Education Loan Finance Private Student Loan Review
Parents and college students often struggle with the cost of higher education. With tuition and housing costs through the roof at many colleges and universities, federal student loans and grants often don’t provide the full amount needed to cover costs. Thus, many find that they must turn to private student loans to make up the gap.
Education Loan Finance is a private student loan company that offers loans to those who may need additional help covering the cost of higher-level education. They offer student loan refinancing as well as loans to fund undergraduate or graduate education.
About Education Loan Finance (ELFI)
Education Loan Finance is a division of Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank. The company was designed to assist borrowers with student loan refinancing, as well as with undergraduate, graduate, and parent private student loans.
The company prides itself on its commitment to supporting education. The parent company of SouthEast Bank, Education Loan Finance, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization that has provided more than $20 million in scholarships.
It also offers a free financial literacy curriculum for local high schools to encourage teenagers to develop good financial habits.
ELFI offers easy payment options, affordable rates, and flexible terms. Its application process is simple and transparent. If you decide to apply for a loan through ELFI, you’ll receive your own Student Loan Advisor to walk you through the application and answer any questions you may have.
What Types of Loans Does Education Loan Finance Offer?
There are three types of loans that ELFI offers specifically for college students and their parents. These include:
Undergraduate Student Loans
ELFI offers undergraduate student loans to students who need help financing their tuition. There are no application or origination fees and no prepayment penalties if you decide to pay off your loan early.
Once an individual decides to apply, they are given a Student Loan Advisor to assist them and answer any questions they have during the application process.
Undergraduate loans begin at $1,000 and have repayment terms between five and fifteen years. Advertised APRs begin at 1.20% variable and 3.20% fixed. However, interest rates may differ based on the term of your loan, your financial history, and other factors.
Maximum loan size is the amount approved by the school for qualified education expenses. Loans cannot be used for more than one academic year of school-certified costs.
A student must be enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor’s degree program to be eligible for an undergraduate loan. Borrowers and cosigners must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. A credit score of at least 680 is required for approval.
Graduate Student Loans
Similar to undergraduate loans, there are no application or origination fees associated with graduate student loans. There are also no prepayment penalties should you decide to pay off your loan early.
Graduate loan amounts begin at $1,000, with interest rates from 1.20% variable and 3.20% fixed. Actual interest rates will vary depending on the amount borrowed, the length of the loan, and the borrower’s credit history.
The maximum loan is the amount approved by the school for qualified education expenses. Graduate student loans offered by ELFI cannot fund more than one academic year of school-certified costs.
To qualify, a graduate student must be enrolled at least half-time in a master’s or Doctoral degree program. They must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a minimum credit score of 680.
For parents who need help financing their children’s education, loans can help. Just like the undergraduate and graduate options, there are no application or origination fees for applying. If the loan is repaid early, there are also no prepayment penalties.
Loans available to parents begin at $1,000, with a variable APR of 1.20% or a fixed APR of 3.20%. However, actual interest rates are determined by the amount borrowed, the credit history of the applicant, and the term of the loan.
Parent loans are less flexible than undergraduate and graduate student loans and must be paid back within ten years at maximum.
The child must be enrolled in a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree program to be eligible. The parent must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a minimum credit score of 680.
How Does the Loan Application Work?
The loan application process is online, and it may be submitted in just a few minutes.
Once the application has been submitted, a Student Loan Advisor will be assigned to you to answer any questions. When all documentation has been received by ELFI, it will submit the loan application to the school for certification. The school will be required to verify your enrollment status, academic progress, and financial aid package.
After the school has certified the amount you have asked to borrow, you must accept the loan terms to complete the application. Funds are sent directly to the school on your behalf.
The overall time for approval is typically between two and three days. Students who are seeking an associate degree are not eligible for undergraduate loans through ELFI. Only those in qualified Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree programs may apply.
What Credit Score Is Required to Qualify for a Loan with ELFI?
A minimum credit score of 680 is required for approval of a loan with ELFI. If you do not meet the minimum credit score requirements, you can seek out a co-signer to apply with you. This approach may improve your chances of approval.
In addition to a credit score, you must show a minimum income of $35,000.
How Is ELFI’s Reputation?
ELFI is known for having excellent customer service. Once you begin the loan process, you are immediately assigned a Student Loan Advisor who can assist you with questions as they arise. You can contact your Student Loan Advisor via email, phone, or text during the entire process.
ELFI also allows potential borrowers to see if they will qualify for a loan without a hard credit check. Thus, simply seeing if you will qualify has no impact on your credit score, regardless of whether you decide to follow through on the application.
While ELFI offers undergraduate loans, these are not intended for those in associate degree programs. Individuals who are seeking an associate’s degree who need funding should look for other private student loans.
The company does not allow for co-signer releases. Thus, if an individual agrees to co-sign on your loan, they cannot be removed at a future date, even if the original applicant’s credit improves.
How Long Are Loan Terms with ELFI?
Repayment terms vary according to the type of the loan and the amount borrowed. Terms for undergraduate and graduate loans average five to fifteen years, while parent loans vary from five to ten years.
Exact terms may be either five, seven, ten, or fifteen years.
Are There Options for Deferment?
When a student is still in school, they have a variety of payment options. They can make regular payments towards the loan, fixed repayments of $25 per month, or pay only the interest incurred by the loan. They may also choose to fully defer the loan until they graduate.
After graduation (or when they cease to be an enrolled student), ELFI provides a 6-month grace period. During this time, payments are deferred. After the grace period, full payments must be made each month.
ELFI offers a couple of options for deferment. These include academic deferment, where a borrower can defer payments for up to three years when returning to school.
There are also military deferments available for those who serve in the armed forces. In cases where a borrower is unable to make payments, they may qualify for up to 12 months of forbearance. ELFI will review each case for forbearance individually.
If a monthly payment is past due, a late fee of 5% of the past-due amount or $50, whichever is less, will apply. All repayments must be made via electronic or digital transfer.
What Are the Best Features of ELFI’s Private School Loans?
One of the best features of ELFI’s loan programs is that they have excellent customer service. Once you begin the loan application process, you’ll be entitled to a Student Loan Advisor, who can help you submit your application and answer any questions.
They also offer a soft credit check, which means that you can see if you qualify for a loan without impacting your credit report.
What Are the Worst Features of ELFI’s Private School Loans?
If you apply for a loan with ELFI and need the assistance of a co-signer to qualify, they will remain on the loan until it is fully repaid. There is no option to remove co-signers from a loan, even if the original applicant’s credit improves.
The minimum loan requirement of $1,000 is larger than other providers. ELFI’s loans are best for those individuals who have a large amount that they need to borrow in order to cover full tuition.