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Draw from a line of credit as you need it — without having to reapply each year.
NASA Federal Credit Union (FCU) offers a line of credit to undergraduate students who qualify for membership. With competitive rates and a wide range of loan amounts, it can be a good supplement when federal loans fall short. But you may need a co-borrower to access the lowest rates.
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First, am I eligible?
To be eligible for a NASA FCU student loan, you need to meet the following criteria:
Enrolled at least half time in a degree-granting program at an approved school*
Eligible for NASA FCU membership
Gross monthly income of at least $2,500 or apply with a cosigner
Meet credit standards or apply with a creditworthy cosigner
US citizen or permanent resident
Age of majority in your state
Meet your school’s minimum satisfactory academic progress standards
* A list of approved schools can be found on NASA FCU’s Student Choice page.
You need to be one of the following to qualify for NASA FCU membership:
Current employee or retiree of NASA Headquarters, any NASA Center or Facility or the National Academy of Sciences (NAS)
Employee or member of NASA FCU partner companies or associations
Relative or household member of a current NASA FCU member
If you don’t meet any of those criteria, NASA FCU may provide a complimentary membership to the National Space Society (NSS), which gives you all the NASA FCU benefits — including eligibility for its student line of credit.
How do NASA FCU student loans work?
Unlike most private student lenders, NASA FCU doesn’t offer a traditional term loan. Instead, you can take out a student line of credit that you draw from throughout the course of your studies. You can borrow as little as $1,000 each year all the way up to your school-certified cost of attendance. However, the total amount you can borrow throughout your academic career is limited to $75,000.
Your loan term depends on how much money you end up drawing from your line of credit.
Less than $40,000: 20-year term
More than $40,000: 25-year term
The best part? As long as there’s no significant changes to your or your coborrower’s credit score, there’s no need to reapply for credit each year. You simply need to request a draw online or by phone at the start of each academic year, and then wait 30 days for your loan to process and funds to be disbursed.
How much do NASA FCU student loans cost?
A student line of credit from NASA FCU has a variable rate between 6.08% and 6.82% — though it will never go above 18%. There are no origination or application fees, and you won’t be charged a prepayment penalty for paying off your loan early.
Does NASA FCU offer discounts?
Unlike other private student loan providers, NASA FCU doesn’t advertise an interest rate discount for signing up for autopay.
What are my repayment options?
When you take out a student line of credit from NASA FCU, you’ll have three repayment options.
Full repayments. Make monthly repayments on both the principal and interest while you’re in school.
Interest-only payments. Make monthly repayments on interest that accrues while you’re in school.
Deferred repayments. Hold off on making repayment until six months after you graduate or drop below half time. Any interest that accrues during this time will be added to your principal, making your loan more expensive in the long run.
You also have the option of a graduated repayment schedule that you can choose before repayment begins or any time within the first 24 months of your loan repayment period. Your loan balance is amortized for the first two years of repayments, meaning your loan is treated as if it will be repaid over a 40-year period. When those two years are up, your loan will be reamortized over the remaining 18 or 23 years, based on your original repayment plan.
Does NASA FCU offer deferment or forbearance?
You can defer repayments while you’re in school, but other types of deferment or forbearance — such as if you need to suspend payments while looking for a job — aren’t advertised on its website. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t available, but you’ll need to reach out to customer service to explore your options.
Top reasons to consider NASA FCU
If you’re already a member or eligible for membership, NASA FCU offers a few competitive benefits to student borrowers.
Line of credit — not a term loan. Unlike traditional private student loans, NASA FCU’s student line of credit allows you to borrow as much as you need — when you need it — without having to fill out a new application each year.
Can apply with a coborrower. Similar to applying with a cosigner, a coborrower can help you meet credit and income requirements and potentially score you a lower APR.
Low minimum draw amount. NASA FCU only requires you to borrow at least $1,000 each year — less than the $5,000 or even $7,000 minimum that other private lenders require.
Competitive rates and limited fees. Variable interest rates start and end fairly low — plus, you won’t be on the hook for any application or origination fees.
Drawbacks to borrowing from NASA FCU
Although it may offer some strong features, there are still a few downsides to getting a student loan through NASA FCU.
Must attend an approved school. If you’re not enrolled at one of the 2,000 eligible school’s on NASA FCU’s list, you won’t be able to qualify.
No interest rate discount. Unlike many private lenders that knock down your interest rate a few points for signing up for autopay, NASA FCU doesn’t offer this perk.
Hardship forbearance not advertised. NASA FCU doesn’t advertise any definite forbearance options for borrowers struggling to make repayments, though you may be able to work something out by calling a customer service rep.
Need to become a NASA FCU member. Though qualifying for membership is relatively easy, there are a number of negative reviews of NASA FCU’s customer service team.
Compare more student loan providers
Updated October 14th, 2019
What do borrowers say about NASA FCU?
Reviews of NASA FCU are generally negative, with many customers complaining of bad customer service experiences and miscommunication with representatives that resulted in wrongful charges. However, none of these were specific to student loans — just the banking system in general.
In addition, NASA FCU isn’t accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and receives an A- rating due to its failure to respond to a complaint filed against it. There are only four customer reviews, but all are fairly recent and cite NASA FCU’s poor customer service.
What to expect when signing up
Before you begin, confirm you qualify for membership with NASA FCU and that you and your cosigner meet its other eligibility requirements.
Ready to apply? Call 800-322-8816 or follow these steps to sign up online:
Visit NASA FCU’s website and click Student Loans under the Loans & Credit section.
Click Apply Now and then I Understand to be redirected to its student loans website.
Click Apply in the top navigation bar.
Click Get Started and then Get Started again to begin the application.
Enter information about you, your school and your cosigner before clicking Submit Application.
It may take a few minutes for your application to be processed and NASA FCU to get back to you with a decision. If approved, a credit union representative will walk you through the next steps of verifying your school expenses and signing your paperwork.
What information do I need to apply?
When filling out the NASA FCU student loan application, you or your cosigner will need to provide the following:
Address, date of birth, Social Security number and phone number
Contact details for a personal reference
Gross monthly income and additional assets
Your school’s name and address
Your enrollment status, including your major and anticipated graduation date
Requested loan amount
Preferred repayment option
Must read: Who services NASA FCU student loans?
NASA FCU student loans are serviced by University Accounting Service (UAS). You can make repayments online, over the phone and by check, but keep an eye on your account — UAS has been known to have trouble processing repayments from borrowers in the past. See something amiss? Contact UAS directly by calling 800-723-2210.
Founded in 1949, NASA FCU is a federal credit union that services current and former employees of NASA, employees of partner companies, relatives and household members, and NSS members. Like most credit unions, it offers a variety of banking services and loan options. It also has a resource center that links to a few helpful calculators and tips on money management.
NASA FCU provides competitive rates with low fees for undergraduate students. And since you’ll be taking out a line of credit, you only have to apply once. But if you’re concerned about its negative customer service reviews, compare your other private student loan options before making a final decision.
Frequently asked questions
You can contact NASA FCU by phone, email or live chat.
Live chat: Visit its website and click Chat in the top navigation bar
No, NASA FCU only offers loans for undergraduate students at this time. While it doesn’t technically offer parent loans, students can take out an undergraduate line of credit with their parent as a coborrower.
Yes, there’s a coborrower release option. Provided you’ve made 48 consecutive on-time repayments, meet NASA FCU’s credit requirements, set up autopay and meet a few other eligibility criteria, you may be able to release your coborrower.
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