CULearn is a network of credit unions that work together. They offer graduate and undergraduate student loans and also have provisions for student loan refinancing. It is a great company with good potential but there exist some issues with the system and the process at CULearn that we will discuss here. The basic idea on which CULearn is built is quite innovative and progressive. Credit unions coming and working together will benefit both the organization and the borrowers. However, we seem to find some redundancy with the steps involved in the process at CULearn.
Table of Contents
- CULearn Process Review
- CULearn Undergraduate Student Loans
- CULearn Student Loan Refinancing
- What is Thrivent?
- Concluding Thoughts
CULearn Process Review
Before diving into the details of student loans and their refinancing, let us understand what CULearn is and what it is not. You need to know that CULearn is NOT a student loan lender nor does it provide the student loans for refinancing. CULearn is a platform that connects borrowers with lenders. The borrowers are required to select the type of loan they need, the school they attend and their current address. Then CULearn lists all the credit unions that could provide you with the loans that you require.
CULearn is not the first of its kind. Another well-known company that operates similarly is Credible. CULearn is similar to Credible both in the form of operation and has a limited number of lenders on their networks. Borrowers get only a couple of choices of potential lenders to select from.
CULearn does not have the facility to check rates with many lenders, which Credible provides. Borrowers are supposed to check for rates separately with different lenders. The single application saves the borrower’s time while they are shopping. LendKey is also a company that operates on similar grounds, ie. they also have a network of credit unions and regional banks. But they appear to have distinct networks as the unions on CULearn do not appear on LendKey.
CULearn is still a new website and it might be such that they are figuring out the system. It could be a helpful resource for student loans and student loan refinancing, but as of now, it is best if it is used to learn about some lesser-known credit unions.
CULearn Undergraduate Student Loans
The undergraduate student loans offered by CULearn vary by state and school. Some of the schools that were checked at random falls in the ‘good’ category. They are not ‘great’ student loans but they are not that bad also. Interest rates and loan repayment options appeared to be standard.
CULearn encourages borrowers to first use all their scholarships, grants and federal student loans before opting for private student loans. This we liked because being a private company themselves, they seem to care for their student borrowers and did not attempt to mislead or misinform students. As we have always advised, it is better to exhaust all federal student loan options because of the benefits they provide that private loan lenders can not match up to.
CULearn Student Loan Refinancing
Since the student loan refinancing options are provided by the credit unions depending on the schools, it is difficult to definitively review the rates and terms. The borrowers are limited to the lenders available for their school and location.
The lowest advertised rates of interest are decent but were roughly about 1% higher than the top lenders in the market. The lowest advertised variable rates of interest are just over 2% but CULearn lenders at best can provide in the range of 3-4%. The case is similar for fixed-rate loans. The lenders at CULearn offer a maximum repayment length of up to 20 years in length. Longer repayment plans result in lower monthly payments but the spending on interest becomes high.
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What is Thrivent?
Thrivent is the most common credit union to appear on CULearn. In fact, it appears up for almost every location and schools. They offer undergraduate, graduate and refinance student loans. Thrivent is a national credit union that focusses on social issues also. As per their official website, Thrivent has supported charities like Habitat for Humanity with millions of dollars and work hours.
But the point to be pondered upon is that the Thrivent membership can be availed by Christians only. Most credit unions restrict their memberships based on their geographical locations. Borrowers need to know this requirement before deciding to move forward with their applications on Thrivent student loans.
CULearn seems to have potential even if it is a new entry into student loan lending and student loan refinancing. Unfortunately, their potential does not provide borrowers with many benefits or better deals. The listed rates are comparatively higher and the selected lists of lenders are less. It is always been advised to look for better offers before selecting a loan. Interested borrowers can shop around here but mostly the better options are likely to be found somewhere else. LendKey could be a competitor to their business as they offer better deals and better selection of networks. For best interests, borrowers might have better luck with established private student loan lenders.