Climb Credit student loans review
Fund a skills-based program that doesn't qualify for federal aid.
finder.com’s rating: 3.48 / 5.0
- Best for students looking to attend a skills-based program.
- Pick something else if your school isn't an eligible partner.
Up to 18.99%
Up to the full cost of tuition
Max. Loan Amount
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
Climb Credit can be a viable option if you’re looking to attend a skills-based program like coding bootcamp or a technical school that doesn’t qualify for federal aid. It offers traditional student loans as well as risk-share agreements, where the school doesn’t receive get your full tuition until after you’ve landed a job.
However, it’s only available if you’re attending a school that Climb has partnered with. And APRs run slightly higher than other types of student loans — including a high 5% origination fee. And it’s been singled out by a consumer protection group for its high cost.
Not sold on Climb Credit? Check out our list of other student loan providers that might be a better fit.
- Attend an eligible school
- Resident of an eligible state
- US citizen or permanent resident
- Age of majority in your state of residence
- Available for skills-based programs. If you don’t attend a Title IV school, Climb Credit could still be an option.
- Vets your school. Climb Credit considers factors like a school’s graduation rate and job placement before working with a school.
- Incentivizes your success. The risk-share agreement gives schools a financial incentive to help you find a job after you graduate.
- Available to international students and minors. You can apply regardless of your citizenship or age if you have a creditworthy cosigner.
- Only available through partner schools. If your school doesn’t offer Climb Credit student loans, you can’t apply.
- Not available in Rhode Island. Climb Credit is currently working on licensing to work with borrowers in this state.
- Origination fee. Most private student loan providers don’t charge an origination fee, but Climb borrowers must pay 5% of the loan amount.
- High repayments on 0% interest loans. While signing up for the pathway payment program might be tempting, make sure you can afford the high monthly repayments to avoid defaulting.
First, am I eligible?
To qualify for a Climb Credit student loan, you must meet the following criteria:
Students who can’t meet age, citizenship or residency requirements can still qualify if they apply with a cosigner. Climb Credit also considers factors like your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and the school you attend.
What states is Climb Credit available in?
Climb Credit is currently available to residents of all 50 states except Rhode Island.
What is Climb Credit?
Climb Credit is a student loan provider that offers financing to students through schools that offer skills-based training programs. It serves to fill a gap in the student loan market, Climb Credit Founder and CEO Angela Ceresnie told finder.com during the 2019 LendIt Fintech USA conference.
“It doesn’t really make sense for schools that are charging $10,000 or $15,000 to have federal financial aid because it’s a very expensive program to administer,” she said. “But you don’t want to not offer financial aid, because then people have to come up with $10,000 or $15,000 in cash, which is not always possible. So Climb is sort of a good in-between.”
How does Climb Credit work?
Climb Credit works by partnering directly with schools after evaluating the graduation rate and employment numbers of its former students. The schools in turn offer Climb Credit funding to their students through their financial aid department.
In some cases, it also gives some schools an incentive to help students find a job through what Ceresnie calls a risk-share agreement. Here, the school doesn’t receive full tuition until after you land a job and start making full repayments. So if you borrowed $10,000, the school might only receive $8,000 up front and the remaining $2,000 as you pay off your loan.
“The idea there is aligning [students’] interests with the school and bringing the schools into a place where they have a financial upside to their students actually doing well in the job market,” Ceresnie said.
How much do Climb Credit student loans cost?
Climb Credit student loans come with fixed interest rates that run from 6% to 14%, plus an origination fee of 5%. That works out to an APR of up to 18.99% — higher than most private loans, which cap out at around 13% APR. But if you sign up for the short-term pathway payment program, rates start at 0% APR.
Loan amounts and terms vary depending on your school, though typically students take three years to pay it back. Use the calculator below to see how much your loan might cost you per month, based on the rate you expect to receive.
If you choose a repayment plan that allows you to make interest-only repayments while you’re in school or unemployed, your total loan cost will be higher. Climb also considers factors like your credit score and debt-to-income ratio when underwriting your loan.
Is Climb a “shadow lender”?
A July 2020 study by the Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) included Climb as part of a group of high-cost “shadow lenders,” which the SBPC claims are used to prop up predatory for-profit schools. It singled out Climb specifically for charging APRs as high as 34.68%.
When I reached out to ask about this, a Climb representative clarified the 34.68% APR came from a student that had a low cost of attendance and extremely short loan term, which can make the cost of a loan higher.
“For 94%+ of our loans, APRs range from 0% to 18.99%,” they said.
Does Climb Credit offer any discounts?
Yes, Climb Credit offers a 0.25% rate discount if you sign up for automatic repayments.
What are my repayment options?
Climb Credit offers different repayment programs through different schools. While repayments start one month after your school receives the funds, you can typically make interest-only repayments until you graduate. In some cases, you might even be able to make interest-only repayments until you find a job in your field. Repayment plans often run from three to five years.
Climb also offers 0% interest to students who agree to repay the loan in the short term. These typically come with terms of 12 to 24 months, so you’ll have higher monthly payments. It could be a good option if you anticipate getting hired at a salary high enough to afford repayments. But use a calculator to see how much your loan will cost you before you sign up. Otherwise you risk going into default.
Contact your school’s financial aid office to learn more about the repayment options available to you.
Compare more private student loan options
Top reasons to consider Climb Credit
From its risk-share agreements to its cosigner-friendly loans, here are a few perks of borrowing from Climb Credit:
Drawbacks to borrowing from Climb Credit
Consider these potential drawbacks before taking out a loan from Climb Credit:
Climb Credit reviews and complaints
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What to expect when signing up
Since Climb Credit directly partners with schools, the application process can vary from school to school. “Sometimes the application is available online through the school’s financial aid website, sometimes it’s available directly on the application,” Ceresnie said.
You can also apply through the Climb Credit website. Here’s how that works:
- Go to the Climb Credit website. Click Get a loan.
- Enter your school’s name and click Go.
- Enter your contact information and click Get started.
- Follow the instructions to fill out the application with information about yourself, the loan and your cosigner if applicable.
- Read the disclosures and review your answers before submitting your application.
Typically, it takes less than five minutes to complete the application if you have all of the information you need on hand. After you submit your application, you should receive an offer from Climb Credit. If you accept the rates and terms, sign the loan documents and submit it along with any required documents.
What information do I need to apply?
To apply for a Climb Credit student loan, you might need the following information for you or your cosigner:
- Contact information
- Social Security number
- Proof of residency
- Proof of employment — only for cosigners
Who services Climb Credit student loans?
University Accounting Service (UAS) handles all repayments on Climb Credit student loans. This means you’ll get your first bill through UAS and sign up for autopay through the servicer, not Climb Credit, to get that 0.25% rate discount. If you have any questions about repayment, contact UAS’s customer service team at 800-999-6227.
More about Climb Credit
Climb Credit has a couple more student loan products in the pipeline, according to Ceresnie. One is a 0% interest loan, where the school subsidizes your interest payments. Climb Credit plans on launching that in the near future.
Another is a loan with an insurance component. With this option, the loan doesn’t kick in until students get a job in exchange for a slightly higher-cost loan.
Check out our guide to student loans to compare lenders and find the best rates.
Frequently asked questions
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