If the interest rates on your current federal student loans or your private student loans from the traditional banks are too high for you, or if you are not satisfied with the services you get from these banks, then credit unions are an alternative option for you.
The U.S. credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that usually provide services to specific communities. Unlike banks, who call their clients customers, clients of credit unions become partners or members of the organization.
Credit Unions are under the regulation and moderation of either the federal government through the federal credit union or the state government. They provide financial services such as car loans, house mortgages, loan refinancing, and more, to their members and direct family of their members. The membership for every credit union is restricted to a particular community or niche that they were established to serve.
List of contents
- Pentagon Federal Credit Union at a glance
- Refinancing Options for Student Loans
- Eligibility Criteria
- Application Process
- Terms and Interest Rates
- Other Additional Information
Pentagon Federal Credit Union at a glance
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, widely known by its abbreviated name PenFed, is a federal credit union established in 1935. It is currently based in McLean, Virginia and is authorized and managed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). It is the second-largest federal credit union with assets worth 25 billion U.S. dollars. It mostly served government workers and people with secure jobs. As of May 2019, registration for membership has been opened with no eligibility criteria.
Although PenFed does not offer student loans directly, they do offer a wide range of options to refinance student loans with them. This way, they will pay off some or all of the student loans you are currently in debt of.
In return, they will set up a new refinance loan for you under their organization. This will give you a chance to get lower interest rates, change your repayment plans, reduce or increase your repayment period, and more.
Currently, their refinancing service allowing married couples to refinance their student loans together stands out.
Refinancing options for student loans
PenFed provides student loan refinancing for the PenFed members and others willing to join the membership. The refinancing loan application process is simplified and one can apply online with no origination fee and prepayment fees. The refinancing options for student loans that they provide include the following.
Refinancing a single or multiple federal student loans
Refinancing a single or multiple private student loans
Federal and private student loans together into a single loan
Parents PLUS Loans with an option to transfer the loans from parents to their children through the PenFed Parents PLUS Loan refinance program
Student loans of married couples under one loan
- Refinancing to take over spouse's loan
Read more on refinancing your student loans the right way
PenFed Eligibility Criteria
There are multiple criteria that you need to fulfill in order to go for PenFed. The requirements differ for a co-signer or an applicant.
The following are the basic criteria that an applicant should qualify to apply for a loan in PenFed.
1 - Minimum Age
Applicants must be the age of majority as defined by the state of their state of residence.
2 - Minimum Credit Score or Minimum Annual Income
The applicants must qualify for either the credit score criteria or the annual income criteria. The need for a cosigner will be determined accordingly as shown in the table given below.
|Loan Amount||Credit Score||Annual Income||Need for cosigner|
|Up to $150,000||670 to 699||$25,000 to $41,999||Required|
|Up to $150,000||700 and above||$42,000 and above||Not required|
|Above $150,000||670 to 724||$25,000 and $49,999||Required|
|Above $150,000||725 and above||$50,000 and above||Not required|
3 - Citizenship
At this point in time, only U.S Citizens are eligible for PenFed loans.
4 - Graduation
Applicants must have a Bachelor's degree or higher. This refinancing program is not offered to an individual who is still in school.
5 - Existing Loan
Applicants must have at least one active, fully disbursed student loan of $7,500 or more.
6 - Membership
Applicants must be an existing PenFed member or should be willing to become a member.
The following are the basic criteria that a cosigner should qualify to sign for an applicant.
1 - Minimum age
The co-signer must be the age of majority as defined by the state of their state of residence.
2 - Minimum credit score and minimum annual income
The applicants must qualify for either the credit score criteria or the annual income criteria.
|Loan Amount||Credit Score||Annual Income|
|Up to $150,000||720 and above||$42,000 and above|
|Above $150,000||725 and above||$50,000 and above|
3 - Citizenship
Only U.S Citizens are eligible to co-sign for applicants.
For a married couple, one must have a credit score of 700 or above and the other must have 670 and above with a combined annual income of $42,000 and above.
For loans above $150,000, one must have a credit score of 725 and above and the other must have a 670 an above with a combined annual income of $50,000 and above.
PenFed Application Process
To apply for the PenFed Student Loan Refinance Program, you must first go through a pre-approval stage or the initial credit review stage of the application process. At this stage, your identity verification and credit checking will be done.
Along with that, your current situation will be taken into consideration to calculate your eligibility, the amount of loan you qualify for, and the interest rates and terms, and more.
Go to the PenFed Student Loan Refinance Program webpage and click on the Find my Rate button to start. After the pre-approval stage, you will be given 60 days to upload all necessary documents and complete your application for the program.
Documents required after pre-approval
Government-issued photo ID
Payoff Verification Statement
A graduation certificate - Transcript, degree, diploma, or anything equivalent
Payoff Verification Statement - It is a statement from your current lender or servicer stating the exact amount for a payoff for a selected date which includes the loan balance, interest accruing till the day of the payoff, and any fees and charges.
Terms and Interest Rates
The interest rate or the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) is calculated solely on the basis of your credit score, the degree or course that you completed and the presence of a co-signer. Your income or the amount of loan to be refinanced has zero effect on your interest rates whatsoever. PenFed Student Loan Refinance Program will accrue your interest on a simple daily basis.
For Fixed APR
The Fixed APR is capped at 7.03%.
The table below shows an estimate of the lowest APR for the different available terms for a $10,000 loan. The actual APR for an applicant will be calculated on a case-to-case basis as stated above.
|Lowest APR||Est. Payments|
For Variable APR
The Variable APR is floored at 2% and capped at 9% for a 5-year term and an 8-year term, and capped at 10% for a 12-year term and a 15-year term.
The table below shows an estimate of the lowest APR for the different available terms for a $10,000 loan. The actual APR for an applicant will change according to the fluctuations in the market conditions.
|Lowest APR||Est. Payments|
Fixed Rates vs Variable Rates
A Fixed Rate of Interest on a loan means that the interest rate of that loan will remain the same throughout the life of the loan. Whereas a Variable Rate of interest on a loan means that the interest rate of that loan will fluctuate depending on the market rate. It has been observed in the past that variable rates could be lower than the fixed rates.
However, it is advisable to choose a variable interest rate only if your loan is on a short term and you are able to cover the cap of the interest rate for your term in case any dramatic fluctuation of rate occurs in the market. It is not advisable for borrowers with a long term loan or with a risk-averse situation.
Rates of PenFed are subjected to change. However, fixed rates will not change once the term starts.
Stressed about college finances? Learn about student loans to answer your queries
Other Additional Information
1. Repayment Options
PenFed offers only one type of repayment - a simple Principle and Interest Repayment Plan. The amount due for repayments will be calculated based on your eligibility as per your profile on your application along with the terms of repayment you choose - between 5, 8, 12 or 15 years. Any amount that you pay beyond the amount due will be applied to reduce the principal balance of your loan.
2. Loan Payoff
If you have decided to make a prepayment or pay-off your loan earlier than your term's length, you can do so without having to pay any penalty or extra charges. The pay-off amount will include the existing loan balance along with the interest that would accrue till the day of the pay-off.
3. Deferment and Forbearance
PenFed does not offer any specified Deferment or Forbearance by default. But that does not mean that they are not offered. If a member is facing any financial struggle and unable to make payments, PenFed will work with them to find a solution on a case-to-case basis. The applicants must approach the Financial Hardship Centre before due in case they face such situations.
4. Cosigner Release
Borrowers with a cosigner have the option to release cosigners upon request. However, borrowers must have made 12 consecutive, qualified, on-time monthly payments. Upon request, PenFed will reevaluate the borrower's financial status and their credit profile to check their eligibility to assume the loan by themselves.
PenFed acts as a servicer to your student refinance loans. No external servicer will participate between you and PenFed. You may reach out to a representative from the Member Services of PenFed by calling the number 800-247-5626.
6. Customer Services
For any queries related to the application process, you may contact the number 202-888-4320 or you may drop your query at the address
You may also contact their customer service from the details given below.
Text - 202-780-7195
Phone - 202-888-4320
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working hours - Monday to Friday: 9 AM - 7 PM ET
PenFed Credit Union Reviews
There are the benefits and drawbacks of PenFed student loan refinancing which would help to weigh down the pros and cons of choosing this organization.
Don't have to be a member but can join readily through the loan application
Can apply with a co-signer
Does not impose any extra fee associated with origination, or for enrolling membership
Does not impose any penalty for early payoff or prepayment
It refinances Federal and private student loans and Parent PLUS loans individually or collectively
It refinances Federal PLUS loans in your child’s name
The interest rates offered by PenFed compared with that of federal student loans are competitively low
An individual is required to have a good credit score of 670 even if they are applying with a cosigner
The cosigner needs to have a minimum credit score of 700 or higher depending on the amount of loan
There are no deferment or forbearance options advertised even if the borrower is struggling with their repayments
The applicant has to be a member of the PenFed Credit Union
The program is offered only after graduation or completion of the course
There is no income-driven repayment plan or any special repayment plan for that matter
All privileges under the previous loans such as loan forgiveness for federal loans become void