Juno Student Loans Review 2023: Collective Bargaining for College
Juno student loans use the power of collective bargaining to get lenders to compete for your business and — hopefully — get you a low interest rate.
All of the Juno student loans and refinance choices come without hidden fees, and they feature a variety of repayment plans. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might even score a nice cash back bonus.
This Juno review takes a closer look at the pros and cons of this borrowing option:
Free to join and use
No commitment to accept loan offers
Competitive interest rates
A variety of repayment terms
2% cash back rewards for certain undergrad loans
Additional discounts up to 4% for grad students
Up to $1,000 cash back or an additional 0.25% discount for student loan refinancing
Rate match program
Partners with only a few lenders
You won’t know your potential rates until you sign up
Private student loans don’t offer as many repayment options as federal student loans
Limited options for international students
Students Chris Abkarians and Nikhil Agarwal created Juno (formerly known as LeverEdge) in 2018 with one mission in mind: to help reduce the shocking level of U.S. student loan debt.
Ultimately, they discovered that bringing students together to negotiate with lenders led to better offers. Before enrolling at Harvard, Abkarians and Agarwal recruited over 700 students to join their negotiation pool. They bargained for lower rates on their student loan offers and reported having helped this first group of students save about $15,000 each on their student loans.
Since then, Juno has recruited more than 100,000 students to the joinjuno.com platform, securing over $490 million in negotiated loans.
As Juno’s membership continues to grow, the founders expect even more competitive deals in the years to come.
Most student loan comparison platforms use your basic info — such as desired loan amount and estimated credit score — to compile a list of potential lenders.
In comparison, Juno works directly with loan servicers to secure exclusive discounts for their members, such as a potential $1,000 cash back bonus when you refinance through Splash. Juno claims that their median member gets a rate 1.6% lower than if they applied with the lender directly.
Additionally, Juno recently launched a rate match guarantee. Basically, if members find a better private student loan rate elsewhere, Juno may be able to match it. If eligible, they’ll even toss in a cash back bonus equal to 1% of the loan amount.
Here’s how Juno student loans compare in terms of private student loans and refinancing. You can also check out our private student loan marketplace and refinancing marketplace to get an idea of what rates are out there.
|Private student loan lender/platform||APR||Loan terms|
|Juno (undergraduate)||Variable: 0.94% to 11.44% Fixed: 3.24% to 12.5%||5-15 years|
|College Ave||Variable: 5.49% - 16.99% Fixed: 4.41% - 16.99%||5, 8, 10, 15 years|
|Sallie Mae||Variable: - Fixed: -||, 10, 15 years|
|Student loan refinancing lender/platform||APR||Loan terms|
|Juno||1.99% to 8.24%||5-20 years|
|Laurel Road||Variable: 4.99% - 10.89% Fixed: 5.24% - 10.99%||Up to 20 years|
|LendKey||Variable: 5.02% - 8.18% Fixed: 7.11% - 11.18%||Up to 20 years|
While Juno was originally limited to graduate students attending MBA, law, medical, dental or pharmacy programs, it’s now open to all undergraduate and graduate students. They also offer certain services for international students.
It’s free to create a Juno account. You’ll need to supply your basic contact info, as well as your school or university program details.
Juno also asks for additional financial information. These details are optional but providing them will help you receive the most accurate offers:
- Estimated credit score: Juno doesn’t run credit checks, they just want an idea of where you’ll fall within their lenders’ general requirements. For example, Earnest (a Juno partner) requires a minimum FICO Score of 650 for undergraduate borrowers or their cosigners.
- Annual income: It’s alright if it’s currently zero. (And if you are not earning any income, here are some college jobs to pursue if you’re looking for extra cash.)
- Cosigner status: If you don’t meet the lender’s criteria, you may need to add a cosigner in order to access loans with lower interest rates.
Next, you’ll get assigned to a “loan pool” with other Juno members who share similar needs to yours. Juno takes this info and encourages lenders to bid for this opportunity. They then award the bid to the loan provider who offers the best value for this specific group of members.
In the end, there’s no obligation or commitment to accept Juno’s offer. Furthermore, their rates continue to change, so if you don’t like what you see today, you can try again in a couple of months.
It’s important to remember that Juno is not an actual lender — they’re a collective bargaining group that works hard to unlock the best deals for the entire community.
Here are the services they currently help you access:
- Undergraduate loans
- Graduate loans
- Parent loans
- MBA loans
- DACA loans
- Degree abroad loans
- Health insurance for international students
- Student loan refinancing for undergraduate, graduate and international students
The interest rate for your Juno loan or refinance will vary since it depends on your group’s overall needs, as well as the lender’s specific offer.
Here’s a snapshot of Juno’s general rates:
|Juno student loan details||Variable APR*||Fixed APR*||Terms||Fees||Special deals|
|Undergrad||0.94% to 11.44%||3.24% to 12.5%||5-15 years||None||Cash back reward of 2%|
|Graduate||0.94% to 7.30%||3.24% to 7.89%||5-15 years||None||An additional discount of up to 4%|
|Refinance||1.99% to 8.24%||2.72% to 8.24%||5-20 years||None||Up to $1,000 cash back with Splash. An additional 0.25% rate deduction with Earnest, or for medical professionals with Laurel Road.|
*APRs may include an autopay discount of 0.25%
Keep in mind that Juno doesn’t charge any application, origination or prepayment fees, nor do any of their lenders (apart from the Florida Stamp Tax). So once you agree to a rate, there should be no unexpected surprises.
Although Juno has connections with a variety of private loan providers, such as Earnest, Splash and Laurel Road, they don’t offer any deals with federal student loans. However, you can sign up to receive Juno’s latest news on federal loans, such as details on student loan forgiveness.
Since Juno doesn’t require any commitment from students who sign up, it could be worth joining its free student loan bargaining group to see what they have.
Even a small discount could help reduce your overall student loan debt. For example, if Juno dropped your interest rate from 6% to 5% on a $25,000 loan, you’d save $1,486 over the course of 10 years.
But before committing to your Juno loan, it’s important to compare other possibilities to make sure you’re getting the best deal for you. Juno currently only partners with a handful of lenders, so you don’t want to miss out on a cheaper deal elsewhere. Many private lenders offer instant rate quotes online, so you can see what rates you prequalify for with no commitment.
Most importantly: Look into federal student loans, since they tend to come with low rates and flexible repayment terms. Federal student loans are also eligible for certain exclusive benefits, such as income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, whereas private student loans are not.
Because of these perks, it’s usually best to max out your eligibility for federal student loans and scholarships before considering a private student loan through Juno or elsewhere. But if you need additional funding and are confident in your ability to repay your loan, a low-interest private student loan could be the right choice — and Juno could help you find a competitive offer.