First Tech Federal Credit Union student loan refinancing review
Choose from 3 different repayment options, but you’ll need to become a member to qualify.
finder.com’s rating: 4.2 / 5.0
- Best for borrowers with high debt loads looking for flexible repayment options.
- Pick something else if you don’t want to join a credit union or want a 20-year term.
Starting at 3.2%
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|Product Name||First Tech Federal Credit Union Student Loan Refinancing|
|Minimum Loan Amount||$5,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$500,000|
|APR||Starting at 3.2%|
|Interest Rate Type||Fixed|
|Minimum Loan Term||5 years|
|Maximum Loan Term||10 years|
|Requirements||First Tech FCU member, US citizen or permanent resident, age of majority in your state, live in the US, valid Social Security number, attended or graduated from an accredited Title IV school|
Deni Sharp is a freelance writer with years of experience in higher education, particularly student loans and financing. She has a passion for helping students navigate the trenches of financial aid so they can realize their full potential. In her free time, you can find her at home in Arizona hanging with her family and adorable pup Theo.
Refinancing your student loans through First Tech Federal Credit Union (FCU) is ideal if you’re looking for flexible repayment options. You have your choice between fixed repayments, smaller repayments with a balloon payment at the end of the term or interest-only repayments for the first 10 years of your term. It also allows you to refinance up to $500,000 — ideal for doctors and lawyers with high debt loads.
But it’s not right for everyone. You’ll need to join the credit union in order to qualify. And rates start high if you don’t choose the fixed repayment option.
It also doesn’t offer an interest rate discount for signing up for autopay — most providers do. And you won’t find loan terms longer than 15 years.
Not sure First Tech is right for you? Compare your other refinancing options below.
First, am I eligible?
To qualify for student loan refinancing from First Tech, you need to meet the following criteria:
- First Tech FCU member at the time of funding
- US citizen or permanent resident
- Valid Social Security Number
- Live in the US
- Age of majority in your state
- Attended or graduated from an accredited Title IV school
What are the requirements to become a member of First Tech FCU?
One of the easiest ways to qualify for membership to First Tech is to work for one of its hundreds of partner organizations. Some are large companies like Amazon, Intel and Google, while others are more obscure.
You can find a full list of partners on First Tech FCU’s membership page on its website. You can also qualify for membership by working or living in Lane County, Oregon.
Don’t meet any of those requirements? You can join the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association to become eligible.
What states is First Tech Federal Credit Union available in?
While First Tech Federal Credit Union only has branches in Oregon, its membership is open to residents of all 50 states.
How much will I pay to refinance?
First Tech Federal Credit Union only lists its starting interest rates on its website, which vary depending on the type of refinancing loan you take out. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Fixed-term loan — rates start at 3.2% APR.
- Balloon loan — rates start at 6.35% APR.
- Interest-only loan — rates start at 6.35% APR.
However, it doesn’t list the maximum rates on its refinancing loans. This could be a huge red flag since you’ll only have an idea of what your rate will be after applying.
But none of the refinancing options carry origination, application or prepayment fees, which is a plus.
Does First Tech offer discounts?
Unlike most providers, First Tech doesn’t offer any rate discounts for student loan refinancing. However, members who refinance their student loans can receive a 0.25% interest rate discount on their auto loans.
What are the benefits of refinancing with First Tech FCU?
From its flexible repayment options to its high maximum amounts, here are a few perks of refinancing with First Tech:
- Multiple repayment options. You have the choice between fixed repayments, small repayments with a larger balloon payment at the end of your loan term or interest-only repayments for a few years followed by larger payments for the remainder of your term.
- High loan maximums. With a maximum refinancing threshold of $500,000, you could easily refinance all of your loans at once under the same lender.
- No fees. First Tech doesn’t charge any application, origination or early repayment fees.
- Can refinance federal PLUS Loans. Unlike many refinancing providers, First Tech allows you to refinance any federal loans — including PLUS Loans — as well as private student loans.
What to watch out for
You might want to think twice before refinancing with First Tech for the following reasons:
- Lack of transparency about rates. First Tech isn’t up front about maximum APRs or whether its rates are fixed or variable.
- No rate discounts. Unlike most student loan refinancing providers, First Tech doesn’t offer any interest rate discounts.
- Not up front about credit criteria. The lowest approved credit scores aren’t provided, though we do know you can only qualify for the best rates if your credit score is above 810.
- Must become a member. You’ll need to join First Tech during the application process to qualify.
- Limited number of branches. Though its membership is open to residents of all 50 states, it only has branches in Oregon.
Compare other student loan refinancing offers
What are my repayment options?
When it comes to repayments, you have multiple options available:
- Fixed-term loan. This option offers fixed repayments of both principal and interest throughout the life of your loan — with from 60 to 120. Your first payment isn’t due until 90 days after your loan is funded.
- Balloon loan. Make smaller repayments over the life of your loan, followed by a large lump-sum payment of 40% or 50% of the total loan amount at the end of the 15-year term.
- Interest-only loan. With this option, you make interest-only payments for up to 10 years on a 15-year loan term. The remaining balance is divided into even principal and interest payments over the last five years.
Does First Tech offer deferment or forbearance?
First Tech doesn’t offer deferment if you wish to go back to school. And it doesn’t mention any options for forbearance if you’re facing financial hardship. If you’re struggling to make repayments, reach out to customer service to review your options.
What servicer does First Tech use?
First Tech services its own refinancing loans, meaning you’ll make repayments to the credit union as opposed to a third-party servicer.
What do borrowers say about First Tech Federal Credit Union?
As of November 2019, First Tech receives an A rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), though it’s not accredited. This high score stems from only having 12 closed complaints in the last three years. While it only earns 1 out of 5 stars based on a meager five customer reviews, none of the customers cited its student loan refinancing product specifically in their complaints.
How do I apply?
Before you consider applying, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements laid out by First Tech. If you’re not already a member, you can join the credit union during the application process.
Follow these steps to apply online:
- Go to First Tech FCU’s website and click Loans.
- Click Student Loan Refinance, then click Apply Now.
- Click Yes to log in to your First Tech account to have part of your application prefilled for you.
- Don’t have an account? Click No to begin the application manually.
- Follow instructions to submit information about yourself, your employment, how you wish to become a member and your current student loans.
- Submit your application and wait to hear back from First Tech.
What information do I need to apply?
Make sure you have the following information and documents on hand to speed up the application process:
- Name and address
- Social Security number
- Employer information, including salary
- Cosigner information, if applicable
- Loans you plan on refinancing
- Approximate balance being refinanced
- W-2 for the last two years
- Current pay stub
- Recent statements of your current loans
What happens after I apply?
After submitting the application online or in person the following steps will occur:
- You’ll receive two emails — one with the status of your loan application, and the other with applicable disclosures.
- If your application is approved, you’ll receive a notice of approval.
- You’ll then be asked to provide proof of income and recent copies of your current loan statements.
- After submitting those, you’ll be sent loan documents for review and signature.
- Once those are turned in, you’ll receive your final disclosure and have the option to sign up for automatic repayments.
More about First Tech Federal Credit Union
First Tech Federal Credit Union was founded in 1952 by former employees of tech giants Hewlett-Packard and Tektronix. The organization has a “people-before-profits” mentality and is committed to providing a wide range of financing options to tech industry members. First Tech strives to invest in its employees and members in order to provide high-quality service through its banking, credit card, personal and auto loan, student loan refinancing and financial planning products.
See how First Tech stacks up to the competition with our guide to student loan refinancing.
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