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PenFed Student Loans Review

A PenFed student loan refinance can help you score a lower interest rate or better repayment terms. This lender even lets married couples refinance their student loans together, which is a unique feature among lenders. Find out how these loans work and where to apply.

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Holly Johnson
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PenFed student loans are for refinancing existing student loans only, and the company refers customers who need in-school loans to another provider called Ascent. With a PenFed student loan refinance, students and parents get the chance to get a better interest rate, a different repayment plan, or both. Married couples can even refinance together so they can tackle their student debts as a team.

Pros
Married couples can refinance together
Check your rate with no impact on your credit
Refinance parent PLUS loans in your name
Co-signer release available after 12 months
PenFed services its own loans
Cons
PenFed Credit Union offers refinance loans only
Credit union membership required
No loan discharge for death or disability
Bachelor's degree required for refinancing
No auto-pay discount

What Types of Student Loans Does PenFed Offer?

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) offers a limited number of student loan options directly, and they shy away from offering in-school student loans in any form. Members of the credit union or those who are willing to join can access the following student loans:

  • Student Loan Refinancing

PenFed Student Loan Refinancing Review

PenFed Student Loan Refinancing Features

Since PenFed Credit Union focuses on offering student loan refinancing only, you won't get the option to defer repayment of your loans. That said, it's possible to choose a repayment plan that lasts between five and 15 years, and loan amounts can range from $7,500 all the way up to $300,000. PenFed also offers fixed interest rates only, so you can't use this company to refinance student loans with a variable APR.


Loan terms

Immediate repayment only

Repayment period

5, 8, 12, or 15 years

Loan amount

$7,500 to $300,000

Loan Structure Flexibility

Fixed interest rates only; forbearance available on a case-by-case basis

PenFed Student Loan Refinancing Interest Rates and Fees

PenFed student loans don't have any origination fees, maintenance fees, or hidden fees. You won't pay any prepayment penalties if you pay your student loans off early, and interest rates are fixed for the line of the loan. That said, a late payment fee of $5 to $25 can apply if you pay your student loan bill after its due date.


Borrowing/Origination Fees

None

Prepayment Fees

None

Late Payment Fees

$5 to $25

Maintenance Fees

None

Fixed Rates

6.74% APR to 8.93% APR

Variable Rates

Not offered

PenFed Student Loan Refinancing Qualification Requirements

PenFed Credit Union allows refinancing for members who have graduated college with a bachelor's degree or higher. Co-signers are accepted and may help borrowers qualify for a better rate or loan terms. The minimum credit score for applicants is 670, yet borrowers with a credit score in the mid-700's (or a co-signer with excellent credit) have a better chance of securing student loans with the best available rates and terms.


Institution Type & Course Load Requirements

Must have graduated with a bachelor's degree or higher

Minimum Credit Score

670

Minimum Income

$25,000 for applicants with a co-signer; otherwise $42,000

Maximum Debt-to-Income

Not disclosed

Co-signer/Joint Application Requirements

Co-signers accepted

PenFed Application Process

One major benefit of refinancing with PenFed is the fact you can check your rate without seeing a new hard inquiry on your credit report. This feature lets you view the interest rate you might pay if you move forward with a loan application, and you can also gauge your approval odds without any impact to your credit score.

To check your rate, you'll head to the student loan refinancing page on the PenFed website and click on the green button that says "Find My Rate."

From there, PenFed sends you to a third party website called Campusdoor in order to facilitate the next step of the process.

At this point, you'll be asked a series of questions in order to find your rate. These include:

  • Are you applying with your spouse as the cosigner?
  • What degree are you seeking to refinance?

You'll also need to provide some basic information about yourself, such as:

  • Your full name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Address of residence
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Requested loan amount

Once you provide this information, you'll get to see the rate you can qualify for and other loan terms you're offered. You can choose to move forward with a loan application at this point, or you can decide to continue shopping around for a better student loan refinance deal instead.

PenFed says that, after you apply, you can upload your information and documentation directly to the portal. The application process also takes just 15 minutes from start to finish, and you can review your loan documents and electronically sign them without ever leaving your home.

It's also worth noting that you must be a PenFed Credit Union member in order to refinance your student loans. However, membership is offered at no cost and you can join as part of the loan application process.

PenFed Customer Support

One major upside of working with PenFed is the fact they make customer service a priority. PenFed Credit Union has approximately 50 brick and mortar locations in various destinations throughout the United States, although customers from all over the country can access their services.

Members can get connected to customer service over the phone, which they can reach by calling 1-800-247-5626. Customer service hours are Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. EST, and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. EST. PenFed also has an online chat feature, which makes it easy to get simple questions about your loans answered without having to call into customer service.

The credit union tends to get high marks from past and current customers who take the time to write about their experiences. In fact, here are just a few positive responses from recent reviews on Trustpilot:

"Amazing service! Great rates and willing to help improve our credit." - John N.

"PenFed has provided excellent service in all aspects of our business relationship. PenFed soars above other banking institutions. Keep up the awesome work PenFed." - T. Lovelace[e]

PenFed Online Reviews

Because PenFed Credit Union offers a broad range of financial products to their customers, it's somewhat difficult to find PenFed student loan refinance reviews specifically. That said, the company does receive incredibly high marks from customers online, including an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars across more than 900 reviews on Trustpilot.[f] In the meantime, PenFed also has an average rating of 3.6 out of 5 stars across more than 150 reviews on Consumer Affairs.[g]

The company tends to get positive remarks about their customer service and the online application process they offer for their loans. However, some reviewers have complained about having trouble logging into their account with PenFed and the amount of time it takes them to open or close accounts.


The positive reviews are related to

The negative reviews are related to

Quick and easy loan approval process

Issues logging into website

Excellent rates and terms for student loan refinancing

Accounts put "on hold" without explanation

Superior service from customer service team

Slow progress opening and closing accounts

PenFed Perks and Bonuses

Flexibility:

Unfortunately, PenFed Credit Union does not offer a discount for setting up automatic payments, which is pretty standard for the industry. They also fail to offer a specific forbearance plan for times of economic hardship, although the lender does state that they work with customers to find temporary solutions on a case-by-case basis.

Fortunately, this credit union does offer the chance to refinance student loans with four different repayment plans to choose from. Also note that married couples can refinance their student loans together with PenFed, and that students can refinance parent PLUS loans into their own name if they meet eligibility requirements.

Mentorship:

Because PenFed is a credit union and not a student loan company, they don't offer any specific mentorship programs for borrowers. However, the institution does have an online learning portal that can help borrowers learn more about student loan debt and the best ways to pay it down.

Technology:

PenFed Credit Union has its own mobile app that makes it easy to access your accounts wherever you are, and it has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars on Google P[i]lay. You can use the app to see your account balance, make payments, and more.

PenFed also offers an online portal for their customers, which they can use to oversee their loan details 24 hours a day.

Final Thoughts

If you have great credit and you want to refinance existing student loans, PenFed Credit Union is worth considering. Not only can you refinance student loans alongside a spouse, but you can use this lender to move parent PLUS loans into your name. PenFed even lets you check your rate without a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can help you gauge your approval odds before you apply.

That said, PenFed doesn't offer student loans for borrowers who are still in school, and other loan requirements limit who can qualify. Make sure you compare PenFed Credit Union to other student loan refinancing options before you apply, and check your rate with at least three or four different companies to find the best deal.

About the Author

Holly Johnson

Holly Johnson

Award-Winning Personal Finance Contributor

I’m a professional writer who is obsessed with money, travel, and budgeting.

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