Wells Fargo has several private student loan offerings including undergraduate loans, graduate loans, and loans to consolidate existing student debt. They previously offered federal student loans, but have not done so since July of 2010.
Here, we will review the undergraduate and graduate student loan products.
Wells Fargo student loans overview
Students may use the student loans from Wells Fargo for tuition as well as for housing, books, computers, and more. Wells Fargo will work with the school to verify the amount of money needed for the borrower and their enrollment.
Upon approval, the school will accept the funds on behalf of the student. Any remaining funds will be distributed to the borrower.
Undergraduate students attending traditional four-year schools have a lifetime limit of $120,000, which includes the Wells Fargo loan and all other education-related debt.
Students attending a two-year school or career-training program have a lifetime limit of $40,000, while those attending a four-year proprietary school have a $100,000-lifetime limit. Both include the Wells Fargo loan and all other education-related debt.
Graduate loans have a lifetime limit of $100,000, which includes the graduate loan and all other education-related debt.
Like many other private student loans, students are not required to begin repaying the loan until six months after graduating or leaving the school. However, interest still accrues during the deferment period and will be capitalized to the account when the borrower begins repayments.
There are no early payment, origination, or application fees. Late fees will apply if a payment is not on time.
Interest rates are available in both fixed and variable options. The exact rate a borrower gets will depend on their creditworthiness. There are two interest rate discounts available:
- If borrowers have their repayments automatically withdrawn from their personal deposit account, they can get a 0.25% discount.
- If they have a qualifying consumer checking account, a prior federal or private student loan made by Wells Fargo, or a Portfolio by Wells Fargo account, they can use one to get a discount. The first two provide a 0.25% discount while the third provides a 0.50% discount.
If you need to postpone your repayments beyond the six-month grace period, Wells Fargo offers the following forbearance types (maximum time periods are stated):
- 48 months for students returning to school
- 36 months for graduates completing a fellowship, residency, or internship program
- Three years for those volunteering at a qualifying public service organization
- Three years for active military duty service
- Unspecified for FEMA disasters
While borrowers can defer payments, interest still accrues and will be added to the principal balance when the forbearance period ends.
Financial hardship options
If you don’t qualify for forbearance but are going through a financial hardship, Wells Fargo offers other options.
Jason Vasquez, VP of Corporate Communications at Wells Fargo, says, “For the 2% of our customers who encounter difficulty during their repayment years, we offer a number of student loan repayment options.” For example, if you have a good payment history, you can get payment relief for two to six months.
If you need more assistance, Vasquez explains another option, “In November 2014 Wells Fargo introduced its private student loan modification program to assist customers experiencing financial hardship or distress.”
He adds, “Customers have averaged a monthly payment reduction of 30%.”
Loan forgiveness goes into effect if the student borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled.
“Since 2010, Wells Fargo has forgiven over $30 million in private student loans due to the death or permanent/total disability of the student borrower/beneficiary,” says Vasquez,
He adds, “This loan forgiveness feature is part of the consumer credit agreement that we enter into with our customers, affording our customers a contractual right to this benefit.”
Wells Fargo does not use call centers to manage its customer care.
Vasquez says, “When a student becomes a Wells Fargo private student loan customer, they are assigned a loan specialist who will work with the customer for the life of the loan. Customers can call, email, and work with a single point of contact.”
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo is one of the longest standing financial institutions in the U.S. and was established in 1852. According to Vasquez, the bank has been a leader in the student loan marketplace since the 1960s.
He explains the approach the lender takes to private student loans saying, “Prudent underwriting and providing quality, timely information, transparency, and financial education for each customer has allowed for 98% of our private student loan customers to be current with their loan payments.
This high level of repayment continues to remain a hallmark of the private student loan marketplace and differentiator from the federal student loan marketplace as noted by a recent MeasureOne report.”
He adds, “We encourage customers to look at all of their education financing options (including grants, scholarships, and loans from all sources), borrow only what they need, and make careful comparisons among all of their choices.
Customers are provided detailed and transparent disclosures regarding the terms and conditions of their loans at three different points during the loan process. They’re also provided a 30-day right to accept and lock in their loan offer, as well as a three-day right to cancel the loan before funds are delivered.”
The eligibility requirements include that students must:
- Be enrolled as an undergraduate or graduate student (depending on the loan)
- Attend an eligible school
- Be seeking a degree, license, or certificate
- Be a U.S. citizen, U.S national, permanent resident alien, or international student who is a temporary resident alien
- Meet credit, employment, and debt-to-income standards
If a student can not qualify, they can apply with a cosigner who does.
Students who make 24 consecutive on-time payments can apply to release their cosigner. If the first payment is not made on time, the cosigner release will require 48 consecutive on-time payments.
The easiest way to apply is on the Wells Fargo website. Here’s the step-by-step process.
1.) Go to “Personal” > “Loans and Credit” > “Student Loans.”
2.) Click on “Apply Now.”
3.) Select the loan type you want.
4.) Enter preliminary information about your loan.
5.) Read over the basics of the loan you want and click “Get Started.”
6.) Select your state of residency and if you are a current Wells Fargo customer.
7.) If you are new to Wells Fargo, you will enter the following information. Then, click “Continue.”
8. ) You will then start the application. The first step is to enter your contact information.
9.) Next, enter your employment and income information.
10.) Then, enter your loan information.
11.) Share whether you will apply alone or with a cosigner.
12.) Confirm that you can read the documents provided.
13.) Agree to the disclosures and click “Continue” to submit the application.
As shown in step 6, if approved, the next steps will be to provide supporting documentation, sign loan documents, and get your funds.
Review and summary of Wells Fargo student loans
Wells Fargo is a well-known and long-standing lender in the private student loan space. Its interest rates are competitive, and the two discounts can lower them even further. Additionally, there are no prepayment, origination, or application fees.
The eligibility requirements are typically difficult for a student to qualify for alone. However, the majority of students apply with cosigners. Wells Fargo takes pride in their high percentage of customers who are current on their loan payments, which requires them to be more stringent than some other lenders when it comes to approvals.
If borrowers do happen to have trouble with their repayments for some reason, there are a number of programs Wells Fargo has in place to help. On the other hand, if repayments are going well and a student meets the eligibility requirements, it’s helpful that they can release their cosigner after two years of timely payments.
If problems ever come up, the personalized customer service beats having to call into a call center. However, some customers have complained about their experience with Wells Fargo customer service, so you may want to read up on the reviews from others.
Overall it’s a route worth exploring, especially if you are already a Wells Fargo customer and if you have a well-qualified cosigner.
If you are interested in learning more or applying, 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.