iHelp student loan refinancing review
Switch to a more flexible repayment plan with a loan funded by a local bank.
finder.com’s rating: 4.1 / 5.0
- Best for borrowers looking for flexible repayment options.
- Pick something else if you need your loan fast.
3.25% to 8%
Max. Loan Amount
|Product Name||iHelp Consolidation Loan|
|Minimum Loan Amount||$10,000|
|Max. Loan Amount||$250,000|
|APR||3.25% to 8%|
|Interest Rate Type||Fixed|
|Minimum Loan Term||10 years|
|Maximum Loan Term||20 years|
|Requirements||3+ years of credit history, $24,000+ income for 2 years, DTI 45% or less, no bankruptcies in 7 years, no open collections in 2 years and no defaults on student loans.|
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 950 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
iHelp might not offer the lowest rates or widest terms. But for a recent graduate trying to figure out their career, its flexible repayment options could be invaluable. You can choose between graduated, fixed and interest-only repayment plans — ensuring you can pay off your student debt within your comfort zone. And if you didn’t graduate, that’s OK — you can still qualify.
However, if you need funds urgently, then consider looking elsewhere — expect to wait up to 30 days to get your loan. And while its longer terms may mean lower repayments, you’ll end up paying more interest overall.
Still on the fence? Take a look at our list of other student loan refinancing providers that might be a better fit for you.
First, am I eligible?
- 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 service members, 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.
- Graduated repayment. Start with interest-only repayments and gradually increase it until you’re making standard repayments.
- Income-sensitive repayment. Make repayments based on how much you earn each month. But you must pay the interest that added up that month at a minimum.
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.
You can qualify for in-school deferment while you’re enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school.
Top 8 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.
- Income-sensitive repayments. iHelp is one of the few private lenders that offers repayments based on your income, which can be beneficial to low-income borrowers.
- High maximum amount. Borrow up to 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 . This might make your monthly repayments more affordable, but you’ll end up paying more in interest in the long run.
Compare more student loan refinancing options
iHelp reviews and complaints
|BBB customer reviews|
|Customer reviews verified as of||16 October 2020|
iHelp doesn’t have a BBB rating but ZuntaFi, its loan servicer, does. But like iHelp, there isn’t much information about ZuntaFi on its BBB 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.
Not sold on iHelp? Read our guide to student loan refinancing to compare even more providers and learn more about how it all works.
Frequently asked questions
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