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cuLearn is a credit union service organization (CUSO) that helps credit unions provide student loans to their members. cuLearn also has a website that works as a marketplace that allows students to search for private student loans and student loan refinance options from credit unions across the country.
cuLearn is owned by Thrivent which is a Fortune 500 company and the fifth-biggest faith-based credit union. Unlike banks, which are focused on maximizing their profits, cuLearn and Thrivent are non-profit organizations that seek to serve their members. They are not in business to make money, but to provide financial services. For that reason, they could offer student loan borrowers savings.
When it comes to their student loan programs, their goal is to help students reduce the amount of money that they borrow in order to ensure that they have less debt when they graduate. They encourage borrowers to make smart money choices when they’re in college, help them find scholarships, and help them choose a school that will maximize their future earnings while minimizing the amount of money they borrow.
cuLearn has a website that functions as a student loan marketplace to connect you with credit unions who offer private student loans. cuLearn allows you to fill out one application and pre-qualifies you for a number of different credit union student loans.
They show you which loans you would qualify for and also provide you with the membership criteria of the credit unions in question to help you figure out whether you would qualify for a loan. Because credit unions only lend to members, it can be difficult to find a credit union that will both lend to you and which you would qualify for membership.
Every credit union is different and so are their membership criteria. With some credit unions, you have to live in a certain city or town. With others, you have to be in a certain profession. Since credit unions often offer better terms and lower interest rates on loans, many students would benefit from applying for private student loans from credit unions, but often don’t know where to start their search. cuLearn’s website helps simplify that process.
Private Student Loans and Refinancing
The cuLearn website can help you find private student loans for your undergraduate or graduate education, lines of credit aimed at students, and also student loan refinance (where you receive a new loan with a new interest rate to pay off the old loans) options.
As far as private student loans go, the minimum that you can borrow is $1,000 and the maximum will depend on the credit union, your personal financial situation, and the cost of attendance at your school. The term lengths on cuLearn loans vary depending on the lender.
The student loans on cuLearn allow you to have a co-signer. In fact, cuLearn recommends that you have a co-signer since that could increase your likelihood of getting a loan and ensure that you get a competitive interest rate.
To apply, you have to fill out a quick online application and then cuLearn will list a number of credit unions who would likely be willing to lend to you. Before you can apply for the student loans directly, you have to apply to be a member of the credit union you want to borrow from. If you qualify for membership, you can complete your application.
After that, you will get a final answer or approval from the credit union and you then have 30 days to accept that offer. Once you’re accepted the credit union’s student loan offer, they send you a letter approving your loan and you have three days to cancel your loan if you do not want it.
Downsides or Negatives of Using cuLearn
One of the biggest benefits of using cuLearn is that by getting a loan from a credit union, you can often save money on interest since you’ll get a lower rate. By having information on the student loan offerings from a variety of credit unions all in one place, cuLearn makes it easier for you to find a credit union that will lend to you and which you qualify for membership.
But using cuLearn and borrowing from a credit union is still more complex than borrowing from a bank or other lender. While you might be more likely to get approved for a loan at a credit union, you will have to find a credit union that will also approve you for membership. That could be difficult even with cuLearn’s help. The process from application to loan approval could also take more time since there are more steps.
In addition, it might be difficult to get a loan from cuLearn if you don’t have a co-signer or to refinance your student loans if you’ve recently graduated as they prefer to refinance loans of those who have already been working for a couple of years. If you don’t have a co-signer or are a recent grad, there might be better lenders to approach.
Whether cuLearn is right for you will depend on your personal financial situation, but it might make sense to at least apply to see if you qualify to borrow from a credit union since you could potentially save a significant amount of money in interest if you can get an offer with a low interest rate.
Author: Jeff Gitlen