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Student Loans

Wells Fargo Student Loans Review

Wells Fargo, known for its comprehensive financial services, has long been a trusted name among major U.S. banks. Historically, it catered to various financial needs, including student loans. However, Wells Fargo has stopped offering student loans and refinancing options.

However, plenty of alternatives exist. Keep reading because we’ll guide you through the options, ensuring you find a student loan solution that aligns with your financial goals.

What happened to Wells Fargo’s student loans?

Wells Fargo offered private student loans and student loan refinancing. Student loans are financial aid for educational expenses, and refinancing involves adjusting student loan terms, typically for more favorable rates or payment schedules.

Wells Fargo offered an array of private student loans and refinancing options. But in 2020, the bank decided to exit the student loan sector. This strategic shift led to selling its $10 billion private student loan portfolio, affecting new applicants and those with loans through Wells Fargo.

What happened to borrowers with a student loan from Wells Fargo?

When Wells Fargo exited the student loan business, it affected borrowers holding these loans. Here’s a closer look at the consequences and changes they experienced:

  • Continuation of student loans: Borrowers did not lose their student loans. Wells Fargo transferred its private student loans to Firstmark Services, a division of Nelnet Bank. The servicing entity changed, but the loans remained.
  • Financial impact: No direct financial loss occurred due to the transition. 
  • Control over loan servicing: Borrowers had no say in the choice of the new loan servicer. Wells Fargo transferred the servicing rights to Firstmark Services as part of its business strategy.
  • Terms of the loan: The original terms and conditions of the loans, as agreed upon with Wells Fargo, remained unchanged under Firstmark Services. This included interest rates, repayment schedules, and other loan features.

The transition was met with mixed reactions. According to reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, some borrowers experienced seamless transitions. Still, others reported challenges, especially regarding customer service and loan management under Firstmark Services.

Wells Fargo’s decision to exit the student loan business changed the servicing aspect, but the fundamental terms of the loans for borrowers remained the same. 

Wells Fargo student loan alternatives

We’ve explored competitive options for those seeking student loans. These alternatives provide similar products to Wells Fargo’s loans and might offer additional benefits that align with your financial needs. 

Below is a comparison of several top-rated private student loan lenders:

College AveSallie MaeEarnestAscent
Low APR4.49%4.50%4.49%4.53%
Our rating (of 5)*5.04.84.74.3
*Ratings for undergraduate student loans

Here’s more about each lender’s private student loans.


College Ave

Best overall student loan

  • LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5
  • You choose your repayment term
  • Multi-Year Peace of Mind™ allows you to get better approval odds for future loans

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

College Ave, an online student loan lender from Wilmington, Delaware, focuses on making higher education more accessible and affordable. 

Its Multi-Year Peace of Mind™ benefit means 90% of undergraduate borrowers, when applying with a cosigner, are approved for additional loans in future years. Its loan types are: undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career training.

College Ave also stands out for allowing borrowers to select their repayment terms, offering a transparent view of how these choices affect the long-term cost of their loan. This flexibility and clarity make it a robust alternative to Wells Fargo’s student loan offerings.

Pros

  • You choose your repayment term

  • Multi-Year Peace of Mind™ allows for better approval odds for future loans

  • Four in-school repayment options

  • Covers up to the total cost of attendance

Cons

  • Cosigner release isn’t available until you are at least halfway through your repayment term

  • Unclear repayment assistance programs and borrower services


Sallie Mae

Best for cosigners

  • LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Cosigners can be released after 12 on-time payments are made
  • Multi-Year Advantage offers improved odds for future loans

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

Sallie Mae, established as a government entity for servicing federal education loans, has evolved since its inception. It’s now a privatized bank based in Newark, Delaware, and controls a significant share of the private student loan market. In addition to student loans, it also offers student credit cards and savings accounts.

The lender’s standout feature is its short cosigner release period. After graduation, borrowers can release their cosigners by making 12 consecutive on-time principal-and-interest payments and fulfilling specific credit requirements. You can borrow the following types of loans from Sallie Mae: undergraduate, graduate, and career training.

This feature, coupled with the Multi-Year Advantage, where 96% of undergraduate borrowers with a cosigner get approved for future loans, makes Sallie Mae a top choice for those needing a cosigner for their student loans.

Sallie Mae’s approach aligns well with borrowers looking for flexibility and support, offering advantages not available through Wells Fargo’s student loan services.

Pros

  • Cosigners can be released after 12 on-time payments 

  • Multi-Year Advantage offers improved odds for future loans

  • Students attending school less than half-time are eligible

  • Covers up to the total cost of attendance

Cons

  • Can’t prequalify with a soft credit check

  • Can’t choose your repayment terms

  • Mixed customer service reviews


Earnest

Best for no fees

  • LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5
  • No origination, application, or late payment fees
  • Skip one payment per year with no impact on your credit

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

Earnest, operating in San Francisco, California, stands out in the student loan market with its commitment to affordability and accessibility in higher education. A notable aspect of Earnest’s approach is its fee structure—or rather, the lack thereof. 

Unlike lenders that exclude only origination and application fees, Earnest extends this no-fee policy to cover late payments and early loan payoffs. This approach reduces the overall cost burden on borrowers. It offers undergraduate, graduate, half-time, and parent student loans.

Earnest offers additional benefits that enhance its appeal. Borrowers can enjoy a longer-than-average grace period, reducing immediate postgraduation financial pressure. The option to skip one payment per year without affecting credit provides a cushion during economic uncertainties. 

These features position Earnest as an attractive alternative to Wells Fargo’s previous student loan for those seeking financial flexibility and transparency.

Pros

  • No origination, application, or late payment fees

  • Skip one payment per year with no impact on your credit

  • Rate checking doesn’t affect your credit

  • Longer than average grace period

  • Covers up to the total cost of attendance

  • Offers loans for half-time students

Cons

  • Cosigner release is not available

  • Not available to Nevada residents


Ascent

Best for eligibility

  • LendEDU rating: 4.3 out of 5
  • Offers cosigned, non-cosigned, international, and DACA student loans
  • 1% cash back with proof of graduation

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

Ascent, an innovative online student loan lender based in San Diego, California, sets itself apart with a broad range of loan options. 

This variety caters to a diverse student body, including traditional cosigned loans, non-cosigned credit-based loans, and unique future income-based loans. These loans are available for undergraduates, graduates, and career-training students. Such inclusivity in its loan offerings makes Ascent a standout choice, especially for those who might find eligibility constraints with other lenders.

A notable initiative from Ascent is the Ascent Connect program, which it introduced in 2023 to a select number of undergraduates with plans to expand. This program provides active undergraduate students with a dedicated Ascent Success Coach to help them navigate their college journey and career planning.

Ascent’s commitment to providing tailored solutions for various student needs positions it as an excellent alternative to Wells Fargo’s student loan services for those who value flexible eligibility criteria and comprehensive support.

Pros

  • 1% cash back with proof of graduation

  • Rate checking doesn’t affect your credit

Cons

  • Limits the amount you can borrow

  • Only 3 in-school repayment options on most of its loans


Wells Fargo student loan refinance alternatives

If you’re considering refinancing your student loans with a private lender, here are our top alternatives to Wells Fargo. 

SoFiEarnestELFINelnet Bank
Low APR4.74%5.19%5.28%7.12%
Our rating (of 5)4.94.84.84.2

SoFi

Best online student loan refinance

  • LendEDU rating: 4.9 out of 5
  • Access to career coaching, networking, and referral benefits.
  • Rate savings of 0.125% on additional SoFi loans and an autopay discount of 0.25%.

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

SoFi, acclaimed for its innovative approach to online lending, has earned our top spot as an online student loan refinance lender. With its no-fee structure, SoFi stands out as a financially sensible choice.

SoFi also offers extensive borrower benefits, including career coaching, a robust referral program, and exclusive networking events. These features are valuable for those facing employment uncertainties because SoFi’s career services team assists in job searches and allows borrowers to pause payments during unemployment.

SoFi incentivizes borrowers with rate discounts on future loans and an autopay discount. These benefits, combined with the ability to refinance a wide range of loans—from private and federal undergraduate and graduate loans to specialized Parent PLUS, MBA, law, and medical school loans—position SoFi as a comprehensive alternative to Wells Fargo.

Pros

  • Access to career coaching, networking, and referral benefits

  • Rate savings on additional SoFi loans and a 0.25% autopay discount

  • Unemployment protection and no fees

  • Refinances a wide variety of loan types, including federal and private loans

  • Refinance your full student loan balance

Cons

  • Requires at least an associate degree to qualify


Earnest

Best skip-a-payment benefit

  • LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Customize your repayment term down to the day from 5 – 20 years.
  • Qualify without a degree under specific conditions.

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

Earnest is renowned for its customization. It also offers the unique ability to skip one payment per year—a significant advantage for borrowers seeking flexibility in their repayment plan. This feature is beneficial in providing a buffer without harming credit scores.

Another notable aspect for Earnest borrowers is the ability to customize loan terms. You can adjust your loan term to the day, spanning five to 20 years, allowing for a monthly payment that suits individual financial circumstances. 

Earnest’s commitment to competitive rates is evident in its rate match guarantee, which meets a lower rate found elsewhere and includes a $100 bonus. This approach makes Earnest an excellent alternative for those who appreciate flexibility and competitive rates.

Pros

  • Customizable repayment terms down to the day, ranging from 5 to 20 years

  • Qualify without a degree under specific conditions

  • Option to skip a payment once a year for added flexibility

  • Refinances a variety of loans, including federal, private undergraduate and graduate, and parent loans

Cons

  • Parent PLUS loans cannot be transferred to the child; refinancing must remain in the original borrower’s name

  • No option for cosigner release

  • Balance you can refinance is limited (to $500,000)


ELFI

Best personalized support

  • LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5
  • Student loan advisors provide excellent personalized assistance throughout the application process.
  • Refinance federal, private, and parent student loans.

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

ELFI (Education Loan Finance) distinguishes itself in the student loan refinancing market by focusing on personalized support. 

Each applicant is paired with a dedicated student loan advisor, ensuring a more tailored and supportive refinancing experience. This one-on-one approach simplifies the application process because advisors are available to answer questions and provide assistance every step of the way.

Customer reviews often highlight the ease of application and the quality of support ELFI’s advisors provide. ELFI also offers the unique option to transfer Parent PLUS loans to the child if the child is applying for student loan refinancing. This flexibility can benefit families looking to manage their loan repayments more effectively.

ELFI’s approach to refinancing, emphasizing individualized assistance and a range of options, positions it as a solid alternative to Wells Fargo for those who appreciate a more guided refinancing process.

Pros

  • Personalized assistance from dedicated student loan advisors during the application process

  • Ability to refinance a variety of loans, including federal, private, and parent student loans

  • Option to transfer Parent PLUS loans to the child for refinancing

Cons

  • Stricter eligibility criteria, including higher credit and income requirements

  • Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree to qualify

  • Cosigner option available, but no release feature


Nelnet Bank

Powered by Credible

Best term lengths

  • LendEDU rating: 4.2 out of 5
  • Six repayment term options from 5 – 25 years
  • Refinance options include federal, private, and Parent PLUS loans

What makes it a good alternative to Wells Fargo?

Nelnet Bank carves out its niche in the student loan refinancing market with its exceptional variety of term lengths. This extensive range of options, including five, seven, 10, 15, 20, and 25-year terms, allows borrowers to tailor their repayment plans to their unique financial situations and long-term goals. Such a broad spectrum of term lengths is rare among top-rated lenders, with most offering five options.

Choosing a term that aligns with your financial objectives is a significant advantage, especially when balancing monthly payments against total interest costs. This flexibility can lead to more manageable repayment plans tailored to your individual needs.

Nelnet Bank’s approach to refinancing, prioritizing customization in repayment terms, makes it a strong contender for those seeking to refinance various loan types, including federal, private, and Parent PLUS loans, with a desire for more control over their financial planning.

Pros

  • Offers 6 repayment term options ranging from 5 to 25 years

  • Refinances a broad range of loan types, including federal, private, and Parent PLUS loans

  • Cosigner release available after 24 months of consecutive on-time payments

Cons

  • Requires a robust credit history and a bachelor’s degree for refinancing

  • Longer period required for cosigner release compared to some other lenders

  • The balance you can refinance is limited (to $500,000)


How to choose the best Wells Fargo student loan and student loan refinance alternative 

When selecting an alternative to Wells Fargo for your student loan or refinancing needs, following these steps can ensure you make an informed decision.

Step 1: Prequalification and rate shopping

  • Prequalification: Prequalify with lenders to get an estimate of the rates and terms without affecting your credit score.
  • Rate comparison: Look beyond interest rates to the annual percentage rate (APR), which includes additional fees and costs.

Step 2: Compare lenders

  • Loan terms: Evaluate the repayment term options. Shorter terms generally mean higher monthly payments but lower total interest costs, while longer terms have lower monthly payments but higher total interest costs.
  • Repayment flexibility: Seek lenders offering flexible repayment options, such as grace periods and hardship accommodations.
  • Additional benefits: Look for benefits that are important to you, such as career counseling, customer support, cosigner release, and rewards programs.

After choosing a lender, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Documentation and application

  • Gather important documents: These often include identification, proof of income, and financial records.
  • Apply: Complete the lender’s application process, which may vary in detail and length.

Step 4: Approval and disbursement 

The timeline for loan disbursement can differ for student loans and refinancing. Approval can take a day to several days, depending on the lender and what it needs from you.

  • For student loans, disbursement often aligns with the school’s financial schedule.
  • Refinancing may take a few weeks after approval for the new loan to take effect.

Choosing the right lender is crucial for your financial well-being. Consider these factors and steps to find a lender that aligns with your immediate and long-term financial goals.