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As of July 2020, Wells Fargo is no longer offering private student loans beyond the 2020-2021 academic year. However, if you have an outstanding Wells Fargo private student loan, you may be eligible to receive another student loan or refinancing loan if you apply before Jan. 28, 2021. Final disbursement is by June 30, 2021.
New borrowers aren’t without their options, though. If you are interested in the private student loan process, CollegeFinance.com has numerous resources that can help you navigate your college education. We’ll also help you compare the best private student loan lenders.
If you’re still interested in learning more about Wells Fargo’s private student loans, continue reading. In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of a Wells Fargo student loan, what interest rates you can expect, and other ways to obtain college financing.
- Discounted loan rates if you or your co-signer have existing Wells Fargo accounts
- No application, origination, or late fees
- Discount for entering an automatic payment program
- Ability to defer payments while in school or up to six months after
- Payment relief and forbearance options
- Currently only available to customers with existing Wells Fargo Private Student Loans
- The application period ends permanently on Jan. 28, 2021, with final disbursement by June 30, 2021
- No soft pull rate check available
- Low BBB and customer ratings
Wells Fargo: What You Need to Know
Wells Fargo is a well-known name in the banking industry, having been founded in 1852. Over more than 160 years, through the gold rush, the Great Depression, and several wars, Wells Fargo has gained a reputation for customer loyalty. As a publicly traded company headquartered in San Francisco, California, Wells Fargo offers a wide variety of banking, insurance, and financial services, including private student loans.
As of 2020, Wells Fargo Education Financial Services held $10.61 billion in private student loans, accounting for 8% of the private student loan market. Having entered the student loan market in 1968, Wells Fargo has a long history of helping students fund their education and pride themselves on implementing responsible lending practices while helping as many people achieve their educational goals as possible. With an emphasis on customer service and maintaining a relationship, it’s not surprising that so many people have borrowed from Wells Fargo over the years.
This is unfortunately set to change, however. Likely resulting from difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells Fargo will be exiting the private student loan business. As of July 1, 2020, only students with existing student loans through Wells Fargo may apply, and the final application period is set to end on Jan. 28, 2021, with final loan disbursement on June 30, 2021. After that point, they will only be in the private student loan business insofar as they act to service previous loans.
If you have existing loans through Wells Fargo and want to continue using them as your lender, keep this deadline in mind and make sure your final application is submitted on time. You should also be on the lookout for a new lender beginning in the 2021-2022 academic year if you will still be in school at that time.
Wells Fargo’s BBB Rating: F
One way to assess whether to borrow from a particular student loan lender is to look at their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating. The BBB is a private nonprofit founded in 1912 with the goal of compiling and assessing customer complaints about businesses, including determining if complaints are justified and reviewing how businesses have addressed the complaints.
The BBB summarizes its findings with a letter rating, ranging from A+ for the highest and F for the lowest, just like student grades on a report card. The BBB rating for Wells Fargo Educational Financial Services is, unfortunately, an F.
Reasons cited for this low rating include failure to respond to multiple complaints filed against them and government actions taken against the business. Customer reviews on the BBB site also show an average of one out of five stars.
The two government actions against Wells Fargo include a United States Department of Justice (DOJ) settlement agreement for $2.09 billion and a settlement with the Maryland Attorney General for $20 million, both for alleged practices that contributed to the subprime mortgage crisis that occurred between 2005 and 2009. These allegations did not include any issues related to student lending practices, however.
Wells Fargo: Potential Benefits for Borrowers
If you don’t have a private student loan with Wells Fargo, the option is now closed to you, as described above. However, if you have an existing student loan with them and have enjoyed the experience so far, you can still take out additional student loans for a few more months.
The benefits of Wells Fargo student loans include:
- Discounted loan rates if you or your co-signer have existing Wells Fargo accounts: If you have an existing student loan or a consumer checking account with Wells Fargo, you can receive a 0.25% rate discount. If you have a Portfolio by Wells Fargo, you can receive a 0.50% rate discount.
- No application, origination, or late fees: Wells Fargo charges no fees for applying, and there are no origination or late fees on the loans either.
- Discount for entering an automatic payment program: When you enter repayment, you can lower costs even more by setting up automatic payments. This lowers your interest rate by an additional 0.25%.
- No payments required while in school or six months after: You are not required to make any payments while in school, and there is an additional six-month grace period after you leave school before repayment begins. You will receive a notice approximately 45 days before your first payment will be due, so you will have plenty of time to plan.
- Payment relief and forbearance options during times of financial hardship: If you return to school, serve in the military, or enroll in graduate school, you can enter forbearance and postpone payments. The grace period can also be extended for an additional six months if you are having difficulty. If you face financial hardship, you can also receive up to two months of payment relief if you have been consistently making payments.
Wells Fargo: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers
As mentioned, it seems many customers have had negative experiences with Wells Fargo, although this is not true for everyone. However, at this time, the main drawback is that you won’t be able to get private student loans from Wells Fargo for much longer.
- Only those with existing Wells Fargo Private Student Loans can take out new ones: Wells Fargo is exiting the private student loan business. In phasing out their program, they are currently only extending new loans to those with current Wells Fargo student loans. Moreover, you must not have paid off your existing Wells Fargo student loans to qualify. So, if you took a loan out years ago and paid it off already, you won’t be able to borrow again.
- The application period ends permanently on Jan. 28, 2021, with final disbursement by June 30, 2021: You can only get a loan for the 2020-2021 school year and not beyond. This may be fine if you are finishing school, but if you are continuing past the end of this school year, you will need to seek a new lender.
- No soft pull rate check available: To find out what rates you qualify for, Wells Fargo requires a hard pull on your credit, so you can’t get an estimate of rates without an impact on your credit. But since all loan customers must have current loans with Wells Fargo, you can likely estimate what your rates will be based on what you previously qualified for.
- Poorly rated: Unfortunately, Wells Fargo has a very low BBB rating and many low consumer ratings, as well. If you aren’t already confident in your relationship with them, it is probably best to look elsewhere.
Wells Fargo: The Details
Loan Amounts and Term Lengths
Minimum loan amount: $1,000
Loan term options: 15 years
Multi-year approval available: Not disclosed
Interest Rate Ranges
Fixed and variable rates available: Yes
Fixed low APR: 4.53% (with discount)
Fixed high APR: 10.72% (without discount)
Variable low APR: 2.68% (with discount)
Variable high APR: 9.46% (without discount)
In-school payment options: No payments are required while in school, but you may make payments if you wish.
Grace period: 6 months after leaving school
Co-signer release available: Yes, if the first 24 payments are received in full within 30 days of their due date and/or other criteria are met.
Loan servicer: Wells Fargo
Other Perks and Options
Interest rate discounts: 0.25% discount for signing up for automatic payments; 0.25% to 0.50% discount for being an existing Wells Fargo customer
Other rewards or services: Loan refinancing and parent loans available
Wells Fargo: Eligibility and Application Requirements
Income requirements: Not disclosed
Credit score requirements: Not disclosed
Eligibility for international borrowers: Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national, a permanent resident alien, or an international student who is a temporary resident alien or a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) individual with a current U.S. address. Permanent and temporary resident aliens must show proper evidence of eligibility. A DACA individual must show proper evidence of their deferred action status.
- You must be enrolled as an undergraduate at an eligible school and seeking a degree, certificate, or license. Less than half-time enrollment may be OK.
- A co-signer may be needed if you do not meet credit, employment, or debt-to-income requirements.
Application or origination fees: None
Soft pull rate check availability: Not available
Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options
It’s important to understand the role of private student loans in financing your education. A college education is a significant investment, both in terms of time and effort and also in terms of cost. There are several ways to fund your college education, including:
- Scholarships: The great thing about scholarships is that it is free money you don’t need to repay. However, some scholarships require that you maintain certain academic standards.
- Grants: Grants are also a source of free money and can be need- or merit-based.
- College savings: If you are lucky enough to have a college savings account, this can help pay for college, as well.
- Working while in school/during breaks: Many students choose to work while in school to help cover educational expenses.
- Federal student loans: Federal student loans are backed by the federal government, don’t generally require a credit check, and tend to have the best interest rates. Not only that, but subsidized student loans do not accrue interest while you are in school, and federal student loans have a multitude of repayment options, including income-dependent plans. Check out this guide to federal loans to learn more.
- Private student loans: These are loans taken out from private lenders, such as Wells Fargo.
Any time you can get “free” money, such as scholarships or grants, those are excellent options. Utilizing savings or working while in school is also a good way to cover costs if you can since, while it is not “free” money, it is money that you don’t have to pay back with interest.
In general, private student loans should be the last source you seek funding from and used only if necessary. This is because they tend to have higher interest rates and stricter repayment policies than federal student loans. It’s almost always in your best interest to exhaust all other sources of funding first and utilize private student loans to cover the remaining gap if it exists.
Federal student loans not only come with a multitude of repayment options, but it is much easier to enter forbearance or deference as needed, and there are many loan forgiveness programs you may qualify for depending on your financial situation or the career you go into. You can learn more about these on the Federal Student Aid website.
Is Wells Fargo Right for You?
Deciding if a private lender like Wells Fargo is right for you depends on many factors and your personal preferences. You must weigh the pros and cons and consider not only other funding sources but also other private lenders.
In the case of Wells Fargo, the fact that they’ve had some low customer ratings and that they are leaving the student lending business in the near future will likely weigh heavily in this decision.
Wells Fargo Could Be a Good Option for You If:
- You are an existing Wells Fargo customer with an existing Wells Fargo private student loan. The latter is a requirement, but the former can lead to lowered rates, as well.
- You are near the end of your schooling, or you don’t anticipate utilizing private student loans after the 2020-2021 school year since this is the last year these loans will be available.
- You need to fund the difference between other financial aid and federal loans and the cost of tuition and expenses.
CollegeFinance.com can help you decide how to fund your education by providing you the tools to assess loan options with reviews and information and advice about everything from scholarships to student loan refinancing. Explore other articles and guides on our website today.