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CommonBond Student Loans Review: Private Loans and Refinancing

February 12, 2018
Loans, Student Loans
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CommonBond was founded in 2011 to refinance student loans and lend to students in business school. The company now also offers private student loans for undergraduates and non-MBA graduate students; refinancing for parents with federal PLUS loans; and the ability for students to refinance their parents’ loans in their own names.

In this article, we review CommonBond’s undergraduate student loan and refinancing options.

CommonBond student loan refinancing review

CommonBond private student loan review

CommonBond student loan refinancing review

Student loan refinancing was one of CommonBond’s first offerings for customers. Both graduates and parents with federal PLUS loans are eligible to participate. Student borrowers can also refinance their parents’ PLUS loans in their own names, which may be appealing to those with stable finances who want to reduce their parents’ debt burden.

CommonBond
Type of loanStudent loan refinancing
NerdWallet rating5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Interest rates (APR)Fixed: 3.14% - 7.25%
Variable: 2.72% - 7.27%
Hybrid: 4.13% - 6.26%
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years for fixed- and variable-rate loans; 10 years for hybrid.
Loan amounts$5,000 to $500,000
APRs include the 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments.
Check Rates At CommonBond Student Loans

CommonBond is also the only lender to offer a 10-year hybrid loan, which comes with a fixed interest rate for the first five years and a variable rate for the next five years. Consider refinancing if you:

  • Have private student loans
  • Have federal student loans and won’t take advantage of federal benefits like income-driven repayment or public service loan forgiveness. You won’t be able to take part in those programs if you refinance federal loans.
  • Have good credit, a stable income and on-time debt payment history

Choose the shortest repayment term you can manage in order to get the biggest savings. Those with poor credit, uncertain job prospects or plans to pursue income-driven repayment or loan forgiveness should steer clear of refinancing.

» MORE: Compare student loan refinance lenders

Can you qualify?

Most refinance borrowers qualify without a co-signer, though you may need or choose to use one; about 20% of CommonBond’s refinance customers use co-signers. You’ll have the best shot at eligibility if you:

  • Have good credit. The minimum credit score for refinancing through CommonBond is 660, but the average approved borrower has a credit score from 700 to 800. Approved borrowers generally also earn $50,000 to $150,000 per year.
  • Are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. International students do not qualify for refinancing with CommonBond.
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an eligible school. Your loans must have been used to attend a school that’s in the government’s Title IV financial aid program. CommonBond does not lend in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota or Vermont.

How to refinance with CommonBond

Compare multiple refinancing options to get the best interest rate possible. Also look at lenders’ available repayment terms and how much flexibility borrowers receive when struggling to make payments.

Ready to refinance through CommonBond? Apply on CommonBond’s website. Here’s how:

  1. Complete an application. The online application requires you to provide your:
  • Social Security number
  • Income verification
  • Lender documents, which include the amount CommonBond must pay your current lender to take on your loan balance
  1. Agree to let CommonBond do a hard credit check. This may lower your credit score initially, but it’s standard practice before lenders approve borrowers for a loan. If you’d like to see your rate with a soft credit inquiry only, which won’t affect your credit score, you can do so without going through the full application process.
  2. Add a co-signer. You’ll likely receive a lower interest rate if you apply with a co-signer.
  1. Finish the paperwork. It typically takes 3 to 4 business days from application to approval. After that, CommonBond must pay off your prior loans by coordinating with your other lenders, which will likely take longer.

More details

  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Application or origination fee: None
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fees: $10 if payment is 10 or more days late

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

CommonBond offers relatively strong protections if you encounter difficulty repaying a refinance loan, which could happen due to circumstances like a job loss or a medical emergency.

  • Deferment: CommonBond offers academic deferment if borrowers go back to school and military deferment for those on active duty
  • Forbearance: Borrowers experiencing financial hardship can postpone payments in three-month increments for up to 24 months total. CommonBond says it will work with borrowers who are at risk of falling behind. Only two borrowers defaulted on their loans between 2011 and the end of 2017, according to the company.

FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes. You’ll most likely get a lower rate if you do.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 36 months of on-time payments.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? CommonBond says it would be challenging for borrowers or co-signers to qualify for a loan if they’ve recently filed for bankruptcy, but the company works with borrowers on a case-by-case basis.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t go to a Title IV-accredited school? No.
  • Can I qualify if I didn’t graduate? No.

» MORE: Read more student loan refinancing FAQs

Contact CommonBond

Contact CommonBond’s Care Team at 1-800-975-7812 or care@commonbond.co.
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CommonBond private student loan review

CommonBond offers private student loans for undergraduates and graduate students. Its interest rates are some of the lowest available, but students must use a co-signer in order to qualify.

While you can find lenders that don’t require a co-signer, most undergraduate borrowers use one due to their lack of credit history. About 92% of all undergraduate private student loans are co-signed, according to a report from MeasureOne, a higher education data firm.

CommonBond
Type of loanPrivate student loan
NerdWallet rating5.0 stars out of 5
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Loan terms5, 10 or 15 years
Loan amounts$5,000 minimum. Maximum: Your total cost of attendance.
Check Rates At CommonBond Student Loans

A CommonBond private student loan may be the right move if you:

  • Need to fill a gap in the financial aid you received for college after filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA
  • Have a co-signer in mind with a credit score of 670 or higher

» COMPARE:  Private student loan options

Before turning to private student loans, submit the FAFSA to apply for federal grants, work-study and federal loans. Borrow up to the maximum amount of federal loans available first; they have more consumer protections than private loans and don’t require a co-signer.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Can you qualify?

You’ll be in the best position to qualify for a CommonBond loan if you:

  • Have access to a creditworthy co-signer. In order to get a CommonBond undergraduate loan, you must have a co-signer with a credit score of at least 670. CommonBond says the average approved co-signer has a credit score between 700 and 800 and earns $50,000 to $150,000 per year. CommonBond considers a co-signer’s debt-to-income ratio and free cash flow in addition to credit score and income. You can release your co-signer from the loan after 24 consecutive months of payments, as long as you meet the requirements to get a loan on your own.
  • Attend an eligible school. You must pursue a bachelor’s degree at least half-time at a federal Title IV or nonprofit school. CommonBond does not lend in Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, South Dakota or Vermont.
  • Have U.S. citizenship or are a permanent resident. International students will not qualify even if they apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

» SIGN UP: Check your credit score for free

How to apply for a CommonBond student loan

It’s best to compare multiple private loan options to get the best interest rate possible. Also look at lenders’ available repayment terms and how much flexibility borrowers receive when struggling to make payments.

Ready to borrow through CommonBond? Apply on CommonBond’s website. Here’s how:

  1. Complete an application. First you’ll confirm your eligibility for a loan based on your school information. Then you’ll complete a full application through CommonBond’s partner, Campus Door, which includes information from both you and your co-signer. You’ll need your:
  • Social Security number
  • Driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID
  • School information: name, location, anticipated degree, expected graduation date, proof of enrollment (like an acceptance letter or school transcript) and estimated financial aid
  • Income information for your co-signer, including pay stubs or tax returns if the co-signer is self-employed
  1. Agree to let CommonBond do a hard credit check. This is when you’ll see the interest rate you qualify for. It may lower your credit score initially, but it’s standard practice before lenders approve borrowers for a loan.
  1. Sign the required documents.
  1. Wait for the funds from your school. Once the loan is certified by your school, CommonBond sends the money about one week later. It will be available to you based on your school’s timeline (likely in August or September for the fall semester, for instance).

Loan details

  • Origination fee: 2% of the amount borrowed
  • Grace period: 6 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Prepayment penalty: None
  • Late fees: $10 if payment is 10 or more days late
  • Co-signer release available: Yes, after 24 consecutive payments

General repayment options

Making payments while in school will save you the most money over time. CommonBond’s lowest rates go to borrowers who begin repayment immediately. But not all students can do that. Instead, you can make interest-only payments, pay $25 a month or wait until you graduate to repay the loan. Here are your options through CommonBond:

  • Full principal and interest repayment plan: With this option, you’ll start making full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school
  • Flat repayment plan: You’ll make payments of $25 per month until your grace period ends, when full repayment of principal and interest begins
  • Interest-only repayment plan: You’ll pay interest monthly as it accrues while in school, then make monthly payments plus interest after your grace period ends
  • Full deferment repayment plan: You’ll start repaying your loans, plus interest that has accrued while you were in school, six months after graduating. Accrued interest will capitalize, meaning it will be added to your total loan balance — and you’ll pay interest on top of that throughout the rest of your loan term.

Repayment options for struggling borrowers

CommonBond offers relatively strong protections if you encounter difficulty repaying loans, which could happen due to circumstances like a job loss or a medical emergency.

  • Deferment: CommonBond offers academic deferment if borrowers go back to school and military deferment for those on active duty.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers experiencing financial hardship can postpone payments in three-month increments for up to 24 months total. CommonBond says it will work with borrowers who are at risk of falling behind. Only two borrowers defaulted on their loans between 2011 and the end of 2017, according to the company.

CommonBond extras

As part of CommonBond’s “Social Promise,” for every loan made, the company funds a child’s education through the international nonprofit Pencils of Promise.

CommonBond student loans FAQs

  • Can I apply with a co-signer? Yes. It’s required for undergraduate borrowers.
  • Is there a co-signer release option? Yes, after 24 consecutive monthly payments.
  • Can I qualify if I’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past? CommonBond says it would be challenging for borrowers or co-signers to qualify for a loan if they’ve recently filed for bankruptcy, but the company works with borrowers on a case-by-case basis.
  • Can I qualify if I’m not attending a Title IV-accredited school? No.

Contact CommonBond

Contact CommonBond’s Care Team at 1-800-975-7812 or care@commonbond.co.

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STUDENT LOANS RATINGS METHODOLOGY

NerdWallet believes the best student loan is one you can repay at the lowest interest rate you can get. That’s why NerdWallet’s private student loans ratings reward lenders that offer a variety of loan terms, limit their fees and penalties, and extend borrowers multiple options to avoid default. Points are also awarded for soft credit checks, underwriting transparency and other consumer-friendly features. Use these ratings as a guide, but we encourage you to shop around for the lowest interest rate you can qualify for. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for its reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution

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