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A provider offering some of the lowest APRs out there, but with strict eligibility requirements.
You’ve been in the workforce for a few years and make a decent salary. But your financial situation could be better if you weren’t paying such high rates on your loans. Sound like you? You might want to check out Education Loan Finance (ELFI). It has some of the lowest interest rates around, no application fees and will even work with federal student loans. Read on to find out if ELFI is right for you.
Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.
First, am I eligible?
To be eligible for ELFI student loan refinancing, you or your cosigner must:
Have good credit
Make at least $35,000 a year
Low debt-to-income ratio (DTI)
Have at least a bachelor’s degree
Have attended an eligible school
Be a US citizen or permanent resident
Be older than 18
While ELFI doesn’t mention any hard credit or income requirements, you might have a better chance of being approved if you make at least $35,000. Most lenders won’t approve applicants with a debt-to-income ratio above 50%.
How does refinancing with ELFI work?
Education Loan Finance is SouthEast Bank’s student loan refinancing and consolidation program with three decades of working with student loans under its belt. With ELFI, you can refinance both federal and private student loans — even federal consolidation loans. Its rates are highly competitive and it can sometimes even match offers from other lenders if they’re lower.
If you decide to refinance with ELFI, buckle up for the long haul. Its application isn’t complicated but ELFI tends to ask for more documentation than other refinancing providers, which can take a while to gather.
What happens if I refinance my federal loans with ELFI?
It’s possible that you’ll get lower rates by refinancing, especially if you have unsubsidized or PLUS loans. However, refinancing any federal student loan means you’ll lose access to several benefits that most private providers don’t offer. Carefully weigh what you’ll lose and gain before refinancing any federal loans.
How much will I pay to refinance?
How much you’ll pay to refinance a loan through ELFI depends on several factors, like how much student debt you have and your creditworthiness. Ideally you’ll start saving right away — ELFI doesn’t charge origination or application fees.
With ELFI, you can choose between a variable APR, which changes every three months, or a fixed APR, which stays the same through the life of your loan. Variable rates currently range from 2.8% to 6.01%. Fixed rates range from 3.29% to 6.69%. Loan terms range from 5 to 20 years.
ELFI calculates variable rates by adding between 0.95% and 4.85% to the three-month LIBOR rate, a baseline interest rate that many other education lenders use to calculate variable rates. The maximum variable interest rate anyone can get is 9.95%, no matter how high the LIBOR rate goes.
Does ELFI offer any discounts?
ELFI doesn’t offer any discounts on its refinancing loans, exactly. But you can get $400 by referring a friend to ELFI — as long as they’re approved. Your friend will also get a $100 check just for applying through ELFI’s referral program.
If you’ve seen some information on ELFI’s Fast Track bonus, you’re out of luck. As of December 1, 2018, ELFI is no longer offering this feature.
What are my repayment options?
ELFI only offers a standard repayment plan where each month you repay the same amount. If your financial situation changes and you can’t afford your monthly repayment, reach out to ELFI to see if it can grant you forbearance.
Top 6 reasons to consider ELFI
Might match competitors’ rates. ELFI will match lower rates from other lenders, even after you’ve been approved for your loan with ELFI.
Risk-free rate check. Use either ELFI’s online payment estimator or get a a more personalized estimate of your rates in the first part of the application without a hard credit check.
ELFI referral program. You can get $400 for referring a friend to ELFI as long as they’re approved.
No application or origination fees. You won’t have to pay any fees to get your new loan.
Refinance federal consolidation loans. You can refinance federal loans you’ve already consolidated with ELFI, though you’ll lose several benefits.
Forbearance option available. If you can prove economic hardship, you might be able to qualify to pause repayments while you get back on your feet.
Why you might want to consider another provider
Complicated cosigner release. If you want to take your cosigner off your loan, you’ll have to refinance with yourself as the sole borrower — and get potentially higher rates.
Requires graduation. You can’t refinance student debt from a degree you never finished.
Strict eligibility requirements. ELFI might ask for more documentation than other lenders and hold borrowers to a higher standard.
Compare Education Loan Finance to other student loan providers
Updated September 17th, 2019
What do customers say about Education Loan Finance?
Mostly good things, though there isn’t a lot of online chatter about ELFI. While there were no customer comments on its Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot pages, forums like Reddit had a couple threads on ELFI. Most customers were pleased with how low their rates were compared to other lenders and how quickly they were able to get an offer.
As of March 2019, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives it a A+ rating. There are several complaints listed, they appear to involve miscommunications over the application process but don’t necessarily show a negative trend.
What to expect when signing up
Get ready to apply for ELFI by gathering together the following documents:
Billing statement or payoff letter for each loan. These documents must include your servicer’s name, your name, your loan IDs, account numbers or sequence numbers and your payment mailing address. Reach out to your lender or loan servicer if you’re unsure of how to get either of these. The statement or letter should be no more than 30 days old when you submit it to ELFI.
Proof of employment. This includes paystubs covering the past 30 days, W-2 forms or tax returns if you’re self-employed.
Valid ID. ELFI suggests submitting your driver’s license or passport.
Billing account information. ELFI uses this to make automatic or electronic repayments.
How to prequalify
Go to ELFI’s website and click Find My Rate.
Create a profile by entering your name, email address and password before hitting Create Profile.
Click Student Loan Refinancing and enter the code sent to your email address before filling out the application and clicking Get My Rate.
If you prequalify, ELFI will give you information on the types of rates and terms you might be able to get.
How to apply
Sign in and follow the directions to fill out your application. Once you submit it, ELFI will run a hard credit check that will temporarily lower your credit score.
Wait for ELFI to contact you before you upload your documents. If you need any additional documentation, a personal loan advisor will reach out to you.
Wait between two to three days for ELFI to underwrite your loan.
Review and sign your loan documents.
Wait for funds to be disbursed to your former lenders.
After your loan is disbursed, you’ll start making repayments through MOHELA, ELFI’s loan servicer.
More about ELFI
Education Loan Finance operates as an online lender, but has the weight of a bank behind it to make sure your loan is handled smoothly. It’s funded over $18 million in student loans and offers free resources like scholarship searches and financial literacy products to help borrowers make a more informed decision.
With the option to match competitors’ rates, a risk-free rate check and no application or origination fees, ELFI could be the lender to go with when refinancing your student loans. However, it’s always good to check out other options before settling on one provider. Read our guide to student loan refinancing to find more options and learn more about how refinancing works.
Frequently asked questions
Not necessarily. You can contact ELFI to request that your school be added to its list of eligible schools and have your application considered. But you might want to try searching for how ELFI writes out your school before writing in by searching the list on its website. You can find the link at the bottom of most ELFI pages.
Both refinancing and consolidation involve taking out a new loan to pay off old debt. However, refinancing only involves one type of credit — usually a loan — while consolidation involves multiple types of credit. Most student loan providers that offer refinancing also offer consolidation, even if they don’t mention consolidation by name. The same goes for student loan providers that offer consolidation.
Probably. Check with a bankruptcy attorney as it could depend on the bankruptcy court’s ruling.
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