cuScholar Private Student Loan Program Overview


cuScholar Program Overview


Over 140 not-for-profit credit unions nationwide subscribe to the cuScholar Private Student Loan and participate in the cuStudentLoans program. The cuScholar Private Student Loan consists of common underwriting and servicing criteria with life-of-loan servicing provided by LendKey.


The Academic Credit Score (ACS) is a six-tiered model which factors in credit bureau data from both the borrower and the cosigner, a historical analysis of identifiable academic characteristics, and the academic attributes of the borrower. LendKey recognizes the strong correlation between loan default rates and attributes such as academic achievement. For example, a junior with a high GPA may have more favorable rates than an incoming freshman with no established GPA.

Underwriting That Rewards Academic Achievement


Get an instant credit decision! Our easy online application features:

  • 24/7 online account status and management
  • Electronic school certifications and disbursements
  • Self certification with required school certification before loan disbursement

Web-Based Application


  • 1% interest rate reduction once 10% of the principal is repaid during the full repayment period
  • Apply for cosigner release after 24 consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments
  • The option to borrow as little as $2,000 or as much as the cost of attendance per year
  • No pre-payment penalty
  • .25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for automatic ACH payments.
  • Availability for up to 90-days past due balances
  • 30-day no-fee return policy

Borrower Benefits:


The cuScholar Private Student Loan provides two repayment options for the borrower. While in school you may choose to make interest only payments, or good-faith payments of only $25 per month. This system helps students develop responsible repayment habits,  ensures that they are constantly aware of their loan rates and balance, and can improve their credit score during their college career.

In-School Servicing



Mailing a refund check?


LendKey, Inc.

Attn: Financial Operations

4445 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 350

Cincinnati, OH 45242

School Hotline 1-877-847-3964

Mon-Fri 9:00 am – 6:00 pm ET

Fax us at 1-866-208-2056




  • Who is LendKey?

    LendKey is a technology company that enables community financial institutions to enter and succeed in online lending. LendKey's innovative technology matches consumers with community banks and credit unions to create the most transparent, accessible and low-cost borrowing options in online lending.

  • What is the application process?

    cuStudentLoans seeks to match the borrower with a participating credit union they are qualified to join during the online application process. Borrowers can log in to their account at any time to find out the status of the loan. They will also be notified via email and phone of status changes and any outstanding items needed. The application process is outlined below.


    1. Applying: Borrower (and cosigner) completes the initial application followed by the H-21 and Self- Certification.
    2. Reviewing: Borrower (and cosigner) application is complete and LendKey makes an initial credit decision within 3 business days.
    3. Gathering: Borrower (and cosigner) is conditionally approved and uploads any required documents and accepts the Membership Agreement.
    4. Approving: The application is sent to the lender for a final decision within 3-5 business days
    5. Signing: The application receives lender approval and the borrower (and cosigner) e-signs the loan agreement. LendKey sends a loan request for certification to the school4. Once LendKey receives school certification, the borrower must accept the H-22 and H-23
    6. Disbursing: The application is complete and ready for disbursement on date specified by school. It will take 3-10 days for a loan to disburse after the borrower accepts the H-23


    In the event that a borrower is declined, LendKey will send an adverse action notice and will inform borrowers who are eligible to reapply with a cosigner. On a very limited basis, a credit union lender may decide to override the denial for a second look or approval for established members. If the denial occurs after school certification, LendKey will automatically send a response file to update the school.

  •  What is a credit union?

    Like its name suggests, a credit union is a not-for-profit lending cooperative that provides many of the same financial services banks offer—but often at far less cost. Instead of maximizing profits for shareholders, a credit union uses profits to offer greater value to its members: lower APRs for student loans and mortgages, and no (or low) minimum balances for accounts. Many credit unions are rooted in their communities, and value the individuals and small business owners who live and work there.

    When you support a credit union with your business, you are helping to support an entire community. There are over 8,000 credit unions nationwide, and more than 100 million credit union members in the United States alone.

  • What are the benefits of credit union membership?

    Credit unions typically offer more competitive rates and more affordable terms to their members than bigger and more corporate financial institutions. Their main goal is to serve and support their members. Member benefits may include lower rates on most types of loans (including student loans), low-fee or no-fee checking accounts, and better rates of return on savings accounts and certificates of deposit. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is backed by the U.S. government, insures federally chartered and many state chartered credit unions. The Fund, similar to the FDIC for bank deposits, insures individual accounts up to $250,000.

  • How can a student borrower join a credit union?

    It’s easy to apply for membership in a credit union. A student borrower can join one of the participating credit unions, so long as he or she meets the field of membership (FOM) criteria. The FOM criteria could be as simple as the neighborhood or residential area where you live, the school you attend, or the company where you work. Recently, credit unions have been expanding their fields of membership to include more members, so it pays to check the most current requirements.

  • Are there any fees or sign up costs required for membership?

    While most credit unions generally don’t require any upfront fees to join, it’s a good idea to review the specific membership requirements for the credit union you wish to join.

  • Who is eligible for the cuScholar Private Student Loan?

    You must be a member of one of our participating credit unions, and be enrolled at least half-time in one of the 2,000 eligible schools.

  • What are the eligibility requirements for Private Student Loans?

    Students must meet the following criteria:

    • Must be enrolled full or half-time in a degree-seeking program at an eligible school
    • Be or become a member of a participating credit union during the online application process
    • U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Meet established credit requirements (or apply with a creditworthy cosigner)


  • What is an ACS Grade?

    Each loan request gets assigned a designation called an ACS Grade, or Academic Credit Score. The ACS Grade uses a proprietary credit-scoring model to assess how creditworthy a borrower is. Unlike many other scores, an ACS Grade considers a student’s academic performance (i.e. GPA, course of study, class standing) in addition to his or her credit history.


  • What loan margins are offered for the six different ACS Grades?

    Platinum Honors: 3-Month LIBOR + 3.24%

    Platinum Plus: 3-Month LIBOR + 5.24%

    Gold Honors: 3-Month LIBOR + 6.50%

    Gold Plus: 3-Month LIBOR + 7.74%

    Silver Honors: 3-Month LIBOR + 8.74%

    Silver Plus: 3-Month LIBOR + 9.24%

  • Are there any origination fees with the cuScholar Private Student Loan?

    No, there are no origination fees with the cuScholar Private Student Loan.

  • What are the payment options for the cuScholar Private Student Loan?

    There are two payment options for student borrowers who are still in school:


    1) Interest-only payments


    2) Proactive payments of $25 per month for principal and interest.


  • Do you offer any benefits to borrowers?

    Our borrowers are eligible for the following benefits:

    Automatic 1% interest rate reduction once the borrower has repaid 10% of the principal.

    Apply for cosigner release upon request, after 24 consecutive, full and on-time principal and interest payments.

  • When is interest capitalized?

    A student borrower must have at least half-time enrollment status in order for unpaid interest to accrue. Once repayment begins, all accrued and unpaid interest is capitalized (or added) to the principal balance.

  • What is the “Self Cert First, School Cert Last” policy?

    The “Self Cert First, School Cert Last” policy means that we contact the financial aid staff at the end of the application process (once receipt of the self cert form has been made and all underwriting and documentation has been received). With so many constraints placed on a financial aid department’s budget and staffing, this policy aims to streamline the certification process and ensure that loan amounts are accurate and correct.

  • How does the school certify a loan for a LendKey lender?

    LendKey has the ability to school certify through ELM Resources, OpenNet, eCourier, Great Lakes’ ScholarNet, iLink, and via fax or email as per the school’s request.

  • How does LendKey disburse and receive funds?

    LendKey has the ability to disburse and receive funds through ELM’s National Distribution Network (NDN), Great Lakes’ Central Disbursement System (CDS), Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT), and via paper checks made payable and sent directly to the school as per the school’s request.

  • Who do I contact if I have a question?

    All financial aid questions should be directed to our school hotline at 877-847-3964. Her email address is

  • How can I create awareness at my school for the cuScholar Private Student Loan?

    Both cuStudentLoans and the cuScholar Private Student Loan are recognized nationwide, and can be found on the preferred lender lists of many institutions. Additionally, cuStudentLoans can be found on all of the major third-party lists (including Student Lending Analytics’ Private Loan Options and and comparison lists, such as ELM Select, Great Lakes and FASTChoice. A simple request to add the cuScholar Private Student Loan is all it takes to start!

  • What is the turnaround time once the loan has been certified by the school?

    It takes a minimum of 6 business days, but could take longer based on borrower signing H23, the funding schedule and any holds by the school

  • Is SAP required?

    LendKey follows our school partners’ Satisfactory Academic Progress policies (SAP) for determining eligibility. A 2.0 cumulative GPA is required.

Additional Details about the cuScholar Private Student Loan.


  • Loan Certification: CommonLine v4 certification and change records through AES eCourier, ELM Resources, i-Link, OpenNet, ScholarNet, email, and fax.
  • Loan Disbursement/Rosters: ELM Resources’ National Disbursement Network (ELM NDN), i-Link CDS, Great Lakes CDS, direct EFT to schools and paper checks. There is a maximum of four disbursements per academic year. We can send disbursement rosters for those where certifications were received electronically but not disbursed electronically.
  • Loan Cancellations/Refunds: We accept electronic refunds through ELM, Great Lakes and iLink only; all other refunds must be sent via check to the Financial Operations department located in OH. Once a loan is disbursed, schools have 90 days to cancel the loan and interest will be written off and any payments made will be returned to the borrower. Borrowers have 30 days after disbursement to pay back the funds and interest will be written off.

PAST DUE BALANCE DETAILS: Enrolled students may apply for funds for past due balances up to 90 days after the end of the last term as certified by the school.

COSIGNER INFORMATION: While borrowers are encouraged to apply with a cosigner to increase the chance of approval and/or lower rate, a cosigner is not required if the borrower can meet credit requirements alone.

CAPITALIZATION: Interest is capitalized at the end of each deferment and forbearance period and every time a loan enters Repayment.

IN-SCHOOL REPAYMENT:  Borrowers have 60 months maximum in-school period (includes 6-month grace period).  We allow borrowers to partially defer principal and interest payments until six months after separating from school.

  • Proactive Payment: Borrowers make a minimum $25 monthly payment. Any unpaid accrued interest is capitalized to the outstanding loan amount at the end of the in-school period. Note: Borrowers with multiple loans are only responsible for a $25 payment.
  • Interest-Only Payment: Borrowers make full monthly interest payments on the loan while enrolled in school.

OUT-OF-SCHOOL REPAYMENT:  Borrowers are responsible for making full principal and interest payments when they enter repayment status, six months after leaving school or ceasing to be enrolled half-time with a degree-granting program.

  • Level Repayment: Borrower makes level payments of principal and interest over the 10-year loan term.
  • Initial Interest Only Option: During the six month grace period, borrowers may request to pay just the interest expense on the loan for the first two years.

FORBEARANCE:   As a debt management tool we may suspend a borrower’s obligation to pay principal and in some cases even interest on a short-term basis for a borrower experiencing financial difficulty.  The borrower may request a forbearance option during or prior to the loan becoming delinquent. The borrower is eligible for hardship forbearance for a total of eighteen (18) months over the life of the loan. Forbearances can be granted as no-payment, interest-only or reduced payments. Forbearances may be granted in increments of six (6) months or less. A form must be filled out signed and submitted by the borrower. An additional form is required if the borrower wishes to extend his/her forbearance.


  • There is currently no way for a borrower to discharge for permanent or total disability.
  • In accordance with the Service Member’s Civil Relief Act, LendKey follows the SCRA guidelines and caps the interest rate at 6%.

DELINQUENCY/DEFAULT:  A Late Fee of 5% of unpaid installment is charged if we have not received the payment after 20 days from the due date. LendKey considers a loan in default after 180 days. LendKey completes 19 due diligence activities from day 0 - 60 when a loan is considered delinquent. These include letters, emails and calls.

FINANCIAL LITERACY COMMITMENT: Our commitment to providing financial literacy resources is one of the key reasons schools and families are attracted to our program. The College Resource Center, a comprehensive financial education and college planning tool, was created to assist families in navigating the financial aid process from planning college visits to loan repayment years following graduation. The College Resource Center consists of a contemporary blog featuring fresh topical and editorial content, “how-to” guides, and complimentary webinars.

SCHOOL SUPPORT INFORMATION including Requests for Information:

Financial Aid Hotline: (877) 847-3964
Hours: Monday - Friday, 9am - 6pm ET
Fax: (866) 208-5056

Please send student loan refund checks to the following:

LendKey, Inc.
Attn: Financial Operations
4445 Lake Forest Drive, Suite 350
Cincinnati, OH 45242


Phone: (888) 549-9050
Hours: Mon - Fri, 9am - 7pm ET (Sept - July) Mon - Fri, 9am - 9pm ET, Sat 9am - 5pm ET (July - Aug)
Fax: (800) 583-1416