Alliant isn't a terrible option, but most borrowers will be able to find better deals elsewhere.
If we had to describe Alliant Credit Union student loan refinancing in one word, it would be “meh”.
There are no major red flags with Alliant and no reason for borrowers to steer clear of refinancing with them. At the same time, there is not much to get excited about either.
Rates with Alliant aren’t terrible, but there is a noticeable gap between Alliant’s best interest rates and the best interest rates of other lenders.
That being said, Alliant could be a decent option in the right circumstances.
Alliant stands out from most other student loan refinance lenders because it is a credit union. This means that Alliant is not for profit entity and owned by its members. Most other student loan companies are owned by shareholders or investors and expected to return a profit to investors.
Most credit unions have a reputation for good customer service and fair treatment of members. Alliant is no exception, as Alliant is a highly regarded national credit union.
What separates Alliant from other credit unions is their emphasis on technology. Those who prefer a capable website over visiting a local branch will find Alliant to be a good fit.
Alliant is perhaps best known for their high interest savings accounts.
Unfortunately, the student loan consolidation options at Alliant leave a little to be desired…
Alliant Refinance Basics
Alliant offers 5, 10, 15, and 20 year loans and will refinance both federal government and private student loans.
Interest rates with Alliant start at 3.75% for their 5-year variable-rate loan and at 4.25% for the fixed-rate variety.
Alliant also imposes a borrowing cap of up to $100,000.
Loans from Alliant are serviced by University Accounting Services.
Like most reputable lenders, Alliant does not charge any loan origination fees or prepayment penalties. This enables interested borrowers to aggressively repay their debt.
Alliant Refinance Rates
The interest rates with Alliant are in the good but not great range.
There are a number of lenders offering better interest rates in each category, but Alliant is reasonably close to the top lenders.
Loan Type Variable Rate Fixed Rate
Alliant Consolidation and Refinance Concerns
While we think highly of Alliant Credit Union, there are a number of student loan refinancing concerns that borrowers should consider.
Strange Application Process – In order to refinance with Alliant, borrowers must first join Alliant Credit Union. For most people, this will take the form of a nominal ($10) donation to a charity, though members of some organizations are immediately eligible for Alliant membership. Once a member, the application is processed by a company called Cology (also know as cuLearn). Once the application has been approved and funded, the loan servicing is done by University Accounting Services and not Alliant.
Co-Signer Emphasis – Information on the Alliant Student Loan Refinance page is limited, but Alliant makes it clear that adding a co-signer improves chances of approval and can result in a lower interest rate. Co-signers should be a last resort for borrowers and usually avoided. Also, the soonest a co-signer can get released from a loan is after 3 years of on-time payments.
Federal Refinancing Dangers – Borrowers who refinance or consolidate federal loans with a private lender permanently lose all federal protections that went with the loan. That means borrowers forgo Income Driven Repayment Plans and the various Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Programs. This concern applies to all refinance companies, and we do applaud Alliant for noting this concern on their refinance page.
University Accounting Services – While Alliant has an excellent reputation, University Accounting Services (UAS) does not. The problem for borrowers is that because UAS services the loan, UAS is the company in charge of processing payments and determining amounts due. This reduces the benefit of working with Alliant for refinancing.
Reasons to like Alliant
Though unlikely, it is definitely possible that a borrower make check their rate with several different student loan companies and find that Alliant offers the best rate. For this reason alone, Alliant deserves some serious consideration.
Another reason to like Alliant is the fact that Alliant has been in business since 1935 and developed a consumer friendly reputation. Student loan refinancing is a small part of the Alliant business, so borrowers can expect fair treatment from this lender. It is highly unlikely that Alliant would risk their reputation by engaging in shady or misleading tactics with student loans.
Other Lenders to Consider
Applying with Alliant certainly isn’t a waste of time, but we suggest shopping around to compare rates. Applying takes little time and the interest rates offered can vary greatly from one lender to the next.
Pros: SoFi is the only lender who will help a borrower find a job, and they routinely have the lowest rates offered. LendKey works with a large network of smaller credit unions and banks. As a result, many applicants get the best offer from LendKey. Splash has the best new customer bonus right now, and they have unique 8 and 12 year repayment terms. Because ELFI is backed by a bank rather than investors, ELFI rates tend to stay low and fluctuate less than others.
Cons: SoFi has grown into a large company offering mortgages, personal loans, and investment services. They no longer focus entirely on student loan refinancing. Going the LendKey route does require working with a local bank or credit union. For many, this is a plus, but it is an extra step. Splash is a newer lender and the longest length loan is 15 years instead of the industry standard 20. ELFI is one of the newest lenders in the marketplace. As a result we have limited head to head information.
Final Thoughts on Alliant
Alliant is an established name but relatively new to the student loan refinance world.
At this point in time Alliant does not quite stack up with the best student loan refinance lenders. That being said, for a new product, Alliant is off to a decent start. From a consumer perspective, the hope is that Alliant will improve with time in order to get more competitive.