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MPOWER Student Loans: 2022 Review

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MPOWER Financing is a public benefit corporation that specializes in private student loans and student loan refinancing. This D.C.-based lender was founded by former international students who understand the struggles noncitizens go through when it comes to financing their education.

Although the company does offer student loans and refinancing to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, its services are best for international and DACA students who are enrolled in a degree-seeking program, since MPOWER does not require co-signers.

MPOWER features

At first glance, MPOWER’s offer seems pretty ordinary: loans for undergraduate and graduate students, in addition to student loan refinancing. But the company’s standout feature is the fact that its loans are open to international and DACA students without a co-signer — both of which are often overlooked by most private lenders. By removing the need for a co-signer, collateral and credit history, MPOWER makes it easy for both of these groups to be eligible for its loans.

Besides that, MPOWER goes the extra mile by helping international students with their visa application process and securing a U.S.-based job after graduation, at no additional cost. However, both of these services are completely optional.

If you wish to return to your home country, that’s okay, too. MPOWER has partnered with payment platform Flywire so you can repay your loans from abroad using the currency of your choice.

MPOWER student loan snapshot

Loan types
Undergraduate, graduate, refinancing
Loan amounts
Private loans: $2,001 to $50,000 ($100,000 lifetime limit)
Refinancing loans: $2,001 to $100,000
Interest rates
Private loans: 7.52% to 13.63% fixed APR (with autopay and other discounts)
Refinancing loans: 7.44% fixed APR (with autopay and other discounts)
Repayment terms
Private loans: 10 years
Refinancing loans: 10 years
Grace period
6 months
Co-signer required?
No

Pros and cons of MPOWER student loans

MPOWER student loans can be a great alternative to help you cover the costs of college when other types of financial aid fall short. Still, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before you apply to ensure this is the best option for you.

Pros

  • Open to noncitizens without a co-signer. Most lenders issue loans exclusively to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. MPOWER, however, issues loans to both international students and DACA students. MPOWER also doesn’t require students to have a co-signer, collateral or any credit history to be approved for a loan.
  • Generous rate discounts. MPOWER offers rate discounts up to 1.5 percent for private loans and up to 1 percent for student loan refinancing.
  • Many currencies supported. Although you’ll be charged a fee for currency exchange, you can repay your loans using your local currency if you’re living abroad.
  • You can apply before the semester starts. MPOWER allows you to apply for a loan up to 12 months prior to your start date.
  • Plenty of resources available for borrowers. There is a dedicated team that assists international students with their visa process, in addition to career support for those looking to find a job in the U.S. Besides that, MPOWER sponsors a variety of scholarships of up to $10,000 to help students reduce their borrowing costs.

Cons

  • Limited availability. Students must be enrolled in one of the 422 institutions that MPOWER works with. To be eligible for either an undergraduate or a graduate loan, students must also be within two years of their expected graduation date.
  • Limited repayment terms. While most lenders offer repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years, MPOWER offers only a 10-year repayment term on all of its loans.
  • Fixed rates only. Borrowers can typically choose between fixed and variable interest rates when applying for a private student loan. However, MPOWER has only one fixed rate per loan category.
  • Interest rates are on the higher side. Right now, private student loans have starting APRs of about 5 percent for a 10-year term, while MPOWER’s loans have a starting APR of 9.56 percent for undergraduate loans and 7.52 percent for graduate loans (including discounts).
  • Payments aren’t deferred while you’re in school. Lenders typically don’t require any payments on your loans until six months after you graduate. With MPOWER, you’re required to start making interest payments 21 to 60 days after your loan is disbursed.

MPOWER student loan requirements

To apply for MPOWER’s private student loans, you must:

  • Be admitted to or enrolled in one of the U.S. schools supported by MPOWER.
  • Be within two years of your expected graduation date.
  • Be enrolled in a degree-seeking program.
  • Be a citizen of one of MPOWER’s approved countries.
  • Reside in the U.S. while completing the program.

To apply for a student loan refinance, you must:

  • Be a college graduate.
  • Have worked in the U.S. for at least three months.
  • Have a valid visa or be a DACA recipient, U.S. citizen, refugee or asylum-seeker.

Who is this loan good for?

MPOWER’s student loans are a good option for international and DACA students who are enrolled in a degree-seeking program in the U.S. and need financial assistance to pay for school. MPOWER is more likely than other lenders to approve international students for a loan, and it offers several additional resources that can help these students get settled in the U.S.

If you’re a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, however, you might be better off looking into other options, as you could potentially find better terms and interest rates than those offered by MPOWER.

Interest rates and terms

MPOWER has three discounts of 0.5 percent each: one when you sign up for automatic payments, another one for making six consecutive payments with autopay and a third one for submitting proof of graduation and employment. However, this last one is not available for student loan refinancing.

The rates below reflect these discounts.

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans N/A 9.56% to 13.63% APR
Graduate student loans N/A 7.52% to 11.59% APR
Student loan refinancing N/A 7.44% APR

Fees and penalties

MPOWER charges a 5 percent origination fee on both graduate and undergraduate student loans and a 2 percent origination fee for student loan refinancing. The company also charges a late payment fee and a returned check fee, although the amount isn’t specified.

Repayment terms and grace period

All of MPOWER’s loan products have a 10-year repayment term, which is quite limiting, especially on the refinance side.

The company’s grace period is also unconventional. While most lenders don’t require you to make any payments until at least six months after you graduate, MPOWER requires borrowers to start making interest payments 21 to 60 days after the loan is disbursed.

That being said, you’re not required to make any payments on the principal balance until six months after you graduate.

Customer service

MPOWER has a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot, with numerous reviews praising the company’s customer service and seamless loan application process.

The customer service department is open during “business hours.” You can contact customer service by submitting a form through MPOWER’s website, over WeChat or by phone at 202-417-3800.

How to apply for a loan with MPOWER

The application process is done 100 percent online and takes about 30 minutes to complete.

To apply, you’ll need the following:

  1. Two valid photo IDs (passport, driver’s license, national ID, voter’s ID or another government-issued photo ID).
  2. A copy of your CV.
  3. Proof of home country address (bank statements, a letter from the university, utility bills, signed lease agreement, etc.).
  4. Standardized test scores or a waiver from your university if none is required.
  5. English proficiency test scores or a waiver from your university if none is required.
  6. Letter of acceptance or past transcripts.
  7. Estimated cost of attendance (this can be a screenshot from your school’s website).
  8. Proof of DACA status (if applicable).

Once you fill out the application, you’ll receive a conditional offer within three business days. Then you’ll have three additional days to upload copies of the documents listed above in MPOWER’s website for a final review.

If your application is approved, MPOWER will send the documents over to your school for certification, after which the money will be disbursed. This last part is dependent on your school and can take anywhere from two to 10 weeks.

How Bankrate rates MPOWER

Overall Score 3.5
Repayment Options 3.6 MPOWER is widely available and has several types of loans, but its limited repayment options makes it less ideal for borrowers who need flexibility.
Affordability 3.0 While not unreasonable for a lender that doesn’t require co-signers, MPOWER’s interest rates and fees are high compared to more traditional lenders.
Customer Experience 4.0 MPOWER does not specify its customer service hours but does make loan management easy with an online portal and discounts for automatic payments.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.