Pros / LendKey offers cost calculators to help you plan your college expenses.
Cons / This lender does not offer unemployment protection.
Verdict / LendKey helps you find a local credit union that can provide you a student loan.
In the world of private student loans, LendKey is one of the best private student loan providers. It works with credit unions and small community banks to find the best rates for its customers. The maximum that LendKey will loan is $175,000. It also offers a longer forbearance period of 18 months and a short cosigner release period of 12 months. Because of these student loan options, LendKey is the winner of our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
Even with federal student loans, many students need additional funding to complete their college educations. With LendKey, you can borrow up to $175,000 to pay for your undergraduate education. The limits are even higher for graduate and professional loans.
If you have federal and private loans, LendKey offers to consolidate those loans. Consolidation can be useful if you're juggling multiple student loan payments and don't mind having a longer repayment term. (However, consolidating your federal student loans with a private student loan can disqualify you from some federal student loan forgiveness plans.)
Unfortunately, the loan term is 10 years. This means you don't have the option of stretching your payments over a longer period of time, which reduces your monthly loan payment. College Ave and Citizens Bank both have shorter loan term options.
Another drawback with LendKey is that it only offers variable-rate student loans. Variable interest rates are based on market rates and can fluctuate, meaning the amount you pay per month can go up or down. Other private student loan providers offer you a choice between variable and fixed interest rates.
Of all the private student loan providers that we reviewed, LendKey offered one of the best cosigner release periods. If you make 12 on-time payments, you can apply to have the cosigner on your student loan removed. This is great for students who need parents or grandparents to cosign on their loans.
LendKey offers 18 months of forbearance. Unlike some other loan providers we reviewed, LendKey doesn't limit how many months of forbearance you can apply for at a time. This is a great option if you lose your job or run into financial difficulties, because you can postpone your loan payments and not be considered delinquent. You need to be careful with forbearance, however, because the interest on your student loan is still accruing during this period.
You don't have to begin paying back your LendKey student loan until six months after graduation. This grace period is designed to give students enough time to find a job before they begin paying back their loan.
If you sign up to have payments automatically deducted from your checking or savings account, you can qualify for a 0.25% interest rate deduction. This discount is smaller than what other providers offer, but it can add up over the length of the loan.
Additionally, once you've paid off 10% of the principal, LendKey will reduce your interest rate by 1%. We didn't see this with the other student loan providers we evaluated.
LendKey's website features a well-designed student loan calculator to help you estimate your monthly payment based on current interest rates, the size of the loan and your repayment period.
Help & Support
LendKey offers great customer support. We emailed all of the private student loan providers on our list, assessing how long their customer service teams took to respond to our questions. LendKey was the first to respond, and they took the time to provide an accurate and comprehensive answer to our questions.
As a downside, though, LendKey doesn't offer online chat. Instead, you can reach the lender by phone Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time, or by email.
LendKey is one of the best student loan providers in our review because of their loan limit of $175,000, their short cosigner release period and their fast email response time. Though they only offer variable-rate student loans, LendKey is a solid option if you need a student loan to complete your education.