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Education Loan Finance Reviews: Student Loan Refinancing and Private Student Loans

Education Loan Finance offers dedicated customer support for student loan borrowers.
Sept. 13, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
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A division of Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank, Education Loan Finance — also known as ELFI — offers student loan refinancing and private student loans for undergraduates, grad students and parents. Here we review ELFI’s refinance loan; you’ll find a review of its private student loan below.

Review of ELFI’s private student loan

ELFI student loan refinancing

5.0 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Best for borrowers who value good customer service.

Education Loan Finance
Reviewed loanStudent loan refinancing.
Interest ratesFixed: 3.29% - 6.69%.
Variable: 2.39% - 6.01%.
Loan terms5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.
Loan amounts$15,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.
Co-signer release availableYou must apply again without your co-signer.
Can transfer a parent loan to the childYes.

Pros & cons

PROS

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You are assigned a personal loan advisor.
  • You can refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

CONS

  • Payment postponement isn’t available for borrowers who return to school.
  • The minimum amount to refinance is more than many lenders require.

Full review

ELFI is an ideal student loan refinancing option for borrowers with stable finances who value customer support. ELFI doesn’t offer as many flexible repayment options as some other lenders, but it pairs customers with a dedicated, highly trained personal loan advisor. Borrowers can call, text or email their advisors to ask questions throughout the refinancing process.

Elfi student loan refinancing at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.
  • Borrowers can refinance their parents’ PLUS loans.
  • Borrowers can’t postpone payments if they return to school.

How Elfi could improve

Education Loan Finance, like other five-star lenders, isn’t perfect. It could improve by offering additional programs such as:

ELFI student loan refinancing details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 15 or 20 years.
  • Loan amounts: $15,000 up to your total outstanding loan balance.
  • Can transfer a parent loan to the child: Yes.
  • Application or origination fee: No.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the past due amount or $50, whichever is less, after a payment is 11 days late.

Compare Education Loan Finance’s range of interest rates with other student loan refinance lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate Education Loan Finance will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 680.
  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 774.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: $133,532 per year.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 55%.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after at least 7 years have passed.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Available to borrowers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
  • Must have graduated: Yes, must have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Must have attended a school authorized to receive federal aid: Yes. It must be nonprofit school on Education Loan Finance’s approved schools list.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Did not disclose.

  • Academic deferment: No — borrowers cannot defer payments if they return to school.
  • Military deferment: Yes, borrowers can postpone payments while they’re on active military duty.
  • Forbearance: Yes, borrowers may postpone payments for up to 12 months if they’re experiencing a hardship such as a financial or medical issue. Education Loan Finance will review each case individually, and decisions are at the sole discretion of the lender.
  • Co-signer release available: No. You must apply again without your co-signer.
  • Death or disability discharge: Education Loan Finance will review each case individually.

Repayment Preferences

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: MOHELA.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: Yes, each customer gets a personal loan advisor for the duration of the refinancing process.
  • Average time from approval to payoff: Generally, one to three business days.

Education Loan Finance offers its borrowers the following perks:

  • Referral bonus: Earn $400 for every person you successfully refer to Education Loan Finance, and they’ll get $100. To get the bonus, the person you refer must apply and be approved within 90 days of registering with Education Loan Finance. There’s no limit to the number of people you can refer.

How to refinance with ELFI

Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender, compare multiple student loan refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, compare lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

ELFI private student loan

4.5 NerdWallet rating

Bottom line: Best for borrowers with a significant funding gap.

Education Loan Finance
Reviewed loanPrivate student loan for undergraduates.
Loan terms5, 7, 10 or 15 years.
Loan amounts$10,000 to the total cost of attendance.
Grace period6 months.
Co-signer release availableNo.
Related productsPrivate graduate student loans and parent loans.

Pros & cons

PROS

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You are assigned a personal loan advisor.

CONS

  • Minimum loan amount is larger than other private lenders.
  • No co-signer release program.

Full review

To borrow from ELFI, students must take out at least $10,000 — that’s 10 times the $1,000 minimum many private lenders require. Students who have already maxed out federal loans and other financial aid may not have a large enough funding gap to qualify with ELFI.

If you do need to borrow at least $10,000, ELFI is a good choice if you value customer support. ELFI assigns all borrowers a personal loan advisor that you can contact via email, phone and text during the application process.

ELFI began offering undergraduate private student loans in August 2019. Some information about this product, such as the typical credit score of approved borrowers, isn’t yet available.

ELFI private student loans at a glance

  • Offers personalized rate estimates via a soft credit check.
  • Borrowers must take out at least $10,000.
  • No co-signer release program.

How ELFI could improve

ELFI could improve its private student loan product by:

  • Offering a co-signer release program.
  • Reducing its minimum loan amount.
  • Lending to students in associate degree programs.

ELFI private student loan details

  • Soft credit check to qualify and see what rate you’ll get: Yes.
  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10 or 15 years.
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to the school’s cost of attendance.
  • Application or origination fee: None.
  • Prepayment penalty: No.
  • Late fees: Yes; 5% of the past-due amount or $50, whichever is less, after a payment is 11 days late.

Compare Education Loan Finance’s range of interest rates with other private student loan lenders. Your actual rate will depend on factors including your — or your co-signer’s — credit history and financial situation. To see what rate ELFI will offer you, apply on its website.

Financial

  • Minimum credit score: 680.
  • Minimum income: $35,000.
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not available.
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Not available.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 55%.
  • Can qualify if you’ve filed for bankruptcy: Yes, after seven years have passed.

Other

  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Location: Available in all 50 U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
  • Must be enrolled half-time or more: Yes, in a bachelor’s degree program.
  • Types of schools served: Any school authorized to receive federal aid.
  • Percentage of borrowers who have a co-signer: Not available.

In-school repayment options:

  • Immediate repayment: Make full payments as soon as the loan is disbursed, while you’re still in school.
  • Deferred payments: Don’t make any payments while you’re in school.
  • Fixed repayment: Pay $25 every month while enrolled in school and during the grace period.
  • Interest-only repayment: Pay interest every month you’re in school and during the grace period.

Post-school repayment options

  • Grace period: 6 months.
  • Academic deferment: Yes, borrowers can request to defer payments for up to three years when returning to school.
  • Military deferment: Yes.
  • Forbearance: Borrowers are eligible for up to 12 months of forbearance. Education Loan Finance will review each case individually, and decisions are at the sole discretion of the lender.
  • Co-signer release available: No.
  • Death or disability discharge available: Education Loan Finance will review each case individually.

Repayment preferences

ELFI requires all borrowers to pay via electronic or digital transfer.

  • Allows greater-than-minimum payments via autopay: Yes.
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay: No.

  • Loan servicer: American Education Services, or AES.
  • In-house customer service team: Yes.
  • Process for escalating concerns: Yes.
  • Borrowers get assigned a dedicated banker, advisor or representative: Yes, each customer gets a personal loan advisor for the duration of the student loan process.
  • Average time for approval: Typically 2 to 3 days.

How to apply for an ELFI student loan

You can apply for an Education Loan Finance student loan on its website. But before taking out an ELFI loan or any other private student loan, exhaust your federal student loan options first. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s FAFSA Guide

Compare your private student loan options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you qualify for. In addition to interest rates, look at lenders’ repayment alternatives and the flexibility they offer to borrowers who struggle to make payments.

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 student loan 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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