SunTrust Student Loans Review: Who Are They Best For?

SunTrust Bank
SunTrust Bank

SunTrust Student Loans Review: Who Are They Best For?

Existing members of SunTrust Bank will get the most out of its student loans, since the bank provides extra discounts to borrowers who autopay from a SunTrust account.

Good for

  • Students with an existing SunTrust account
  • Students who may want to release their cosigner
  • Special rewards (interest rate & graduation discounts)

Bad for

  • Borrowers with low credit scores
  • Students from two-year colleges
  • Refinancing federal loans

Editor's Rating

3.0/5.0

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SunTrust student loans are best-suited for existing customers of the bank with excellent credit scores, as there are extra discounts provided for borrowers that fit this profile. However, SunTrust's upper bound rates are quite high, making it not a great option for borrowers with low credit scores, even when you factor in the discounts.

SunTrust Bank Student Loans Review

SunTrust Bank
SunTrust Bank

SunTrust student loans work best for borrowers that have an existing relationship with the bank, as the lender offers a discount of up to 0.50% on your rate if you autopay from a SunTrust account. SunTrust also offers an additional 2% reduction on your principal balance with proof of graduation. However, SunTrust's rates are still not very competitive, especially for borrowers with low credit. The lender's fixed rates for undergraduate student loans go up to 11.05% and 13.251%, while lenders like CommonBond have rates with an upper bound of only 9.64%.

Despite SunTrust's rates on the high end, compared to other banks, the lender is a good option as it offers borrowers flexibility in repayment with four options, lends to international students that qualify for the Union Federal® Student Loan program and has deferment and forbearance policies. It's important to note that SunTrust doesn't service its student loans and instead your loan will be handled by the third-party servicer, American Education Services (AES). As a result, you may not receive the same quality of service that you do with SunTrust's other products. Even if you have an existing SunTrust account, you should still consider other student loan options to find the best rates.

It is important to note that SunTrust doesn't offer traditional refinancing, like most banks. Instead when you apply for a student loan with the bank, you can choose to refinance your existing private loans into your new SunTrust student loan for the upcoming semester with a limit of $150,000 or $175,000 in total loan amount, depending on the loan program. However, you are not able to refinance federal loans with the bank and refinancing is only offered while in school, when you are taking out a new loan.

Who Can Qualify for SunTrust Bank Student Loans?

SunTrust Bank student loans are available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students enrolled at least half-time at a Title-IV school. Not all schools will be eligible, so you must check with the lender if your school is approved. Also, it's important to note that international students may qualify for the company's Union Federal® Private Student Loan. SunTrust doesn't require a specific credit score to be eligible for its loans but requires that borrowers or co-signers have a reliable source of income to qualify.

Credit scoreNot specified
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 36 consecutive on-time payments
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen
  • Permanent resident
  • Non-U.S. citizen with U.S. citizen/permanent resident co-signer (Union Federal Loan only)
Part-time studentsAt least half-time
Eligible schoolsMost four-year Title IV public and private institutions

SunTrust Bank Student Loans Rates, Terms and Fees

If you are looking for low rates, SunTrust Bank will not be the best lender for you, unless you have an existing account with the bank. SunTrust offers multiple student loan types: Custom Choice Loans, Union Federal® Private Student Loans and Graduate Business School Loans. With a Custom Choice Loan, borrowers can get a 2% principal reduction, but, unlike the Union Federal® Loan, international students aren't eligible. With a Union Federal® Private Student Loan, borrowers can get a .25% interest rate reduction for making on-time payments and international students, are eligible to apply with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen. Rates are quite high for borrowers with low credit and the lender only provides up to $65,000 per year, rather than offering to cover 100% of school costs.

Custom Choice Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,001 - $65,000
APR range*
  • 3.819% - 11.050% Fixed APR
  • 3.018% - 10.551% Variable APR
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of the overdue payment if not made on or before the 10th day after its due date
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 7, 10 or 15 years

*APRs shown include the summer savings rate discount; Lowest APRs shown include a 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay from a SunTrust account.

Union Federal® Private Student Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,001 - $65,000
APR range*
  • 4.069% - 13.251% Fixed APR
  • 3.268% - 12.750% Variable APR
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of the overdue payment if not made on or before the 10th day after its due date
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 7, 10 or 15 years

*Lowest APRs shown include a 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay from a SunTrust account

SunTrust also offers Graduate Business School Loans, specifically for graduate students enrolled at least half-time in business school. The rates for this loan are a bit more reasonable for borrowers with low credit scores as APRs only go up to 8.893%. Also, SunTrust will cover $30,000 more than it does for its Custom Choice Loans and Union Federal® Private Student Loans.

SunTrust Graduate Business School Loan

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,001 - $95,000
APR range*
  • 3.819% - 8.893% Fixed APR
  • 3.018% - 8.527% Variable APR
Fees
  • Late fee: 5% of the overdue payment if not made on or before the 10th day after its due date
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 7 or 10 years

*Lowest APRs shown include a 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay from a SunTrust account

How to Repay Your Student Loans

SunTrust Bank offers students four different repayment plans: in-school, interest-only, partial interest and deferred-repayment. This means that you can choose to start paying full monthly payments in school, pay only the interest each month while in school, pay $25 each month as partial interest repayment or wait until after you complete school to start paying off your loans. The majority of students choose to defer their student loan payments until they complete school, but starting repayment while in school will decrease the overall cost of your loans.

Deferment and Forbearance

Upon graduating or falling below half-time status, SunTrust Bank allows student borrowers that chose to defer their loans a grace period of six months before repayment begins. And during repayment, if you start to have trouble paying back your loans, you can apply for up to 12 months in total of forbearance in three-month increments or request an alternative repayment plan that allows qualifying borrowers to defer payment of principal for 12 to 24 months. Keep in mind that while your loans are in forbearance, interest will continue to accrue.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Grace period upon leaving school or falling below half-time status6 months
Additional deferment for re-enrollment48 months
Armed Forces deferment36 months
ForbearanceLimit
Permitted PeriodUp to 12 months

How Does SunTrust Bank Compare to Other Student Lenders?

Compared to other banks, SunTrust has reasonable rates with flexible options for repayment for those with good credit history. Wells Fargo is better than SunTrust for borrowers with lower credit scores as the upper bound rates are lower than SunTrust's. However, if you're actually looking for lowest rates for your student loans, you should consider online lenders.

SunTrust Bank Custom Choice LoanWells Fargo
Loan types offered
  • Private student loan
  • In-school refinance option
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
APR range*
  • 3.819% - 11.050% Fixed APR
  • 3.018% - 10.551% Variable APR
  • 5.94% - 11.26% Fixed APR
  • 5.04% - 10.93% Variable APR
Loan amount$1,001 - $65,000$1,000 to $120,000 (All loans included)
In-school repayment optionsIn-school, Interest-only, Partial Interest or DeferredImmediate or Deferred
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 36 consecutive on-time paymentsYes, release permitted after 36 on-time payments
  • *Rates for Wells Fargo include a 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay. SunTrust APRs shown include the summer savings rate discount; Lowest APRs shown include a 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay from a SunTrust account.

SunTrust Bank vs. Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo

Similar to SunTrust Bank, Wells Fargo offers its existing and new account holders up to 0.75% discount on student loan rates, making it a good choice for those with an account. The lender offers lower upper bound rates than SunTrust and covers up to 100% of school costs. But, if you don't have a Wells Fargo account, SunTrust would be a better option with lower starting rates and more repayment options for students. Still, if you have a great credit history, you should check out other options, as you may qualify for even lower rates than the discounts with these banks would offer you.

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