Private Student Loans FAQ's

General Questions

How do I apply for Financial Aid?

The first step in applying for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA opens the door to applying for Federal Education Loans as well as other types of financial aid offered by the federal government and the colleges of your choice.

The easiest way to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid is online at fafsa.ed.gov. You can also get a paper FAFSA application from your high school counselor or college financial aid advisor.

Before you apply for a Private Student Loan, we recommend that you consider all your options including Federal Education Loans.

What are some differences between federal and private student loans?

Federal student loans are available through the U.S. Department of Education. They offer fixed interest rates and several repayment options. They also provide more alternatives for borrowers who may have problems making payments after graduation. But there are limits on the amount you can borrow.

Private student loans are education loans offered by credit unions, banks and other lenders. They offer fixed or variable interest rates and are credit-based, meaning students (and their co-signers) have to meet credit and other requirements set by each organization that lends. They can be used for amounts not covered by Federal student loans.

What other types of financial aid are available?

Learn more about grants, scholarships and other financial aid at studentaid.ed.gov. Also ask people you know, like your school's financial aid office or counselor, you or your parents' employer, and religious and community organizations. Check out our Scholarship Search Tool to help find scholarships fitted to you!

Who is cuLearn?

cuLearn is a Thrivent company that originates student loans on behalf of likeminded credit unions that believe life after college should be about you, not paying off debt. When you submit an application, mail in documents, or call with questions, you will be working directly with cuLearn.

Curious about loan definitions?

For a comprehensive list of loan definitions check out the glossary.

Eligibility & Loan Limits

Am I eligible for a Private Student Loan?

You are eligible for a Private Student Loan if you meet your bank or credit union’s membership eligibility and credit requirements and are enrolled at least half-time and working toward a degree in an eligible college or university graduate or undergraduate program. Generally, students must be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, but some states have different age requirements.

How is the loan amount determined for a Private Student Loan?

Your school determines the amount of money you are able to borrow. The minimum loan amount is typically $1,000. The loan amount is limited to the cost of education minus other financial aid the student will receive for the loan period (generally a semester or school year).

What is the total amount I can borrow?

You are eligible to borrow up to the cost to attend school minus any financial aid you receive.

Application & Funding

What is the application process?

Typically, the process includes these steps:

  • Student (and co-signer if there is one) each complete an online application. At the same time, you and your co-signer will sign loan documents for the loan.
  • If you are not already a member of the credit union or bank, you will be asked to complete a membership application.
  • Credit union/bank reviews the application(s) and may ask you for more information.
  • Credit union/bank decides whether to approve your loan application.
  • If approved, you'll receive an approval letter from the credit union/bank. You must accept the amount and rate of your loan to move ahead. You will have 30 days to do so.
  • School validates amount of money being requested.
  • Student receives a final letter with the loan amount and the date funds will be sent to the school. If for some reason you need to cancel, you will have at least three business days to do so.
  • Funds will be sent to your school. You can check with your school to confirm receipt and your school will send you any refund.

Your lender will keep you updated throughout the process.

How will I receive the funds?

The funds will be sent to your school. You can check with your school to confirm receipt and your school will send you any refund. In most cases, your school will instruct your lender to split your academic year funding so that half is disbursed for your Fall semester and the remaining portion is sent to cover your Spring semester. This saves you money, as interest on your loan does not start accruing until funds are actually disbursed to the school.

Can I apply if I don't have a Social Security number?

No, you must have a Social Security number to apply for a loan. If you are applying with a co-signer, they also need a Social Security number, or, for a permanent resident, an alien registration number.

Co-signer

Will I need a co-signer?

Most student borrowers need a co-signer, simply because they don't make enough money to qualify for a loan by themselves. Typically, the Lender will have specific requirements for the cosigner to qualify, such as:

  • Minimum income
  • Minimum credit score
  • Minimum credit history
  • Minimum employment history
Who should I ask to be a co-signer?

You can choose any qualified individual to be your co-signer, and it doesn't need to be a relative. The co-signer should be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You'll want to choose someone with at least two years of credit history.

What does it mean to be a co-signer?

When you co-sign with a student, you are making a legal commitment to pay back the loan if the student does not pay. You and the student borrower share equal responsibility to make sure the loan is repaid.

If you're the cosigner, and any payments are late, you may also have to pay late fees or collection costs. This could have a negative effect on your credit record. Your lender, will be able to collect payments and late fees directly from the co-signer. This means the lender can take steps to collect from you, the co-signer, before they try to collect from the student.

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

The student borrower and their co-signer are equally responsible to make sure the loan is paid back. If you already have a student loan and are having trouble making payments, call your Lender’s loan servicer to talk about other options.

Can a co-signer be released from responsibility to pay the loan?

This answer is dependent on your Lender, but typically there are two ways a co-signer can be released from paying the loan, meaning he or she is no longer responsible to repay it. First, after making a lender determined number of consecutive monthly payments on time the student can request to have the co-signer released. Releases are not automatic. The student also must meet certain credit requirements, which will be the same as or similar to those applicable to students applying for loans by themselves. Second, if the student borrower dies, the co-signer could be released and won't be responsible for repayment.

Is the co-signer required to be a credit union member?

No, the co-signer is not required to be a credit union member.

Does my co-signer need a Social Security number?

Yes. A co-signer, as well as the student, must have a Social Security number. 



Refi Loans FAQ's

General Questions

What does refinancing my college loans mean?

Refinancing student loans involves applying for a new loan from a private lender with a new interest rate and loan repayment term. The new loan is used to pay existing student loans. Refinancing student loans at a lower interest rate may translate into a lower monthly payment. Depending on the rates and remaining terms of the loans that are refinanced, it may also mean less interest paid over the life of the new loan.

When is the best time to refinance student loans?

As with most financial decisions, there is rarely a right or wrong answer since every situation is unique. If you consider what you are trying to accomplish by refinancing, it may help you decide when the best time is for you. For example, if you are seeking to simplify monthly money management, refinancing can help by creating just one payment versus several from multiple lenders. If your goal is to save money by lowering a payment and/or reducing the amount of interest paid on your student loans, it may benefit you to refinance. Be sure to consider the benefits on your existing loans that you may give up by refinancing.

What are the benefits to refinancing my Student Loans?

A primary benefit is the convenience of combining multiple payments from various lenders into one payment. Other key benefits include the potential for a lower payment and a lower interest rate, which, depending on the rates and terms of the loans that are refinanced, can mean paying less in interest over the life of your new loan.

Are there benefits on my existing student loans that I might lose if I refinance?

Federal student loans typically have:

1. Fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a Federal student loan will never go up or down.
2. Certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
3. A feature making you eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service.
4. A feature if you are an active duty service member and you obtained your Federal student loan before you were called to active duty. You are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.

If you are a borrower with a secure job, emergency savings, strong credit and are unlikely to need any of the options available to distressed borrowers of Federal student loans, a refinance of your Federal student loans into a private student loan may be attractive to you. You should consider the costs and benefits of refinancing carefully before you refinance.

How long will it take to process the refi loan and get my old loans paid off?

This depends on the Lender with which you apply. You should plan on several weeks to have the entire loan process complete and your old loans paid off. We strongly recommend that you continue making payments on your existing loans until you are sure the process is complete. Any overpayment will be returned to you.

The processing time will vary depending on a number of factors, like how many existing loans you have, how many lenders you have on those existing loans, the responsiveness of your existing lenders to requests for payoff information, and the automation abilities of your existing lenders. To be safe, keep paying the existing loans until you are sure the new refi loan has paid off the old loans.

Can my spouse and I combine our student loans into one loan by refinancing?

You both may apply individually to refinance your respective student loans. However, no one may combine their loans with loans that were originally made to someone else.

Will I save money by refinancing my student loans?

There is a significant potential to save money when refinancing, especially if the interest rate on your refinanced loan is less than what you are currently paying on the loans you intend to combine. The terms of the loans will have an impact on whether and how much you save as well.

What is the difference between fixed interest rate and variable rate?

When refinancing student loans you can choose the type of interest rate that is best for you. Select a fixed interest rate if you prefer a guarantee that your rate, and therefore your payment, will not change during the life of the loan (as long as you make all of your payments on time). Or, you may choose a variable rate that could be lower to start out but may fluctuate, depending on factors that are beyond your control, such as economic market conditions.

Is interest paid on my refinanced loan income tax deductible?

If your original loans had tax-deductible interest, then the interest on the loan that refinances these loans will generally be tax deductible. There are limits on who qualifies for the tax deduction and you are advised to consult with your tax advisor.

Who is cuLearn?

cuLearn is a Thrivent company that originates student loans on behalf of likeminded credit unions that believe life after college should be about you, not paying off debt. When you submit an application, mail in documents, or call with questions, you will be working directly with cuLearn.

Is there a fee to apply for a Refi Loan?

This is dependent on the lender you select. 

Why is a credit check required for the Education Refi Loan?

Lenders will typically review your credit report whenever you borrow money. To minimize their risk that loans will be repaid lenders look at a borrower's credit history and other factors and make lending decisions accordingly.

Co-signer

Am I required to have a cosigner before I refinance?

It depends. You may receive a lower rate with a cosigner, but you are not required to have a cosigner if you qualify. Some borrowers need a cosigner, simply because they don't make enough money to qualify for a loan by themselves.

Who should I ask to be a co-signer?

You can choose any qualified individual to be your cosigner, and it doesn't need to be a relative. The cosigner should be age 18 or older and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

What does it mean to be a co-signer?

When you co-sign with a borrower, you are making a legal commitment to pay back the loan if the borrower does not pay. You and the borrower share equal responsibility to make sure the loan is repaid.

If you're the cosigner, and any payments are late, you may also have to pay late fees or collection costs. And, this could have a negative effect on your credit record. The lender is able to collect payments and late fees directly from the cosigner. This means they can take steps to collect from you, the cosigner, before they try to collect from the borrower.

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

The borrower and their cosigner are equally responsible to make sure the loan is paid back.

Can a co-signer be released from responsibility to pay the loan?

This varies by Lender, but often there is a way for a cosigner to be released from paying the loan, meaning he or she is no longer responsible to repay it. First, after making a lender determined number of consecutive monthly payments on time the borrower can request to have the cosigner released. Releases are not automatic. The borrower also has to meet certain credit requirements, which will be the same as or similar to those applicable to borrowers applying for loans by themselves.

How does my co-signer apply?

Borrowers and their cosigners apply online.

Does my co-signer need a Social Security number?

Yes. A cosigner, as well as the borrower, must have a Social Security number.

Loan Repayment

What is a direct consolidation loan?

It is a government loan that consolidates your federal student loans into one loan with an interest rate that is a weighted average of the original loans you combine, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Any private loans you may have are not eligible for a direct consolidation loan.

What is the difference between consolidating and refinancing?

Both consolidating and refinancing involve combining multiple student loans into one loan. The only option for consolidation is a federal program in which you combine just federal student loans together and pay an interest rate that is a weighted average of the original loan interest rates, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Refinancing with a private lender, on the other hand, allows you to combine all your student loans, not just federal ones. Refinancing may allow for a lower interest rate since the rate is not determined by taking an average of existing interest rates.

Are there deferment or forbearance options available?

These options are Lender specific.  Typically, forbearances may be granted. Forbearance options may be granted in certain events such as bankruptcy, natural disaster, death or when needed to process a borrower request for change in repayment plan. Often, the periods of forbearance will not extend the repayment period.

Consolidating & Refinancing

Who is responsible for paying the loan?

As the borrower, you are responsible for repaying the loan. If you have a cosigner, both you and your cosigner share responsibility to repay the loan.



GradPath FAQ's

GradPath User FAQ's

What is GradPath?

GradPath helps students secure funds for college by providing service that simplifies the donation process. Using GradPath’s online platform, students can connect with their social networks to obtain donations from friends, family, and their community.

How does this work?

It’s easy. First, students or prospective students fill out their online profile describing themselves and providing insight into their academic and career goals. Then, they ask potential donors to pledge as much as they wish. GradPath helps facilitate the process. GradPath does not collect a commission or fee from each donation.

How can it work for me if I have no network?

Initially you may believe that you do not know people who have the money to help you, but think outside the box! Think of people beyond your personal family and friends: Consider your co-workers, community and church leaders, prior teachers, local businesses, or anybody who thinks highly of you. These people want you to go to school and succeed. You will be surprised at just who is willing to contribute.

How do I change my web browser's default email client for mailto links?

Making sure your mailto links are changed can make sharing your GradPath campaign with your friends/families easier. Read this informative article for specific instructions.

How long does all this take?

The actual registration process is fast. Especially if you already have a PayPal account. If not, then it just takes a couple extra minutes and a PayPal account is free to open. Please visit PayPal.com to see their terms and conditions.

We also encourage you to spend time crafting your profile. Be creative, write thoughtful responses and use correct grammar.

What is the minimum amount of money I can ask for?

There is no minimum amount. Every dollar counts.

What is the maximum amount of money I can request?

There is no maximum amount. You can fund the entire cost of your education if needed.

I am not a citizen of the United States. Can I still create a GradPath profile?

Due to legal obligations, all students who create a GradPath profile to raise funds for college must be a United States citizen.

Can I start a profile before I commit to a school?

You must be enrolled or accepted to a college or trade-school before you start your GradPath profile.

Are there any hidden fees or service charges?

GradPath does not charge any fees at this time. However, some PayPal features may not be available free of charge and thus require payment of additional fees.

How old do I need to be before I start my GradPath profile?

You must be at least 18 years old before you start your profile.

Can I sign up over the phone, or must I go through the online process?

Sorry, but there is no phone application. You must complete the form online in order to create a profile.

Are you taking measures to protect my privacy?

We take your privacy very seriously. Aside from what you choose to display on your personal fundraising page, GradPath does not share your personal information with any other parties. Our privacy policy is available here.

Do I need to collect the money from the Donors?

All donations are delivered directly to your PayPal account, which allows you to access them at your convenience, subject to PayPal's terms of service.

I was accepted to a University outside of the United States, but I'm a US citizen, can I still raise funds with a GradPath profile?

Though you are a US citizen, in order to raise funds for college you must be enrolled in a United States institution.

I'm planning to take a semester to study abroad, can I use my GradPath profile to raise funds for that semester?

Yes, you may use your GradPath profile to raise funds towards your semester abroad, but you must be enrolled in a United States institution.

Will I owe any taxes on money that I receive from Donors?

GradPath does not provide any financial, tax or legal advice. Any concerns about possible tax liability should be directed to a tax professional with knowledge of your particular situation.

GradPath Donor FAQ's

Is this tax deductible?

Donations made to a GradPath Campaign are usually considered to be a personal gift and are not guaranteed to be tax-deductible. Check with a tax professional to be sure.

Does the website take a cut of the donation?

GradPath does not take any part of the donation, 100% of the donation goes to the students campaign.

Can I send a message to student with my donation?

Yes! When you make the donation there is a message box that allows you to send words of encouragement.

Does Thrivent Student Resources offer student loans?

No. We are focused on providing tools and resources to help students and their families plan and pay for college. cuLearn, part of the Thrivent Student Resources family, offers a network of non-profit credit unions that offer loans and align with Thrivent's "not a penny more or a penny less" views on how to pay for college.

Are fees associated with my donation?

GradPath does not charge any fees at this time. However, some PayPal features may not be available free of charge and thus require payment of additional fees.

Will you need my personal information?

As a donor you will only need to supply your first/last name and email if you would like to receive updates from the GradPath campaign you have supported. We take your privacy very seriously and will not share your information with anyone. Please review our Privacy Policy

Is this free to use?

GradPath does not charge a donor for supporting a student's GradPath campaign. Thank you for your generosity! However, some PayPal features may not be available free of charge and thus require payment of additional fees.

What happens if the student doesn't reach their funding campaign goal?

There is no end date for open campaigns. The student can continue to promote their GradPath Campaign through their higher education years. Our hope is that the student will continuously update and share their GradPath profile with new information about their higher education journey with their donors via social platforms.

Is this site just for Christians?

No. Anyone can access ThriventStudentResources.com and find information to plan and pay for college.

Scholarship Sweepstakes FAQs

General Questions

What is the sweepstakes?

The sweepstakes is Thrivent Student Resource’s way to help give back to our community. The sweepstakes is a random drawing; a chance to win $5,000 for use towards higher education.

How do I know if I’m eligible? 

See Official Rules for full eligibility requirements.

If I signed up for the Thrivent Student Resources Sweepstakes prior to the launch of this sweepstakes, am I eligible for this program? 

No. This is a new program as of April 1st, 2019, with updated rules. You must enter this sweepstakes to be eligible to win.

How long do I have to enter the sweepstakes? 

You must enter the sweepstakes by 11:59pm CT on December 31st, 2019 to be considered.

How can I earn additional entries, and how many can I receive?

You will only receive additional entries once you have initially entered and submitted the sweepstakes form. Five extra entries can be obtained by:

How many winners will be drawn? 

There will be one winner drawn each month. There will be nine winners total. See the drawing schedule here:

How will I be contacted if I have won the sweepstakes? 

You will receive an email from Thrivent Student Resources. Be on the look-out each month or check your spam!

Tools FAQs

General Questions

When can I start applying to scholarships?

You can start at any time. In fact, you will want to keep your search ongoing throughout the year, every year, because each Scholarship has its own deadline, and most are offered annually.

What is the best way to search using the Scholarship Search tool?

We suggest using the pre-populated fields and trying different search criteria. Try a broad search only by your preferred field of study, location or school. Then try narrowing it down to something specific such as an emphasis in your major or a particular kind of instrument/sport. Use the pre-populated fields from the drop-down boxes, but also feel free to search by keywords associated with your degree.

Do I need to fill out all the information in a tool?

For a more accurate result, fill out as much information as you can.

Do I need to register in order to use the tools?

Some tools are only available if you are a registered user. If you try to access any of these tools, you will be prompted to sign up to become a registered user to use it.

Are all the tools mobile friendly?

We have optimized all the tools for mobile use, however, some tools are more robust and a larger screen such as a tablet or desktop may offer an improved experience.

Thrivent Membership FAQ's

What is Thrivent Membership? 

Having a membership with Thrivent means you are more than a consumer of financial products and services; you also join millions of other members who want to be wise with money, live generously, and by doing so, strengthen their Christian communities. To read more about Thrivent Membership, click here.

What are the benefits of becoming a Thrivent member? 

As a Thrivent member, you’ll be connected with a community of like-minded individuals who share Thrivent’s common bond. You’ll also have access to other benefits such as Thrivent Choice, free and discounted services, free educational resources, seasonal copies of Thrivent magazine, Thrivent Action Teams, and benefits at the Thrivent Credit Union. Read more about these here

Is having a Thrivent Membership different from being registered at Thrivent Student Resources? 

Yes. Thrivent Student Resources is an affinity brand of Thrivent that helps introduce Thrivent to those who are learning how to plan and pay for higher education. By joining the Thrivent Student Resources community and becoming a registered user, you’ll not only get full access to our suite of tools and resources to best equip you to make decisions and plan for college, but you’ll also have access to free Thrivent membership for one year. 

Does a Thrivent membership cost me anything? 

The first year’s membership fee will be waived. Thereafter, membership must be renewed each year. (The current annual membership fee is $19.95 and is not tax-deductible.)

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