CommonBond was established in 2011 by three graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. These graduates were looking dissatisfied with current lending options and felt that there should be more affordable loans to help graduate students fund their education. CommonBond began as a pilot program at The University of Pennsylvania. The company raised over $3.5 million from UPenn alumni. Thus, during their pilot program, about 40 MBA students at Penn received loans. Since the pilot was completed, CommonBond expanded to additional programs, which included law programs, medical programs, and accounting programs. They also partnered with other investors and lenders, which led to the expansion of their student refinancing services to help borrowers pay off their loans.
What Is CommonBond Refinancing?
CommonBond offers refinancing of student and Parent PLUS loans. Student loans can be refinanced using either a variable or fixed rate plan. Currently, variable rates ranges from 3.35% APR to 6.74% APR, for students who agree to pay using the auto-pay function. Students who choose a variable rate will have a rate that changes with the market. Alternatively, students may opt for a fixed rate plan. The current interest rates for fixed rate refinancing of students and parent loans range from 3.79% APR to 6.01% APR. This option allows students to lock in a low rate for the life of their loan. Interestingly, CommonBond also offers hybrid rate loans. This means that for the first five years of their loan, they will have a fixed rate and for the last five years of their loan they will have a variable interest rate. Current rates for the hybrid plan range from 3.80% APR to 6.29% APR. The hybrid loans come with a ten year repayment term, while the fixed and variable rate plans have more flexibility to choose a repayment term (5 year, 10 year, 15 year, and 20 year terms are available). Currently, hybrid loans are not available to students who live in the following states: AK, AL, AZ, CA, DC, IA, ID, MO, PA, RI, and VT. These loans are available to borrowers who have at least $10,000 to refinance. Currently, CommonBond offers refinanced loans to graduates at over 2,000 colleges and universities. In order to apply for refinancing through this company, applicants must be a resident of the United States and have graduated from an accredited program. Applicants who are approved typically have higher than average credit scores, although no minimum credit score is listed. If you are concerned that your credit score is not high enough, CommonBond permits applicants to apply with a cosigner.
How Do I Apply for Refinancing through CommonBond?
CommonBond prides itself on a fast and easy application process. In fact, they boast a two-minute application process. For this initial application, you will need to complete basic demographic information, such as your address and school information. This initial application allows CommonBond to do a soft credit check, which will enables the company to give the applicant a quote on potential interest rates and terms. If the applicant agrees to the loan terms, they will next be prompted to complete documentation and agree to have a hard credit check. In addition, applicants will need to have all required documentation, which includes proof of employment (such as tax returns or pay stubs), proof of graduation (as evidenced by a transcript or diploma), statements from student loans, and proof of residency (such as ID, lease agreement, or utility bills). After submitting this documentation, applicants can expect to hear back from the company within five business days. After approval of documentation, applications will need to sign electronically for their loans. Once this is completed, CommonBond will complete the disbursement to pay current lenders.
Benefits of using CommonBond Refinancing
- A discount on interest rate of 0.25% for making payments using auto-pay
- No origination fee
- Option for differing types of interest rate, including a unique hybrid option which combines the traditional fixed and variable terms
- A number of options to spread out payments, which range from 5 years to 20 years
- No penalties for prepaying your loan balance
- No application fees
- Unique protection for borrowers, which include options for pausing payments in the event of job loss and helping borrowers find a new job
- Parent Loan refinancing offers the option for transferrable loans, which will enable parents to transfer their loans to their child
- Friendly customer support
- The ability to combine private and federal loans
- Loan forgiveness in the event of the death or permanent disability of the borrower
Is it easy to contact customer service?
Yes, if you need to reach a representative there are a number of ways to get help. There is a chat option for those who prefer to touch base online. There is also an option to call or e-mail for support. Customer service is available 24/7.
Is it hard to get approved for a loan?
Based on their model, it can be more difficult to qualify for a loan with CommonBond as compared to other lenders. However, since the company does not have a minimum required credit score, it may be worth it to see whether you qualify. Additionally, applicants are permitted to apply with a cosigner to help improve their chances of approval. The company specifically aims to fund students from high-earning potential degree programs.
Is there a maximum that I can borrow?
Yes, a maximum loan of $110,000 can be requested.
What type of payment options are available while I am still in school?
Students can choose from three different types of payment options. One option, full deferment, allowed students to forgo paying the loan completely while they are in school and also grants a six month grace period upon graduation. A second type, called the interest-only payment, allows borrowers to only pay the interest while the student is still enrolled in school. This option will reduce the lifetime amount of interest that is paid over the life of the loan. The final repayment option is for students who want to pay full principal and interest while they are in school.