- Refinancing large loan balances
- Borrowers who earned their degree
- Parents who took out loans for their children
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) is a student loan refinancing program offered by Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank that’s available to college graduates and parents nationwide.
In this post:
- ELFI interest rates and loan details
- ELFI student loan refinancing review
- How ELFI compares to other lenders
- How to refinance student loans with ELFI
ELFI interest rates and loan details
Although ELFI’s $15,000 minimum loan balance is higher than some other lenders, there’s no predetermined upper limit. A wide selection of repayment terms helps you match your monthly payment to your budget, though parents refinancing loans they took out for their children have fewer options. If you’re interested in a variable rate loan, the rate is capped at 9.95%.
|Rates from (APR)||Fixed rate: 3.29%+3
Variable rate: 2.39%+3
|Loan terms||Student loan refinancing: 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years
Parent loan refinancing: 5, 7, and 10 years
|Loan types||Any private or federal student loan, including PLUS loans
|Ability to transfer parent loan to child||No|
|Minimum credit score||680|
|Cosigner release||Not offered|
|Education||Bachelor’s degree or higher required
|Citizenship/Residency||U.S. citizen or permanent resident|
|Loan servicer||Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA)|
ELFI student loan refinancing review
ELFI offers two student loan refinancing programs:
- One for graduates who took out loans for their own college
- One for parents who took out private student loans or federal PLUS loans for their children
If you’re refinancing your own student loan debt, you have a choice of five repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years. That’s helpful if you’re refinancing medical school loans or six-figure law school debt.
But parents refinancing loans they took out for their children are limited to five, seven, or 10-year repayment terms. Since some parents may be near retirement, the lack of a 15- or 20-year repayment option is understandable. But as a result, some parents may find it difficult to refinance into a loan with an affordable monthly payment.
How to qualify
Regardless of whether you’re refinancing your own debt or a child’s, you need to have earned at least a bachelor’s degree to qualify with ELFI.
If you can’t meet ELFI’s 680 minimum credit score and $35,000 minimum income requirements, you can try applying with a cosigner. If you’re approved to refinance with a cosigner, the only way to release them from their obligation is to refinance again when your credit improves — ELFI does not offer cosigner release.
Although ELFI serves all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify.
ELFI contracts with the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) to collect payments on its behalf. Payments are only accepted online or by automatic balance transfer — you can’t drop a check in the mail.
Instead of offering an interest rate discount for making automatic payments, ELFI says all of its customers receive the benefit of a lower rate based on the requirement that payments be made through some type of electronic payment.
If you lose your job or have some other unexpected economic hardship like an illness, you may be granted up to 12 months of forbearance. But ELFI notes that forbearance is at the discretion of the lender, SouthEast Bank.
How ELFI compares to other lenders
How to refinance student loans with ELFI
ELFI can be a good match for many borrowers who are looking into refinancing. The rate cap on variable-rate loans may be an attractive feature for those considering that product. Because every lender has its own methods for evaluating borrowers, it’s always a good idea to request rates from multiple lenders first.
Credible simplifies the process of requesting rates from ELFI and other lenders offering student loan refinancing. It only takes two minutes to request rates from the best companies to refinance with, and we use a soft credit inquiry that doesn’t affect your credit score. Your personal information is never shared with lenders unless you see an option you want to proceed with.
How ELFI can improve
While ELFI can be a great help to graduates with large debt, it could improve by:
- Providing refinancing for loan balances of less than $15,000
- Serving borrowers who didn’t graduate
- Offering more repayment options for parents refinancing PLUS loans