LendKey private student loans review
This connection service partners with local lenders to offer competitive rates.
- Best for students looking to get connected with a local bank or credit union with competitive rates.
- Pick something else if you need a loan term longer than 15 years.
3.99% to 11.06%
Varies by lender
Min. Credit Score
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LendKey is ideal if you’re looking to borrow from a local bank or credit union to pay for school. Its network of lenders offer relatively competitive rates and flexible repayment options. In addition, you can get a 0.25% rate discount if you choose to sign up for autopay after picking a lender.
There’s a catch, though. You’re limited to a maximum 15-year loan term, which can be burdensome if you can’t afford high monthly repayments after graduating. You might want to look elsewhere if you want to spread your loan repayments out over 20 or 25 years.
Still on the fence? Check out our list of other student loan providers that might be a better fit.
First, am I eligible?
Because LendKey partners with different lenders, it doesn’t have a list of eligibility requirements. Instead, it encourages potential borrowers to submit an online form to check eligibility.
But in general, you need to meet the following criteria to take out a student loan:
- Steady source of income or creditworthy cosigner
- US citizen or permanent resident
- At least 18 years old
How do LendKey student loans work?
LendKey is an online connection service that connects borrowers with a student loan provider that can help finance their education. It currently partners with a range of local banks and credit unions.
You can borrow all the way up to your school-certified cost of attendance. While you can choose between fixed or variable interest rates, its partners only offer loan terms of 5 years to 15 years. However, you can apply for up to five years of in-school deferment before repayments begin.
How much do LendKey student loans cost?
Since LendKey’s partners don’t charge application or origination fees, the main cost you need to worry about is interest. You can choose between fixed or variable rates: Fixed rates range from 4.99% to 11.24% APR, while variable rates span from 3.99% to 11.06% APR. Late fees and prepayment penalties vary based on the partner you’re matched with.
Does LendKey offer discounts?
LendKey’s partners offer a 0.25% rate discount to borrowers who sign up for autopay. Other discounts may be available, depending on the lender you’re partnered with.
What are my repayment options?
LendKey’s partners offer repayment terms from 5 years to 15 years. However, you can apply to have your repayments deferred for up to five years while you’re in school. As for the different repayment plans available, that will depend on the specific lender you’re matched with.
In general, most providers offer these three repayment options at a minimum:
- Full repayments. Make monthly repayments of both principal and interest immediately while you’re in school.
- Interest-only repayments. Make interest-only monthly repayments while you’re in school.
- Deferred repayments. Hold off on making monthly repayments entirely until after you graduate or drop below half time.
Does LendKey offer deferment or forbearance?
It depends on the lender you’re connected with. Many offer in-school deferment and forbearance for financial hardship.
If granted forbearance, your monthly repayments will be reduced or put on hold entirely. However, interest continues to accrue during this time. When repayments begin again, that interest is capitalized and added to your loan balance. This means you’re effectively paying interest on interest. This can result in higher monthly repayments and a more expensive loan in the long run.
Compare more private student loan options
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Top reasons to consider LendKey
There are a few perks of taking out a student loan through one of LendKey’s partner lenders, including:
- Competitive rates. If you or your cosigner have excellent credit, you may qualify for a lower rate than you’d find with a federal Direct Loan.
- Get connected with local lenders. LendKey makes the process of finding and applying for refinancing through a local lender easier.
- Cosigner release available. Some of LendKey’s partners allow you to apply to take your cosigner off your loan, once you can qualify on your own.
What to watch out for
Consider these potential drawbacks before taking out a student loan through one of LendKey’s partners:
- Limited information available. You won’t find much information about LendKey or its partners on its website. Instead, you’ll need to call the connection service or the partner you’re matched with to learn more.
- Short loan terms. You can only get a loan term up to 15 years through LendKey’s partners — most private providers offer 20 or even 25-year terms.
- Might have to join a credit union. This can involve opening a checking or savings account if you get connected with a credit union, adding another step to the application process.
- Can’t compare lenders. Unlike other services that let you compare multiple offers from lenders, LendKey connects you with one partner based on where you’re from and where you go to school and the type of loan you need.
What do borrowers say about LendKey?
LendKey gets mostly positive reviews from customers as of September 2019. While its six reviews on the Better Business (BBB) website are negative, it scores a 4.5 out of 5 on Trustpilot, based on over 130 reviews. LendKey is accredited with the BBB and receives an A+ rating based on factors like transparency and time in business.
Several borrowers praised how simple and effective the process was. The few complaints against the company revolve around mishandled repayments and poor customer service. One borrower claimed LendKey failed to deduct repayments on the due date, then charged late fees. Another said they found no help from LendKey when dealing with a difficult financial situation.
What to expect when signing up
Ready to get connected with a lender? Follow these steps to get started:
- Go to the LendKey website and click Apply Now.
- Click Pay for School, and then Apply Now, again.
- If you’ve previously used LendKey to pay for school, select Yes. Otherwise, select No.
- Select your state of residence and enter the name of the school you’re attending. Click Apply Now.
- If you’re eligible fo multiple types of loans, select the loan you’d like.
- Follow the directions to answer questions about yourself and your school.
- Read the disclosures and click Get Started.
Follow the directions to complete your application.
What information do I need to apply?
While it varies by lender, you’ll typically need to provide the following for you or your cosigner:
- Personal details — name, address, phone number, Social Security number and date of birth
- School details — name, address, start date and the program you’re attending
- Financial details — employer’s name and address, annual income and other assets
Must read: Who services LendKey student loans?
Because LendKey isn’t a lender itself, your servicer will depend on the lender you apply with. Reach out to your lender for details on how and where to make repayments.
More about LendKey
LendKey was founded in 2009 in response to the financial crisis and partners with hundreds of banks and credit unions to help them reach more borrowers. In addition to student loans, LendKey also offers student loan refinancing and home improvement loans — both for homeowners and contractors.
Want to borrow through a direct provider instead? Read our guide to student loans to compare your options.