One Main Student Loan Review: Rates, Options, and Public Opinion

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One Main Financial is one of the few lenders that are willing to give out loans to people with bad credit. Personal loans from OneMain Financial can be used for a number of ventures including paying college costs. Compared to other popular lenders, the company’s interest rates are very high and you need to be sure that you have exhausted your options before settling for a OneMain Financial loan. In this article, we’ll help you weigh your options and find out if One Main Financial is the right choice for you.

What Is One Main Financial?

One Main Financial concentrates on offering secured and unsecured personal loans to borrowers. The loans can be used for medical expenses, home improvement, major purchases including automobile purchases, and more. Although the company is not technically a student loan lender, you can apply for a personal loan that you can use to cover your college costs. The bank has 1,600 branches, so it is suitable for people who want physical contact with the bank’s staff.

Loan Options

One Main Financial has built its reputation on offering loans to people with bad credit and no credit at all. The company’s requirements are not strict when it comes to credit history. OneMain is one of the few major lenders that has no minimum credit score requirement. Borrowers with this company have typical FICO credit scores in the 600 to 650 range. The company does not limit what you use the loan money for. OneMain Financial also lends to those who want to consolidate their debt. We love the fact that the company avails cash very fast. After application, it is typical for a decision to be communicated back in as few as 10 minutes after the application is submitted, and funds can be availed the same day by check or in two business days via a bank payment.

Rates and Fees  

Typical interest rates are high and you can expect to pay anywhere from 16.05-35.99 percent for an unsecured loan. You can qualify for a lower interest rate by securing the loan with collateral. Secured loans have rates that start at 9.99 percent. The company also offers optional credit insurance for secured loans, but this may not always be in the borrower’s best interests. The company does not charge a prepayment fee, but it does have origination fees which vary depending on your home state.

You will almost certainly get much better rates at Wells Fargo, SunTrust, and College Ave, or from a federal government direct loan program compared to One Main Financial. We, therefore, encourage you to first exhaust all the other options before getting a loan from One Main Financial. A loan application for a OneMain Financial loan is completed by filling out an online form at the company’s website. The company will email you the decision and make an appointment to discuss your options and verify your info at one of the bank’s branches. In some states, this can also be done over the internet.

How It Compares

We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare.

Wells Fargo Student Loans

SunTrust Bank Student Loans

College Ave Student Loans

One Main Financial 

Rates – $$$  

Current interest rates at OneMain Financial range from 17.59 percent to 35.99 percent. The company has an origination fee but doesn’t have a prepayment fee.

Credit Requirements – 5 Stars 

One Main doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement and has the most generous minimum credit requirement policy of any lender on our list.

Loan Limits – 2 Stars

Because the company’s loan offerings are not tailored to the needs of college students, the loan limits are not favorable to many students. One Main Financial gives loans from $1,500 to $30,000. These funds given may not cover all the college costs for a typical four-year college program.

Terms Available – 2 Stars

The company offers terms of two to five years. All the other lenders on this list have longer loan terms.

Forgiveness, Deferment, Forbearance – 1 Stars

Because the loans by this company are not tailored to the needs of college students, the company doesn’t have a debt forgiveness, deferment, or forbearance policy.


  • Doesn’t reject applications because of bad credit scores and history
  • First loan approval in as few as 10 minutes
  • Access to your credit scores for free


  • Very high interest rates even if you present collateral
  • Very short loan terms of a maximum of five years
  • Lacks a forbearance policy
  • Loan origination fee

Wells Fargo Student Loans

Wells Fargo is one of the largest financial institutions in America. The company offers student loans and loan refinancing services and has dealt with student loans since the 1960s. The company’s private student loan program, called the Wells Fargo Collegiate student loan, is available to undergraduate students who attend four-year schools. The company’s policies favor Wells Fargo customers and those customers qualify for special discounts. Wells Fargo is one of the few lenders that offer loans to students who are enrolled for less than half-time in college. The company allows co-signing and co-signers can be released after 24 or 48 consecutive, on-time payments. Loans taken by parents cannot be officially transferred to the child.

Rates – $ 

Wells Fargo has competitive interest rates for student loans. Students can pay as little as 5.24-9.99 percent for fixed-rate loans. Variable rate loans have rates that range from 4.99-9.74 percent  The company doesn’t charge application, origination, and prepayment fees. Like all other companies on our list, OneMain Financial doesn’t tolerate late payments and charges a $28 flat-rate late fee.

Credit Requirements – 3 Stars

The company does not reveal its minimum credit score requirement, but judging from the credit scores of people who have been approved, it is safe to assume that you or your co-signer must have good or excellent credit to qualify.

Loan Limits – 4.5 Stars

The company’s loan limits are much more generous compared than those of One Main Financial. You can borrow a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $120,000.

Terms Available – 4 Stars

The company has loan terms of 15 and 20 years

Forgiveness, Deferment, Forbearance – 4.5 Stars

The company has one of the most generous forbearance policies we have seen. The company allows the student a six-month grace period before starting repayments. There is an option of making interest-only payments for 48 months.


  • Student loan consolidation
  • Give loans to students enrolled for less than half-time
  • Very generous forbearance policy
  • Dedicated student loan advisors
  • Co-signer release after 24 or 49 consecutive on-time payments.


  • No bi-weekly student loan payment option
  • No Soft credit check for personalized estimates to applicants

SunTrust Bank Student Loans

SunTrust Bank gives out loans to both graduate and undergraduate students. The bank’s loans are well-liked because the bank has a variety of loan options and a good deferment policy. The bank allows students to choose interest-only or partial-interest only repayment plans while in school. This generosity can be extended even when you graduate, and the company has a 36-month interest-only repayment option if you fall on hard times after graduating.

You need a minimum credit score of 600 to qualify if you are applying without a cosigner. A co-signer would need to have a minimum score of 625 to apply. The company does not disclose debt-to-income ratio requirements, but you should not have a bankruptcy record in the past 10 years. The bank gives loans to US citizens and permanent residents in all 50 states apart from Iowa and Wisconsin. The student must be in a Title IV-accredited school to qualify for this loan. Co-signing for student loans is allowed. In fact, 50 percent of SunTrust student loans are cosigned. To apply for a loan at SunTrust, you need to submit an online application at the bank’s website.

Rates – $$

SunTrust has competitive interest rates which are as low as 3.001 percent and as high as 11.501 percent depending on the repayment schedule and the credit score of the student/co-signer. The company has a 5 percent late payment fee if don’t pay within 10 days of the loan due date. However, this company does not charge origination and prepayment fees.

Credit Requirements – 3.5 Stars

This company requires students to have a minimum credit score of 600 if they are applying without a co-signer. A co-signer would need to have a credit score of 625 or more and the minimum annual income is $1.

Loan Limits – 5 Stars

Loan amounts that can be obtained from this bank are from $1,001 to $150,000, although a maximum of $65,000 can be drawn per year.

Terms Available – 3.5 Stars

SunTrust offers loan terms of 7, 10, and 15 years

Forgiveness, Deferment, Forbearance – 4.5 Stars

The company offers a six-month grace period before beginning repayments after leaving school. They have interest-only, and partial-interest repayment policies for students when in school. The company’s 36-month interest only repayment option is an effective enticement for many.


  • 36-payment cosigner release policy
  • Rate discounts if you chose auto-pay payments
  • 36 months of interest-only payment if facing financial difficulties
  • One percent balance reduction offer when you graduate
  • 0.25 percent rate reduction after your make 36 on-time payments


  • No soft credit check for rate estimates
  • No bi-weekly payment option

College Ave Student Loans

College Ave is an online lender that opened its doors in 2014. The company offers private student loans as well as refinancing services. Like the other student loan lenders on this list, College Ave gives students a grace period of six months before requiring payments. College Ave gives loans to students, but be warned, the company’s policy does not favor pausing payments. The company offers no particular forbearance policy and evaluates such cases on a case-by-case basis.

The company offers a wide variety of loan products, including undergraduate loans, private graduate students loans, parents loans, and undergraduate loans to students pursuing career-focused programs. College Ave is the only company on our list that allows potential borrowers to get personalized rates using a soft credit check that doesn’t affect credit scores. The company has in-school payment options that include immediate payment, deferred payments, fixed payments of $25 per month, and interest-only repayment. Post-school options include in-school deferment (when returning to school) and military deferment.

Rates – $

Fixed-rate refinancing interest rates at College Ave are typically between 5.29 and 12.78 percent, while variable rates are between 3.94 and 11.19 percent. College Ave has no application or origination fee. You won’t be charged any prepayment penalties. There a maximum late fee of $25.

Credit Requirements – 2 Stars

This company requires lenders to have a credit score above 700 and have a minimum annual income of $35,000. The maximum debt-to-income ratio allowed by this company is 80 percent if the credit score is 750 or more and 50 percent is the score is lower than 750. These lofty requirements practically rule out most students and are probably the reason why 95 percent of the company’s student loans have cosigners.

Loan Limits – 5 Stars

This company gives out loans from $1,000 to the total the student needs to cover college costs

Terms Available – 4 Stars

The company has loan terms of 5, 8, 10, and 15 years.

Forgiveness, Deferment, Forbearance – 3 Stars

The company has standard deferment policies similar to the other lenders on our list. College Ave has no specific forbearance policy. Each case is considered on its merits.


  • Enables estimation of rates using a soft credit check
  • Co-signer release
  • A number of loan terms
  • Allows bi-weekly payments


  • Does not serve international students
  • Has no provision for forbearance
  • No cosigner release for refinancing
  • Only approves applicants with good and excellent credit


We believe that One Main Financial is not among the first names we would mention when recommending a lender for student loans. The company does not have dedicated student loan services and you will have to apply for a personal loan. This limitation means that the loan terms of two and five years are not enough for a typical student to pay off the loan. In addition, the company doesn’t have a forbearance or deferment policy.

The company’s high interest rates do not help its cause, and they are much higher than those of any other student loan lender on our list. However, the fact this company doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement makes it a good choice for people who have bad or fair credit or do not otherwise qualify for loans from the other private student loan lenders. But even if you are in that situation, we encourage you to first give Federal Direct Student Loan programs a shot because those programs have much better interest rates and they have no credit score requirements just like OneMain Financial. We give OneMain Financial an overall score of 2 Stars out of 5.

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