Want to take advantage of a lower rate on your student loans? Having trouble keeping up with which student loans you’ve paid and which you haven’t? Want to lower your monthly payments?
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) can help you with all of the above. Their rates are low and they have a fast turnaround time. So if your monthly student loan payments are crippling your budget and wallet, ELFI student loan refinancing can help.
Student Loan Application Requirements
ELFI is a division of Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank. They are available in all 50 states, but have a few requirements applicants must meet before you refinance student loans with them.
- Student loan borrowers need to have completed either a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved secondary school.
- You must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt.
- You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- Minimum income: $35,000
- Minimum credit score: 680
- Minimum credit history: 36 months
While applying, you’ll also need the following paperwork:
- Recent billing statements on all of your student loans that include the following information:
- Servicer name
- Borrower name
- Loan account numbers
- Loan IDs
- Payment mailing address
- Current balance/ payoff amount
- Recent pay stubs
- A copy of your government-issued photo ID
- Bank account information
- If self-employed: two years of tax returns
You’ll also need to list a reference during the application. A reference can be anyone over the age of 18 who does not live with you or who is your cosigner.
Is a cosigner needed to refinance with ELFI?
Not necessarily. If you have a steady job, have been consistent with your payments, and have a strong credit score, your financial information is likely good enough. Cosigners are only necessary when the borrower doesn’t have sufficient credit history.
Most people looking for student loan refinancing have a strong enough credit profile. If you do need a cosigner, the application will request your cosigner’s full name and contact information.
Rates and Terms
Education Loan Finance offers 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20-year loan terms. Each term comes with its own set of variable and fixed rates.
If you’re looking to save money and get out of debt fast, the 5-year term is best. The drawback to this is that you’ll have higher monthly payments, but you’ll pay less in interest than other terms. Make sure you’re in a sound financial position if you choose this loan term.
If you go with 20 years, you’ll have lower payments, but you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan. It’s the most expensive repayment term, but if your other monthly obligations are high, the payments will be easier to manage.
On another positive note, choosing the 20-year term will also lower your debt-to-income ratio, which could potentially make it easier for you to get an auto or home loan. DTI is calculated by taking your total monthly obligations (such as rent and credit card payments) and dividing it by your gross monthly income. If you think you’ll want to finance a new car or ditch your landlord in the near future, the 20-year term might be your best choice.
Then there are the in-between options (7, 10, and 15-year repayment plans). To choose the best one overall, find a monthly payment you can easily handle that also gets you out of debt in a reasonable amount of time. Make sure to also think about retirement savings and vacation savings when doing the math.
Fixed Rates vs. Variable Rates
Interest rates come in two different packages: fixed and variable. Which one you choose really often depends on what kind of person you are.
A fixed interest rate is one that never changes. The rate you’re given is the one you’ll have for the entire life of the loan. The plus side to choosing a fixed interest rate is that you’ll always know what your payments are going to be. Therefore, while making your monthly budget, you’ll know exactly how much to set aside for your student loan payments.
The downside to this is that if interest rates go down, your payments won’t reflect it. So while everyone else is enjoying lower payments, you’ll be making the same (and in this scenario, higher) monthly payment until your loan is entirely paid off. Still, there is something to be said for predictability.
A variable interest reflects what the market is doing right now. Therefore, if interest rates go up, your student loan rate will also rise. If they decrease, your payments will also dip. Each quarter your monthly student loan payments may be different.
While there’s little predictability, ELFI has a maximum variable rate of 9.95% APR so you can prepare. Variable rates can set you up for more savings over time, you just need to know that you could end up paying more on your loan than you anticipated. But if your financial situation is strong, a variable interest might be the best choice for you.
ELFI Refinance 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. During this stage, ELFI only performs a soft credit check so your credit score won’t go down.
Step 3: Upload Supporting Documentation
Though this part sounds cumbersome, it’s not. All of your documents can be uploaded 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.
$0 Application Fees: Interested, but don’t know whether or not 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 10 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.
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 receives a $100 reduction in his or her 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.
Education Loan Finance is a top-notch student loan refinance lender with award-winning customer service. They don’t offer rate discounts because they don’t have to. With a quick and easy online application process and plenty of incentives for referrals, ELFI is definitely worth considering if you need to refinance student loans.