Last year I was able to slash the interest rates on my student loans from an average of 6.8% all the way down to 3.2% - saving me around $11,000!
How did I do this?
In my opinion, student loan refinancing is one of the best ways for borrowers to repay their student loans, as it can help bring down monthly payments as well as interest rates. It is one of the best options for those who have already locked down a solid job, but still have high student loan debts to repay.
This works because these people are seen as a safer bet to financial institutions, as they are more likely to pay back their debt. If you have secured a solid job and would like to get your loans consolidated and refinanced, you will be eligible for lower interest rates and/or lower monthly payments, which could eventually save you thousands of dollars on the original value of your loan.
Please note that I haven't personally refinanced my loans with ELFi. I have, however, done extensive research on the company in order to make this review. I have talked to some of my friends who have refinanced with ELFi, as well as read tons of reviews online.
More About ELFi's Student Loan Refinancing
ELFi is one of the newest student loan refinancing firms there is. It was started in 2015, by SouthEast Bank, a community bank that serves the Eastern Tennessee area. ELFi lauds itself as being “a smarter way to refinance your student loans.”
One of the reasons it is so confident in its mandate is because SouthEast Bank has always prided itself in being able to make quick decisions concerning their customer’s needs. They are a much respected institution in their community, and they hope to expand their customer base by introducing the ELFi suite of student loan refinancing services.
Rates and Terms
As a student loan refinancer, ELFi gives borrowers the opportunity to repay their loans in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. They offer some of the most competitive rates on the market, especially for those whose student loan debts are over $15,000 who qualify for refinancing. The rates can start from as low as 2.33% per year for a variable interest rate, and 3.49% for fixed interest.
It is important to note that although variable interest rates seem lower in the beginning, the fact that they are pegged to the market means that they can fluctuate wildly over a short period of time. This means that many of the borrowers who opt for variable rates do end up paying a little more in the long term. Therefore, the safest bet as a borrower is to take a fixed rate repayment plan, as these are not subject to the same fluctuations as variable loans.
ELFi’s terms are very flexible, and include terms that last from as short as 5 years to as long as 20 years. The interest rates for each term will be different depending on the length of the term. For instance, if you apply for the 5 year variable interest rate term, your average interest rate will be between 2.19% and 4.99%. The 7 year term has an interest rate of between 2.51% and 5.14%, the 10 year term has a rate between 3.01% and 5.39%. The highest interest rate you will have to pay is on the 20 year term, which has a minimum rate of 3.64%, and a maximum of 6.01%.
Fixed rates carry slightly higher percentages, but as mentioned earlier, they are not as volatile as variable interest rates and therefore, they are the best for borrowers. Interest rates are between 3.49% and 5.99% for 5 year terms, 3.99% and 6.48% for 7 year terms, 4.61% and 7% for 10 year terms. The highest rate as usual is pegged to the 20 year term, which has a minimum interest rate of 5.37%, and a maximum rate of 7.74%.
However, it is important to note that the interest rate that you will be eligible for is usually pegged on a number of things other than the term of your loan, including your financial history and the history of your cosigner if you have one.
One of the main worries people have when they are looking for refinancing is eligibility. Well, being eligible for ELFi refinancing should not be an issue, as it involves very little. For a start, you must have student loan debt that totals no less than $15,000. Though there is no defined maximum loan limit, the typical maximum loan limit is $250,000. However, this can increase if you are an exceptionally well qualified borrower.
You must also be a US citizen or a permanent resident in the country, and be at least 18 years old or older to qualify. Additionally, your debt-to-income ratio needs to show that you have the ability or capacity to pay back the loan that you took. This means that the higher the loan you take, the higher your income must be. Finally, and most importantly, you need to have graduated from an approved tertiary education institution with a bachelor’s degree or higher. Unfortunately, those who have not completed their degree courses will not be eligible for refinancing.
Applying for Refinancing
Applying for ELFi Refinancing is quite simple compared with other financial institutions. It can take as little as 15 minutes to complete the application form, as long as you have all the documentation you need. All you need to complete the application process is:
· A recent billing statement or payoff letter for each loan that you are trying to consolidate. The statement should include the name of the loan servicer, your name (the borrower’s name), the loan account numbers for each loan, loan IDs or sequence numbers and most importantly, a payment mailing address
· Pay stubs for the last month (30 days) or any alternative proof of employment
· Complete W-2 forms
· A copy of your tax returns if you are self employed
· Valid identification, such as a driving license or passport
· Your billing account information, which will only be used for auto-debit purposes.
All this information will give ELFi all the information it needs to consolidate your loans including:
· Your Name
· Account number
· Current balance or payoff amounts
· Your payment mailing address
Please keep in mind that none of the information you give should be more than 30 days old. Additionally, should you decide that you would like to omit some of your other loans from a particular servicer; you will have to provide ELFi with the sequence numbers, loan IDs and/or any other identifying numbers for each loan that is included in your refinance.
Benefits of ELFi's Refinancing
There are many reasons to refinance your student loans through ELFI. In fact, ELFI is considered one of the easier refinance companies to work with. Below, we will go over some of the benefits of refinancing your loan through them.
1. You never have to pay an origination or application fee for your student loans.
2. You never have to pay a fee to pay off your student loans early.
3. Payments are not assessed a late fee, if you mail the payment within 10 days of the due date.
4. Repayment starts anywhere between 30 to 45 days after the money is disbursed.
5. Receive a $100 bonus if you apply for and accept loan terms within 30 days of your application.
6. All student loans from approved secondary institutions are able to be refinanced.
When ELFi consolidates your loan, they replace your old servicer with the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). MOHELA has an excellent track record as a student loan servicer, especially when it comes to providing their borrowers with excellent customer service. Additionally, ELFi has a large team of student loan experts that are at hand to answer any borrowers’ questions should they arise.
ELFi also gives you the chance to release your co-signer from any agreement you make with them. This means that if and when you can make all the payments yourself, and have built up a strong credit history, you can receive your refinanced loan by yourself. This can help improve your co-signers credit score, and allow them to pursue other avenues of credit.
One of the best things about ELFi refinanced loans is their bonus programs. For instance, the ELFi referral program rewards individuals who refer others to ELFi to refinance their loans. Whenever a new borrower registers for a new loan through your referral link, and completes the ELFi loan process within 90 days you receive a $400 cash bonus via check. The new applicant will also receive a $100 cash bonus in the mail within 6-8 weeks of the disbursement of their loan. A new borrower is considered someone who has never applied for an ELFi loan, or has not had an ELFi account for more than 24 months.
There is also the ELFi Fast Track Bonus Program, which rewards new borrowers with $100 cash when they complete their loan application within 30 days of the initial application. This bonus is also delivered 6-8 weeks after the disbursement of the loan.
Downsides to ELFi's Refinancing
As with anything, there are some downsides to refinancing your student loans through ELFI. Below, we will explore these downsides and help you better understand them.
You may need to have a co-signer on your student loan.
This is important to understand because you may not receive approval without one. In fact, most students do require you to have a credible and credit worthy co-signer on your loan. If you do not have a co-signer, you can still apply for refinancing, but you may not receive it. If you do have a co-signer, they can often be released from the loan later on down the road, should you show that you can afford the loan.
You cannot refinance your loans unless you graduate.
One of the biggest downsides to using ELFI to refinance your student loans is that you must graduate from college. In fact, you are required to have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
You lose your federal student loan benefits.
If you have federal student loans, you will lose those benefits when you refinance your student loans. This includes benefits such as deferment, forbearance, and income-based repayment plans. If you do receive refinancing through ELFI, you do start repayment within 30 to 45 days as opposed to 6 months with federal student loans.
Alternatives to ELFi Refinancing
There are a number of private refinancing firms that exist other than ELFi. These include firms like SoFi, Earnest, Citizens Bank, and College Ave. However, when you are shopping around for an alternative, it is important that you scrutinize your options. This is because some of the interest rates offered can be very high, and many of these alternatives may not offer you the same flexibility or bonuses that ELFi offers. You also should consider using a refinancing comparison site, such as LendEDU.
Despite the fact that it is a relatively new organization, ELFi is backed by a very reputable bank that is known for putting its customers’ interests first. Therefore, ELFi should perform well in the student loan refinancing industry in the coming years, especially if they follow the example that SouthEast Bank has set for them.