Shopping around for a student loan is always a good idea because interest rates and terms can vary so much between lenders. However, manually requesting quotes can be time consuming and frustrating. LendKey aims to make it simpler by allowing you to fill out one form and get connected to available lenders.
Unlike other companies that only have a few partners, LendKey connects borrowers with hundreds of credit unions and community banks, making it our choice as the best marketplace for private student loans.
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LendKey Student Loans Overview
Founded in 2009, LendKey is a marketplace platform that connects borrowers with available lenders. LendKey is best known as a private student loan marketplace for undergraduate and graduate borrowers, but it also offers student loan refinancing and home improvement loans.
- Six-month grace period on all loans
- Connects borrowers to hundreds of lenders
- No application fees or origination fees
- Aggregate and lifetime maximums apply
- Payments required while in school
- Only one loan repayment term
- Eligibility requirements and policies vary by lender
When you submit your information through LendKey, you can get connected to hundreds of credit unions and banks, helping you find the best possible loan offers.
While each lender has their own policies, all of LendKey’s partners have the option of deferring full principal and interest payments until six months after graduation or leaving school. You will have to make either interest-only or flat monthly payments while in school, but the payments would be much less than if you had to make the full payment amount.
LendKey doesn’t charge application fees or origination fees, and there are no prepayment penalties. However, LendKey does have aggregate and lifetime borrowing limits. The most you can borrow from LendKey is $120,000 for undergraduate programs and $160,000 for graduate programs. However, LendKey also has an aggregate limit that considers all of your student loans, including federal student loans. The maximum is $160,000 for undergraduate programs and $250,000 for graduate programs.
Unlike other platforms that allow you to choose between different repayment plans, LendKey loans only have one loan term option: 10 years.
Because LendKey is a marketplace rather than a lender, loan policies can vary based on the company issuing the loan. For example, some of LendKey’s partners offer cosigner releases, but not all do. And not all of the lenders offer financial hardship repayment options, like forbearance.
Through LendKey, students can apply for loans to finance their undergraduate or graduate degrees. To qualify for a loan, students must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and enrolled in an eligible school at least half-time.
What they offer: Private student loans
LendKey’s minimum loan amount is $2,000, and students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance (up to a maximum of $120,000 in LendKey loans for undergraduate students, and up to $160,000 in LendKey loans for graduate students).
Borrowers can choose between fixed and variable interest rates. As of June 30, 2022, the following interest rates apply:
- Fixed rates: 3.99% to 8.30% (Rates include 0.25% discount for automatic payments)
- Variable rates: 2.14% to 8.30% (Rates include 0.25% autopay discount)
All loans have a 10-year repayment term. Student borrowers are required to make loan payments while they’re in school, but they don’t have to make full payments against the principal and interest until six months after they graduate or leave school. Depending on the lender issuing the loan, they may have the following options:
- Interest-only: With this payment option, students make monthly payments only against the interest while they’re in school and for the duration of the grace period.
- $25 Per Month: If students are eligible for the flat payment plan, they pay just $25 per month toward their loans while they’re in school and during the grace period.
LendKey does not disclose the minimum credit score required to get approved for a loan, but the company encourages borrowers to apply with a cosigner to improve the chances of getting a loan and a lower interest rate. However, not all of LendKey’s partner lenders offer cosigner releases, so make sure you read the fine print carefully and understand the cosigner’s responsibilities.
What they don’t offer
When comparing LendKey to other student loan companies, consider these drawbacks:
- No parent lending options: While other companies offer private parent student loans, LendKey doesn’t have that option. Parents that want to borrow on behalf of their children will have to work with another lender.
- No loans for international students: LendKey requires all borrowers to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. International students aren’t eligible for loans from LendKey.
LendKey is licensed to operate loans in all 50 states. While it doesn’t originate loans itself, it partners with hundreds of financial institutions. All of its partner lenders are members of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Licenses and Registrations
LendKey holds licenses in all 50 states, so it can approve borrowers nationwide.
Awards and Certifications
At the 2022 Banking Tech Awards USA, LendKey was highly commended in the category of “Best Use of IT for Lending” for its student lending platform.
LendKey was also chosen by NerdWallet as one of the 16 best private student loan companies.
LendKey has not been rated by a third-party consumer agency.
LendKey has not faced any class action lawsuits or regulatory actions.
With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), LendKey has 64 total complaints. That number includes complaints for private student loans and student loan refinancing and captures complaints submitted between 2013 and 2022. Complaints most commonly concerned issues with repaying loans or qualifying for a loan.
On average, LendKey received eight complaints per year, which is relatively low for a student loan company.
LendKey provides customer support via phone or email, and it also has educational guides and tools in its resource center.
While LendKey’s partner lenders may have in-person branches, LendKey does not. It is only available online. Both borrowers and cosigners can complete the loan application through LendKey’s website.
You can contact LendKey with any questions by phone or email. Customer service staff is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. EST. To contact customer support, call 888-549-9050 or email [email protected].
Although your loan will be originated by a community bank or credit union, LendKey is the loan servicer for all loans processed through its platform. LendKey is the company you contact if you have questions about your payments or financial difficulties.
LendKey provides very basic information on its site; you’ll have to read the partner lender’s disclosures to fully understand the loan terms and fees.
To view potential loan options, you can begin an application online. Unlike the majority of lenders and student loan marketplaces, LendKey doesn’t have a prequalification option for in-school loans, so you’ll have to consent to a hard credit inquiry to proceed.
LendKey’s Customer Satisfaction
LendKey is a highly-regarded company with many positive customer reviews.
On TrustPilot, LendKey has a TrustScore of 4.4 out of 5 based on over 360 reviews, putting it in the “Excellent” category. Customers praise the platform’s low rates, quick application process and responsive customer service.
LendKey is accredited by the Better Business Bureau, and it has an “A” rating.
LendKey has not been rated by third-party organizations.
LendKey Student Loans FAQ
Does LendKey offer loan forgiveness?
In cases of a borrower’s death or total and permanent disability, LendKey may offer loan forgiveness. However, eligibility for loan forgiveness is dependent on the partner lender issuing the loan, and not all lenders may offer loan discharges.
What are the benefits of LendKey loans?
LendKey works with community banks and credit unions, so you may qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate than you’d get elsewhere. LendKey doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment penalties, and you can take advantage of a six-month grace period.
Does LendKey require cosigners?
Although borrowers aren’t required to have one, if you add a cosigner with a strong credit history, it may help you qualify for a loan and get a better interest rate than if you applied on your own.
To qualify for a loan, you — or your cosigner — must have an income of at least $24,000 per year.
Does LendKey do a hard credit check?
Unlike some other lenders, LendKey doesn’t have a loan prequalification option. You can’t view your in-school loan rates and terms without consenting to a hard credit check, which can ding your credit score.
How We Evaluated LendKey
We compared LendKey to 18 other leading student loan companies to see how its loan products measured up. To evaluate LendKey’s private loan options, we looked at its available loans, borrowing maximums, interest rates, repayment terms, customer service, financial hardship policies and other benefits, with particular emphasis on in-school repayment options and alternative payment options available to borrowers facing financial difficulties.
Summary of Money’s LendKey Review
For borrowers that don’t want to spend a lot of time requesting quotes and comparing lenders, LendKey could be a useful solution. You can fill out one application and get connected to community banks and credit unions in your area. You also will get a six-month grace period, and you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance.
However, not all borrowers, including international and part-time students, are eligible for LendKey loans. If you don’t qualify for a loan and are looking for other options, check out our picks for the best student loans of 2022.