iHelp student loan refinancing review September 2018 | finder.com

iHelp student loan refinancing review

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Switch to a more flexible repayment plan with a loan funded by a local bank.

Community banks often offer benefits that you can’t find with other lenders — like multiple repayment options. But applying for financing with a local institution can involve a lot of red tape.

iHelp, a collaboration between the Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation (RSLFC) and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), takes the good and streamlines the bad by simplifying the application process. Rates aren’t the most competitive but you’ll have access to graduated and income-based repayment plans while supporting the underdogs.

Product NameiHelp Consolidation Loan
Min Loan Amount$10,000
Max. Loan Amount$250,000
APR3.94%–9.80%
Interest Rate TypeVariable
Minimum Loan Term10 years
Maximum Loan Term20 years
  • US citizen or resident
  • Age of majority in your state
  • 3+ years of credit history — minimum 2 years positive
  • Salary of $24,000+ for the past 2 years
  • DTI 45% or less
  • No bankruptcies in the past 7 years
  • No open collections or charge offs in past 2 years
  • No defaults on student loans

First, am I eligible?

To be eligible for an iHelp consolidation loan, you and your cosigner must:

  • Have no bankruptcies in the past seven years.
  • Have no open collections or charge offs in the past two years.
  • Have never defaulted on a student loan.

The following requirements can be met by either you or your cosigner:

  • Have at least three years of credit history, two of which are positive.
  • Make at least $24,000 annually for the past two years.
  • Have a debt-to-income ratio of 45% or less.
  • Be a US citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be at least 18 in most states.

How does refinancing with iHelp work?

iHelp is a loan program that connects you with financing from community banks to refinance or consolidate your student loans. Through iHelp, you’ll mostly deal with RSFLC employees, which takes care of the underwriting and customer service side of your loan. The ICBA works behind the scenes, providing access to one of its nearly 5,000-strong network of local banks.

Through iHelp you can refinance most types of student loans, including most federal loans. The entire application process takes place online, though you can also reach out to your iHelp point of contact at any time. Typically it takes from 45 to 60 days from start to finish. This includes a 30-day period between signing your loan documents to when you get your funds when you can cancel your loan without penalty.

What happens if I refinance my federal loans with iHelp?

While there might be some benefits to refinancing or consolidating your federal loans — you could get a lower interest rate if you opted for a more expensive federal loan, move all of private and federal debt into one loan or refinance a Parent PLUS loan in the student’s name.

However, you could lose access to several benefits that even a benefits-heavy lender like iHelp can’t offer. Think carefully about what you stand to lose before refinancing federal loans.

How much will I pay to refinance?

Refinancing or consolidating your student debt with iHelp should help you save money in the end. With no application or origination fees, you could even start saving right away with iHelp.

Saving doesn’t mean you won’t pay interest, however. iHelp offers three loan programs: A 10-year fixed-interest program, a 15-year fixed-interest program and a 20-year variable-interest program. If you sign up for the 10-year program, you can expect to pay an APR between 4.65% and 7.82%. With the 15-year program, rates range from 5.41% to 8.84%.

With the variable 20-year program, you’ll qualify for a rate that’s added to the current LIBOR rate, which periodically changes: Between LIBOR plus 2.50% and LIBOR plus 8.50%. The LIBOR rate is a baseline interest rate that many lenders use to calculate variable interest rates.

Does iHelp offer discounts?

iHelp offers a discounted interest rate of up to 6% for servicemembers, as per the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

What are my repayment options?

iHelp has three repayment options — unusual for a refinancing lender. You can choose between:

  • Standard repayments. Fixed repayments on your loan’s principle that start right away and stay the same over the life of your loan.
  • Interest-only repayments. Only make repayments on interest during the first two years of paying off your loan.
  • Graduated repayment. Start with interest-only repayments and gradually increase it until you’re making standard repayments.

Forbearance

iHelp offers several forbearance options, including:

  • Hardship forbearance. Pause your loan for up to two years if you lose your job or face another financial hardship.
  • Partial payment forbearance. Qualified borrowers can make reduced payments for up to 24 months.
  • Administrative forbearance. Pause your student loan payments if you face extreme circumstances like a natural disaster or military service.

Top 7 reasons to consider refinancing with iHelp

  • Multiple repayment options. Choose between making interest-only repayments, graduated repayments or fixed repayments — generally not an option on most refinancing loans.
  • High maximum amount. Borrow up to $250,000 with iHelp’s refinancing loan regardless of your degree type — an amount typically reserved for medical or law students.
  • Cosigner release. Apply to have your cosigner taken off your loan after you’ve made at least two years of on-time repayments and meet iHelp’s credit requirements.
  • Cancellation period. Cancel your loan any time without penalty between the time you’re notified of your loan’s final terms and when your funds are disbursed to your current lenders — at least 30 days.
  • Parent PLUS refinancing. Not all lenders are willing to work with parent PLUS loans but iHelp will let you refinance it into the student’s name or include it as part of your student loan consolidation.
  • No degree necessary. Refinance debt from a degree you never finished or while you’re still in school — and you won’t have to start making full repayments right away if you choose the interest-only or graduated repayment plan.
  • Community banks. iHelp loans come with an altruistic aspect you usually don’t see with a student loan provider: You’ll be supporting local financial institutions, which often provide invaluable, inexpensive products to their communities and contribute to its economic development.

Why you might want to look elsewhere

  • Long turnaround time. It can take twice as long to get your funds as many other student loan refinancing providers.
  • Fewer options for variable rates. If you’re looking to refinance your loan with variable rates, your only option is a 20-year term.
  • Long terms. Most lenders offer five or seven year terms, but iHelp starts at 10 years. This might make your monthly repayments more affordable, but you’ll end up paying more in interest in the long run.
  • Not the lowest interest rates. iHelp’s interest rates are low compared to personal loans, but not the most competitive when it comes to student loan refinancing.

Compare more student loan refinancing options

Rates last updated September 25th, 2018
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Product Description
Credible Student Loan Refinancing
Good to excellent credit
None
2.57%(As low as ) (variable)
Get prequalified offers from top student loan refinancing providers in one place.
SoFi Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (with Autopay)
650
full balance of your qualified education loans
2.570%–6.605% (variable)
A leader in student loan refinancing, SoFi can help you refinance your loans and pay them off sooner.
Purefy Student Loan Refinancing
620
$300,000
2.57%–8.69% (variable)
Refinance all types of student loans — including federal and parent PLUS loans.
Earnest Student Loan Refinancing Variable Rate (w/ autopay)
650
no maximum
2.47%–5.87% (variable)
Get a tailored interest rate and repayment plan with no hidden fees.
PenFed Student Loan Refinancing
700
$300,000
3.25%–7.03% (fixed)
Straightforward refinancing with competitive rates.
CommonBond Student Loan Refinancing
660
$500,000
2.72%–7.25% (with autopay) (variable)
Trade in your existing school loans for competitive APRs that come with a discount for autopay.
LendKey Student Loan Refinancing (with AutoPay)
660
$300,000
2.51% (As low as) (variable)
Find competitive rates and unmatched loan benefits from LendKey’s network of not-for-profit lenders.
LendingTree Student Loans
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
3% (As low as) (fixed)
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

Compare up to 4 providers

What do borrowers say about iHelp?

It’s not uncommon for smaller student loan providers to have a minimal online presence and iHelp is no exception. The few conversations about iHelp between former and prospective customers doesn’t shed much light on people’s experiences. The general consensus is that it’s a small but legit company with rates that compare with other student loan providers like Sallie Mae.

iHelp doesn’t have a Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating but Reunion Student Loan Finance, its loan servicer, does. It’s been accredited with the BBB since 2015 and gets an A+ rating, but there are no customer reviews on that page. Four customers have filed complaints against RSLFC, however, mostly involving technical problems with repayment. Neither have a Trustpilot page.

What to expect when signing up

You can complete the entire application process online through iHelp’s website.

1. Go to iHelp’s home page, scroll down until you see information on the iHelp Consolidation Loan and click Apply Now.

2. Scroll down again and hit Continue to Pre-Approval. If you plan on applying with a cosigner, consider having them fill out a preapproval application for you, since their credit and employment history will likely determine your rates.

3. Fill out your personal and contact information and read the terms and conditions before clicking Submit. iHelp will run a soft credit check that won’t affect your credit score.

4. If you’ve been preapproved you can review your options and click Apply Now on the option you prefer. You’ll be taken to a page showing you the rates you might qualify for if you apply for the 10-year fixed-interest loan, the 15-year fixed-interest loan or the 20-year variable-interest loan. You can also enter your loan amount to get an estimate of what your monthly repayments might be.

5. If you don’t already have an iHelp account, click Register to create an account.

6. Follow the directions to complete your loan application by yourself or with your cosigner. Be sure to review the terms and conditions before submitting it. At this point, iHelp runs a hard credit check on you and your cosigner, which will temporarily lower your credit score.

7. Wait for iHelp’s office to review your application and reach out to you to request documentation. It typically asks to see:

  • 10-day payoff documents from your current lender or loan servicer.
  • A W-2 form from two years ago confirming you and your cosigner’s employment at the time.
  • You and your cosigner’s two most recent pay stubs.

8. Upload your documents to your application and wait for iHelp to tell you your loan terms after your loan goes through final review.

Review and sign your loan documents. At this point, iHelp will set a consolidation date — when your lenders receive the funds — at least 30 days later. You can cancel your loan without penalty at any time during this period.

The whole process can take anywhere between 45 and 60 days, though if you submit your documents as soon as possible, it could be faster.

Step-by-step application screenshots

More about iHelp and RSLFC

Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation has been in the student loan business for more than 35 years, both servicing and originating student loans. When you borrow with iHelp, almost all of your contact will be with RSLFC representatives — some with decades more experience under their belts than other online student loan refinancing lenders.

On top of iHelp’s consolidation loan, you can also take out private student loans to pay for an undergraduate or graduate degree. It intends to offer iHelp parent loans in the near future.

Bottom line

iHelp might not offer the lowest interest rates or the widest selection in loan terms. But for a recent graduate trying to figure out their career, iHelp’s flexible repayment and forbearance options could be invaluable.

Still not sure you’ve found your lender? Visit our student loan refinancing guide to compare providers and learn more about how it all works.

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