Wells Fargo Student Loans Review: Are They Worth Applying For?

Wells Fargo Student Loans Review: Are They Worth Applying For?

A good option for borrowers with an existing Wells Fargo relationship. Those unable to take advantage of relationship discounts should consider other options.

Good for

  • Those with an existing Wells Fargo account
  • Borrowers worried about financial difficulty post-graduation

Bad for

  • Anyone seeking to refinance federal student loans

Editor's Rating

3.0/5.0

Wells Fargo's student loan interest rates are average and its sole repayment plan is standard across the industry, making it a middling choice on its own. However, borrowers with existing Wells Fargo banking relationships can secure discounts, which can make it one of the most affordable private loan options. We recommend using Wells Fargo only if you've exhausted your federal student loan options.

Wells Fargo Student Loan Review: Should You Apply?

Wells Fargo's rates are average for a student lender, but if you're able to secure a relationship discount through another Wells Fargo account, you may be able to net 0.50%–0.75% off your rate. This can place the lender ahead of its competitors. Wells Fargo's relationship discounts are available for all of its student loan products and are offered for existing checking accounts, Portfolio by Wells Fargo customers and repeat student loan borrowers through Wells Fargo.

That being said, borrowers are limited to one relationship discount when combined with autopay. For example, if you've already opened a Wells Fargo checking account and set up autopay on your loans, you would receive a 0.25% discount for your checking account and a 0.25% discount for autopay, for a combined 0.50% off your rate. At this point, you would not be eligible for any further rate concessions.

Wells Fargo student loans are a good option for borrowers who worry about facing financial difficulty after graduation. The bank does offer generous repayment assistance when compared with other student lenders. You can request temporary relief from making payments for up to six months, depending on their financial situations. This is longer than the three-month periods usually offered by other lenders.

Wells Fargo isn't a viable option for those looking to consolidate federal student loans. That's because the bank prohibits consolidation of federal student loans with the Wells Fargo Private Consolidation Loan, which is bizarre and atypical of most lenders. This limitation can prevent borrowers from taking full advantage of refinancing. However, if the majority of your debt is private, or if you want to preserve any benefits or low interest rates on your existing federal loans while refinancing private debt, it may still make sense to consolidate your student loans through Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Student Loans Rates, Terms and Fees

Wells Fargo caps borrowers at $120,000 on all education-related debt over their lifetimes, which means that borrowers who hit their caps on undergraduate or graduate loans may have trouble securing additional financing for postgraduate programs like residencies or internships. This limit may vary depending on your chosen field of study, particularly in health care-related fields. You should contact Wells Fargo to verify your lifetime limit.

Wells Fargo Collegiate Student Loan

Loan typePrivate student loan
Loan amount range$1,000 to $120,000 (All loans included)
APR range
  • 5.94% - 11.26% Fixed rate
  • 4.30% - 10.30% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: Yes
  • Prepayment penalty: none
  • Application fee: none
Loan terms
  • 15 years
Discounts
  • 0.25% rate discount with autopay
  • 0.25%–0.50% relationship discount

Borrowers seeking to consolidate their existing student loans have a choice between vanilla 15- or 20-year terms. Federal student loans are not eligible for consolidation through Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Private Consolidation Loan

Loan typeRefinance/Consolidation
Loan amount range$5,000 - $120,000
APR range
  • 5.24% - 9.99% Fixed rate
  • 4.74% - 9.49% Variable rate
Fees
  • Late fee: $28
  • Prepayment penalty:none
  • Application fee:none
Loan terms15 or 20 years
Discounts0.25% rate discount with autopay

Student Loan Repayment Plans

Wells Fargo features a fully deferred repayment plan for undergraduate and graduate borrowers that requires no payments until six months after you leave school. Borrowers of Wells Fargo's Parent and Private Consolidation loans are required to begin payments immediately after funds are disbursed. Wells Fargo charges no prepayment penalties.

Under deferred repayment, borrowers are exempted from making payments for up to 48 months while they remain enrolled in school. Interest will accrue during the deferment period.

Forbearance and Deferment

Borrowers can defer payments while enrolled in a qualifying graduate or undergraduate program, avoiding the need to make payments while in school. Interest on your loan will continue to accrue while in deferment. Worth noting is that the permitted deferment period for residency programs is capped at 36 months, which is less than the five years offered by Sallie Mae and Discover.

Permitted DefermentsLimit
Grace period upon leaving school
  • 6 months
In-school or entering graduate schoolUp to 48 months
Internship, residency or fellowshipUp to 36 months

Depending on your unique circumstances, Wells Fargo may provide additional repayment assistance, including temporary and permanent loan modification. Select borrowers in public or military service may also qualify for mandatory forbearance through terms dictated by the U.S. Department of Education.

Forbearance

OfferingConditions
Short-term Payment Relief2 MonthsAll payments must have been consistently on-time to date
Payment Relief6 monthsAll payments must have been consistently on-time to date
Payment OptionsVaries depending on your situation: Options may include (but are not limited to) temporary payment reductions, rate reductions or refinancing.Account already past due
Loan Modification ProgramTemporarily or permanently lower payment amountsNone

Who Can Qualify for Wells Fargo Student Loans?

Borrowers with excellent credit scores or co-signers are more likely to qualify for a loan with Wells Fargo. The average Wells Fargo student loan account has a credit score of 761, counting both borrowers and co-signers. As of spring 2018, 83% of Wells Fargo's outstanding student loans were co-signed.

Non-U.S. citizens are eligible to apply, as long as they or their co-signers are U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens. Foreign nationals will be required to submit additional documentation.

Credit scoreNot disclosed. Average FICO 761 (including co-signers)
Co-signerPermitted (No release eligibility)
Accepted citizenship status
  • U.S. citizen, permanent resident alien, temporary resident alien w/ current U.S. address
Part-time studentsYes
Eligible schoolsSchool must have existing relationship with Wells Fargo. Borrowers can check by contacting the lender or their financial aid office.

How Does Wells Fargo Compare to Other Student Lenders?

Wells Fargo is one of the largest private lenders in the United States, but it is unimaginative when it comes to repayment options, and its rates are average at best. However, borrowers willing to open a Wells Fargo checking account or take out multiple loans through the lender can qualify for relationship discounts, which improve your interest rate.

DiscoverSallie MaeWells Fargo
Loan types offered
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
  • Private student loan
  • Private student loan
  • Student loan refinance
APR range
  • 5.99% - 13.99% Fixed
  • 3.99% - 12.99% Variable
  • 5.74% - 11.85% Fixed
  • 4.25% - 11.10% Variable
  • 5.94% - 11.26% Fixed
  • 4.30% - 10.30% Variable
Loan amount$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses ($120,000 max with other financial aid)$1,000 up to 100% school-certified expenses$1,000 to $120,000 (All loans included)
In-school repayment optionsIn-School or DeferredDeferred, Fixed, or Interest-onlyImmediate or Deferred
Part-time studentsAt least half-timeYesYes
Co-signerPermitted: No releasePermitted: release eligible after 12 monthly paymentsPermitted: Release eligible after 36 monthly payments
Discounts
  • 0.25% auto debit
  • 1% cash reward
  • 0.25% auto debit
  • 0.25% auto debit
  • 0.25% - 0.50% relationship discounts

Wells Fargo Student Loans vs. Sallie Mae

Borrowers who want the greatest repayment flexibility should consider Sallie Mae, as the lender offers no less than three in-school repayment plans for undergraduate borrowers, including fixed, fully deferred and interest-only repayments for student borrowers. Sallie Mae also boasts lower absolute rates than Wells Fargo, which means borrowers with excellent credit are likely to secure a better deal with Sallie Mae. The interest-only repayment plan is the lender's most aggressive repayment plan, and represents significant savings on loan costs when compared to Wells Fargo's fully deferred repayment plan. Additionally, co-signers with Sallie Mae are eligible for release in half the time it takes for Wells Fargo co-signers to become eligible. Sallie Mae permits co-signer release in as little as 12 months, while Wells Fargo mandates a minimum 24-month waiting period. What's worse, if you miss your first monthly payment with Wells Fargo, the lender will double its mandatory waiting period to 48 months.

Wells Fargo Student Loans vs. Discover

Discover student loans may be easier to qualify for than Wells Fargo, given the average FICO score in each lender's profile. However, Discover has the higher range of APRs, meaning it will be the more expensive of the two for many borrowers. Finally, while Wells Fargo's relationship discounts come with strings attached—requiring customers to open a checking account or loan—Discover rewards borrowers with cash for good grades, and student borrowers who maintain a 3.0 GPA or higher can obtain a 1% cash reward for each Discover loan they take out. The best part is that Discover's cash rewards can be used for any purpose, not just education expenses.

Wells Fargo Student Loans vs. Federal Loans

Federal loans are hard to beat when it comes to savings. Neither Wells Fargo nor any other private lender come close when comparing the interest savings offered by subsidized federal loans. Federal loans offer income-based repayment plans, which allow your monthly payments to fluctuate with your paycheck; a feature that hasn't been offered by any private lender we've reviewed. Finally, federal student loans are approved based on need and not credit (with the exception of the PLUS Loan), which means that applicants need not worry about credit requirements. We recommend that borrowers exhaust all avenues of federal and state-level financing before resorting to private lenders. Private student lenders like Wells Fargo can be useful as a supplement for gaps in funding, but should not be relied on exclusively when federal funds are otherwise available.

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