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ELFI Student Loan & Refinance Review

Home » Finance » ELFI Student Loan & Refinance Review

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ELFI student loan reviews cite excellent customer service, a smooth lending process, great terms, and flexible refinancing. The organization scores highly among both experts and customers and averages a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars across multiple platforms. Well-known lending marketplace, Credible, features ELFI as one of its trusted lending partners.

ELFI stands for Education Loan Finance, and the company began in 2015 as a division of SouthEast Bank in Tennessee. ELFI provides student loans and student loan refinancing that feature Low interest rates available flexible terms, no origination fees, potentially low interest rates, and pre-qualification that won’t affect your credit score. The company earns a spot in our best student loan refinancing review.

FAFSA News and Its Affects

Private student loans are only one way of financing higher education. In general, filling out the FAFSA form each year and taking on federal student loans is the most cost-effective and safest way to finance education. Filling out the FAFSA form is a prerequisite for obtaining student financial aid, federal student loans, grants, and other benefits.

However, recent changes in the FAFSA form, designed to simplify the application process, have run into what the US Department of Education called “minor issues.” The issues have deterred some students from filling out the form.

Additionally, Jessica Dickler at CNBC reported that many families feel they may not qualify for student financial aid each year and skip the process altogether, missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars annually. According to the report, only 24% of the 2024 high school class had completed the FAFSA as of mid-February, down approximately 42% over last year.

With fewer students filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, more of them may be looking to private lending to help finance college. However, the best way to approach college financing is still to fill out the FAFSA and use federal aid and federal loans, relying on private student loans only when necessary.

ELFI student loan review feature image

Student Loans


  • Many flexible loan terms available

  • No origination, application, or prepayment fees

  • Pre-qualify with a soft credit inquiry only

  • Low interest rates available


  • More stringent borrowing requirements than some competitors

  • Cosigner release plan unavailable

  • Multi-year approvals unavailable

  • Late payment penalty fees apply

ELFI Student Loan Review: Features and Benefits

ELFI is primarily an online lender and refinancing provider. The organization provides student loan and student loan refinance lending in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Besides having high ratings overall, ELFI sports several other benefits. However, the company also has some less desirable attributes to consider when making a decision.

  • Highly rated loan and refinancing provider
  • Fixed APR between 6.99% and 12.44% for student loans
  • Fixed refinance APRs from 5.48% to 8.94%
  • Variable student loan refinance rates from 5.28% to 8.99%
  • Variable student loan rates from 4.98% to 12.79%
  • No application or origination fees
  • Cosigner release plans not available
  • Pre-qualify without a credit check
  • Loan terms of 5, 7, 10, and 15 years
  • Refinance terms of 5, 7, 10,15, and 20 years
  • Parent loan terms of 5, 7, and 10 years
  • Loan amounts from $1,000 to the total cost of education
  • The minimum refinance amount is $10,000
  • Multiyear approval not offered
  • 5% or $50 late payment fees apply
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher required for refinancing
  • $35,000 minimum income to qualify for loans or refinancing
  • Requires a 680 credit score with 36-month history to qualify
  • Must be a US citizen or permanent resident to apply

ELFI Student Loan Review: Editorial Rating

Trusted Company Reviews Rating Score for ELFI Student Loans: 8.8

Our ELFI student loan review and student loan refinancing review focuses on the organization’s flexibility, ease of use, no-credit-check pre-qualifying, and potentially low APRs. For those reasons, ELFI ranks high on our list with 8.8 of 10 possible points. Based on our research, that’s on par with most responses from borrowers.

The organization gained points in our review by offering variable loan rates as low as 4.98% and fixed rates for loan refinancing at just 5.48%, some of the lowest available among competitors. Additionally, ELFI earned points by offering numerous repayment term length options, including four options for student loans, five for refinance borrowing, and three for parent loans and refinancing.

However, ELFI falls short in a few categories compared to some of its competitors. Despite not charging any origination, application, or prepayment penalty fees, ELFI does charge a 5% or $50 fee for late payments. In addition, the company doesn’t offer a plan for releasing the cosigner if desired. Lastly, ELFI requires a bachelor’s degree or higher to qualify for refinancing.

Fixed APR 6.99% to 12.44%
Variable APR 4.98% to 12.79%
Refi Fixed APR 5.48% to 8.94%
Refi Variable APR 5.28% to 8.99%
Loan Terms 5, 7, 10, 15 Years
Refi Terms 5, 7, 10,15, 20 years
Repayment Options Immediate, interest-only, deferred, fixed
Loan Amounts $1,000 to the total cost of attendance

About ELFI Student Loans

ELFI student loans are available to parents and students attending a Title IV school, enrolled at least half-time, and pursuing at least a bachelor’s degree. The company’s loan rates vary from fixed APRs ranging from 6.99% to 12.44% and variable rates from 4.98% to 12.79%. Additionally, ELFI offers repayment terms that include loan lengths of between five and 15 years for students and five, seven, or ten years for parent loans.

Loan amounts start at $1,000 and can go as high as the total certified cost of education. Students and parents can pre-qualify for borrowing on the company’s listing at Credible or Credible’s site. Pre-qualification draws only a soft credit inquiry that doesn’t affect your credit score and won’t appear on future credit inquiries.

ELFI doesn’t offer multi-year loan approvals, so students or parents must reapply each academic year if additional funding is necessary. Repayment options for students include immediate, interest-only, fixed, and deferred. The grace period after school for loan repayments other than the immediate payment plan is six months. Payments become due 30 to 60 days after the grace period ends.

About ELFI Student Loan Refinance

ELFI student loan refinance options are more flexible than those of several of its competitors. ELFI offers refinancing options for both federal and private student loans. However, it’s important to understand that refinancing federal student loans disqualifies you from the benefits of federal loans and their repayment terms.

ELFI student loan rates start at a variable rate of 5.28% and a fixed rate of 5.48%, ranking among the lowest available. The minimum borrowing amount for refinancing is $10,000, and repayment terms include 5, 7, 10,15, and 20-year student options and 5, 7, or 10-year options for parent loans. Like the company’s student lending, no origination, application, or prepayment fees apply to ELFI student loan refinancing.

However, a bachelor’s or higher degree is required to qualify for student loan refinancing through ELFI.

Qualification Requirements

ELFI is upfront and transparent with its qualification requirements for student loans and refinancing. The requirements for students or cosigners are as follows:

  • Must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States
  • A credit score of 680 or higher
  • At least 36 months of credit history
  • $35,000 minimum annual income
  • Must be enrolled at least ½-time for student loans
  • Must be enrolled in a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree program
  • Must have a bachelor’s or higher degree for refinancing
  • Attend or have graduated from a Title IV not-for-profit school

Repayment Details

ELFI offers several repayment options for students and parents.

  • Loan length terms for students are 5, 7, 10, and 15 years
  • Loan length terms for parent loans are 5, 7, and 10 years
  • First payments are due between 30 and 60 days after the grace period ends
  • The grace period is six months after graduation or after the student stops attending school at least ½ time.
  • Four repayment structures are available.
  • Hardship payment deferral for up to 12 months may be available if necessary.

Repayment Options

  • Immediate loan repayments begin 30 to 60 days after disbursement to the school and include full principal and interest payments.
  • Interest-only loans require making interest payments only while in school, with full payments beginning after the grace period.
  • Fixed loan repayments consist of $25 payments during school, with full payments starting after the grace period.
  • Deferred loans require no payment while in school. However, interest will accrue from the loan disbursement date. Full payments begin after the grace period.

ELFI Student Loan and Refinance Reviews

Our ELFI student loan review covers the technical aspects of Education Loan Finance—and customers and experts agree that the company performs well in terms of customer service, easy application, communication, answering student loan questions, flexibility, and repayment options. Accordingly, the company rates at 4.8 stars at Trustpilot, with 93% of reviewers awarding the company five stars and under 3% giving it a rating of below four stars.

Great personalized service and loved having an assigned rep to communicate with. S*** M**** was great to work with and promptly answered questions and informed us of the status. Fast and easy application process. Achieved our goal of a lower rate and extended term over other offer received. – Miesha, Trustpilot

Refinancing, loans of any kind really stress me out, ELFI (and Credible) made this whole process really easy….. – Brown, Trustpilot

I did feel as though every time I reached out to my advisor he would consistently reply to me the same day. – Deasiah, Trustpilot

Their loan underwriting process is more like a mortgage company. I have refinanced my loan numerous times with other companies and didn’t have any problems with my financial information that I provided. I liked the rates they offered initially and was keyed on a specific rate but they ended up offering a higher rate after my application was approved. It just felt like a bait and switch type maneuver. – Will, Trustpilot

Frequently Asked Questions

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About Author

Dr. Ali
Deane Biermeier is a prominent figure in all things finance and home improvement, renowned for his detailed written content, analyses, and expert advice. Over the past several years, he's contributed to industry-leading publications such as Forbes Home, Angi/HomeAdvisor, US News and World Report, Newsweek Vault, and Family Handyman. Deane's expertise is further established and recognized through his review board roles and by providing expert insights at The Spruce and Family Handyman. His recent affiliation with in 2023 further solidifies his position as a respected authority in his field. Key Highlights Extensive Publication Contributions: Deane's work is featured across multiple esteemed platforms, including Forbes Home, Angi/HomeAdvisor, US News, Newsweek Vault, and more. Expert Consulting and Insight: Offers specialized content reviews and consultations for The Spruce and Family Handyman, using his vast knowledge and experience. What Makes Deane Biermeier Stand Out? Deane's writing goes beyond providing lists of information. He strives to make complex topics understandable and breaks them down into easy-to-understand points so his readers can make confident decisions quickly. His content covers a wide array of topics, offering practical and valuable information on home-related, DIY, and home and personal finances. Philosophy and Approach Deane firmly believes in the power of informed decision-making and empowers his readers to do the same. His reviews focus on delivering essential and pertinent information with honesty and transparency without bias. He stresses the importance of understanding the full picture before committing to financial products or home improvement services and provides relevant information to ensure his readers can make confident decisions. Impact and Recognition Readers and industry leaders have widely acknowledged Deane's contributions. Delivering trustworthy information has made him a go-to source for those seeking practical advice on home improvement and financial decisions. With years of field experience complemented by thorough research, Deane continues to serve as a valuable resource for homeowners and consumers alike. Engage with Deane Biermeier Readers are encouraged to follow Deane for the latest reviews and updates. His author bio page, featuring his latest content, is filled with valuable insights and information to refer to when making product and provider choices. Sharing his profile and work on social media is a great way to empower others with useful and factual information.
Dr. Ali

Deane Biermeier

Last Updated: April 15, 2024