Refinance rates with Laurel Road start at 1.89%.
Checking your rates won’t affect your score.
When it comes to taking out student loans, there are plenty of banks eager to lend to you. But student loan program iHelp is one of the few services that connects you with community banks.
Unlike big banks, community banks reinvest money back into the towns they serve. When you support a small bank, you’re also supporting local families, jobs, and small businesses. Plus, community banks factor in more than just your credit score when they consider you for a loan. They look at your individual circumstances and make “relationship banking” a priority.
If you’re looking to borrow or refinance your student loans, check out this iHelp review to see if it’s right for you.
iHelp review: For people who prefer community banks
iHelp is an online service that connects borrowers with student loans from community banks. Through iHelp, you can apply for a private student loan or refinance your existing private and federal student loans.
It’s easy to apply for a loan through iHelp. You can complete the entire process online, plus you can check right away whether you meet income requirements. If you don’t, you’ll need to apply with a cosigner.
iHelp also shows you upfront what your interest rate on a private student loan will be. Depending on your credit, you could get one of four possible interest rates. Instead of waiting weeks, you’ll have a sense of your interest rate before you even apply.
Refinanced student loans, on the other hand, work a little differently. If you apply for student loan refinancing, you could get a range of interest rates depending on your credit score. The stronger your credit history, the lower rate you’ll get.
Note that most interest rates you’ll find through the iHelp program are not the most competitive in the student loan lending space. Because each loan comes from a community bank, it won’t necessarily have the lowest rate.
That being said, community banks offer perks like flexible repayment plans and great customer service. Plus, they’re especially transparent when it comes to eligibility requirements, interest rates, and fee structures.
The iHelp program opens the door for student loan borrowers, but iHelp is not actually a lender or loan servicer. Instead, it’s a service brought to you by the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC).
iHelp manages the application process and connects you with local banks. After you choose a loan, a community bank provides funds. Finally, the SLFC will service the loan and manage your repayment plan.
iHelp started as a marketplace for private student loans before it later introduced its iHelp student loan refinance program. At first, only borrowers in certain states could borrow through the iHelp platform. Today, the program operates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Private iHelp student loans
You can take out private loans through the iHelp program starting at $1,000 (or $3,000 if you’re a student in Georgia). iHelp also sets a student debt limit of $100,000 for undergrads and $150,000 for grad students. This includes all your student loan debt, not just your iHelp student loans. For example, if you already have $70,000 in student loans as an undergrad, you won’t be able to take out more than $30,000 through iHelp.
Most undergrads will have to apply with a cosigner, as iHelp requires at least three years of positive credit history. Plus, all its student loans are school-certified, so your college will need to review and approve the loan amount. Before applying, make sure your college or university falls on the list of iHelp’s eligible schools.
Refinanced iHelp student loans
iHelp also connects college graduates with their “consolidation loans” (i.e., refinanced loans). When you refinance your student loans, you combine some or all of your existing student loans into one new loan with different terms.
If you have strong enough credentials (or apply with a cosigner who does), you could get a much lower interest rate than what you have now. Both federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing. Note that if you refinance federal loans, you lose access to federal programs such as income-driven repayment.
That being said, iHelp offers flexible repayment options for refinanced loans. Its graduated repayment plan lets you make interest-only payments for a set amount of time. You might also be able to temporarily pause your payments by putting your loans into forbearance.
To refinance your student loans through iHelp, you must have graduated from an eligible school. Depending on your education level, you can refinance up to $150,000 (undergrad) or $250,000 (grad). For terms, you can choose a 10-year fixed rate, 15-year fixed rate, or 20-year variable rate.
To be eligible for the iHelp student loan refinance program, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio cannot exceed 45 percent. If you’re not sure where your DTI falls, use our debt-to-income calculator to find out.
Using the iHelp online platform
iHelp’s online platform won’t blow you away with its design, but it is relatively easy to use. You can check your rates in under a minute with iHelp’s instant preapproval process. All you have to do is provide a few basic pieces of information.
Applying for a private student loan
Here’s what the preapproval form looks like for borrowers who want to take out a private student loan. If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements, you’ll need a cosigner who does.
After filling out the above form, iHelp will run a soft credit check to see if you qualify. This soft credit inquiry won’t affect your credit score. If you pre-qualify, your next step is to submit a full application with your or your cosigner’s information.
After you finish the application, iHelp will send a request to your college to certify the loan amount. Once it’s approved, the funds will be sent directly to your school.
Since these are private student loans, interest starts accruing from the date of disbursement. If you can afford to, you might benefit from paying off the interest while you’re still a student. If you wait until the grace period ends, you’ll have a lot more interest to pay off.
Applying for student loan refinancing
As with a private student loan, you can go through an instant pre-application process for a refinanced student loan. Here’s what the form looks like.
After you submit the form through iHelp, you can review loan offers. If you find one you like, select it and move on to the full application. You’ll need to enter your:
- Personal information
- Employment information
- Two personal references
- List of student loans for consolidation
In terms of documents, you’ll provide proof of employment, such as pay stubs or a job offer letter. You’ll also upload detailed loan statements for all the loans you wish to refinance.
After submitting your application, keep paying your current student loans until you have approval.
iHelp interest rates and fees
On a private student loan, you could qualify for one of four interest rates, depending on your credit score. When it comes to a refinanced loan, interest rates vary depending on your (or your cosigner’s) creditworthiness. After you apply, iHelp looks at factors such as your income, credit score, and history of debt repayment to assign an interest rate.
Private student loan rates
For private students loans, iHelp relies on the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). The LIBOR is a worldwide benchmark that banks use for certain loan types. All of iHelp’s private student loans have variable rates, so you rate could fluctuate along with the LIBOR.
Depending on your profile, you’ll get one of the following annual percentage rates:
- LIBOR + 2.50% (3.53% APR)
- LIBOR + 4.50% (5.41% APR)
- LIBOR + 5.75% (6.54% APR)
- LIBOR + 8.50% (8.98% APR)
There are no origination or repayment fees on private student loans you take out through iHelp.
Student loan refinancing rates
For refinanced student loans, you have a choice of three loan repayment terms: 10, 15, or 20 years. Here are the options and interest rate ranges for each, according to the iHelp website.
- 10-year fixed with rates that range from 4.75% to 8.00%
- 15-year fixed with rates that range from 5.50% to 9.00%
- 20-year variable with rates that range from LIBOR + 2.50% to LIBOR + 8.50%
As with private student loans, refinanced loans have no supplemental fees.
iHelp eligibility requirements
Unlike many other lending marketplaces, iHelp is very transparent about its eligibility requirements. It tells you exactly what income you or your cosigner need to apply.
Rules for private student loans
Here are the eligibility requirements for taking out a private student loan with one of iHelp’s partner community banks. You must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school
- Meet your state’s legal age requirement for borrowing
- Have at least three years of positive credit history
- Meet other credit requirements, including no bankruptcy for the past seven years, no open collections in the past two years, and no history of student loan default
- Have an annual income of $18,000 or greater for the past two years
Note that if you don’t meet the income or credit requirements, you can apply with a cosigner who does.
Requirements for refinanced student loans
If you wish to refinance your student debt, you’ll need to:
- Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Have graduated from an eligible school
- Meet the legal age requirements of your state
- Have at least two years of positive credit history and meet other credit expectations
- Have an annual income of at least $24,000 for the past two years
- Have a debt-to-income ratio lower than 45 percent
You’ll notice the income requirement is $6,000 higher than the one for taking out a loan.
More about iHelp
iHelp is the online program that connects you with community banks. It manages your application and checks your qualifications, but your actual loan will come from a community bank. The Student Loan Finance Corporation (SLFC) will service your repayment plan.
SLFC has been disbursing and servicing student loans for over 30 years. The company, along with all its partner banks, has a reputation for attentive customer service. This kind of support is one reason many borrowers prefer community banks over national ones.
iHelp contact info
Have questions that weren’t answered in this iHelp review? Head to the iHelp website to live chat with a customer support representative or send a direct message. You can also call 800-645-7404 or email [email protected].
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
|1.04% – 11.98%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|1.13% – 11.23%*,2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|3.84% – 9.40%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.05% – 11.44%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.22% – 11.66%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|2.76% – 7.14%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|1.24% – 11.99%7||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|* 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. |
1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Information advertised valid as of 4/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. If you choose to complete an application, we will conduct a hard credit pull, which may affect your credit score. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.15% effective Jan 1, 2021 and may increase after consummation.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
5 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 11.26% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.66% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 11.37% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.73% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.30% to 11.52% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.29% to 11.89% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 10.76% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.22% to 11.16% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)..
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.76% – 7.14% (2.76% – 7.14% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 3.01% – 7.50% (3.01% – 7.50% APR).
Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.19% – 6.73% (2.19% – 6.73% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 2.89% – 7.09% (2.89%-7.09% APR).
Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 9.54% (1.36% – 8.82% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.13% – 9.84% (4.13% – 9.12% APR).
Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.36% – 8.34% (1.36% – 8.04% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.03% – 8.64% (4.03% – 8.34% APR).
Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 2.10% – 7.41% (2.10%-7.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.69% – 7.83% (4.69% – 7.83% APR).
Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.45% – 9.60% (4.45% – 9.53% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.38% – 12.81% APR).
Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.55% – 7.05% (3.55% – 6.77% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.97% – 10.07% APR).
Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of March 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.11%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%.
Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.
Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer. Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.
Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7 Important Disclosures for Discover.
Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.