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Education Loan Finance student loans review

Enjoy competitive rates — but only for students attending select schools in the Volunteer State.’s rating: 4.1 / 5.0


  • Best for students attending one of four eligible Tennessee universities.
  • Pick something else if you’re looking to borrow less than $10,000.

1.50% to 10.29%


100% of your school-certified COA

Max. Loan Amount


Min. Credit Score


Product NameEducation Loan Finance (ELFI) undergraduate student loans
Minimum Loan Amount$10,000
Max. Loan Amount100% of your school-certified COA
APR1.50% to 10.29%
Fixed rate4.50% to 10.20%
Minimum Loan Term5 years
Maximum Loan Term15 years
Requirements680+ credit score, credit history of 3+ years, $35,000+ annual income, enrolled at least half time in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible Tennessee university, age of majority in your state, US citizen or permanent resident

Review by

Kathryn Pomroy was a writer for Finder, specializing in loans. She has written for dozens of major publications, small businesses and many well-known personal finance companies, including LendingTree, Money Crashers, Quickbooks/Intuit, BankRate, LendEDU and more. Kathryn holds a BA in Journalism and drinks super bold coffee while eating peanut butter and honey toast.

Expert review

ELFI private student loans are designed for students attending one of four specific Tennessee universities — you won’t qualify otherwise. Its rates are highly competitive — even compared to the record-breaking low federal loan rates. And you can check to see what rates and terms you might qualify for without affecting your credit score.

But you’ll need to apply with a creditworthy cosigner if you don’t have a good credit history that spans at least three years. And you won’t be able to qualify if you’re not attending an eligible university in the Volunteer State.

Not sure ELFI is for you? Explore other private student loan options below.

First, am I eligible?

To qualify, you need to meet the following criteria:

  • Enrolled at least half time in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible Tennessee university
  • Minimum income of $35,000
  • Minimum credit score of 680
  • Minimum credit history of 36 months
  • US citizen or permanent resident
  • Age of majority in your state

You can apply with a cosigner who’s a US citizen or permanent resident to help you meet the income, credit score and credit history requirements.

What universities does ELFI work with?

You need to be attending one of the following universities in Tennessee to qualify for funding through ELFI:

  • Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia
  • University of Tennessee — Knoxville
  • University of Tennessee — Chattanooga
  • Vanderbilt University

What makes ELFI student loans unique? 

Education Loan Finance stands out thanks to its low starting rates — variable APRs start at a cool 1.5%, while fixed rates also start low at 2.58%. Plus, you can check to see what rates and terms you might qualify for without affecting your credit score.

How do Education Loan Finance student loans work? 

ELFI offers student loans in amounts starting at $10,000 that go all the way up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance (COA).

Its application process is entirely online and can be completed in just minutes. Once the application and supporting documents are submitted, ELFI contacts your college to verify your enrollment status, academic progress and cost of attendance. 

If approved, you’ll be sent a final loan offer with your rates and terms outlined in the agreement. If you choose to accept the loan, ELFI will send the funds directly to your school.

What are the benefits? 

A few perks of borrowing through ELFI include:

  • Low starting interest rates. Variable rates start at 1.5% and fixed rates start at 2.58% — lower than even federal rates as of June 2020.
  • Preapproval available. Check what rates and terms you might qualify for without affecting your credit by filling out a quick online form.
  • Personalized customer service. After submitting your application, you’re assigned an ELFI student loan advisor to walk you through the borrowing process and answer any questions that pop up.

What to watch out for

Consider the following drawbacks before applying:

  • Limited availability. You need to be attending one of four eligible Tennessee universities to borrow through ELFI.
  • Can’t borrow less than $10K. Looking to borrow a few thousand dollars to pick up the slack where federal loans fall short? ELFI likely isn’t for you — its minimum loan amounts start at $10,000, higher than other private lenders out there.
  • High minimum credit requirements. You or your cosigner need to have a credit score of at least 680 and a credit history spanning at least three years to qualify.

Compare other private student loan options

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Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
College Ave undergraduate student loans
0.94% to 12.99%
Not stated
Starting at $1,000
5 to 15 years
Rates start at 2.84% for residents of all 50 states.
Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduates
1.87% to 11.97%
Not stated
Starting at $1,000
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Choose from over 8 different options for undergraduates, law students and more.
SoFi Student Loans
1.89% to 11.98% with autopay
Starting at $5,000
5 to 15 years
Undergraduate financing with no late fees to US citizens with good credit.

Compare up to 4 providers

How much do ELFI student loans cost? 

How much your ELFI student loan ends up costing you depends on the rate you qualify for and the term you choose — which spans from five to 15 years. Variable rates range from 1.50% to 10.29%, and fixed rates start at 2.58%. ELFI doesn’t charge any application, origination or prepayment penalty fees, so your rate is the main factor that determines how much your loan will end up costing you in the long run.

Does Education Loan Finance offer interest rate discounts? 

No, ELFI doesn’t offer any extra interest rate discounts. Unlike other private student loan providers, it requires all borrowers to sign up for automatic payments and reflects the discount in the interest rates it offers.

What are my repayment options?

You have the choice of four repayment options if you decide to borrow through ELFI:

  • Immediate repayments. Begin making full repayments of principal and interest 30 to 60 days after your funds are disbursed.
  • Interest-only repayments. Make interest-only repayments while you’re in school and six months after you graduate or otherwise drop below half-time enrollment.
  • Fixed repayments. Make payments of $25 while you’re in school and during your six-month grace period to cut down on the amount of interest that adds up.
  • Deferred repayments. Hold off on making payments of any kind while you’re in school and six months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. At the end of your grace period, you’ll be on the hook for full repayments of principal and interest.

Does it offer deferment or forbearance? 

It’s unclear whether ELFI offers special deferment or forbearance programs if you choose to go back to school, enlist in the military or hit a financial setback. Reach out to ELFI to find out what types of flexibility it offers with repayments before you take out a loan.

What servicer does ELFI use?

ELFI works with student loan servicer American Education Services (AES) to process its loan repayments. You can find out what to expect with AES and how to make repayments with our review of the servicer.

ELFI reviews and complaints

BBB accredited No
BBB rating A+
Trustpilot Score 4.9 out of 5 stars, based on 1,236 customer reviews
Customer reviews verified as of 16 October 2020

Yes, ELFI gets overwhelmingly good reviews from borrowers on Trustpilot. Most reviews praise the company’s quick application process and superior customer service.

How do I apply?

You can apply for an ELFI private student loan online by following these steps:

  1. Go to the Education Loan Finance website and click Find my rate. 
  2. Enter your name, email address and create a password for your account. Click Create profile.
  3. Select In-school loan and choose whether you’re the borrower or parent/cosigner.
  4. Enter your verification code that was emailed to you, then click Submit.
  5. Follow the steps to fill out the application with details about yourself, your cosigner (if applicable) and the school you’re attending.
  6. Submit the application and wait to hear back about a decision.

What information do I need to apply?

You’ll need to submit the following information when you fill out the application:

  • Paystub or proof of employment dated within the last 30 days for you or your cosigner
  • W-2 for the most recent tax year
  • Government-issued ID

What happens after I apply? 

After applying, ELFI will reach out to your school for certification. Your school will confirm your enrollment status, academic progress and your cost of attendance (COA). 

If your application checks out and you’re approved for funding, ELFI will send you an offer with the rates, terms and conditions you qualify for. If you agree, you’ll sign the documents and return them to ELFI. Your funds are then disbursed directly to your college. Processing times can vary, depending on how quickly your school is able to certify the loan. 

More about Education Loan Finance

Education Loan Finance is a division of Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank and was founded specifically to help students pay for college. The company prides itself on offering easy payment options, affordable rates and flexible terms with an application process that is transparent and secure. In addition to student loans and refinancing, ELFI also offers business solutions for companies that want to offer student loan assistance as part of HR packages.

Not going to an eligible Tennessee university? Compare other options with our guide to student loans.Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

Student loan ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

We rate student loan providers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars based on factors like transparency, costs and customer experience. We don’t take into account elements like eligibility criteria, state availability or payment frequency — we save that for our reviews.

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