iHelp is a provider of student loans and student loan consolidation offerings. This is an unbiased review of their student loan products.
What does iHelp offer?
“iHelp student loans help cover the gap between the cost of education and any amount a student receives in grants, scholarships, or federal loans.
iHelp student loans help cover the gap between the cost of education and any amount a student receives in grants, scholarships, or federal loans.”
Loans are available up to the total of qualified education expenses as certified by the school, less other aid awarded,” says Maria Sevareid, Marketing Manager at iHelp.
There are no origination or repayment fees, just interest which is structured as a variable rate.
“The interest rate and APR are variable and may increase or decrease based on the 3-month LIBOR. The LIBOR is calculated on the 3-month London Interbank rate, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth percent (0.125%), and resets quarterly. This rate is published in the Wall Street Journal,” explains Sevareid.
She adds, “The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) reflects the cost of the loan as a yearly rate. Loans made at LIBOR plus 8.50% are eligible for a 0.30% interest reduction after the first 24 consecutive monthly payments are made on time, and on-time payments continue.”
After you apply, you will receive an email with the interest rate for which you qualify.
The company is sponsored by the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), which is the primary trade association for small banks in the U.S. It represents about 5,000 community banks nationwide.
We do not believe in call centers. Each borrower is assigned an originations specialist at application. They will speak with that specialist throughout the whole application process.”
ICBA member banks are the originating lenders on iHelp’s loans. This means borrowers apply with iHelp and get the best rates from ICBA’s wide network of banks in their state or region.
As for the funding and servicing, iHelp loans are administered by the Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC), which has 30+ years of experience in student lending. This is the primary organization that borrowers will be in touch with for any questions about their loan.
Sevareid explains how the entire loan process is managed by iHelp.
“We do not believe in call centers. Each borrower is assigned an originations specialist at application. They will speak with that specialist throughout the whole application process.”
“No payments are required while in school.”
“After the borrower graduates and the loan goes into repayment, the borrower is assigned an account manager. They will be able to call and talk to their account manager and not have the frustration of explaining their circumstances over and over.
Once the borrower graduates, they have a six-month grace period before they will have to start paying off their private loan. This gives them time to find a job and get established.”
There are several options for repayments if you can’t afford the full payment amount after the six-month grace period.
- First, you can pay interest-only for 24 months. Afterward, your payments will be due in the full amount.
- Second, with the graduated payment program, you make interest-only payments after the six-month grace period, but those payments will gradually increase until they reach the full payment amount.
- Third, you have the income-sensitive repayment plan where payments are based on a percentage of your gross income per month.
In case of hardships
“We understand everyone has hardships, so we do offer a forbearance program.”
Now, let’s look at what it takes to qualify.
What is iHelp’s student loan eligibility criteria?
Sevareid shared the following requirements:
- The minimum loan amount for borrowers is $1,000
- The student must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution
- The student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- They must have a verifiable annual gross income of $24,000 for two years or apply with a cosigner that meets the requirement
- If applying with a cosigner, the cosigner must have a qualifying debt to income ratio
- Student must have a qualifying credit score or acceptable credit history or apply with a cosigner that meets the requirements
She adds, “Over 90% of students approved applied with a cosigner. Upon request, and after 24 consecutive months of on-time payments, the cosigner may be released from the loan, provided that the borrower meets the applicable credit criteria at the time.”
How does iHelp’s student loan application process work?
Here’s how you apply.
1. Visit the iHelp website and click the box on the right-hand side for “Instant Pre-approval.”
2. Fill out the form, agree to the terms, and click “Submit.”
3. If you are pre-approved and want to get the loan, you can then apply by clicking “Apply Now” from the iHelp homepage.
4. You will then select the option that best explains your situation.
5. Then, you will create an account.
6. Next, ensure you have everything on this list.
7. Answer the following preliminary questions.
8. Enter your personal information.
9. Agree to the terms and conditions and then click “Next” to submit your application.
iHelp Student Loans Review & Summary
Compare the pros and cons to make a better decision.
- Co-signers can drop off of the loan after 24 months of timely payments (if all other conditions are met).
- Over 90% of students apply with co-signers, so this company is largely serving students and parents together.
- iHelp’s flexibility will likely be attractive to students who are just out of school and aren’t making much money yet. The income-sensitive plan, in particular, can be very helpful allowing for as little as 4% of their income to be due.
- High-quality customer service. While many organizations resort to call centers to manage customer issues, iHelp assigns an individual manager to each account. This makes the process of contacting the company and settling issues much easier.
- Only variable-rate loans are available. Some people prefer fixed rates to ensure predictable payment amounts and to eliminate the risk of payments going too high.
- There is no discount for enrolling in automatic payments, which many other lenders offer.
iHelp private student loans are worth considering if you are in need of funding for school and have exhausted your federal loan options. You’ll have to weigh the pros and cons to decide which aspects are most important to you.
If you are interested in applying with iHelp or learning more about the company, click here.