United States Senate Federal Credit Union

FAQs - Private Student Lending

  • Private Student Loan
  • Private Student Loan Consolidation
bullet General Questions bullet Loan Terms
bullet Loan Eligibility bullet Repayment
bullet Application Process bullet Privacy & Security

GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is a US Senate Federal Credit Union (USSFCU) Private Student Loan?

The US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan can be used to pay for qualified educational expenses including tuition, room and board, books, and other school related expenses. Private student loans serve as a way for students to fill the funding gap between the cost of attending school and the amount of federal loans, grants, and available scholarships.

What is the difference between a private student loan and a federal student loan?

Federal student loans follow guidelines set forth by the U.S. Dept of Education and typically offer fixed and lower interest rates compared to private student loans. However, federal loans, unlike most private loans, have borrowing limits, which may not allow a student to borrow enough to cover the entire cost of education.

 

Private loans help students fill the funding gap between the cost of attending school and the amount of federal loans, grants, and available scholarships. Both private and federal student loans typically allow students to defer payments while in school and some offer economic forbearance options once a student completes school. Unlike federal loan programs, private lenders assess the credit history of the borrower and cosigner before making a loan.

How do I know if I'm eligible for financial aid?

Eligibility for federal, state and university funded financial aid is determined by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year. All students are strongly encouraged to apply for federal aid by completing the FAFSA, which can be obtained online at www.fafsa.ed.gov.

How much financial aid am I eligible to receive?

The financial information you provide in the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA) is used by the government to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which is the amount you and your family are expected to pay towards your education. The EFC is then subtracted from the cost of attendance for your respective school to determine the amount of financial aid you are eligible to receive.

What is an Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?

The EFC is a calculated assessment of how much your family is expected to contribute to your college costs. The EFC takes into consideration your family's financial strength – income and assets. Other factors considered include the number of family members and number of family members in college.

Who/What is LendKey?

LendKey is a financial technology firm that delivers private student lending technology solutions to credit unions. LendKey offers credit unions with two unique product offerings: a Private Student Loan and a Private Student Loan consolidation/refinancing solution. Recognizing the need for higher education financing for its members, US Senate Federal Credit Union has partnered with LendKey to provide these products.

LOAN ELIGIBILITY

Who is eligible for a loan?

To apply for a US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan, you must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible school, and you must be a member of US Senate Federal Credit Union.


You or your cosigner also must meet our credit requirements. Choosing a creditworthy cosigner will increase the likelihood of being approved and may lead to a lower loan rate. You can apply without a cosigner if you meet all of the credit criteria by yourself.

How do I know if my school is eligible for a loan?

You can confirm whether or not your school is an eligible school on the first page of the application.

Does applying for a federal loan impact my ability to obtain a loan?

No. Students are encouraged to explore and exhaust all federal aid options first, and then use private loans to help pay the remaining education expenses.

APPLICATION PROCESS

How does a member apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan?

Members can apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan online by clicking Start Now at www.ussfcu.lendkey.com.

Do I need to be enrolled in an educational institution to complete the application process?

Yes, you must provide proof of enrollment at an eligible school to complete the application process.

What proof of enrollment do I need to provide?

If you are a returning student, you must provide an unofficial copy of your most recent graded transcript as proof of enrollment at the school you are attending to complete the application process. If you are an incoming freshman, your school will confirm your enrollment during the certification process.

When should I begin the process?

We encourage you to start early. You can start the loan application process once you know what school you will be attending, the Cost of Attendance for the current academic year, and can provide a proof of enrollment. You should allow yourself 6-8 weeks from the time of the initial application until your school receives your funds.

How much can I borrow with a USSFCU Personal Student Loan?

The minimum you can borrow is $2,000 per year. The maximum you can borrow is the certified amount determined by your school, up to $50,000 per year. The school certified amount is typically the Cost of Attendance (COA) less any other financial aid received.

Are there any origination fees on the US Senate Federal Credit Union (USSFCU) Private Student Loan?

No – borrowers will not have to pay any origination fees for the US Senate Federal Credit Union (USSFCU) Private Student Loan!

What are the rates?

The rates for USSFCU Private Student Loans can be found at www.ussfcu.lendkey.com

Does the borrower's academic performance affect the loan pricing?

The pricing model, known as ACS (Academic Credit Score), accounts for the academic attributes of the borrower in addition to traditional credit criteria. Students who work hard in the classroom are rewarded by potentially receiving a lower rate on their loan.

What is ACS?

ACS (Academic Credit Score) is a proprietary scoring model that assesses borrower creditworthiness by taking into account not only the credit bureau data, but also the student's academic characteristics such as GPA, course of study, class standing, and year of study.

What is a cosigner?

A cosigner is a parent, grandparent, guardian or other adult who is creditworthy and willing to assume legal responsibility for the loan liabilities along with you. The cosigner must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.

Is a cosigner required to obtain a loan?

Creditworthy students who are eligible do not need a cosigner to qualify for the USSFCU Private Student Loan, however, all student borrowers are encouraged to apply with a cosigner, as it generally increases the likelihood of the borrower being approved and oftentimes results in a lower interest rate.

Will the cosigner's credit record be affected?

Yes, in a cosigned loan both the borrower and the cosigner are jointly liable for making all loan payments. The loan will appear on both the borrower and cosigner's credit report.

Is the cosigner responsible for repaying the loan?

If the borrower fails to repay the loan, then the cosigner is responsible for repaying the loan. However, the cosigner may be released of this obligation once the borrower is able to meet certain criteria to determine creditworthiness and makes 24 consecutive and on-time full payments of principal and interest during the Repayment Period.

How does my cosigner complete his/her portion of the application?

During the application process, cosigners will be asked to create an account and complete their own application. They complete the same application procedures as the borrower for joint-credit.

Will both the borrower and cosigner's credit be checked?

Yes. During the application process, and as part of the underwriting process, a credit bureau report is pulled on both the borrower and cosigner. The borrower's creditworthiness or ability to repay the loan is assessed based on the credit of the borrower, the credit of the cosigner, as well as the borrower's academic attributes.

Is there a cosigner release for the USSFCU Private Student Loan?

Yes – cosigners can be released after 24 consecutive and on-time interest and principal payments during the Repayment Period (subject to Credit Union approval). The borrower must be creditworthy on his/her own. The release is not automatic, it must be requested.

How are loan documents submitted?

After the applicant has been conditionally approved, he/she will need to upload or fax the following personal documents:

  • Government issued photo ID (i.e. driver's license or passport)
  • Not required for participating credit union members who pass identity verification

  • Proof of income (2 recent pay-stubs within the last 60 days)
  • Not required for applicants with cosigners, required for cosigners

  • School transcript (screenshot of unofficial transcript from most recent semester)
  • Not required for first-semester freshmen

The loan agreement and private education loan disclosures will be submitted electronically using E-Signature.  This process is completed online, and includes the applicant verifying his/her electronic signature.

What is a self-certification?

The Self-Certification, a form that lenders of private education loans are legally required to provide borrowers before making any disbursements, ensures that their eligible funding amount does not exceed the difference between the Cost of Attendance and other total financial aid that they receive, determined by their school.  The Self-Certification also provides applicants with information on how to find out more about federal loan alternatives.

What is a school certification?

School certification is normally completed by the financial aid staff and will include information like the Cost of Attendance and the registration status of the student. Certification ensures that the student is not over-awarded in total funding beyond the Cost of Attendance.

Is the USSFCU Private Student Loan certified?

Yes –all loans are certified with the school prior to loan disbursement.

How do I check the status of my application?

The status of your application is available by signing in to your account. The green status bar you see immediately after login indicates which state your application is currently in.

What do the stages of the status bar mean?

Status Bar

Applying:
The borrower started the application but it has not been credit reviewed for one of two reasons:

  • The borrower hasn't submitted the application yet
  • The borrower invited a cosigner that has yet to complete his/her portion of the application

Reviewing:

  • LendKey forms an initial credit decision on the borrower and cosigner (if applicable)

Gathering:

  • The borrower is conditionally approved
  • The borrower uploads the requested documents

Approving:

  • US Senate Federal Credit Union makes a final review of the application

Signing:

  • The application is final approved
  • The borrower signs the loan agreement and disclosures

Disbursing:

  • The loan disbursement is scheduled

After filling out an application, is there a commitment to borrow?

No. A borrower may withdraw a request at any time and has up to 30 days from the loan disbursement date to return the money and avoid being charged any fees or interest.

How will disbursements be made?

Disbursements, which are scheduled according to the school’s requested date, will be made payable to the school of attendance “for the benefit of” the borrower or co-payable to the school and borrower, and may not be made payable directly to the borrower. Disbursements may also be made through an electronic method.

LOAN TERMS

What is the repayment term of the loan?

The repayment term begins 6 months after the borrower graduates or ceases to be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible degree-granting program. Once repayment begins, the borrower has 10 years to repay the loan.

How soon will a borrower receive the loan proceeds?

The loan proceeds will be sent to the school by check or through electronic funds transfer (EFT). The check will usually be mailed within 5-7 business days of the borrower accepting their final disclosure unless the school requests a later date.

How is the interest rate calculated?

Interest Rate = Base Rate + Loan Margin


The Base Rate is the average of the 3-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), which is a variable component that resets quarterly on the first day of January, April, July, and October.


The Loan Margin stays constant for the life of the loan and is determined at loan inception, depending on the borrower's credit history and ACS Grade.

How often is accrued interest capitalized?

Unpaid interest accrues while the borrower is in school. Upon entering full repayment, all accrued and unpaid interest is capitalized (or added) to the principal balance once at the time repayment begins.

What documentation is provided to borrowers?

Borrowers may choose to receive electronic monthly statements and notices summarizing all account activities.

What are the Forbearance policies?

Borrowers may request Forbearance due to economic hardship for up to 18 months over the life of the loan. Borrowers are eligible to receive three Forbearance periods up to 6 months each. However, only one Forbearance period may be requested in a calendar year. Interest continues to accrue during Forbearance and the term of the loan is not extended.

REPAYMENT

What repayment options are available?

Two in-school repayment options allow the borrower to defer full principal + interest payments until six months after separating from the school:

  • Interest-Only Repayment: the borrower is immediately responsible for making full monthly interest payments on the loan while enrolled in school. Six months after separating from the school or ceasing to be enrolled at least-half time in a degree granting program, the borrower enters repayment status and is responsible for making full interest and principal payments.
  • Proactive Payment:while enrolled at least half-time in a degree granting program, the borrower is only required to make monthly $25 Proactive Payments during the in-school period. Any unpaid accrued interest is capitalized (or added) to the outstanding loan amount once at the end of the in-school period. Six months after separating from the school or ceasing to be enrolled at least-half time in a degree granting program, the borrower enters repayment status and is responsible for making full interest and principal payments.

What is the In-School Repayment period?

The in-school period lasts while the borrower is enrolled at least half-time and includes a 6-month Grace Period once the borrower leaves school. During this time, the borrower is required to either make full interest payments or a monthly $25 Proactive Payment. Any unpaid interest continues to accrue during the in-school period.

What is a Grace Period?

The Grace Period is a 6-month period of time that begins once a borrower graduates or is no longer enrolled at least half-time in a degree granting program. After the Grace Period, the borrower must begin making regular principal and interest payments. Borrowers are required to either make full interest payments or a monthly $25 Proactive Payment during the Grace Period.

What is a Proactive Payment?

A Proactive Payment is a $25 monthly payment the borrower must make while they are in school. The borrower will begin making full principal + interest payments once they have separated from the school or dropped below half-time status. The Proactive Payment helps the borrower demonstrate financial discipline and saves the borrower interest expenses over the life of the loan.

How are payments made?

All monthly loan payments are made to the servicer, LendKey, using either an electronic transfer from a financial institution account designated during the application process or mailed in by check.

 

Borrowers can set up automatic monthly ACH payments directly from their account by logging into their account, clicking the Payments tab, and Manage Payments. Please have the following information available: Financial Institution Name, Account Type, Account Holder Name, Routing Number, and Account Number.

 

Borrowers can submit payments via paper check to the following loan payment address:


LendKey
P.O. Box 824575
Philadelphia, PA 19182-4575


Please write your Loan ID and the payment date in the memo line. For example, if your payment is for your March 1st invoice, please put “03/01/12” next to your Loan ID.

When do borrowers enter full repayment status?

Borrowers are given a six month Grace Period once they graduate or separate from school before they enter repayment status. Once a borrower enters repayment status they are responsible for making full principal and interest payments.


Some students may not yet have found employment six months after leaving school; therefore, borrowers may request to pay just the interest expense on the loan for the first two years while in repayment status, this is referred to as the "Initial Interest Only" option.

Can a borrower prepay the loan at any time?

Yes, a borrower may prepay the loan either partially or in full at anytime without incurring any fees or penalties. Please submit prepayments via paper check and ensure to write your Loan ID and “Toward Principal” in the memo line.

 

What is the repayment duration?

The borrower will have a maximum period of 10 years once they enter repayment to repay the principal and interest of the loan.  The maximum loan duration, inclusive of all deferment including the in-school period and forbearance periods, may not exceed 15 years. The repayment duration will be adjusted accordingly to comply with this requirement.

What is the allowable in-school deferment?

The borrower may elect to defer full principal and interest repayment until 6 months after they have either graduated or separated from the school; however, the student will be required to make a nominal $25 monthly Proactive Payment during the in-school period. The maximum in-school deferment is 5 years.

What are the borrower's repayment options while in school?

The USSFCU Private Student Loan provides two in-school repayment options for the borrower:

  1. Interest-only payments, which begin after the loan is disbursed, allow the borrower to pay down more of the loan while in school.
  2. Proactive Payments*, the alternative choice, require the borrower to make a modest $25 monthly payment toward interest while in school. This method promotes responsible repayment habits, ensures students are constantly aware of their loan rates and balance, and potentially helps them build a credit history while still in school.  The student (and cosigner, if applicable) may enroll to receive monthly eNotices and notices through CU AnyHour+.

* This payment is only required for the first loan acquired by the borrower. All subsequent loans will remain in deferment until the borrower graduates or separates from school, during which the borrower can enjoy making only one $25 monthly payment toward all of their loans.

PRIVACY & SECURITY

Will my personal information be shared with third parties?

Personal information is not shared with third parties for marketing purposes. Only information that is necessary and required to complete the loan application process, make payments, and transfer funds may be shared. Please consult our LendKey's privacy policy for additional details.

How is financial information protected?

Our servers are equipped with Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate technology, which encrypts the user's entire online session. Automatic sign out occurs after a period of inactivity. All banking information and social security numbers are stored in a secure off-site data center. All users must pass through our secure verification systems to prevent identity theft.

 

Please consult LendKey's privacy policy for additional details.

How does identity verification work?

All borrowers must have a valid driver's license or social security number. This information is used to obtain non-credit based questions from an identity verification agency.

 

The user is asked a series of questions that must be answered correctly. Since these questions are not based on a person's credit history, obtaining another person's credit report does not provide sufficient information to pass our identity verification test. Those who violate our security and privacy protections are subject to disciplinary action, including prosecution to the fullest extent allowable by law.

 

Please consult LendKey's privacy policy for additional details.

Question not answered here?

Please consult a Customer Experience Specialist.
Call Customer Service Toll-Free: 888.549.9050.
Email Customer Service: customer.care@lendkey.com
Call Servicing Toll-Free: 888.966.9268
Email Servicing: servicing@lendkey.com

Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm ET

Extended hours during peak lending season 
Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm ET
Saturday, 9am – 5pm ET

What is the US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan Consolidation?

The US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan Consolidation can be used to consolidate and refinance your outstanding private student loan debt.

What is a private student loan consolidation?

A private student loan consolidation allows borrowers the ability to consolidate and refinance

How does a member apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

Members can apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation by clicking Start Now at http://ussfcu.cuconsolidation.org.

How can members calculate their potential savings?

Visit this link for a consolidation calculator: http://ussfcu.cuconsolidation.org/calculator.

What is the interest rate on the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

Interest rates are available at http://ussfcu.cuconsolidation.org

Are there any origination fees on the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

Yes, there is a 1.00% origination fee charged once at loan disbursement. This fee is added to the principal balance so you do not pay anything out of pocket.

What are the borrowing limits for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

The minimum amount is $7,500 and the maximum is $50,000 for undergraduate debt and graduate school debt.

Who is eligible for the US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan Consolidation?

To apply for the US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan Consolidation, you must be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident who graduated from an eligible school and a member of US Senate Federal Credit Union.

A borrower or cosigner must have a gross monthly income of $2,000 or greater and meet our credit requirements. Choosing a creditworthy cosigner will increase the likelihood of being approved and may lead to a lower loan rate. You can apply without a cosigner if you meet all of the credit criteria by yourself.

How do I know if my school is eligible for a loan?

You can confirm whether or not your school is an eligible school on the first page of the application.

Can members refinance both their federal loans and private loans with the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

No. They can only consolidate private student loans. To consolidate federal loans, they can visit http://loanconsolidation.ed.gov.

Can members refinance both their federal loans and private loans with the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

No. They can only consolidate private student loans. To consolidate federal loans, they can visit http://loanconsolidation.ed.gov.

What is a cosigner?

A cosigner is a parent, grandparent, guardian or other adult who is creditworthy and willing to assume legal responsibility for the loan liabilities along with you. The cosigner must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident.

Is a cosigner required to obtain a private student loan consolidation?

In some instances, a cosigner is required to obtain the US Senate Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan Consolidation. A creditworthy cosigner increases the likelihood of your loan approval and may lead to a lower loan rate. Creditworthy borrowers that meet the credit requirements may apply without a cosigner.

Will the cosigner's credit record be affected?

Yes, in a cosigned loan both the borrower and the cosigner are jointly liable for making all loan payments. The loan will appear on both the borrower and cosigner's credit report.

Is the cosigner responsible for repaying the loan?

If the borrower fails to repay the loan, then the cosigner is responsible for repaying the loan. However, the cosigner may be released of this obligation once the borrower is able to meet certain criteria to determine creditworthiness and makes 24 consecutive and on-time full payments of principal and interest during the Repayment Period.

Is there a cosigner release for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

Yes – once borrowers are qualified to meet the credit requirements on their own, cosigners can be released after 24 consecutive and on-time interest and principal payments.

How does a member apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation?

Members can apply for the USSFCU Private Student Loan Consolidation online by clicking Start Now at http://ussfcu.cuconsolidation.org.

How are loan documents submitted?

After the applicant has been conditionally approved, they will need to upload or fax the following personal documents:

  • Proof of graduation (school certificate, degree or diploma, official letter from school, or final transcript showing graduation date)
  • Government issued photo ID (i.e. driver's license or passport)
  • Not required for participating credit union members who pass identity verification
  • Proof of income (2 recent pay-stubs within the last 60 days)
  • Loan statements (last statement for each loan and payoff letter)

The loan agreement and private education loan disclosures will be submitted electronically using E-Signature. This process is completed online, and includes the applicant verifying his/her electronic signature.

What are the borrower's repayment options?

Graduated Repayment

The borrower is responsible for making interest-only payments for the first 4 years followed by 11 years of principal and interest payments. This option allows borrowers to align expected future earnings with current debt to better manage their cash flow.



Level Repayment

The borrower is responsible for a standard level repayment for the term of the loan. This option provides one consistent payment structure.

Was your question not answered here?

USSFCU members that have additional questions regarding origination can contact a Customer Experience Specialist at Credit Union Student Loans (see information below). If you have additional questions regarding servicing that you don't know the answer to, please refer to ECSI.


Credit Union Student Loans
Phone: 888.549.9050
Email: customer.care@lendkey.com
Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm ET

Extended hours during peak lending season
Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm ET
Saturday, 9am – 5pm ET

Educational Computer Systems, Incorporated (ECSI)
Website: https://borrower.ecsi.net/
Phone: 888-549-3274
Email: webcservice@ecsi.net
Address: 181 Montour Run Rd., Coraopolis, PA 15108