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UW Credit Union is a federally insured, nonprofit financial servicer based in Wisconsin. The company is in partnership with the University of Wisconsin and offers student loan refinancing and consolidation programs for UW Credit Union members only, with rates being determined by clients' credit scores. The UW Credit Union was founded in 1931 and has a long and reputable history. Among other services, it offers student loan refinancing, consolidation, and private student loans.

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The Good

Low Rates

UW Credit Union has affordable rates as low as 2.39% for variable interest, and 4.04% for fixed interest. These rates are on the lower end in the industry. Refinancing can take two to four weeks. UW Credit Union also gives borrowers the option to consolidate their loans into one convenient monthly payment, along with the ability to sign up for automatic payments. By doing this, borrowers can lower their interest rate by 0.25%.

Cosigner Release

Borrowers with less-than-stellar credit can sign up with a cosigner, which could potentially lead to a lower interest rate. While the borrower needs to be a credit union member, the cosigner does not. UW Credit Union also offers a cosigner release option, meaning cosigners can apply for release after 36 months of on-time, consecutive payments.

Unique Payment Options

If borrowers go with the 15-year term option, they have the ability to make interest-only payments during the first two years of repayment. Should the borrower pass away, UW Credit Union provides debt protection up to $50,000.

Branch Availability

For Madison residents who live around the University of Wisconsin, the credit union has many branch locations. This is convenient for people who prefer to talk to workers face to face. For the Madison area alone, UW Credit Union has 13 branches, three of which are on the UW campus. The credit union has six branches in Milwaukee and four in the Greater Wisconsin area.

The Bad

Strict Eligibility Requirements

UW Credit Union has rigid eligibility requirements. Among other requirements, borrowers must meet the following:

  • Make at least $25,000 in income
  • Have a reasonable debt-to-income ratio
  • Have a satisfactory credit score
  • Have at least five years of credit history (not including student loans)
  • Must be a UW Credit Union member

In order to become a UW Credit Union member, one must live, work, or attend school within five miles of a branch. Past or present UW, Madison College, and UW Health employees, as well as their immediate household members, also qualify. All branches are located in Wisconsin, so people in other states cannot use UW Credit Union's refinancing and consolidation programs. Some of these requirements may prove difficult for some borrowers to meet. For example, having five years of good credit history and at least $25,000 in income may not be possible for most recent college graduates.

Long Cosigner Release Period

While the credit union offers an option for cosigner release, the 36-month waiting period is longer than the standard in the industry; usually, cosigners apply for release after one or two years.

Limited Terms

UW Credit Union does not offer a 20- or 25-year term. Many companies in the industry offer at least a 20-year term.

Limited Website

The website doesn't offer any kind of calculator to help prospective borrowers discover more about their individual rate. The website also doesn't provide specific information about each of the available terms. Additionally, the website does not say what kind of documentation the program requires.

The Bottom Line

UW Credit Union's student loan refinancing and consolidation programs are ideal for UW students or Madison locals. The program is geared for UW Credit Union members. Interest rates are low, and borrowers will not encounter any hidden fees. UW Credit Union offers a cosigner release option after a 36-month period, and has multiple branches around Madison, Milwaukee, and the Greater Wisconsin area. The refinancing program from UW Credit Union is not for everyone. Borrowers need to have a reasonably good credit history of five years, and at least $25,000 in income. For people who meet the strict eligibility requirements, UW Credit Union can provide borrowers with affordable interest rates and is a solid option to consider.

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