Navy Federal Student Loans Review 2023

Our experts answer readers’ student loan questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess student loans). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own.

Navy Federal is a good lender for borrowers who value accessible customer support and have a preexisting relationship with the credit union. However, its minimum interest rates can be higher than competitors, and the only repayment term option is 10 years.

Navy Federal’s undergraduate student loans only have one repayment term, and starting rates on those loans are higher than with many competitors. That said, if you need only a small amount of money, you can get as little as $2,000 from Navy Federal, which is lower than with many companies.

Customer service is also available 24/7 for Navy Federal student loans, a perk unmatched by many similar companies in the industry.

The biggest difference between Navy Federal’s graduate and undergraduate student loans is the maximum amount you can borrow. As a graduate student, you’re allowed to take out up to $160,000, which is $40,000 more than the undergraduate limit. Otherwise, the terms are the same. 

How Navy Federal Student Loans Work

Navy Federal offers both fixed-rate and variable-rate undergraduate and graduate loans. Navy Federal also has options to refinance federal, private, and parent loans. Refinanced loans may be eligible for better rates than new loans. New loans have only a 10-year repayment term length.

Navy Federal has a list of eligible schools that are compatible with its student loans on the first page of its loan application. 

You need to be a member of Navy Federal to qualify for a loan, though you can apply for membership during the loan application process. You’ll also need to be a US citizen or permanent resident and a legal adult in the state where you live.   

Navy Federal accepts borrowers with cosigners, which may reduce your interest rate and the overall cost of your loan. You can request to release the cosigner after two years of consecutive, on-time payments. 

You won’t pay any origination fees, application fees, or prepayment penalties with Navy Federal, however, late payment charges of $20 may apply. You’ll get a 0.25% rate discount if you choose to make automatic payments from a checking or savings account. 

To contact Navy Federal’s customer support, call the lender 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also send a secure message through your customer support portal, meet a representative in person, or reach them via physical mail. 

You won’t be able to prequalify for a loan with Navy Federal, meaning the lender will perform a hard credit inquiry before giving you your rates. A hard inquiry gives a lender a full view of your credit history, but may ding your credit score in the process.

Navy Federal only offers two repayment options while you’re in school and during a six month grace period after you graduate:

You don’t have the option to defer your payments until after you graduate with Navy Federal; you’ll have to start paying your loans off as soon as they’re disbursed. 

Flat payments will be more expensive than interest-only payments in the long run, because interest will accrue while you’re in school and during your grace period. This interest will then capitalize, meaning it will be added onto your loan balance after periods of nonpayment, including forbearance, deferment, and after your grace period. This will up your total loan balance, and you’ll later pay interest on that higher amount, increasing the overall cost of your loan.

How to Apply for a Navy Federal Credit Union Student Loan

1. Determine eligibility and gather documentation. Eligibility requirements include that you are a member of the credit union, a current student or graduate of an eligible school, a US citizen or legal resident, and a legal adult in your state.

2. Fill out the online application. You’ll need personal information such as your date of birth, address and Social Security number, as well as documents showing your school enrollment status, major, and expected graduation date.

3. Add a co-signer if needed. Navy Federal says nine out of 10 student loan borrowers have a co-signer, which can increase the chances of approval for a loan and help lower the interest rate. You’ll need to provide similar information about your co-signer.

4. Provide final documentation. Before your loan is approved, you’re likely to be required to show documentation verifying your identity, proving your income, and validating the tuition and amount of financial assistance requested.

5. Complete final steps after approval. Once approved, sign your loan agreement, which the credit union will  certify with your school. Once complete, Navy Federal will transmit the funds directly to your school.

Compare Navy Federal Student Loans

Navy Federal Student Loans vs. Discover Student Loans

Discover student loans don’t have any prepayment penalties, origination fees, or late charges. Navy Federal has a late fee of $20 for its student loans. Both Discover and Navy Federal only have one repayment term length available for student loan borrowers, 15 years for Discover and 10 years for Navy Federal.

Discover’s unique feature is that it has a one-time 1% cash reward on its student loans for borrowers who have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for any academic term covered by the loan. 

Navy Federal vs. Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae student loans have a late payment fee of 5% of the amount due, capped at $25. Navy Federal has no late payment fees. Sallie Mae has three repayment term lengths — five, 10, and 15 years —  but it sets the term for the borrower. Navy Federal only offers student loans with 10-year terms.

Sallie Mae offers four months of the study service Chegg for free. Chegg offers expert Q&A, and students can submit up to 20 questions per month. 

Navy Federal Credit Union has an unrated profile from the Better Business Bureau as the credit union responds to previously closed complaints. It previously had an A+ rating. 

Navy Federal does not specify a specific credit score required to be approved for a student loan. In general, you’ll have a better chance for approval for most loans with a minimum credit score around the mid-600s. 

Navy Federal says it typically takes four to six weeks for your school to receive your funds from the credit union once gives you a preliminary decision on your student loan, which happens within minutes after you complete an application. 

Navy Federal Credit Union student loans are private loans, not federal loans. 

Why You Should Trust Us: How We Rated Navy Federal Student Loans

We rate all student loan products in our reviews and guides on a 1-5 scale. The overall rating is a weighted average that takes into account seven different categories, some of which are judged more heavily than others. They are:

  • Interest rate (20% of rating)
  • Fees (20% of rating)
  • Term lengths (15% of rating)
  • Repayment options while in school (15% of rating)
  • Borrower accessibility (15% of rating)
  • Customer support (7.5% of rating)
  • Ethics (7.5% of rating)

Each category’s weighting is determined based on its importance to your borrowing experience. Rates and fees have the most significant impact on the total cost of your loan, so we weigh those the most heavily. Customer support and ethics are still crucial parts of the borrowing experience, but do not directly tie to a student loan’s terms, so they have less of an impact on the overall rating.

Read more about how we rate student loans »

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