SunTrust Bank is the largest subsidiary of U.S. bank holding company SunTrust Banks, Inc. With roots tracing back to 1891, the company is long-standing and well-established.
Its online lending division named LightStream helps make borrowing easier and more accessible to customers. Together, SunTrust and LightStream provide lending, credit cards, deposits, and trust and investment services.
In this in-depth review, we will take a deep dive into their student loans. Find out what loan options are on offer, their features, the pros and cons, and how to apply.
SunTrust student loans
SunTrust offers a wide selection of student loans ranging from those for pre-k students attending private school all the way up to those for graduate school students. Here’s the rundown.
LightStream’s pre-k through grade 12 student loans
Loans from $5,000 up to $100,000 are available to fund your child’s private school education from pre-k through 12th grade. Interest rates are fixed and vary based on your credit and financial profile, loan term (from two to seven years), and loan amount.
There are no additional fees for this loan. Further, if you sign up for autopay, you will get a 0.25% discount on your interest rate. Paying for your student loans from a SunTrust bank account reduces your rate by 0.25%. You can apply online, and the funds may be available as soon as the same day.
SunTrust Custom Choice loans
Custom Choice loans are for undergraduate and graduate students. They range from $1,000 up to $150,000, with a $65,000 annual maximum. You can choose from a fixed or variable interest rate. The rate you get will depend on your credit history, loan term, and loan amount.
As for fees, these loans don’t have any for origination, prepayment, or application. If you qualify and take the loan, Marnie Crane, SunTrust Education Lending Manager, says, “The time to funding varies by time of year, but generally takes 30 days.”
The repayment options include immediate payment, in-school deferment, partial interest payments, or interest-only payments. Repayment periods are available for seven, 10, or 15 years.
When you graduate, SunTrust offers a 1% reduction of your principal as a reward. Beyond that, as with LightStream, you can get a 0.25% interest rate discount for enrolling in autopay and an additional 0.25% discount if your automatic payments are coming from a SunTrust bank account.
Union Federal Private Student Loans funded by SunTrust
Union Federal private student loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students. They are very similar to the Custom Choice loans. The only differences are that international students are eligible and an additional 0.25% interest rate reduction is available if you make 36 consecutive, on-time payments.
SunTrust graduate school loan (business program)
If you are a graduate student enrolling in a business program, this loan can help. You can use it to cover costs related to your education, including tuition, school fees, room, board, transportation to school, books, and school supplies.
The minimum loan amount is $1,001, and the maximum is $175,000, with an annual maximum of $95,000. Repayment terms are available for seven or 10 years.
In other aspects such as repayment options, discounts, interest rates, and loan features, this loan is the same as the Custom Choice loan.
SunTrust student loan refinancing options
Students who are in school and have existing private student loans can refinance them into a Custom Choice loan, Union Private student loan, or Graduate business loan. To qualify loans must meet the following requirements:
Must be private loans (not federal).
Have no past-due payments.
Must have been used for postsecondary higher education expenses.
Does SunTrust offer forbearance and loan forgiveness?
If you run into a difficult time financially, SunTrust is flexible.
Crane says, “SunTrust offers hardship forbearance options for its private student loans that allow for payment of only interest for certain periods of time, as well as deferment options when borrowers enroll at least half-time or are serving in the military.”
Crane adds, “SunTrust also provides loan forgiveness to cosigners in the event the student borrower dies, as well as loan forgiveness if the student borrower becomes totally and permanently disabled.”
Am I eligible for a SunTrust student loan?
According to Crane, the eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Half-time enrollment in a degree-seeking program at an approved, Title IV eligible school
- S. citizen or permanent resident with a Social Security Number (international students can apply for the SunTrust Union Federal Private Student Loan with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien)
- Must be the legal age of majority, or at least 17 years of age at the time of application (if applying with a cosigner who meets the age of majority requirements in the cosigner’s state of residence)
- Custom Choice loans are not available in Iowa or Wisconsin
- Satisfactory income and credit
She adds, “If you are concerned about being approved for a private student loan, or you don’t have a substantial credit history, we recommend you consider strengthening your chances by adding a qualified cosigner.” If you do use a co-signer, you can apply to release them after 36 or 48 consecutive on-time payments.
The only way to find out if you qualify and what rates you qualify for is to apply.
SunTrust application process
You can easily fill out an application for a SunTrust or LightStream student loan online. Here’s how the process works.
Visit the SunTrust website and navigate to the Student Loans page. Scroll down and select “Learn More” for private school loans.
Select the loan you want. For this example, I will select the Custom Choice undergraduate loan.
Click “Apply Online.”
Then, you will start the application. The first step is to enter your school and then answer basic questions about the loan.
Provide your enrollment information.
Enter the loan amount you are requesting.
Fill in your personal information.
Add your contact details.
Provide your mailing address and residency status.
Agree to the terms and disclosures.
After this step, you will review your application for accuracy and then submit it to find out if you qualify.
For the LightStream loan, you will navigate to the same student loan page on SunTrust’s website but will click “Learn more” on the Pre-K through 12 option.
Click “Apply Now.”
Begin the application by selecting your application type and loan purpose and entering the other information.
Enter your personal information.
Provide details about your employment.
Fill out the security information.
Confirm all the information is correct and submit your application.
SunTrust student loans review and summary
SunTrust offers very competitive interest rates, discounts, a graduation perk, and no origination fees. Further, the bank and its online lending division, LightStream, make the loan application process very easy.
With LightStream, you can even get the funds as soon as the same day. Delivery of funds takes longer for undergraduate and graduate loans, but that is standard. The in-school refinancing option can also be helpful for students who can save by switching to SunTrust.
What’s the catch?
SunTrust has high standards for approval, catering to individuals with good to excellent credit. You will need positive income, a credit score in the upper 600’s or better, and an established credit history.
However, if you can’t qualify, you can still apply with a cosigner who does. Another point to note is that, while SunTrust’s interest rates are often low in comparison to other private lenders, they are not as low as Federal loans.
With that being said, these private loans should be used after Federal grant and loan options have been fully utilized.
To learn more about SunTrust private student loans or to apply, click here.
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.