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Community bank financing with graduated and income-based repayment plans.
iHelp is the private student loan branch of the Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation (RSLFC), which offers a student loan program funded by community banks. It’s one of the few private lenders that offers graduated and income-based repayment plans. But it’s currently only available to students attending school in 14 states and not an option for international students.
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?
iHelp’s eligibility requirements might be difficult for some students to meet on their own, especially undergraduates. If you can’t qualify on your own, you can bring on a cosigner — though you still need to meet some requirements yourself.
All students must:
Attend school in a state iHelp services
Be a US citizen or permanent resident
All students or cosigners must:
Have three years of positive credit history
Make at least $24,000 a year for the past two years
Have a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio under 45%
Be the age of majority in their state of residence
Students or cosigners must also meet additional credit requirements that vary by state.
What states are iHelp Student loans available in?
iHelp works with private student loan providers in the following states:
How do iHelp student loans work?
iHelp is a student loan program that’s funded by local banks and financial institutions in your area. It’s not exactly a connection service since you’ll borrow through iHelp and repay through RSLFC. But some factors — like how much you can borrow — vary depending on the lender that funds your loan.
Its private student loans are meant to help cover costs left over after you apply for federal funding. Undergraduates can borrow up to $100,000, while graduate students can qualify for up to $150,000. Loans start at $1,000 for students in all states but Georgia, where the minimum is $3,000.
How much do iHelp student loans cost?
iHelp student loans don’t come with any fees, so the main cost you need to consider is interest. iHelp’s loan program comes with two interest-rate options: variable and fixed hybrid.
Variable rates change every three months depending on the state of the economy. Currently, rates range from 6.5% to 10.5% APR.
iHelp calculates variable rates by giving borrowers a fixed interest rate from 2.5% to 7.5% and adding that to the three-month LIBOR rate . While there’s the potential to save compared to a fixed rate, you could end up with unpredictable repayments.
iHelp’s fixed-hybrid rates currently range from 5.52% to 9.09% APR.
With this option, your interest rate stays the same for the first five years and is subject to change every five years after, based on the Wall Street Journal prime rate. This makes repayments more predictable than a variable rate, though not as predictable as your standard fixed-rate option.
It does. Like most private lenders, you can qualify for a 0.25% interest rate discount if you sign up for automatic repayments.
What are my repayment options?
You have several choices for how to pay off your loans while in school and after full repayments kick in. All loans come with a 240 term, though you can pay it off faster with no penalty.
In-school repayment options
You can choose one of these three repayment choices while you’re enrolled at least half-time at your school:
No repayments. Defer repayments until six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half time.
Interest-only repayments. Only pay the interest that adds up on your loan until six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half time.
Principal and interest repayments. Start making full repayments based on your plan between 30 and 60 days after your funds are disbursed.
Starting with full repayments right away means you’ll pay less in interest. With no repayments, the unpaid interest that adds up while you’re in school gets added to your loan principal — meaning you’ll end up paying interest on interest.
Full repayment options
Once full repayments kick in, you can choose between one of these three options:
Full repayments. Pay off your loan’s principal and interest with monthly repayments based on the current rate.
Graduated repayments. Monthly repayments that start lower than full repayments and increase over time.
Income-sensitive repayments. Repayments based on your monthly income.
With graduated and income-sensitive repayments, you must pay the interest that added up for that month at a minimum.
Does iHelp offer deferment or forbearance?
Yes, iHelp offers both deferment and forbearance, depending on your situation. You can apply for both options by contacting your servicer.
In-school deferment. Hold off on loan repayments while you’re attending an eligible school at least half time.
Internship or residency deferment. Pause repayments while you’re completing a training program that requires at least a bachelor’s degree. You can apply after you’ve been accepted into the program.
Fellowship deferment. Delay repayments if you hold at least a bachelor’s degree and are studying or doing research full time at an academic or professional institution.
Hardship forbearance. Hold off on repayments if you lose your job, get injured or face another temporary financial roadblock.
Partial payment. Make reduced repayments when you’re facing a temporary financial crisis but can’t qualify for full hardship forbearance.
Administrative forbearance. Pause repayments when you’re unable to make repayments due to military service, a natural disaster or other scenarios. Reach out to see if your situation qualifies.
Compare more student loan providers
Updated October 14th, 2019
Top reasons to consider iHelp
From its flexible repayment options to its competitive rates, here are a few perks of taking out a private student loan with iHelp:
Income-sensitive repayments. This is one of the few private student loan providers that offers repayments based on your monthly income.
Graduated repayments. iHelp is also one of the only private student loan providers that offers repayments that increase over time.
Cosigner release. You can apply to take your cosigner off your loan without refinancing after making 24 on-time repaymetns on a row — as long as you meet credit requirements.
Multiple deferment and forbearance options. While many private lenders only offer hardship or active-duty deferment, iHelp can be more flexible.
Relatively low maximum APR. The most you’ll currently pay on an iHelp loan is 9.09% APR.
Available to students under 18. You don’t have to be the age of majority in your state of residence as long as you bring on a cosigner who is.
Drawbacks to borrowing from iHelp
Its limited state availability and strict eligibility requirements are just two factors to consider before taking out a private student loan with iHelp:
No fixed rates. The closest thing you can get to a fixed rate is the fixed-hybrid rate, which can make it difficult to predict repayments down the line.
Relatively strict requirements. iHelp might be more difficult to qualify for on your own than other private student loan providers.
Only available in 14 states. Currently, iHelp isn’t available to most students, though it’s working to expand its reach soon.
Only offers a 240 term. You’ll have to be proactive about making additional repayments if you want to pay off your loan faster to save on interest.
You can apply for an iHelp student loan on its website. Before you get started, make sure you qualify and have your personal information on hand. If you’re applying with a cosigner, there will be an option to email them an invitation link to complete the application in their own time.
Follow these steps to sign up:
Go to the iHelp website.
Scroll down and click Apply Now under iHelp Private Student Loan.
Select the state where you attend school and then your school. Don’t see your school on the list? Follow the directions to contact iHelp’s customer service team to continue your application. Otherwise, click Continue.
Follow the directions to provide personal and financial information, in addition to how much you’d like to borrow.
If you have a cosigner, follow the steps to send your cosigner an invitation link.
Submit your application and wait to find out if you’ve been initially approved.
If you have, iHelp will contact you to request documentation like income verification and references. From there, you’ll be sent your final offer to read over. If you’re happy with the terms, you can sign your loan documents.
iHelp checks with your school to verify your loan amount and disburses the funds directly to the financial aid office.
Typically, the process takes between two and four weeks. iHelp recommends that students apply a few months before they’ll need the funding, but not too early — the credit check is no longer valid after 90 days.
Who services iHelp student loans?
RSLFC is iHelp’s student loan servicer. Since iHelp is a part of RSLFC, this means there won’t be as much of a disconnect between the application process and repayments.
However, you might want to be careful if you want to make extra payments to get out of debt early. One of the top complaints against RSLFC is that it mishandles student loan repayments.
iHelp’s student loan program is one of the closest options to a federal loan — though it still doesn’t offer all of the benefits that the Department of Education can. And some students might have difficulty qualifying if they don’t have a cosigner or are an international student.
The main difference is that deferment is meant for borrowers who continue their education after leaving school. iHelp’s forbearance is generally meant for borrowers who’ve faced unplanned setbacks that have made it temporarily difficult to afford full repayments.
iHelp will send you an email explaining your initial interest rate after finishing the application process. After, you can check your current interest rate by logging into your online account with iHelp’s servicer RSLFC.
Check iHelp’s minimum eligibility requirements to make sure you can meet them on your own. If not, you need a cosigner. Keep in mind that iHelp also checks your credit and considers other factors that it doesn’t disclose — you might be told you need a cosigner to get approved even if you check off all of the minimum requirements.
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