CommonBond is an online lender featuring a variety of loans available for college students and graduates. In addition to CommonBond’s student loan refinancing, it also began offering in-school private student loans in 2017.
Currently, CommonBond student loans come in three versions: undergraduate loans, graduate loans and MBA loans. In this most comprehensive of CommonBond student loan reviews, we’ll look at key features of these options to see how they stack up against their rivals.
CommonBond student loan review
CommonBond helps both undergraduate and graduate students finance their education with three types of student loans:
- Undergraduate student loans
- Graduate student loans
- MBA student loans
You’re eligible for CommonBond student loans if you are enrolled at least half-time in a Title IV school. Note, however, that the lender’s MBA loans are limited to a network of business schools that CommonBond works with — if you’re in an MBA program at another school, you’ll have to use CommonBond’s graduate loans instead.
CommonBond reviews student loan applications carefully. The lender generally works with borrowers sporting good to excellent credit, and it requires cosigners for their undergraduate and graduate loans. That said, it also allows you to release your cosigner from the loan if you make two full years of consecutive, on-time monthly payments.
Here’s an overview of the general terms and features offered for CommonBond student loans:
|CommonBond student loan||Undergraduate||Graduate||MBA|
|Variable rates||3.72% – 9.68% APR||3.95% – 9.75% APR||5.48% – 7.09% APR|
|Fixed Rates||5.30% – 9.82% APR||5.29% – 9.80% APR||5.51% – 7.12% APR|
|Loan terms||5, 10, or 15 years||5, 10, or 15 years||10 or 15 years|
|Loan amounts||Up to 100% of cost of attendance||Up to 100% of cost of attendance||The lesser of 100% of cost of attendance, or $110,000 per academic year|
|Origination fee||2% (reflected in APRs)||2% (reflected in APRs)||2% (reflected in APRs)|
In addition to these terms and features, CommonBond offers some additional benefits across all of its student loans:
- Choose an in-school deferment option that matches your needs: immediate full repayment, interest-only payments, fixed $25 monthly payments or full deferment.
- Take advantage of the grace period, which gives you six months following the end of enrollment to resume repayment on CommonBond student loans, just as you would get with a federal student loan.
- Pause student loan repayment through forbearance for up to 24 months total over the life of the loan.
What we like about CommonBond student loans
Overall, CommonBond student loans offer a solid option to pay college costs, thanks in large part to their very competitive pricing. The lender also has some perks, like cosigner release, that aren’t always easy to find among private student loans.
Save with CommonBond student loan rates
For CommonBond student loans, you can choose between fixed or variable interest rates, which started at an annual percentage rate of 3.72% (as of Jan. 14, 2019), along with a 0.25% rate discount for enrollment in autopay.
That’s low enough to compete with federal student loan rates for undergraduates. Savings are even greater if you’re a graduate or MBA student, since the equivalent federal loans generally have higher rates — as of July 1, 2018, they ranged from 6.60% to 7.60%.
CommonBond student loans could be a good fit for the following borrowers:
- Undergraduate students who have reached their federal student loan limits but still have additional educational costs to cover. CommonBond student loans allow you to borrow up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance.
- Graduate and MBA students looking for private student loans with better interest rates than federal options, since the lower end of their rates are currently below those of similar federal loans.
- Parents interested in cosigning private student loans at potentially lower rates than federal parent PLUS loans, which carry a 7.60% rate as of July 1, 2018.
Besides their low costs, CommonBond student loans provide additional benefits that help them stand out.
Apply for CommonBond cosigner release
As mentioned, although you’ll need a cosigner to get a CommonBond undergraduate or graduate student loan, the lender lets you remove your cosigner from the loan down the road.
Borrowers can apply to release a cosigner from their CommonBond student loans after making payments for two years. These 24 monthly payments must be made promptly and consecutively, uninterrupted by forbearance.
Flexible repayment, deferment and forbearance options
CommonBond student loans’ flexible in-school deferment options let you find a solution tailored to your specific situation. You can select the repayment plan that provides the optimal balance between the payments you’ll make today, and the interest charges and costs you’ll pay over the life of the loan.
There are four CommonBond in-school deferment and repayment options:
- Entirely defer payments until six months after graduation, during which time interest will accrue.
- Make interest-only payments while in school, paying interest as you go so it won’t accrue and capitalize (get added to) your balance.
- Make fixed $25 payments that are affordable now and can save even more over the life of your loan.
- Begin making full payments immediately, which can be an excellent option for parents planning to repay the student loans.
As noted above, CommonBond extends a student loan grace period to borrowers, which allows them to further defer repayment for up to six months after enrollment ends.
Beyond the in-school options, CommonBond also offers financial hardship forbearance. If you become unable to repay your student loans, you can reach out to CommonBond to request a pause on your repayment. CommonBond forbearance is handled on a case-by-case basis and is limited to 24 months total over the life of the loan.
CommonBond customer service
CommonBond brags about having “award-winning customer service.” Of course, it may be hard to please everyone, but at very least, this lender does offer a wide variety of ways to get in touch and have your questions answered.
CommonBond customer service contact options include:
- By phone: (800) 975-7812
- Via email: email@example.com
- On Twitter: @CommonBond
- Via snail mail: 524 Broadway, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012
What to watch for with CommonBond student loans
While our CommonBond student loan reviews (including our review of its refinancing loans) peg this lender as an affordable, flexible and accessible option, there are also a couple of details that might give some applicants pause.
Strict cosigner requirements
First, CommonBond student loans for undergraduates and graduates always require a creditworthy cosigner. Only CommonBond MBA loans lack this prerequisite.
While not every lender demands that applicants have a cosigner, it’s very common that students have to get one anyway, as many can’t qualify on their own. About 92% of private student loans funded to undergraduates have a cosigner, as do 63% of graduate students’ private loans, according to MeasureOne’s 2018 Private Student Loan Report.
Having a cosigner could be a benefit, since it can improve your chances of qualifying for lower rates. However, some students might struggle to find a student loan cosigner who is willing and qualified to apply with them, making them ineligible for the loan.
For those who do get a cosigner, signing on to these loans can put the cosigner’s credit at risk if the borrower fails to make payments. CommonBond’s cosigner release option can be a solution to this potential issue, so consider that too.
CommonBond student loan origination fees
CommonBond student loans also have origination fees — something which several of their competitors don’t. This fee is a flat, one-time cost equal to 2% of the loan amount.
This 2% fee is higher than the 1.062% fee for federal direct loans, although it’s still less than the 4.248% loan fee for federal grad PLUS loans.
But even with this origination fee included, CommonBond can still provide savings when compared to other federal or private student loan options.
The origination fee is included in the APR — not added on top of it. All of the APRs quoted on CommonBond’s site and provided in custom quotes include and reflect this origination fee, so at least you can easily compare these with other lenders’ APRs to see how the deal stacks up.
CommonBond student loans are a competitive option
The main takeaway of our CommonBond student loan review is that this lender is worth considering as a solution for borrowers who are figuring out how to get money for college. Their loans are competitively priced and they offer some flexible repayment options.
Of course, if you’re looking at how to fund your education, you’ll first want to tap free aid, like scholarships and grants. Work-study programs and personal savings are also better than loans since they don’t cost interest.
After that, you’ll also want to look at federal loans, though as noted above, CommonBond’s interest rates rival those of federal options when it comes to graduate student loans.
But if you still have a funding gap for your college costs and need to turn to private student loans, CommonBond probably deserves a place on your short-list of possibilities. Of course, be sure to check out other private student loan options to compare rates and other features that can help you save money in the long run.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this article.
Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to private student loans, which is current as of Jan. 14, 2019, unless otherwise noted. Neither CommonBond nor any other financial institutions named above has provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.
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Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
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College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or Nationwide Bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
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5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
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Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.25% – 13.25%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 12.78%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.62% – 11.47%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.38% – 13.38%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|5.85% – 6.99%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.48% – 12.35%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|