Updated May 2, 2018

College Ave Review: Pros and Cons

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College Ave offers competitive rates and flexible payment terms for student loans. But it has high income requirements. Is this refinancer right for you?

Overall Score

4.4

Customer Service

5.0

Loan Term

4.0

Ease of Use

5.0

Interest Rates

4.0

Payment Flexibility

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Choose any term between 5 and 15 years
  • Quick and easy application process
  • Lack of transparency about credit/debt requirements
  • Some loans are serviced by Navient

Bottom Line

Good option for flexible payments and if you are a Nationwide customer

College Ave is fairly new to the market, as they opened in 2014, but didn't offer their refinancing program until 2016. They claim to offer a simplified, surprise-free refinance process based on what the ex-Sallie Mae executives learned while in the business.

Keep reading to see how College Ave stacks up to its promises.

What Does College Ave Refinance Offer?

As the name suggests, College Ave Refinance has several programs to help you refinance your student loan debt. Their services might seem like a dime a dozen, but they do offer one unique feature that other companies do not offer - flexible repayment terms:

  • Interest-only payment: You can opt to pay interest only for the first two years of the loan. This helps keep your payments down when your income may not be at its full potential. Full principal and interest payments begin at the start of the third year and continue through the remainder of the term.

  • Full principal and interest payment: You start making full principal and interest payments from the very start. This option has the lowest costs because you start knocking the principal down right away, rather than letting it sit unpaid for two years.

Who Benefits from College Ave Refinance?

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Borrowers who have exhausted all student loan consolidation and refinance options with the Department of Education may benefit from the College Ave programs. However, it's important to make sure you truly have exhausted all of your DOE options. Once you refinance out of a federal student loan, you lose any benefits the DOE provides, including any student loan forgiveness options.

What We Like About College Ave Refinance

  • They don't charge any origination fees. College Ave makes it affordable to determine if it's worth refinancing your student loans. They don't charge any origination or application fees.

  • They don't charge a prepayment penalty. No matter which payment option you choose, you can prepay your principal balance at any time. There is no need to worry about a prepayment penalty, even if you pay the loan off early.

  • They offer shorter-term lengths. It's hard to find lenders offering short-term student refinance loans. College Ave offers terms starting at 5 years and going all the way to 15 years. You have 11 terms to choose from. The shorter the term, the less interest you pay in the end.

  • They give you the option of fixed or variable interest rates. The rates are typically fairly competitive, even with federal student loan interest rates.

  • You only need a minimum of $5,000 in student loans to refinance. You can refinance one loan or combine several loans, as long as the total is at least $5,000.

  • You can reduce your interest rate by as much as 0.5%. If you enroll in automatic payments, College Ave will reduce your interest rate by 0.25%. If you enroll in auto pay using a qualified Nationwide bank, you'll receive an additional 0.25% decrease in your interest rate (for a rate that is 0.5% lower).

  • You can see your savings before you apply. The College Ave website has a handy tool that shows you how your payment could change based on your loan amount, current payment, and interest rate. It gives you the option to choose to reduce your total loan cost or monthly payment, giving you flexible options.

  • The application process is quick. On their website, they claim you can apply in as little as 3 minutes. We think it takes a little longer than 3 minutes to enter your information, but you do get a credit decision instantly.

  • You can apply from anywhere. You can even access the College Ave application on your mobile phone, making it convenient to apply wherever you may be.

Reasons You May Want to Look Elsewhere

  • They encourage interest-only payments for the first two years. Even though College Ave advertises their interest-only payments as a good thing, we tend to think otherwise. Paying interest only ends up costing you more interest over the life of the loan because your principal sits unpaid for two years.

  • You may need a high credit score. College Ave claims it approves borrowers with credit scores in the high 600s, but typically, approved borrowers have credit scores of 700 or higher.

  • You may need high income to qualify. College Ave often requires borrowers to prove income that is at least double the amount of their total debt. This could be hard to do if you are right out of college. This leaves you with two options: shop elsewhere or get a cosigner.

The Application Process

College Ave's application process is simple. You'll need to provide the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Social Security number
  • Total household income
  • School information
  • Employment information

Once you enter this information, you read and agree to the terms and wait for your credit decision. If approved, College Ave will pay off your existing loans directly.

In order to apply, you must be at least 18 years old and a US citizen. You must also have graduated from a Title IV school (a school that offers federal funding).

Contacting Customer Service: Contacting College Ave for help with student loan refinancing is easy. They are available from 9 AM to 8 PM ET, Monday through Friday.

You can reach them at:
refi@collegeave.com
1-844-422-7203

How They Compare

SoFi:
As one of the most well-known student refinance companies, SoFi puts up a good fight for the competition. One advantage SoFi has is the longer 20-year term option, which makes payments lower. Many borrowers find this more appealing. SoFi also has better customer service (they help you find a job rather than jump down your throat with debt collection threats).

 

College Ave

SoFi Student Loans

 

Benefits and Features

Variable APR
2.88%-7.75%
2.63% to 7.695% APR (with AutoPay)
2.88% to 7.945% APR (without AutoPay)
Fixed APR
3.5%-7.75%
3.40% to 7.75% APR (with AutoPay)
3.65% to 8.00% APR (without AutoPay)
Minimum Amount
$5,000.00
$5,000
Maximum Amount
$250,000.00
No maximum
Loan Term
5 to 15 years
5 to 20 years
State Residency
All states eligible
All states eligible
Degree Requirements
Bachelor's or higher
Associates or higher
Income Requirements
$35,000.00
None
Employment RequirementsMust be employed with an income of at least two times your debtMust be employed or have an offer to start within 90 days
Interest Only Payments
Yes for the first 2 years
No
Origination Fees
None
None
Prepayment Penalty
None
None
Can use a cosigner
Yes
Yes
Can release a cosigner
Yes
No
Auto-Pay Interest Rate Reduction
Yes
Yes
Soft Credit Check
Yes
Yes
Unemployment Protection
Case by case basis
Yes
Customer Service
Loan Term
Ease of Use
Interest Rates
Payment Flexibility
 Terms Apply. SoFi Disclaimers

College Ave: Pricing information from published website as of 03/18/2018

SoFi: Pricing information from published website as of 06/04/2018

Citizens Bank:
College Ave tends to favor borrowers who not only graduated college, but have a high paying job already. Citizens Bank, on the other hand, will refinance student loans for borrowers who didn't even finish college, giving you more options if you aren't on the fast track in your career path yet.

 

College Ave

Citizens Bank Student Loans

 

Benefits and Features

Variable APR
2.88%-7.75%
2.63%-7.98%
Fixed APR
3.5%-7.75%
3.20%-8.34%
Minimum Amount
$5,000.00
$10,000
Maximum Amount
$250,000.00
$350,000
Loan Term
5 to 15 years
5 to 20 years
State Residency
All states eligible
All states eligible
Degree Requirements
Bachelor's or higher
None, but you must have made 12 on-time payments to be eligible
Income Requirements
$35,000.00
$24,000
Employment RequirementsMust be employed with an income of at least two times your debtMust be employed or employed before first payment due date
Interest Only Payments
Yes for the first 2 years
No
Origination Fees
None
None
Prepayment Penalty
None
None
Can use a cosigner
Yes
Yes
Can release a cosigner
Yes
Yes
Auto-Pay Interest Rate Reduction
Yes
Yes
Soft Credit Check
Yes
Yes
Unemployment Protection
Case by case basis
Yes
Customer Service
Loan Term
Ease of Use
Interest Rates
Payment Flexibility

College Ave: Pricing information from published website as of 03/18/2018

Citizens Bank: Pricing information from published website as of 03/18/2018

CommonBond:
With similar refinance programs to College Ave, CommonBond stands out with their hardship program. They allow borrowers to defer their loans for three months at a time for up to 24 months during hard times. Having that emergency plan in your back pocket can be reassuring when you are just starting out.

 

College Ave

CommonBond Student Loans

 

Benefits and Features

Variable APR
2.88%-7.75%
2.6%-7.1%
Fixed APR
3.5%-7.75%
3.18%-7.25%
Minimum Amount
$5,000.00
$5,000
Maximum Amount
$250,000.00
Up to $500,000
Loan Term
5 to 15 years
5 to 20 years; Hybrid loans are 5 years of fixed payments and 5 years of variable payments
State Residency
All states eligible
All states eligible
Degree Requirements
Bachelor's or higher
Associates or higher
Income Requirements
$35,000.00
None
Employment RequirementsMust be employed with an income of at least two times your debtMust be employed or have an offer
Interest Only Payments
Yes for the first 2 years
No
Origination Fees
None
None
Prepayment Penalty
None
None
Can use a cosigner
Yes
Yes
Can release a cosigner
Yes
Yes
Auto-Pay Interest Rate Reduction
Yes
Yes
Soft Credit Check
Yes
Yes
Unemployment Protection
Case by case basis
Yes
Customer Service
Loan Term
Ease of Use
Interest Rates
Payment Flexibility

College Ave: Pricing information from published website as of 03/18/2018

CommonBond: Pricing information from published website as of 03/18/2018

Bottom Line

College Ave offers many ways to refinance your student loan debt. Before you move forward, make sure you exhausted all federal and state programs. Once you refinance out of a federal student loan, you give up any and all benefits you may have been able to receive from the government.

As is the case with any loan, read the fine print and ask all the questions you have. Make sure you understand the repayment terms and the consequences of making interest-only payments before jumping at the lower payment option.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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