PenFed Review

ByTop10.com StaffOct.08, 2018

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In a Nutshell

PenFed offers student loan refinancing for working college graduates and their parents in order to improve interest rates, consolidate loans or move loans from parents to their kids.

pros

  • Highly competitive rates for people with 700+ credit
  • No application or origination fees
  • Backed by nation’s third-largest credit union

cons

  • Not suited to people with credit of less than 670
  • Borrowers with credit of 670-699 need to bring a co-signer
  • Only open to members of PenFed Credit Union

PenFed at a Glance 

Loan typesStudent loan refinancing
Loan amount$7,500 to $300,000
Repayment terms5, 8, 12, or 15 years
APRFixed 3.50% APR. Variable 3.46% APR
Best for700+ credit, $42,000+ annual income

Overview

PenFed offers student loan refinancing from the nation’s third-largest credit union. With low interest rates and customized repayment terms, PenFed can help current and former students save on overall interest payments and get out of debt quicker.

Best For?

PenFed has designed its student loan refinances for the following groups: college graduates who have established their careers, parents who took out loans to support their children's education, and married couples who want to refinance and consolidate their loans together.  

For most people with student loans, starting college at 18 puts them at a disadvantage because they aren’t yet in a position to secure a favorable loan rate. For this reason, most students take out federal-government sponsored loan—which carry the same interest rates for each borrower. Once students graduate and enter the job market, their credit typically rises and they become eligible for better rates. This is where PenFed fits in: with a student loan refinance, PenFed can pay off your old student loan and offer you a new loan at better rates and terms.

Because PenFed is a credit union, borrowers must first be members. To become a PenFed member, the borrower or a family member must be a member of the U.S. military or uniformed services; or they must be, or become, a member of one of dozens of related organizations, such as the National Military Family Organization or Voices for American Troops.

Loan Features

PenFed can refinance federal student loans, private student loans, and Parent PLUS loans. It caters to graduates and parents of graduates in all types of professions, as long as they have graduated from an eligible school and meet the minimum income and credit requirements. PenFed student refinance loans offer the following features:

  • Refinancing of up to $300,000 in student debt.
  • No origination fees or application fees—just a straight-out loan with interest.
  • No pre-payment penalties.
  • Co-signer release after just 12 consecutive on-time payments (i.e. after 1 year of making payments on schedule). 
  • Can transfer student loans from parents to children.
  • Couples can refinance and consolidate loans together, meaning the spouse with the lower credit score earns a lower interest rate than they would qualify for if they refinanced alone.
  • Earn $200 cash by referring a friend for a PenFed loan through Purefy.

The Application Process

To be eligible for a student loan refi, a borrower must be a member or sign up as a member of the PenFed Credit Union, and must also:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.
  • Have graduated from an approved Title IV-accredited school.
  • Have at least 700 credit to refinance without a co-signer or refinance more than $150,000. 
  • Have at least 670 credit to refinance with a co-signer.
  • Earn at least $42,000 annually to refinance without a cosigner. 
  • Earn at least $25,000 annually to refinance with a cosigner. 
  • Earn at least $50,000 annually to refinance more than $150,000 (although the earnings threshold can rise to as high as $100,000 depending on how much other debt the borrower holds).

Refinancing a student loan with PenFed involves 6 steps:

  • Answer 4 questions online to get a quote.
  • Apply online in 15 minutes.
  • After pre-approval, upload the following documents: driver’s license; pay stub or tax return; diploma or transcripts; payoff statement from current servicer or servicer of student loans; PenFed membership application.
  • Select a rate and loan term.
  • Accept the loan and e-sign the loan documents.
  • PenFed will pay off your existing loan and set up your new loan.

Loan Terms

PenFed offers fixed-rate and variable-rate student loan refis with the following terms: 

  • 5 years (60 monthly payments)
  • 8 years (96 monthly payments
  • 12 years (144 monthly payments)
  • 15 years (180 monthly payments)

Repayment Terms

As PenFed doesn’t charge any extra fees, interest and APR are identical. For fixed-rate refis, rates range from 3.5% to 7.28% and vary based on application terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer. 

How fixed-rate payments vary by term duration:

TermNo. of MonthlyPaymentsLowest APREst. Principal &Interest Payments
5 years60 months3.50%$182
8 years96 months4.29%$123
12 years144 months4.72%$91
15 years180 months5.19%$80

Variable rates are based on the one-month LIBOR rate published in the Wall Street Journal each month; at time of writing, they ranged from 3.46% to 7.24%. The maximum variable rate on a student loan refi is 9% for 5-year and 8-year terms, and 10% for 12-year and 15-year terms. The minimum rate is 2%.

How variable-rate payments vary by term duration:

TermNo. of MonthlyPaymentsLowest APREst. Principal &Interest Payments
5 years60 months3.46%$182
8 years96 months4.25%$123
12 years144 months4.68%$91
15 years180 months5.15%$80

How Safe Is It?

The Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed for short) has been in business since 1935, and serves a diverse population united by membership through employment, association membership, or volunteerism with the military or organizations associated with the military. It is the third-largest credit union regulated by the government’s National Credit Union Administration, with assets of $23 billion and more than 1.6 million members as of 2017.

Help & Support

Customer support staff are available to PenFed members from 7am to 11pm ET Mondays to Fridays, 8 am to 11pm ET Saturdays, and 9am to 5:30pm ET Sundays.  Staff can be reached at toll-free number 1-800-247-5626, by email at info@hq.penfed.org, and by secure online messaging.

Summary

PenFed offers college grads, parents of college grads, and married couples who have both graduated college, the chance to eliminate their student debt more quickly and cheaply. Backed by one of the nation’s largest credit unions, it reserves the best rates for borrowers who have credit of 700 or higher, income of at least $42,000, and have no need for a co-signer.

Physical Address

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

2930 Eisenhower Avenue

Alexandria, VA 22314