are a popular financing option because of their low interest rates and repayment benefits, private student loans can play a key role in paying for your education. Federal loans often have limits on how much you can borrow, so private loans can fill a gap and help you finish your degree.
Wells Fargo offers private student loans for undergraduate, graduate, and vocational students—and their parents—and it doesn’t charge any fees. But private student loans offered by this lender do have some significant drawbacks to consider. Here’s what you need to know.
As of July 2020, Wells Fargo is no longer accepting applications for private loans from new customers.
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No application, origination, or late fees
Customers can qualify for automatic payment and loyalty interest rate discounts
Parent loans can be forgiven if the student is permanently disabled
Interest rates may be higher than you’d get with federal loans
Strict limits on total education debt permitted
No alternative repayment options
- No fees: With Wells Fargo private student loans, there are no application, origination, or late fees. There is also no penalty for paying off your loan early.
- Interest rate discounts: Wells Fargo has two discounts for borrowers. If you sign up for automatic payments, you’ll receive a 0.25% interest rate discount. But you can qualify for an additional discount—up to 0.50%—if you’re a current Wells Fargo customer.
- Loan discharge: With most parent student loans, including federal Parent PLUS Loans, the loan can’t be discharged if the student is permanently and totally disabled. The loan is only discharged if the student dies, or if the parent borrower dies or is permanently disabled. Wells Fargo is one of the only lenders that offers a loan discharge for parent student loans if the student becomes disabled.
- Interest rates: Wells Fargo’s interest rates may be higher than federal student loans. For example, fixed-rate loans for undergraduate students range from 4.53% (the lowest rate with discounts) to 10.72%, not including any customer discounts. To qualify for loans with an interest rate on the lower end of the range, you need excellent credit. By contrast, federal loans for all undergraduate students have a fixed rate of 4.53%, regardless of credit score.
- Loan limits: Wells Fargo limits how much you take out in total education debt. The limit for undergraduate student loans, combined with all other education debt—including federal student loans—is $120,000. If you need to borrow more than that, you’ll have to find another lender.
- No alternative repayment options: While other lenders offer multiple payment options—such as interest-only payments or fixed payments—Wells Fargo only offers one repayment method for most student loans. You get a six-month grace period, then start making full principal and interest rate payments on your debt. The limited repayment options is a significant drawback compared to other lenders.
Wells Fargo Student Loans Available
Wells Fargo provides loans for undergraduate, graduate students, and parent borrowers. It also has loans for students in their residency, completing the bar exam, or pursuing career training or studying at community colleges.
Undergraduate Student Loans
Depending on your dependency status, the most you can borrow each year in federal direct loans as an undergraduate student is between $5,500 and $12,500. If your tuition and room and board costs more than that, a private student loan from Wells Fargo can help cover the remaining amount.
Wells Fargo’s undergraduate student loans have no origination, application, or late fees, and no prepayment penalties. You can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, minus the other financial aid you received. The limit Wells Fargo allows for all education debt—including federal student loans—is $120,000.
|Variable Rates||2.68% - 9.46%|
|Fixed Rates||4.53% - 10.72%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 up to total cost of attendance (subject to lifetime limit)|
|Loan Terms||15 Years|
Graduate School Loans
If you are planning on getting a master’s degree, MBA, law degree, or other professional credential, a graduate school loan from Wells Fargo can be a cost-effective alternative to federal student loans. Depending on what federal loans you qualify for, your interest rate could be 6.08% to 7.08%. But if you have good credit, you could qualify for a loan with Wells Fargo with a fixed interest rate as low as 5.64%.
Most graduate loans are subject to the same $120,000 cap as undergraduate loans. However, graduate loans used for law or business degrees have a lifetime limit of $180,000.
|Variable Rates||3.21% - 9.44%|
|Fixed Rates||5.64% - 11.76%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 up to total cost of attendance (subject to lifetime limit)|
|Loan Terms||15 years|
Medical School Loans
For graduate students in medical, nursing, dental, or other health-related programs, Wells Fargo offers MedCAP Medical School Loans. These loans give you a six-month grace period. But allopathic and osteopathic medical students can qualify for a 36-month grace period, giving them time to start their careers before they have to start making payments.
The lifetime loan limit, combined with all other education debt, is dependent on your course of study:
- Allopathic or osteopathic medicine and dentistry: $250,000
- Graduate nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatry, and veterinary medicine: $180,000
- Other eligible disciplines: $120,000
|Variable Rates||3.07% - 8.01%|
|Fixed Rates||4.82% - 9.54%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 up to $250,000 (dependent on course of study and subject to lifetime limit)|
|Loan Terms||20 years|
Medical Residency and Relocation Loans
Medical residents who need help covering expenses related to their residency, medical boards, or relocation expenses may be eligible for Wells Fargo’s MedCAP-XTRA loans. There is a six-month grace period (36 months for allopathic and osteopathic students) and you can borrow up to $15,000 for qualifying expenses.
|Variable Rates||7.46% - 7.69%|
|Fixed Rates||9.76% - 9.99%|
(subject to lifetime loan limit)
|Loan Terms||7 years|
Bar Exam Loan
If you’re a law school student preparing to take the bar exam, you can use a Wells Fargo bar exam loan to pay for registration fees, test preparation materials, and your living expenses. You can borrow up to $12,000, and no payments are required until six months after you leave law school.
|Variable Rates||9.99% - 10.21%|
|Fixed Rates||12.45% - 12.67%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 - $12,000 (subject to lifetime loan limit)|
|Loan Terms||7 years|
Parent Student Loans
If you are a parent of an undergraduate student, one option is to take out a federal Parent PLUS Loan. Be aware though that PLUS Loans have the highest interest rate of all federal loans—as of 2020, the interest rate is 7.08%.
If you have good credit and are a Wells Fargo customer and can take advantage of its customer loyalty discounts, you could qualify for a lower interest rate with a Wells Fargo parent student loan. You can borrow up to $25,000 per year. Take note that deferring your payments until after graduation isn’t an option with Wells Fargo as repayment begins immediately.
|Variable Rates||3.99% - 10.49%|
|Fixed Rates||6.74% - 12.99%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 to $25,000 per year (subject to a lifetime limit of $100,000)|
|Loan Terms||15 years|
Private Student Loans for Career Training and Community Colleges
If you plan to attend a two-year school or a career training program rather than pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you may be eligible for a Wells Fargo loan for community colleges. With these loans, you can borrow up to $15,000 per year for a two-year public or private school, and $20,000 per year for a four-year proprietary school. These loans have a six-month grace period after you leave school.
|Variable Rates||5.00% - 10.43%|
|Fixed Rates||7.24% - 12.45%|
|Loan Amounts||$1,000 to $20,000, depending on your program (subject to a lifetime loan limit)|
|Loan Terms||12 years|
To qualify for a private student loan from Wells Fargo, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be enrolled as a student at an eligible school seeking a degree, certificate, or license.
- Students can qualify for loans if they are enrolled less than half-time.
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or be a permanent resident alien or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) individual with a current U.S. address. DACA applicants must show evidence of deferred action status.
- Applicants must meet income and credit score requirements. If you don’t meet those limits on your own, you may need a co-signer to qualify for a loan.
Is Loan Prequalification Available?
Wells Fargo does not offer loan prequalification. To figure out if you’re eligible for a loan and what interest rate you’d receive, you must submit your application and go through a hard credit inquiry, which can impact your credit score.
Wells Fargo doesn’t charge origination or application fees and unlike most other private student loan lenders, it also doesn’t charge any late fees if you miss a payment. There are still consequences if you fall behind, such as damage to your credit report, but you won’t incur added fees.
There is also no penalty if you choose to pay off your loan early, which is a smart way to save money on interest charges.
You may be able to reduce your APR with one of the following discounts offered by Wells Fargo:
- Automatic payment discount: When you sign up for automatic payments, Wells Fargo will lower your interest rate by 0.25%.
- Wells Fargo customer discount: If you are an existing Wells Fargo customer, you could qualify for an additional interest rate discount.
- Prior Wells Fargo student loan customers: 0.25%
- Wells Fargo consumer checking account customers: 0.25%
- Portfolio by Wells Fargo customers: 0.50%
With most Wells Fargo student loans, you have a six-month grace period, which means you don’t have to start making payments on your loans until six months after you graduate or leave school. Interest will accrue on your loans while you’re in college, but you aren’t required to make payments during this time.
Wells Fargo loans for parents are the exception—the repayment period begins immediately for parent student loans.
When it comes to rewards and benefits, borrowers are likely to be disappointed; Wells Fargo doesn’t offer any extra perks. That’s in stark contrast to other lenders like SoFi, which offer robust benefits, such as referral bonuses, career counseling, and member events.
Are Co-Signers Required?
Wells Fargo doesn’t require applicants to have a co-signer. But if you don’t have excellent credit and steady income, you can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan and a competitive interest rate by adding a co-signer to your application. Plus, Wells Fargo allows borrowers to apply for co-signer releases after 24 months of on-time payments.
Forbearance and Loan Discharge Options
Wells Fargo does have support programs in place for borrowers experiencing financial hardships. If you can’t find a job, get laid off, or have an unplanned medical expense, you could qualify for short-term payment relief for up to two months if you’re up-to-date with your payments. Or, you may be eligible for Wells Fargo’s loan modification program, where your monthly payment is temporarily or even permanently reduced to make it more affordable for you. To discuss your options, call 1-800-658-3567.
Loan discharge terms vary widely from lender to lender. With Wells Fargo, your loans will be discharged if the student borrower dies or becomes totally and permanently disabled. That’s the case even for parent student loans, which is a major advantage over Parent PLUS Loans.
With PLUS Loans, the loans are only forgiven if the parent dies or becomes disabled, or if the student passes away. If the student is disabled, the parents still owe the full balance of the loan.
Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement
Once you complete the online application and upload the necessary documentation, Wells Fargo will reach out to your selected school and ask it to certify the loan. Once certified, the bank will ask you (and your co-signer, if applicable) to sign a loan agreement. Once that’s complete, Wells Fargo will send the funds to your school’s financial aid office. According to the lender, borrowers should allow two to three weeks for the process to be completed.
Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?
Wells Fargo offers student loan refinancing for both federal and private student loans. You can choose between fixed and variable-rate loans, and repayment terms range from five to 20 years in length.
Wells Fargo has currently paused refinancing for federal student loans in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This change is to allow federal loan borrowers to take advantage of benefits announced by the Department of Education, such as the ability to postpone payments for up to six months and interest waivers. Only those with private student loans are eligible for refinancing with Wells Fargo at this time.
Unfortunately, some borrowers have reported issues with Wells Fargo. In the 2019 Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Private Education Loan Ombudsman, the CFPB listed the number of complaints it received about private student loan companies. From Sept. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2019, it handled 2,900 complaints about private student loan companies. Of those, 116—or about 5%—were about Wells Fargo. Most focused on issues dealing with the lender, while others were about problems affording monthly payments.
You can reach customer support by calling 1-800-378-5526. Loan consultants are available Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST. Or, you can send a secure email through Wells Fargo’s website.
Apply for a Wells Fargo Student Loan
If you’re a Wells Fargo customer, you could qualify for a private student loan with a lower interest rate than you could get with a federal loan. However, it’s still a good idea to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid so you get all available financial aid options, including grants and federal student loans. If you decide that a private student loan from Wells Fargo is the right move, you can apply for a loan online.
You’ll need to enter your school information, your Social Security number, permanent address, employment and income information, and the cost of attendance of your program and expected financial aid.
With federal student loans, there are strict limits on how much you can borrow each year. If your school’s program costs more than the annual limit—and chances are it will be much more expensive—you’ll need to find another source of funding.
Wells Fargo’s interest rates aren’t that low at face value. But if you’re an existing Wells Fargo customer and sign up for automatic payments, you can qualify for interest rate discounts that make its rates much more competitive, helping you save money. And, Wells Fargo doesn’t charge origination, application, or late fees.
Wells Fargo’s repayment options are very limited. While other lenders offer multiple term lengths and options, it only offers one loan term and one repayment option per loan, giving you little flexibility. In addition, it has lifetime loan limits that caps how much education debt you can take on, including private and federal student loans. If you are pursuing a law degree or going to medical school, you could quickly exhaust that limit and need to find another lender.
Before choosing a lender, compare offers from multiple private student loan lenders to find the best loan for you.
Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected over 45 data points across more than 15 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.
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