SunTrust Student Loans Review: Who Are They Best For?

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 with an account.

Good for

  • Students with an existing SunTrust account
  • International students
  • Special rewards (graduation discount)

Bad for

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

Editor's Rating


SunTrust student loans are best-suited for existing members with of the bank with excellent credit scores, as there are extra discounts provided for borrowers that fit this profile. However, rates with SunTrust are quite high, reaching up to more than 14% for borrowers with low credit scores, making it not a great option for many borrowers, even when you factor in the discount.

SunTrust Bank Student Loans Review

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 and an additional 2% reduction on your principal upon graduation. However, SunTrust's rates are still not very competitive, especially for borrowers with low credit. The lender's fixed rates go up to 14.05%, while lenders like CommonBond have rates with an upper bound of only 9.82%.

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 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 and $175,000 in total loan amount, including federal loans. 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 only 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 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 two student loan types: Custom Choice Student Loan and Union Federal Private Student Loans. With a Custom Choice Student Loan, borrowers can get a 2% principal reduction, but, unlike the Union Federal Loan, international students aren't eligible. The company's rates for both loan types go up to 14.05% for fixed APRs and 13.13% for variable APRs, which is higher than most private student lenders. On top of this, the lender only provides up to $65,000 per year, rather than offering to cover 100% of your school costs.

Student Loan Features

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,001 - $65,000
APR range
  • 5.35% - 14.05% Fixed rate
  • 4.13% - 13.13% Variable rate
  • Late fee: not disclosed
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 7, 10 or 15 years

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with autopay

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 9.12%. Also, SunTrust will cover $30,000 more than it does for its Custom Choice and Union Federal student loans.

SunTrust Graduate Business School Loan

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,001 - $95,000
APR range
  • 5.35% - 9.88% Fixed rate
  • 4.13% - 9.12% Variable rate
  • Late fee: not disclosed
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 7 or 10 years

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with autopay

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 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.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Grace period upon leaving school or falling below half-time status6 months

To be granted forbearance, you must have a qualifying financial situation that is preventing you from making your full payments. Keep in mind that you can only declare forbearance for three months at a time and up to 12 months in total. While your loans are in forbearance, interest will continue to accrue.

Permitted PeriodUp to 12 months
ConditionsMust be experiencing financial hardship, unemployment, excessive debt burden or medical disability.

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 and Discover are better than SunTrust for borrowers with lower credit scores as the rates from both lenders are reasonable, while SunTrust's rates reach 14.05%. However, if you're actually looking for lowest rates for your student loans, you should consider online lenders.

SunTrust BankWells FargoDiscover
Loan types offered
  • Private student loan
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
APR range*
  • 5.35% - 14.05% Fixed
  • 4.13% - 13.13% Variable
  • 5.94% - 11.26% Fixed
  • 4.81% - 10.72% Variable
  • 5.99% - 12.99% Fixed
  • 3.99% - 11.99% Variable
Loan amount$1,001 - $65,000$1,000 to $120,000 (All loans included)$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses ($120,000 max with other financial aid)
In-school repayment optionsIn-school, Interest-only, Partial Interest or DeferredImmediate or DeferredIn-School or Deferred
Co-signerYes, release permitted after 36 on-time paymentsYes, release permitted after 36 on-time paymentsYes, release not permitted

*Rates include 0.25% rate discount with auto-pay

SunTrust Bank vs. 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, PNC 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.

SunTrust Bank vs. Discover

Discover is one of the best lenders for borrowers that may face financial difficulties when repaying their loans. The company offers a longer grace period, payment extensions, early repayment assistance and reduced payments to help borrowers struggling with repayment. Meanwhile, SunTrust only has industry-standard policies of deferment and forbearance with a six-month grace period upon leaving school and a 12-month forbearance limit. On the other hand, SunTrust Bank offers lower starting rates for borrowers with great credit history and better discounts for account holders.

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