3 best USAA student loan alternatives | finder.com
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USAA student loan alternatives

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Though its student loan referral program is no more, you still have options.

USAA is a financial services organization for servicemembers, veterans and their families that offers everything from life insurance to mutual funds. But it stopped its student loan referral program with Wells Fargo. If federal loans fall short, you’re not out of luck — you have some competitive alternatives to consider.

Why doesn’t USAA offer student loans?

USAA used to have a student loan referral program with Wells Fargo, which offered a 0.25% rate discount to USAA members. But it stopped this program back in December 2016 due to a lack of demand. Instead, it’s focusing on other products and services that can benefit all members, rather than just a small group.

It still offers several college-related products, such as student checking accounts, secured credit cards and college savings investment accounts.

3 best alternatives to USAA student loans

Since you can’t get a student loan through USAA anymore, you might want to consider these three lenders instead.

1. Credible

Best for: When you don’t know where to start.

  • Loan amounts: Starting at $1,000
  • APRs: 3.94% (As low as)
  • Terms: 5 to 20 years
  • Eligibility requirements: Enrolled at least half time in qualifying US educational program, ages 18+ or apply with cosigner

Credible is an online marketplace that allows you to quickly prequalify for student loans from multiple lenders to see what your options are. It’s a great tool if you’re not sure what rates and terms you might be eligible for.

If you find a loan that works for you, you can easily continue on with the application. But keep in mind that your initial offer might not reflect the rates and terms you actually get once you submit the full application.

2. LendKey

Best for: Borrowing from a community lender.

  • Loan amounts: Varies by lender
  • APRs: Variable APRs start at 4.92% with autopay, fixed APRs start at 5.36% with autopay
  • Terms: Varies by lender
  • Eligibility requirements: US citizen or permanent resident, live in eligible state, attend eligible school

LendKey is another connection service that works with credit unions and local banks in your area. These tend to offer more favorable rates and terms than your typical bank or online lender, so it could be a great option if you and your cosigner struggle to qualify elsewhere.

You might have to join a credit union in order to apply, and you’ll need to have a cosigner if you make less than $24,000 a year. But if you’re looking for a more personalized borrowing experience, LendKey makes it a lot easier to compare your options from local lenders.

3. Wells Fargo

Best for: The closest student loan to USAA’s offer.

  • Loan amounts: Up to $120,000
  • APRs: Variable APRs from 5.04% to 10.72%, fixed APRs from 4.8% to 11.26%
  • Terms: Up to 15 years
  • Eligibility requirements: Enrolled in eligible program, good to excellent credit, ages 18+, US citizen or permanent resident

If you really liked what USAA had to offer, the next best thing is applying directly through Wells Fargo. While you won’t get the extra 0.25% rate discount that it previously gave to USAA members, other features of the loan remain the same.

One of the major draws for some USAA members is that it offers financing to members that are earning a degree while stationed abroad. However, its website doesn’t provide much information about how it works, so you might have to rely on customer service more than other lenders.
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US Army Loan Repayment Program

If you’re an active-duty servicemember, you might be eligible for the US Army’s Loan Repayment Program (LRP). Through the LRP, you can apply to have part of your qualifying loan balances forgiven each year you’re on active duty for up to three years. Most common federal loans qualify, though private student loans are ineligible. You can sign up through the US Army’s benefits website.

To learn about similar programs, read our article on repaying military student loans.

Does USAA offer any similar loans?

While USAA doesn’t offer any other education-related loans, you might be able to use one of these options to pay for your expenses while in school:

  • USAA unsecured personal loan. Starting at $2,500 with APRs as low as 8.99% with autopay, you can use this general-use personal loan to cover your day-to-day expenses while in school. But you’ll need good to excellent credit to qualify.
  • USAA secured personal loan. If you own your car, you might be able to get a better deal on rates and terms by putting it up for collateral. Rates start at 3.74% APR with terms as long as six years.

Bottom line

While USAA no longer offers a 0.25% discount on Wells Fargo student loans, there are other options available. Borrowing from Wells Fargo directly is the closest alternative, though you also might want to compare offers from online or community student loan providers.

Check out our guide to learn more about how student loans work.

Frequently asked questions

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Anna Serio

Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.

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