About Wells Fargo Private Student Loans
Wells Fargo’s student loans program provides multiple options for private student loans, parent loans, and loan consolidation.
What makes them unique is that many of their loans have a deferment period built into your repayment schedule, and you can get up to a 0.50% discount on your interest rates if you sign up for automatic payments from your bank account and if you have a Wells Fargo bank account.
However, there is much about the terms and types of student loans that Wells Fargo offers that isn’t unique and, because of this, it’s important to know how Wells Fargo differs from other big private student loan lenders like Discover and Citizens Bank.
It’s also important to understand the differences between your Wells Fargo options and the student loans the federal government offers.
In this review, we’ll talk about the various types of student loans and the features those loans have. We’ll also compare Wells Fargo’s loans to Discover, Citizens Bank and the federal student aid program.
We’ll wrap up with a quick section on the overall pros and cons of the Wells Fargo student loan program.
Undergraduate Student Loans
These loans are similar to Discover undergrad loans in that the amount you get is based on the cost of going to school. In other words, you won’t be given more than you need to pay for tuition, books, computers and other educational essentials.
You get a six-month grace period after “you graduate or leave school,” the fine print says, after which you’ll be required to start paying back your loan.
Wells Fargo is different than competitors Discover and Citizens Bank because they split their undergrad loans into two categories: four-year and two-year/career schools.
Universities and Colleges Loans
The bank calls these Wells Fargo Collegiate student loans. They are intended for students enrolled in traditional universities and colleges. Here are the important points about these loans:
- Max borrowing amount: Tied to your school expenses, max of $120,000 for Wells Fargo and other student loans
- Repayment period: 15 years
- Interest rates: 5.94% - 10.76% with 0.5% discount
Community and Career Colleges
Whereas the previous loans are meant for students going to a traditional four-year school, this category of loans is designed for students going to two-year schools or a career college.
- Max borrowing amount: $15K per year for a two-year school, $20K per year for a four-year career school
- Repayment period: Up to 15 years
- Interest rates: 7.46% - 12.15% with 0.5% discount
Graduate Student Loans
The second main category of Wells Fargo student loans is graduate loans. You’ll see that the interest rates vary heavily based on what you’re going to study and the cost of your education.
Wells Fargo Graduate Loans
These loans are general student loans that cover law degrees and business degrees as well as other types of graduate degrees.
While these loans are treated like general loans, they do have specific max lending requirements for law and business degrees.
- Max borrowing amount: $180K for law and business degrees (combined w/other loans)/$120K for “other fields of study.”
- Repayment period: Up to 15 years
- Interest rates: 6.84% - 11.17% with 0.5% discount
MedCAP Alternative Loan for Health Professionals
Like Discover and Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo offers student loans for those who are getting graduate degrees to become health professionals. Because there are various jobs in the health professional world, Wells Fargo has specific rules for specific jobs.
- Max borrowing amount, according to the fine print:
- $250,000 for an M.D., D.O., medicine and dentistry
- $180,000 for graduate nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatry and veterinary medicine
- $120,000 for other fields
- Repayment period: 20 years
- Interest rates: 6.66% - 9.68% with 0.5% discount
These loans are meant for medical students who are relocating for their residency and need an infusion of cash to tide them over as they put in their time at the hospital and for exams and medical boards, Wells Fargo’s site notes.
- Max borrowing amount:
- $12.5K for boards and clinical exams
- $15K for residency-related expenses
- $5K for internships
- Repayment period: 7 years
- Interest rates: 8.85% with 0.5% discount
Bar Exam Loans
Those who are preparing for the bar exam can take advantage of this loan, which is designed to tide you over after graduation as you study to pass the bar.
- Max borrowing amount: $25K per year
- Repayment period: 7 years
- Interest rates: 6.49% - 12.49% with 0.5% discount
Student Loan Consolidation
This is the final category of student loans that Wells Fargo offers, putting them in direct competition with Discover, who also offers student loan consolidation.
These particular loans have a range of APR’s going from 5.24% to 9.49% with the 0.5% discount.
They place a $120,000 limit on how much you can consolidate with Wells Fargo and a $250,000 limit on the total amount of loans you have, Wells Fargo’s included.
Wells Fargo’s debt consolidation, however, comes with some restrictions that may affect you. First, you can’t consolidate federal student loans, only private ones. This particular restriction is tough since most students (about 80%, according to 2012 stats) have federal student loans.
Also, you can’t consolidate anything that isn’t an education loan, which means you won’t be able to consolidate credit card debt you racked up to get through college or grad school.
Finally, you have to consolidate a minimum of $5,000 in private student loan debt.
Wells Fargo Parent Loans
If your parents are interested in taking out a loan to pay for your education, they can do so through Wells Fargo’s parent loans.
These loans have APR’s ranging from 6.49% to 12.49%.
Whereas Wells Fargo’s other loans have a six-month grace period before you have to pay them back, parent loans go into repayment immediately.
How Wells Fargo Student Loan Rates Compare to Other Lenders
While variety is important when it comes to the types of loans a private student loan lender offers, rates are probably the most important factor in choosing which lender you’ll use.
In the following table, we’ll provide you the APR ranges of four different lenders – Wells Fargo included – and four different types of loans of $10,000:
|Wells Fargo||Discover||Citizens Bank||Federal Aid|
|Undergrad Loans||5.94%-12.15%||5.99%-12.99%||6.45% - 12.05%||5.05%|
|Graduate Loans||6.84% - 11.17%||5.99% - 13.99%||6.39% - 11.44%||6.6%|
|Law/MBA||6.84% - 11.17%||5.99% - 12.99%||6.05% - 10.05%||6.6%|
|Medical Doctorate||6.66% - 9.68%||5.99% - 11.24%||5.56% - 9.21%||6.6%|
As you can see, Wells Fargo’s interest rates are higher than the competition in every single category. Based on this information, we think that going with Discover is your best bet, but only if you have excellent credit scores. Why? Because excellent credit scores – think 720 and above – give you the best chance at getting the lowest interest rate.
Now, if you’re someone who doesn’t want to get a federal student loan and you’ve got bad credit scores – think 650 and under – then you may want to consider Wells Fargo because their highest interest rates are lower than all of Discover’s offerings and lower than Citizens Bank’s graduate loans.
The Final Word: Pros and Cons of Wells Fargo Private Student Loans
Based on all the information we analyzed, we believe that Wells Fargo has some solid advantages for borrowers like you.
While their lowest APR’s are, for the most part, higher than the competition, they do offer great value on undergraduate loans. Their low-end APR of 5.94% is better than Discover and Citizens Bank, but 0.89% higher than federal student loans.
The downside to their loans is that they don’t offer as much money as Discover’s loans. For example, Wells Fargo’s residency loans max out at $15,000, while Discovers are capped at $18,000.
Also, we noticed that their APR’s on loans for law, MBA and medical degrees are significantly higher on the low-end than Discover and Citizens Bank.
This tells us that, if you have excellent credit scores and you’re entering a graduate program in one of the aforementioned areas, then you may want to apply to Discover and Citizens Bank to see what kind of rates you can get.
Also, Wells Fargo won’t consolidate federal student loans whereas Discover will.
In general, we believe that Wells Fargo’s student loans are a good fit for undergrads who have excellent credit and don’t want to borrow money from the federal government.
Keep in mind, though, that private student loans don’t offer you nearly as many repayment plans as you’d get with federal student loans. Many of those federal repayment plans can reduce your monthly payments to a manageable level.
If you want to learn more about the various repayment options you have with federal student loans, take a few minutes to read through our guide to the eight different repayment plans you have for your government-issued student loans.
We explain all the different programs, which loans qualify for them and how they calculate how much you’ll pay each month.