We earn a commission from brands listed on this site. This influences the order and manner in which these listings are presented.
BestMoney logo

Union Federal Review

Union Federal
Visit Site
Ashley Eneriz
Jul. 05, 2021
5 min read
Ashley Eneriz
Union Federal Summary
Union Federal Student Loans is powered by Cognition Financial and provides private student loans that cover up to 100% of school-certified expenses, including tuition, fees, books, room and board, transportation costs, and personal expenses. International students are also eligible to apply for school aid with a qualified cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien.


  • Prequalify in minutes without hurting your credit score
  • Rate discounts
  • No fees
  • Cosigner release option


  • No parent loans
  • No refinancing
  • Arizona, Iowa, or Wisconsin residents excluded

Union Federal at a glance

Editorial score

Online experience

Good online resources, but no access to rates

Customer services and support

Multiple ways of reaching lender but limited hours

Repayment flexibility

Offers flexible repayment plans & the option for special repayment programs


Doesn't cover bad credit, low income borrowers

Variety of Loan Types

Offers most loan types


Union Federal is a registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation, which has 25+ years of experience facilitating over $23B private student loans for lender clients and schools. Union Federal Student Loans offers private school loans at a competitive rate with four flexible repayment options to fit each student’s budget.

Suitable For?

Union Federal is a great option for undergrad and graduate students who want to finance their educational dreams without becoming stuck with an expensive lender. Union Federal prides itself on not having any fees, including late fees or missed payment fees. The four flexible repayment plans offered help borrowers take control of their loans and help them save money in the long run.

Loan Features

Union Federal Student Loans offer private school loans while still caring about the borrower. Borrowers can expect perks that many other private lenders forgo, such as:

  • Undergraduate and graduate student loans: Loans cover up to 100% of attendance costs, including room and board and transportation and living fees. Borrowers can apply for a maximum of $99,999 from Union Federal as long as their total aggregate student loan total is less than $180,000 (including federal and other private loans too). 

  • Cosigner release: Union Federal will remove cosigners off of a loan if the student borrower meets all the qualifications, including 36 consecutive payments. 

  • Rate discounts: Customers receive a 0.25% interest rate reduction when they opt-in to autopay and a 0.25% interest rate reduction with 36 consecutive on-time payments.
  • Unemployment protection: If you lose your job, Union Federal has unemployment protection which will defer your loan in increments of no more than two months at a time, for a total of 12 months for the life of the loan. 

The Application Process

The pre-qualification process only takes a few minutes. The pre-qualifying application will ask briefly about your personal info, your school plans and costs, the total loan amount requested, and cosigner info, if applicable. This rate is not guaranteed but can give you a good idea of what to expect.

Full applications require you (and cosigner) to enter the following information:

  • Applicant’s personal information including name, Social Security number, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address

  • School information including school name, cost of attendance, grade level, enrollment date, and expected graduation date

  • Loan request amount

  • Income information for the cosigner or student. Students do not have to report income if there is a cosigner.

Along with filling out the above information, you will also be required to review the Application and Solicitation Disclosure (ASD), an Approval Disclosure, and a Final Disclosure of your loan to proceed with the application process

Eligibility Requirements

Student borrowers are allowed to apply for a Union Federal private loan by themselves or with a cosigner. However, Union Federal promotes the use of a cosigner to increase approval odds and to lock in a lower rate. An application is four times more likely to be approved with a cosigner.

Applicants and cosigners must meet the minimum age requirement for their state. Applicants and cosigners who have permanent residence in Arizona, Iowa, or Wisconsin are not eligible to apply. However, this does not exclude an eligible student to attend one of these states for school - i.e. a California resident attending Arizona State University. 

Loan Rates

Union Federal’s interest rates and fees are highly competitive compared to the student loan industry average. Borrowers can choose between variable and fixed rates. Variable rates start as low as 1.03% - 9.67% APR, and fixed rates start at 3.20% - 10.77% APR without any discounts. 

All rates are eligible for a 0.25% auto-pay discount and a 0.25% discount for paying 36 consecutive on-time payments. They also advertise occasional sign-on discounts too. 

Repayment Terms

All undergrad and graduate loans come in three repayment terms, 7-,10-, or 15-year loans. Borrowers can then choose a repayment plan that works for their unique financial situation.

 Loan repayment options include:

  • Immediate: Begin making principal and interest payments right away to save the most money overall. 

  • Interest Only: Pay interest-only payments on your loan while in school as a way to reduce the total amount of your loan while still keeping payments affordable before graduation. 

  • Flat Payment: Pay the minimum fixed monthly payment of $25 while in school to help reduce loan costs while still staying affordable before graduation.

  • Full Deferment: No payments of principal and interest until six months after you leave school, which saves you money in school but leaves you a larger loan total when it is time for repayment.

How Safe Is It?

All Information gathered through Union Federal Student Loans is encrypted during transmission stored within secure databases and protected by firewalls and other security features. However, they do not guarantee the security of their databases. 

Union Federal Private Student Loans are not offered in connection with any lender other than Citizens Bank, N.A., or the federal government. All loans are underwritten and approved by Citizens Bank. 

Customer Service

Contact Union Federal Student Loans for assistance with applying for a loan or if you need help with your current loan. Customer service hours are between 9 am to 5 pm EST.

Phone: 866-513-8445

Email: info@unionfederalstudentloans.com

Address: Cognition Financial

200 Clarendon Street, 3rd Floor 

Boston, MA 02116 


† Before applying for a private student loan, Citizens and Cognition Financial recommend comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. The Custom Choice Loan® and Union Federal® Private Student Loan are made by Citizens (“Lender”). All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to Lender’s underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions and other terms and conditions apply. LENDER AND COGNITION FINANCIAL CORPORATION EACH RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. TERMS, CONDITIONS AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. Custom Choice Loan® is a service mark used under license. Union Federal is a registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Union Federal Private Student Loans are not offered in connection with any lender other than Citizens or the federal government. Citizens is a brand name of Citizens Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

1 Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the expected number of years in deferment, (4) the requested loan amount and (5) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective as of 12/10/2021.The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the 30-Day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate ("SOFR") index, or a replacement index if the SOFR index is no longer available, plus a fixed margin assigned to each loan. The SOFR index is published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The current SOFR index is 0.05% as of 12/01/2021. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the SOFR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.

2 APRs assume a $10,000 loan with one disbursement. The high variable rate APR assumes a 15-year term with the Full Deferment option, a 19 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The high fixed rate APR assumes a 15-year term with the Full Deferment option, a 31 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The low APRs assume a 7-year term, and the Immediate Repayment option with payments beginning 30-60 days after the disbursement via auto pay.

Ashley Eneriz
Written by
Ashley Eneriz
Ashley Eneriz is a financial writer who has been published on Credible, GOBankingRates, MoneyCrashers, Huffington Post, Business Insider Australia, Life Hacker, Fidelity, CBS News, and MSN Money. She also writes children's books. She writes for BestMoney and enjoys helping readers make sense of the options on the market.‎
Top Private Student Loans
College Ave
College Ave
Read Review|Visit Site
Read all reviews

Must Reads

The Fed wants to raise interest rates—here’s what you should do while they’re still low
Apr. 14, 2024
How to Make the Most of Your College Investment
Apr. 14, 2024
How to Send Your Kid to College Without Breaking the Bank
Apr. 14, 2024
Read all articles