ELFI Student Loan Refinance Review for 2024

In today’s competitive student loan refinancing market, Education Loan Finance (ELFI) stands out as a significant player. A division of the Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank, ELFI has established itself by offering tailored refinancing options that cater to a wide range of borrowers.

Whether you’re dealing with private or federal student loans, ELFI’s approach to refinancing is designed to simplify your repayment plan, potentially lower your interest rates, and offer a more manageable payment structure.


ELFI’s presence in all 50 states speaks to its widespread appeal and accessibility. This broad reach allows it to serve a diverse demographic of graduates and professionals seeking financial relief and smarter repayment strategies.

When examining the details of ELFI’s offerings, it’s essential to recognize its role in reshaping how borrowers approach student loan refinancing. This exploration will provide insights into ELFI’s application requirements, rate options, and unique features, equipping you with the knowledge to make an informed decision about your student loan refinancing journey.

What You Need to Apply for an ELFI Student Loan

To refinance your student loans with Education Loan Finance (ELFI), you’ll need to meet certain criteria. Understanding these requirements is key to a smooth application process. Let’s dissect these prerequisites and see how they compare with industry norms.

Educational Attainment

  • Requirement: Bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution.
  • Industry comparison: This is a standard expectation across most refinancing lenders, reflecting confidence in the financial stability of graduates.

Loan Amount

  • Requirement: At least $15,000 in student loan debt.
  • Context: ELFI targets those with a substantial refinancing need. This amount is fairly common in the industry, though some lenders might cater to lower debt amounts.

Citizenship and Age

  • Requirement: U.S. citizen or permanent resident, minimum 18 years old.
  • Industry standard: A typical requirement ensuring legal and financial responsibility.

Financial Stability

  • Income and credit: Minimum income of $35,000 and credit score of 680, plus a 36-month credit history.
  • Comparison: Slightly more rigorous than some competitors, indicating ELFI’s focus on financially stable applicants.


  • Requirement: Billing statements, pay stubs, W-2s, photo ID, bank information, and for self-employed individuals, two years of tax returns.
  • Industry norm: Comprehensive documentation is typical for assessing financial health and risk.

Reference Necessity

  • Unique requirement: A non-cohabitating, over-18 reference not serving as your cosigner.
  • ELFI’s approach: Adds an extra security layer for the lender, a practice not always required by other lenders.
Get started with ELFI on ELFI’s secure website

Cosigner Requirements for ELFI Student Loan Refinancing

When considering refinancing student loans with ELFI, be aware of the cosigner requirements. Here’s a straightforward look at when a cosigner is needed and what that implies.

Cosigner: Not Always Required

  • Criteria for avoiding a cosigner: If you have consistent employment, a history of timely loan payments, and a robust credit score, you might not need a cosigner. ELFI evaluates your financial stability and creditworthiness based on these factors.
  • Ideal borrower profile: Many applicants for student loan refinancing already meet these criteria, positioning them for a straightforward refinancing process without additional guarantors.

When a Cosigner Becomes Necessary

  • Credit history considerations: If your credit history isn’t strong or extensive enough, ELFI may require a cosigner. This scenario typically applies to borrowers who may not meet the minimum credit or income requirements independently.
  • Cosigner information: In cases where a cosigner is needed, you will need to provide their full name and contact details. The cosigner effectively shares the responsibility for the loan, ensuring ELFI of the loan’s security.

Exploring ELFI’s Flexible Repayment Terms and Rates

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) provides a spectrum of loan terms, including 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year options, each accompanied by both variable and fixed rate choices. This flexibility allows borrowers to find a plan that best suits their financial circumstances and goals.

Diverse Repayment Terms

Short-Term Option: 5-Year Plan

  • Advantages: This is the quickest route to becoming debt-free and saves on total interest.
  • Considerations: It comes with higher monthly payments, so it’s important to ensure financial stability before opting for this term.

Long-Term Option: 20-Year Plan

  • Benefits: Offers lower monthly payments, easing the burden on your monthly budget.
  • Drawbacks: You’ll end up paying more in total interest, making it the costliest option over time.
  • Additional perk: Opting for this term may reduce your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), potentially enhancing your eligibility for other loans like auto or home loans. DTI is determined by dividing your total monthly debts by your gross monthly income.

Intermediate Options: 7, 10, and 15-Year Plans

  • Flexibility: These terms provide a middle ground, balancing monthly payment affordability and total interest costs.
  • Decision factors: The best choice will depend on a monthly payment that’s manageable without compromising other financial goals, such as retirement or vacation savings.

Rate Types: Fixed vs. Variable

Fixed Interest Rates

  • Stability: The rate remains unchanged for the loan duration, providing consistent monthly payments.
  • Budget planning: Knowing your exact payment amount each month aids in financial planning.
  • Market immunity: However, if the market rates drop, your rate stays the same, potentially missing out on lower interest opportunities.

Variable Interest Rates

  • Market-linked: These rates vary according to market trends, meaning your payments could increase or decrease.
  • Potential for savings: You might benefit from lower payments if market rates decline.
  • Risk factor: Conversely, an increase in market rates will raise your payments. This option is suited for those with a stable financial situation who can handle potential rate increases.
  • Rate cap: ELFI caps variable rates at 9.95% APR, providing a limit to potential increases.

Choosing between fixed and variable rates and selecting the appropriate term length involves a careful evaluation of your financial situation, risk tolerance, and long-term objectives. ELFI’s range of options is designed to cater to diverse borrower needs, ensuring that you can tailor your refinancing plan to align with your personal financial strategy.

Get started with ELFI on ELFI’s secure website

ELFI Student Loan Refinancing Application Process

Education Loan Finance has an easy four-step process for student loan refinancing.

Step 1: Create a Profile

To get the process moving, ELFI asks each applicant to create an online profile. This helps them understand what you’re looking for.

Step 2: Pre-qualification

To save you time, see if you qualify before you complete the full application. It’s easy, fast, and won’t hurt your credit score. ELFI only performs a soft credit check during this stage, so your credit score won’t go down.

Step 3: Upload Supporting Documentation

Though this part sounds cumbersome, it’s not. You can upload all of your documents entirely online. If you qualify, then ELFI will send you an interest rate offer. If you like what you see, you’ll move on to the fourth and final step.

Step 4: Sign

ELFI will send you a new loan agreement online, which you can sign electronically. At this time, you’ll also set up auto-debit payments to make payment hassle-free.

ELFI’s Fee Structure

$0 Application Fees: Interested, but don’t know if you’ll qualify? ELFI won’t hit you with a fee for applying. Even if you do qualify, they won’t hit you with any fees.

$0 Origination Fees: The loan is new, and it takes some legwork from ELFI’s viewpoint to get it up and going. Whereas many student loan refinance lenders charge loan origination fees, ELFI does not.

$0 Prepayment Penalties: Want to pay off your loan early? ELFI won’t penalize you for it. Even though they’ll lose money on the interest, ELFI won’t charge you extra for getting out of debt.

Late Payment Fees. ELFI does charge late payment fees. If payment is not received within ten days of the due date, they may charge 5% of the past due amount or $50, whichever is less for you.

Insufficient Funds Fees. If payments are returned because of insufficient funds, ELFI may charge a $30 fee.

Special Perks and Features of ELFI Student Loans

  • Forbearance: If you encounter economic hardship, ELFI may allow forbearance on your refinanced student loan for up to 12 months. Forbearance is when you’re allowed to stop (or, at a minimum, lower) your monthly payments for a set period of time. Death, disability, divorce, and military service are just some examples. Of course, you must apply, and approval is at ELFI’s discretion.
  • Referral bonus: If you successfully refer someone to ELFI, you’ll receive a $400 bonus check. The referred customer also gets a $100 reduction in their principal loan balance.
  • Fast Track bonus: Complete your application promptly in 30 days or less, and you’ll receive a $100 reduction in your principal balance.

Bottom Line

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) presents a well-rounded student loan refinancing service. With options ranging from 5 to 20-year loan terms and a choice between fixed and variable interest rates, ELFI caters to a diverse borrower demographic. This flexibility is a significant advantage for those with a solid financial background looking for tailored refinancing solutions.

However, it’s important to note that ELFI’s services may not be suitable for everyone. The higher minimum loan amount and strict credit and income requirements might exclude certain borrowers, particularly those with lower debt levels or less established credit histories. Additionally, while ELFI’s diverse loan terms and potential for improving debt-to-income ratios are appealing, these benefits should be weighed against individual financial circumstances and goals.

Ultimately, ELFI offers a robust platform for student loan refinancing, but its suitability varies based on individual financial situations and refinancing objectives.

Get started with ELFI on ELFI’s secure website
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