Education Loan Finance (ELFI)
Education Loan Finance (ELFI) is a division of the Tennessee-based SouthEast Bank. It was established in 2015 and originally only offered student loan refinancing. But in 2019, the company also started providing private student loans to undergraduates, graduates, and parent borrowers.
ELFI stands apart for its individualized, dedicated support and its commitment to helping borrowers finance their college education. Due to competitive rates and terms, ELFI’s private student loans are a more affordable way to bridge major and minor funding gaps.
|APR (fixed interest rate)||Starting at 3.20%|
|APR (variable interest rate)||1.30% to 18.00%|
|Eligible loan types||
|Minimum credit score||680|
|Lender type||Direct lender|
Pros & Cons
- Borrowers connect with an experienced student loan advisor who can help them understand the impact of student loans on their finances and credit
- Private loans available in high amounts (up to the amount approved by the school for the academic semester or year)
- Deferment and forbearance available to student borrowers enrolled in a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral program at least half-time
- Option to refinance parent PLUS loans under the student’s name
- No co-signer release option unless the primary borrower refinances their loan
- Higher loan minimums than is standard
- Good credit (680+) or co-signer, 36+ months of credit history, and a $35,000 minimum yearly income needed to qualify
The entire application process is online and free. Prospective borrowers have the option to prequalify for private student loans. This gives them the chance to see what terms and rates they might qualify for without affecting their credit.
Applying for a loan only takes a few minutes. On ELFI’s homepage, click “Find my rate.” From there, provide the following information to make an account:
- First and last name
- Email address
- Password with confirmation
Next, choose either “In-School Loan” for private student loans or “Refinancing Loan.” Review the requirements for each option on the page before continuing.
For a private student loan, you’ll need to answer whether you’re a student or a parent/co-signer. If you’re a student borrower, you’ll need to provide the following:
- Full name
- Name of the school you’re attending
- Degree program
- Current academic year (start/end date)
- Expected graduation date
- Enrollment status (ex. half-time or full-time)
- Social Security Number
- Phone number (optional)
If you’re a parent or co-signer, you’ll be given two options:
- Apply by my own. Fill out your name, contact information, SSN, date of birth, citizenship, housing situation, monthly expenses and income. This is for parent student loans.
- Apply as a co-signer. Link to the primary borrower’s account by using their email address or loan number. You may need to fill in the same information as the primary borrower.
Once you’ve completed the initial application, you’ll need to verify your email address. From there, ELFI will assign you a student loan advisor to walk you through the rest of the process. Depending on your income or your co-signer’s income, you may also need to provide the following:
- W-2 forms
- Previous years’ federal tax returns
- Recent pay stubs or a valid letter of employment
- Government-issued identification (ex. driver’s license or U.S. passport)
The lender will then perform a hard inquiry and evaluate your documentation during the underwriting process. Once that’s done, simply read over and agree to the loan terms to receive the funds. The time to funding can be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
Terms & Requirements
ELFI’s private student loans come with their own eligibility requirements and terms. The lender will consider things like the borrower’s and co-signer’s financial and credit history, debt-to-income ratio, income, and enrollment status. These requirements are standard amongst other private lenders.
The exact requirements depend on whether you’re refinancing an existing loan or applying for a new private loan. Here are the typical borrowing requirements:
- Enrolled in a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree program at half-time or full-time status at an accredited college or university
- U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- 18 or 21 years old, depending on the state
- $35,000 annual minimum income (for the student or co-signer)
- 36+ months’ credit history
- 680+ credit score
- Recommended debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 36% or less (not including mortgage)
For parent student loan borrowers, they must also meet the following requirements:
- Parent or legal guardian (step-parent, adoptive parent, foster parent, etc.)
- Share the same main residence with the student at least 6 months of the year
- Have a dependent student under the age of 24
- Support the student financially for at least half of the current calendar year
ELFI offers private student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents and student loan refinancing.
For private loans, there are no application, origination, or prepayment fees. However, there is a late charge of either 5% or $50, whichever is less. There’s also a $30 fee for insufficient funds or returned checks.
As for APR, these loans have either a fixed-rate or variable-rate APR, depending on the type.
- 1.30% minimum variable APR
- 3.20% minimum fixed APR
Private student loans start at $1,000 and cap out at the total amount cost of attendance for the selected academic period.
For those looking to refinance their student loans, here’s what to expect:
- 1.86% minimum variable APR
- 2.73% minimum fixed APR
- 5 to 20-year terms for student loan refinancing
- 5 to 10-year terms for parent loan refinancing
- $15,000 minimum refinanced amount
ELFI offers four repayment options:
- Immediate: The borrower starts making payments on the interest and principal balance once the funds are disbursed.
- Interest only: The borrower only pays interest while enrolled in school and for 6 months afterward.
- Fixed: The borrower pays $25 a month while enrolled half-time or full-time in a degree program, and for 6 months afterward.
- Deferred: The borrower doesn’t have to make payments while in school.
The term length ranges from 5 to 15 years for undergraduate and graduate loans. Parent loans have a shorter term ranging from 5 to 10 years.
Privacy & Security
Education Loan Finance is dedicated to protecting consumers’ private information. It may collect information via its website, electronic communications, downloadable applications, and third-party websites. However, it doesn’t collect any financial information provided through the application.
Finally, this private lender is not responsible for how third-party websites use or track users’ information. It may also share this information with its affiliates, subsidiaries, and service providers.
On Trustpilot, ELFI has 4.9 out of 5 stars with 1,838 overwhelmingly positive reviews. Most customers are satisfied with the lender’s easy application process and helpful customer service.
ELFI claims to have an award-winning customer service team that includes dedicated student loan advisors who help borrowers from beginning to end. This claim is supported by positive online reviews. You can contact the lender in the following ways:
ELFI’s business hours are:
- Monday through Thursday: 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM (EST)
- Friday: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (EST)
- Saturday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM (EST)
ELFI offers student loan refinancing and private student loans to undergraduate, graduate, and parent borrowers who need help funding their college education. The lender has a good reputation for its exceptional customer service, ongoing support, and easy application process.
That said, ELFI could improve in some ways. It doesn’t offer co-signer release, meaning the borrower must refinance their loan to remove the co-signer. It also has somewhat stricter eligibility requirements than other private lenders.
12700 Kingston Pike
Farragut, TN 37934
Brand disclaimer: “This website is for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or tax advice. Links to other websites or references to services or applications are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply ELFI’s sponsorship or approval of any other site, service or application. ELFI does not control the content of these sites, services or applications.”