- 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
- Customer reviews for ELFI student loan refinance
- How to qualify
- How to refinance student loans with ELFI
- How ELFI compares to other lenders
- How ELFI can improve
- Other lenders to consider
- Why Credible?
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:
|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)
|Min. credit score||680|
|Residency||U.S. citizen or permanent resident|
|Transfer parent loan to child?||No|
|Cosigner release||Not offered|
|Fees||No application, origination, or disbursement fees|
|Education||Bachelor’s degree or higher required|
|Loan servicer||Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) or American Education Services (AES)|
All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 3 ELFI Disclosures
ELFI student loan refinancing could be best if:
- You need to refinance a large loan balance. Unlike several other lenders, ELFI has no set loan maximum for refinancing. This could make it a good option to consider for borrowers who graduated with a high loan balance — such as from an advanced program like law or medicine.
- You earned your degree. To be eligible for refinancing with ELFI, you must have graduated with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- You took out loans for your children. ELFI offers refinancing for any federal or private student loan — including Parent PLUS Loans. If you’re a parent who took out PLUS Loans to pay for your child’s education, you might be able to get a lower interest rate by refinancing with ELFI.
Is ELFI legit?
Yes, ELFI is a legitimate business launched in 2015 that has helped over 14,500 borrowers refinance their student loans. ELFI refinances are funded through SouthEast Bank, which was established in 2002 and currently has over $2 billion in assets.
Additionally, ELFI has earned positive reviews from 92% of customers who left reviews via Trustpilot.
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 — giving you more flexibility in finding a loan payment that fits your budget.
However, parents refinancing loans that 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.
Customer reviews for ELFI student loan refinance
A large portion of Education Loan Finance reviews are positive. Borrowers appreciated ELFI’s easy application and simple funding process, as well as helpful customer service.
Here’s what a few borrowers had to say after refinancing their student loans with ELFI*:
How to qualify
To qualify with ELFI you must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Have earned at least a bachelor’s degree
- Have a credit score of at least 680
- Earn at least $35,000 annually
There might also be other underwriting criteria you’ll need to meet to be eligible for refinancing with ELFI.
ELFI contracts with the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) and American Education Services (AES) to collect payments on its behalf. Instead of offering an autopay discount like many other lenders, ELFI instead provides lower rates to all of its customers by requiring all payments to be made through electronic or digital transfer.
Also keep in mind that ELFI doesn’t offer cosigner release, which means the only way to remove a cosigner from the loan is to refinance again when your credit improves.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, payments and interest accrual on federal student loans have been suspended by the CARES Act until Jan. 31, 2022.
Unfortunately, student loans privately refinanced through ELFI aren’t eligible for this suspension. However, if you’re struggling to make payments because of COVID-19, be sure to reach out to ELFI to see what options — such as forbearance — might be available to you.
How to refinance student loans with ELFI
If you’ve decided to refinance your student loans with ELFI, follow these three steps:
- Prequalify on ELFI’s website. Fill out the prequalification form on ELFI’s site to check your personalized rates. This only requires a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit.
- Complete the application. If you receive an offer that you want to pursue, you need to fill out a full application and submit any required documentation, such as pay stubs or tax returns.
- Manage your payments. If you’re approved, be sure to keep up with payments on your old student loans while the refinance is processed. After your old loans have been paid off with the new loan funds, you’ll begin making payments through either MOHELA or AES.
Before you refinance your stuent loans, it’s a good idea to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. This is easy with Credible: You can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders — including ELFI — in just two minutes without affecting your credit.
How ELFI compares to other lenders
Here’s how ELFI compares to two of Credible’s other partner refinancing lenders:
|Rates from (APR)||Fixed:|
|Loan repayment terms (Years)||5, 7, 10, 15, 20|
(15- and 20-year options not available to parents)
|5 to 20 years||5, 7, 10, 15, 20|
|Loan amount||$15,000 minimum, no set maximum||$5,000 to $300,000||$10,000 to $500,000
(depending on level of education)
|Cosigner release?||Not offered||Not offered for refinancing||Yes, applications accepted after 36 months of consecutive payments|
|Transfer parent loan to child?||No||No||No|
|Loan servicer||Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA) or American Education Services (AES)||University Account Service (UAS)||Firstmark Services|
|Best for||Refinancing large balances||Graduates seeking flexible loan terms||Borrowers who didn’t graduate|
All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 5ISL Education Lending Disclosures | 6SoFi Disclosures
If you’re comparing these lenders, here are a few situations where you might choose one over another:
- You have a large loan balance. Because ELFI has no set loan maximum, it could be a good option for borrowers looking to refinance high student loan balances.
- You need flexible loan terms. College Ave offers a choice of up to 16 loan repayment terms on refinanced loans, which means you can find a term and monthly payment that best suits your monthly budget.
- You didn’t graduate. Unlike several other lenders, Citizens doesn’t require you to have graduated to be eligible for refinancing. This could make it a good choice if you left school without completing your degree.
How ELFI can improve
While ELFI can be a great help to graduates with large debt, it could improve by:
- Offering lower loan minimums: You must have at least $15,000 in student loans to refinance with ELFI.
- Serving borrowers who didn’t graduate: If you left school without completing your degree, you’ll need to consider other lenders.
- Providing more repayment options for parents refinancing PLUS Loans: If you refinance Parent PLUS Loans with ELFI, you can only choose a five-, seven-, or 10-year repayment term. This could make it difficult for parents to afford refinancing if they have a high loan balance.
Other lenders to consider
If you aren’t eligible to refinance your student loans with ELFI, there are plenty of other lenders to consider, including:
Before you refinance, it’s critical to compare as many lenders as you can to find a loan that works best for you. Credible makes this easy — you can see your prequalified rates from several vetted lenders after filling out a single form.
Our hope is that this will be a win-win situation for you and us — we only want to get paid if you find a loan that works for you, not by selling your data. This means Credible will only get paid by the lender if you finish the refinancing process and a loan is disbursed. Additionally, Credible charges you no fees of any kind to compare your refinancing options.
The company above is one of Credible’s approved partner lenders. Because they compete for your business through Credible, you can request rates from them by filling out a single form. Then, you can compare your available options side-by-side. Requesting rates is free, doesn’t affect your credit score, and your personal information is not shared with our partner lenders unless you see an option you like. Credible receives compensation if you close a loan with one of our partner lenders. The rates you receive and the fees you pay (if any) are not impacted by this compensation.