What is Education Loan Finance (ELFI), and can it save you money on your student loans? ELFI is SouthEast Bank’s student loan debt consolidation program. The program helps borrowers to consolidate multiple student loans into one, reducing the costs and stress involved with the repayment process.
Read this Education Loan Refinance in-depth review to find out if this program is a good fit for your needs.
What types of loans does Education Loan Finance offer?
ELFI offers loan refinancing options for both parents and students. Students can consolidate their government and private student loans, while parents can consolidate private and PLUS loans taken out for a dependent student.
ELFI’s consolidated loans feature the following options:
- Loan terms: five, seven, 10, 15, and 20-year terms.
- Interest rates: Fixed and variable interest rates are available. Variable rates cap at 9.95% APR. Apply online to get a rate quote.
- Fees: No origination, application, or prepayment fees/penalties. Late fees may apply if your payment is more than 10 days late.
Not sure if the program is available in your state? ELFI serves all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. So no matter where you are in the U.S., you can apply for ELFI refinancing. That doesn’t mean Education Loan Finance is the best option for you.
SuperMoney’s student loan refinancing top picks
Here are SuperMoney’s top choices based on rates, availability, and customer care.
Splash financial offers top rates and no origination or prepayment fees. It allows you to check your personal rate within three minutes and checking will not hurt your credit.
LendKey offers to refinance federal and private loans at fixed or variable interest rates and charges no origination fees. A difference between LendKey and other lenders is that it’s an online platform connecting borrowers with a network of credit unions and banks, rather than being the lender itself. Each loan will be funded by a lender from the network.
SoFi has no hidden fees or payment penalties, it offers very competitive interest rates, and it lets you choose between a fixed or variable interest rate. However, only borrowers with excellent credit can qualify.
About SouthEast Bank
SouthEast Bank has over 30 years of experience in the student lending industry. It’s a Tennessee State chartered bank, headquartered in Knoxville. The Education Loan Finance program is a Southeast Bank division that helps borrowers nationwide to save on their student loans.
SouthEast Bank’s parent holding company is Educational Services of America, which is committed to helping students to afford their education. In addition to facilitating student loan refinancing, the institution has awarded over $20 million in scholarships.
Who services Education Loan Refinance loans?
Education Loan Finance passes off its loans to third-party servicers American Education Services (AES) and Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). So, after you refinance with ELFI, MOHELA or AES will reach out to set up your monthly payment plan.
This servicer has a decent online reputation. However, it has received some complaints regarding customer service and data inaccuracies. This is common for a large servicer, but you can compare the customer reviews of other providers here.
Do you qualify for an Education Loan Refinance loan?
To qualify for loan refinancing or consolidation with Education Loan Finance, you must meet the following requirements:
- Minimum loan amount of $15,000.
- An annual income of at least $35,000.
- Bachelor’s degree or higher from a qualifying post-secondary institution.
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
- Qualifying debt-to-income ratio.
- A credit score of at least 680.
In addition, all applications are subject to credit approval.
Ready to see if you qualify?
Education Loan Finance’s online application
Education Loan Finance makes it easy to apply online. Here’s what you can expect from the process.
Note that the application uses a soft credit pull, which means that applying won’t hurt your credit score.
1. First, visit the website and click, “Start Your Application.”
2. Next, provide your name, email address, and password.
3. Verify your email address.
4. Then provide your personal contact information.
5. Next, enter your education history details.
6. Share your housing situation and desired loan amount. Finally, review the policies and click “Get My Rate.”
After this step, you will find out if you prequalify. If you do and want to accept the offer, it’s time to submit a full application. This will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report, which may cause it to drop a few points.
But remember: prequalifying is a prediction, not a guarantee of approval. Your loan offer is not final until you submit a formal application and receive an official offer.
To process your application, Education Loan Finance needs copies of your most recent payoff letter (or billing statements) from each of your student loan servicers.
Education Loan Finance Referral Program
Next, ELFI wants you to share its program with others. If you refer someone who finances a loan within 90 days, you will receive a $400 check. Further, the person who you referred will receive $100 off their principal balance.
ELFI forbearance options
If you fall into economic hardship, SouthEast Bank may grant a forbearance up to 12 months. But forbearance is not guaranteed. The bank decides whether to grant forbearance on a case-by-case basis.
In summary, here are the pros and cons of ELFI:
Here is a list of the benefits and the drawbacks to consider.
- Good referral program.
- Easy online application.
- Variable interest rate cap of 9.95%.
- Reputable, long-standing bank behind the program.
- Student and parent loan refinancing.
- 12-month forbearance program.
- Competitive interest rates.
- Fixed and variable interest rates.
- May not have the best rates.
- Outsources servicing.
- Forbearance subject to approval.
- May be difficult to get approved.
Is ELFI right for you?
The Education Loan Finance program by SouthEast Bank may be able to streamline your student loan repayments and save you money. It can’t hurt to get a quote, as you can quickly learn your rates, and prequalifying won’t affect your credit.
But before accepting their offer, shop around and collect at least three other quotes. Vet the companies as a whole, considering factors beyond the cost (e.g., forbearance policies, credibility, customer service, referral programs, and servicing). Then, choose the lender that provides the best overall value.
Where else should you look? Get quotes from multiple vetted student loan refinancing companies by clicking here. The process takes just a few minutes, and won’t affect your credit score.
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.