Raise private student loans review
Student loans simplified with variable APRs from 6.07% to 15.07%.
- Best for beginner borrowers that need more than federal financial aid can cover.
- Pick something else if you want a fixed rate or longer term.
6.07% to 15.07%
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|Product Name||Raise Private Student Loan|
|Minimum Loan Amount||$1,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$65,000|
|APR||6.07% to 15.07%|
|Interest Rate Type||Variable|
|Minimum Loan Term||5 years|
|Maximum Loan Term||10 years|
|Requirements||US citizen or permanent resident, live in an eligible state, have a steady income, be the age of majority in your state.|
Anna Serio is a trusted loans expert who's published more than 800 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 CNBC, Business Insider and The Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
Raise student loans are ideal for borrowers who need funds, but aren’t sure of what they’re getting into exactly. The application process is clear and accessible — it’ll take you no more than 15 minutes to apply and receive a decision. Raise will walk you through how their student loans work, and how much it’ll cost for you overall.
However, it only offers variable rates — and they’re on the high end for private student loans. Add to that a maximum loan term of 10 years, and you may find this option is more affordable for borrowing smaller amounts.
Still not sold? Check out our list of other lenders that might be a better fit for you.
First, am I eligible?
To qualify for a Raise private student loan, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a US citizen or permanent resident
- Go to an eligible school at least half time
- Have a steady income
- Have a strong credit history
- Be over 18 in most states, 19 in Alabama
- Live in an eligible state
If you aren’t employed or don’t have strong credit, you can apply with a cosigner. Cosigners don’t need to live in an eligible state, though Wisconsin residents can’t cosign Raise student loans at this time.
You can find out if your school is eligible on the first page of the application. First select your state, then click the dropdown menu below. If you don’t see your school listed, then it’s not eligible.
Students must be residents of one of the following states to be eligible for a Raise student loan.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
How do Raise student loans work?
Raise is the student loan program for Cognition Lending, which funds and originates loans for the Cognition Financial Corporation — formerly known as the First Marblehead Corporation. It designed its private student loans to help cover education costs after students already applied for federal aid and still came up short.
Students can apply for between $1,000 and $65,000, though it’ll have to match with their school-certified costs — how much the school says they need in funding. Raise has a lifetime limit of $150,000 in student loans to help prevent students from over-borrowing, which includes both federal and private student loans.
What sets Raise apart is its application process, which is designed to help students make a more informed decision when it comes to choosing a rate and term. Its loan configuration tool in particular lets you see what your options mean for your monthly repayments and total loan cost before settling on one choice.
How much do Raise student loans cost?
Since Raise doesn’t charge any application or origination fees, the cost you should keep your eye on is the interest rate. Unlike most private lenders, Raise doesn’t offer fixed interest rates, which are typically safer and stay the same over the life of your loan. Instead, your only choice is a variable rate, which can go up and down from month to month.
Right now, Raise’s rates range from 6.074% to 15.075%. You won’t always have a rate within that range, however. That’s because of how Raise calculates variable rates. First, Raise assigns borrowers a small, fixed interest rate from 3.95% to 12.95% called a margin. Then, Raise adds the margin to the one-month LIBOR rate each month. The total is your variable rate. Since there’s no limit to how high the LIBOR rate can get, Raise caps its variable rates at 16%.
Does Raise offer any discounts?
It does. You can get a 0.25% discount on interest if you sign up for autopay.
What are my repayment options?
Raise has two repayment options for while you’re in school: immediate repayment and interest-only repayment. With immediate repayment, you’ll be on the hook for your full loan repayments between 30 and 60 days after your school gets your funds.
With interest-only repayment, you have the option of only making payments on the interest that adds up each month. Students can continue making interest-only repayments for up to six months after they leave school or drop below half-time. After that, you’ll be on the hook for full repayments until your loan term is up.
You might be able to qualify for deferment or forbearance if you decide to go back to school, get deployed for armed service, lose your job or face other financial hardship. Raise’s loan servicer American Education Services decides eligibility and terms on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to reach out if you want to defer your loans or go into forbearance.
Top reasons to consider Raise
- No application or origination fees. You won’t have to pay to apply for your Raise student loan.
- Configuration tool. Raise helps borrowers understand how their loan works and what the interest rate, term and loan amount means for them in the short- and long-term.
- Quick application. It doesn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes to fill out the application and get an immediate response to get approved.
- Autopay discount. You can easily lower your rate by 0.25% by signing up for autopay.
Why you might want to look elsewhere
- No fixed rate. Raise only offers variable interest rates, which can be risky — especially for borrowers who can’t afford their interest payments to change from month to month.
- Short terms. The longest loan term you can get with Raise is 10 years.
- Limited availability. Raise private student loans are currently only available in 24 states. Your cosigner can be from any state except Wisconsin.
- No cosigner release. You’ll have to refinance your loan if you want to take your cosigner’s name off of it.
Compare other private student loans
What do customers say about Raise?
Almost nothing — not a surprise for such a small lender. Raise doesn’t have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) page and neither does its parent company Cognition Financial (or First Marblehead, its name up until 2017). They also don’t have Trustpilot pages.
If there are online reviews of Raise student loans, they’re buried under comments and articles about raising student loan interest rates. Customers also don’t appear to have anything to say about Cognition Financial or First Marblehead’s student loans.
What to expect when signing up
Applying is relatively simple and only takes about 10 or 15 minutes. Before you start the application, make sure you and your cosigner meet the eligibility requirements. You’ll need information on you and your cosigner, so it might be easier to apply together. You can apply on your phone or using a tablet, but Raise recommends using a desktop or laptop computer.
- Go to the Raise website and click Apply Now.
- Fill out the required fields with information about you, your school and your cosigner. If you have any questions during the process, reach out to the Raise customer service team any time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET by calling 800-218-4541. Review your answers and the terms and conditions before you submit it.
- At this point, Raise conducts a hard credit check, which affects you and your cosigner’s personal credit score.
- After Raise sends you the loan options you qualify for, use its configuration tool to find the right loan term and repayment plan for you based on the overall cost and monthly repayment.
- Follow Raise’s directions to submit additional information, like documents that verify your income.
- Wait for your school to certify your loan — confirming that you’re a student and your cost of attendance.
- Review and sign your loan documents.
You have three days after you sign your loan documents to cancel your loan. After that, Raise disburses your funds directly to your school. Once you start making repayments, direct any questions to your loan servicer American Education Services.
How to apply stey-by-step with screenshots
More about Raise and Cognition Financial
Raise is a new student loan program offered by Cognition Financial, known as the First Marblehead Corporation until 2017. Cognition Financial was founded in 1991 with the aim of widening student access to financing when federal aid can’t come through.
Since then, it’s helped students take out more than $23 billion in private student loans. It funds loans itself and also works with other lenders like SunTrust Bank and Kinecta Credit Union. Its other student loan products include the Custom Choice Loan, Graduate Business Loan, Kinecta Private Student Loan and Union Federal Private Student Loan.
Check out our student loans guide to compare other student loans see how it all works.
Frequently asked questions
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