iHelp, who is owned and operated by the Student Loan Finance Corporation, is a rising lender in the student loan space. iHelp partners with community banks to offer student loans with two standout features: great rates and great repayment options.
Repayment may not be on your radar just yet, but for the sake of your future, it should be. With iHelp student loans, you’ll save money compared to your peers and be able to choose the best payment plan to suit your financial needs right out of college.
Student Loan Application Requirements
Before you begin your application, there a few things iHelp requires of its borrowers. All borrowers must meet the following requirements (but if you don’t keep reading!):
- Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Must have a debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 45% or under
- Must have a minimum income of $24,000 for two years or more
- Must have three years of positive credit history
During the application, you’ll be asked for the following information:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social security number
- Name of school
- Expected date of graduation
- Cost of attendance
- Reference information
If you don’t meet the DTI, income, and credit history requirements, then you’ll need to cosign with a creditworthy adult. Your cosigner must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, and have a strong credit score.
Why does iHelp require a cosigner?
This is very common among private student loan lenders. A cosigner is needed because you probably haven’t established a positive credit history yet. This makes lenders like iHelp hesitant to lend to you because they don’t know how well you’ll handle payments yet. If you don’t make the required payments when they start, then your cosigner is expected to make them for you.
In truth, lenders aren’t concerned with who makes the payment so long as they are made. The bad news is that, if a payment isn’t made, then both your credit score and your cosigner’s credit score will take a hit.
With iHelp, you can apply to have your cosigner released after 24 months of on-time payments. You still must meet the standard credit and income requirements discussed above to qualify for this feature.
Types of Student Loans Available
iHelp offers two types of student loans to help you on your journey.
iHelp Private Student Loan
iHELP’s student loan can be used to fund either your undergraduate or graduate education. Funds can be used for all of your education costs.
Variable Rates: 4.71% to 9.21%
Fixed Rates: 5.52% to 9.09%
Maximum Loan Amounts:
iHelp Consolidation Loans
Need to consolidate your federal and private student loans? iHelp has student loan refinancing plans for you. Take advantage of better interest rates and possibly lower your monthly obligations with one single payment each month.
To refinance student loans with iHelp, you must have a current loan balance of $10,000 and still meet the requirements mentioned above. It’s not necessary to have graduated. However, you must also have two years of good credit. This means no collection accounts and no student loans in default.
10 year fixed: 4% to 7.5%
15 year fixed: 4.5% to 8%
20 year fixed hybrid: 3.25% to 6.5%
20 year variable: LIBOR + 2.5% to 7.5%
Maximum Loan Amounts:
Fixed Rate vs. Variable
A variable interest is determined by the market, so this means it can change month to month. When market rates are high, your interest rate will be high. When they’re low, yours will also be low. Most of the time, payments for a variable rate loan fluctuate a little bit each month.
A fixed interest loan is the opposite. Instead of mirroring what the market is doing at the time, a fixed interest rate stays the same for the entire loan. Your rates won’t fluctuate or change, and your monthly payment will stay the same over the entire course of repayment.
Which one is better?
Both options have their ups and downs.
The great thing about fixed interest rates is that you never have to worry about what your payments are going to be. You know exactly how much you have to set aside month to month. The downside to this is that if market rates dip, you’ll be paying higher rates than everyone else. Still, predictability can be a good thing, especially when you’re first starting out after graduation.
Variable interest rates can save you money month to month. When the market is great, you get to reap the rewards. On the other hand, when rates are high, you’ll be paying for it while others aren’t. You’re at the mercy of the market, which can be a good thing or a bad thing.
Whichever one you choose has more to do with your personality and your financial situation. Do like predictability, or would you rather get the chance to save some money? Both involve risks and rewards
iHelp Student Loan Repayment Options
iHelp offers both in-school and post-school repayment plans. This sets iHelp apart from its competition as very few offer post-school options. These options are good for both sets of college graduates— those who have work lined up, and those who don’t.
In-School Repayment Options
While you’re in school you have three repayment options to suit your needs.
Deferred Payment: With deferred repayment, borrowers make no payments while they’re enrolled in school at least halftime. This is a good option if you need to concentrate on your schooling and don’t want to worry about finding work that doesn’t conflict with classes and homework. Full payment begins six months after graduation.
Interest-Only Payment: With this option, you make interest-only payment while you’re in school. Doing this keeps your loan principal from growing and can lower your payments once you graduate. Payments for this option begin 30 to 60 days after disbursement.
Principal and Interest Payments: Making both interest and principal payments will put you on the path to pay off your loan early. It’ll save you money on interest and you’ll be able to pay off your loan much faster once you graduate. If you choose this method, payments will begin 30 to 60 days after disbursement.
Post-School Repayment Options
You don’t have to choose right away but definitely come back to this list as graduation gets closer.
Income-Sensitive Payments: This is a great option for many borrowers because monthly payments are based on your monthly gross income. Just know that payments cannot be less than the monthly interest accrual.
Graduated Payments: Monthly payments grow more over time to reflect your growing income. At first, payments are equal to the monthly interest accrual, and from there grow in amount month to month.
Principal and Interest Payments: This option is selected for you automatically after you graduate or attend school less than half-time. This is the standard payment option and includes payments that go towards both your interest and principal.
iHelp Student Loans Application Process
To start the iHelp application process, click the Apply Now button on the homepage. From there you’ll be asked to select the school you’ll be attending and which loan option has your interest. iHelp will ask you a few questions and inquire whether you plan to apply with a cosigner.
Tip: If you’re just out of high school, it’s very likely you are going to need one.
Once you’ve provided your personal and financial information, iHelp will immediately tell you whether or not you’ve been approved or declined. If you’re declined, you may still be able to apply with a cosigner if you didn’t at first. If you did and were still declined, you may want to find someone else.
If approved, iHelp will likely ask for supporting documentation. When they have everything they need, they’ll contact your school to verify your enrollment status and that all of the information you provided was correct. Once verified, iHelp disburses your funds to your college or university to cover your tuition and enrollment costs. Whatever remaining amount you have will be sent to you by your school after it has withdrawn what it needs.
Automatic Debit Rate Discount: If you sign up for automatic payment from an approved U.S. bank, you will receive a 0.25% discount on your rate. Over time, this rate reduction will add up to real savings.
No Fees. iHelp doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment fees.
iHelp separates itself from the rest of the pack with its great rates and standout repayment plans. Other lenders may have a few more perks, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is money. With iHelp, you can save money and have options with your payments. When you graduate you’ll understand just how important these things are — if you don’t already.