If your federal student loans are not enough to cover the cost of going to college, you may be considering a private student loan to fill in the gap. In doing your research, it’s possible that you may have come across SunTrust as a potential lender.
But who is SunTrust? Why are they called Truist now? What kinds of student loans do they offer? How do you apply for a SunTrust student loan? Below, we answer these and other questions about SunTrust so that you will be able to make a more informed decision when it comes to selecting a lender for your private student loan.
Who is SunTrust?
SunTrust was a large regional bank operating in the southeastern United States. As such, it provided a range of banking services, including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and a range of loans—including private student loans. It now operates under the brand name Truist.
SunTrust and Truist
At the end of 2019, SunTrust and BB&T completed a long-announced merger to become Truist. Existing SunTrust and BB&T customers continue to have the same account numbers. The SunTrust and BB&T brands and websites continue to operate as they did before the merger, though this is likely to be a part of a phased process in carrying both over to the new brand.
Types of Student Loans Offered by SunTrust
SunTrust announced in May of 2020 that the company will no longer be offering private student loans. Borrowers who already have SunTrust private student loans will have their loans serviced by American Education Services (AES). If you have a SunTrust student loan, your repayment schedule and other terms of your loan should not be affected.
That being said, the types of student loans that were previously offered by SunTrust include:
- Custom Choice Loan: A private student loan for graduate and undergraduate students. Borrowers would earn a 2% principal reduction upon completion of their degree.
- Start Student Loan: A private student loan for graduate and undergraduate students. The loan would not accrue interest for the first six months following disbursement.
- Union Federal Private Student Loan: A private student loan for international undergraduate and graduate students. Borrowers would receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction after making three year’s worth of on-time payments.
- Graduate Business School Loan: A private student loan for those pursuing their MBA or other graduate business degree.
SunTrust Interest Rates
As a private lender of student loans, SunTrust had the ability to determine the interest rates that they wished to charge borrowers, unlike the interest rate carried by federal student loans, which is set by Congress. These rates varied from borrower to borrower based on a number of criteria, including:
- Your credit score: The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rates are likely to be. This is because your credit score is designed to show a lender how risky it would be for them to lend to you.
- Your income: Whether or not you are employed, and your level of income, can influence your interest rates.
- Whether you apply with a cosigner: Because applying with a cosigner reduces the risk that a lender will lose money, it also increases chances that your application will be approved and that you will qualify for a lower interest rate on your loan.
How to Apply for a Student Loan Through SunTrust
SunTrust (Truist) is no longer offering private student loans. This means that you cannot apply for a new student loan through the company.
SunTrust Pros and Cons
Pros of Borrowing a Student Loan from SunTrust
- No application fees: SunTrust did not charge application fees for its student loans.
- 0.25% interest rate discount for auto pay: If you signed up for auto pay, you were eligible to reduce the interest rate on your student loans by 0.25%.
- 0.25% interest rate discount for loyalty: If you or your cosigner had a SunTrust bank account in addition to your student loan, it was possible to reduce your interest rate by a quarter of one percent.
- Cosigner release: After making three years’ worth of consecutive payments, you could release your cosigner from the loan.
- Options for international students: While not all private student loan lenders offer loans for international students, SunTrust specifically offered loans (the Union Federal Private Student Loan) for international students.
- In-school refinancing: Unlike many other lenders, SunTrust also offered refinancing to students who had not yet completed their degree. Typically, a borrower must wait until they have completed their degree to refinance their student loan.
In addition to these broad benefits, SunTrust offered a number of unique benefits depending on the type of loan being borrowed:
- Custom Choice Loan: Borrowers who completed their degree would earn a 2% principal reduction.
- Start Student Loan: Borrowers would not accrue interest on their loan for the first six months after disbursement.
- Union Federal Private Student Loan: Borrowers who made 36 months of consecutive payments would reduce their interest rate by 0.25%.
- Graduate Business School Loan: Borrowers who completed their degree would earn a 1% principal reduction.
Cons of Borrowing a Student Loan from SunTrust
- No longer active: Because the company is no longer offering new private student loans, borrowers who hoped to apply for a SunTrust loan cannot.
- Interest rates not set by law: Unlike federal student loans, which carry an interest rate set by Congress, SunTrust student loans carry an interest rate set by the company. These rates are often higher than the rates charged by federal student loans.
- Limited deferment options: Federal student loans carry generous deferment and forbearance options. As a private lender, SunTrust does not offer comparable deferment or forbearance options.
- No guaranteed acceptance: Because SunTrust is a private lender, they are able to set their own eligibility requirements. This means that certain borrowers who applied for a SunTrust loan would not be accepted.
- Not eligible for forgiveness: While federal student loans may be eligible for forgiveness if a borrower meets certain eligibility requirements, private student loans, including those offered by SunTrust, are typically not eligible for forgiveness.
How to Contact SunTrust
If you currently have a SunTrust student loan, the company recommends that you reach out to American Education Services (AES) with any questions you may have. AES is the servicer that SunTrust has hired to finish servicing existing loans.
If you have already applied for a SunTrust loan and are awaiting a decision, SunTrust offers the following phone numbers:
Custom Choice Loan Phone
Start Student Loan Phone
Union Federal Private Student Loan Phone
Graduate Business School Loan Phone
AAA Advantage Student Loan Phone
Alternatives to SunTrust
Before turning to any private lender, we always recommend that our readers exhaust federal student loans, state-based student loans, and institutional student loans. Why? Because each of these options will typically carry lower interest rates and more beneficial terms than private loans.
If you still decide that a private loan makes sense for you, we recommend that you begin your search by turning to a student loan marketplace that will let you compare multiple potential lenders side by side before making a decision. This will ensure that you get the lowest interest rate and save the most money when choosing a lender.
If you are a current SunTrust borrower who is unhappy with your experience, or who doesn’t want to work with AES, your only real option would be to refinance your student loan with a different private lender.