FAQs

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What is student loan refinancing? How is it different than consolidation?

Student loan refinancing is the process of combining one or more federal and private student loans into a single loan with new terms, including a new (hopefully lower!) interest rate, monthly payment amount, and/or repayment length. The Federal Student Loan Consolidation program similarly combines only your federal loans into one payment, but it uses a weighted average of all of your interest rates, and it does not offer consolidation of any student loan debt obtained from a private lender.

Which loans can be refinanced? Can ELFI consolidate federal and private loans?

Any student loan debt that was used for financing your education from an approved post-secondary institution, such as SouthEast Bank private loans, private student loans from other lenders, or your federal student loans, i.e. Stafford, Grad PLUS, Parent PLUS, and Consolidation Loans, etc. can be consolidated into one loan through ELFI. Even if you consolidated all of your federal student loans into a federal Consolidation Loan, you can refinance the Consolidation Loan with an ELFI loan. No other consumer debt, such as credit card, auto, or mortgage, can be included even if it was used to pay education expenses. Keep in mind that if you consolidate federal student loans, you may lose some alternative repayment plans associated with the federal government loan program.

Do I need a co-signer? Do you offer co-signer release?

ELFI may require a co-signer if you do not qualify based on your own credit, income, or debt-to-income ratio. We also offer co-signer release, which releases any co-signers from your existing student loans if you qualify for an ELFI loan based on your own credit history.

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GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is ELFI?

ELFI is a suite of education loan refinance and consolidation products offered by SouthEast Bank.

I didn’t graduate from college. Can I still consolidate my student loans?

SouthEast Bank requires completion of a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution in order to be eligible for consolidation through the ELFI program.

Can I consolidate my student loans with my spouse’s student loans?

Although spouses are eligible to serve as co-signers on an application, the ELFI program does not consolidate student loan debt among multiple borrowers.

Will the refinanced loan have a variable or fixed interest rate?

ELFI offers both fixed and variable interest rates. By learning more about how to refinance student loans and by choosing the right program you can convert a variable interest rate to a fixed interest rate loan or vice versa. Fixed interest rates will not change from year to year, but variable interest rates will fluctuate based on the LIBOR index.

Is consolidating or refinancing my student loan debt the right decision for me?

Consolidating or refinancing your education loans may be the right decision for you if you need more money in your pocket right now because it can extend the life of your loan and potentially lower your current monthly payments (depending on the amount of debt you have). If you don’t necessarily need the extra cash and just want the simplicity of a single monthly payment, you can still use any extra money you save to pay down the principal faster without any penalties. To learn more, check out some additional information on consolidating and refinancing.

Is refinancing ever a bad idea?

If you only have a couple more years or a few thousand more dollars to go until you pay off your student loans, refinancing may be more hassle than it’s worth. Switching to a new lending institution may eliminate any benefits you’ve earned over the years, so thoroughly investigate how consolidating or refinancing your student loans will change the terms of your existing student loans. To learn more about refinancing and consolidating your loans, check out this blog post with information on topics that might require a second look during the process.

Will my student loan interest be tax deductible if I refinance with ELFI?

Under current federal law, education loans refinanced with ELFI retain their student loan classification for tax purposes. However, we recommend that you consult a tax professional for advice, as various income levels can affect how student loan interest is able to be deducted. You can find more information about tax benefits for student loans on the U.S. Department of Education website.

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APPLICATION PROCESS

What are ELFI’s eligibility requirements for consolidation?

To qualify for refinancing or student loans consolidation through ELFI, you must have at least $15,000 in student loan debt and must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved post-secondary institution. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident at the age of majority or older and have a debt-to-income ratio that indicates you have the capacity to repay the loan.

What loan amounts are eligible to be refinanced by ELFI?

You must have a minimum amount of $15,000 in student loan debt in order to refinance with ELFI. The maximum amount of student loan debt that can be refinanced with ELFI varies based on eligibility. Our standard maximum loan limit is $250,000, with higher amounts considered for exceptionally well-qualified borrowers.

What documents will I need to complete my application with ELFI?

To speed up your student loan refinance, be sure to have current billing statements for each of your loans, your most recent pay stubs, W-2’s, a copy of your valid ID, and your billing account information ready. You can find a complete list of required information on our document checklist.

What information do you need about my current student loans?

Before applying, we recommend you check out our blog post about what actions you should take prior to applying. To process your application and refinance your education loans, we will need copies of your most recent billing statements or payoff letters from each of your student loan servicers showing the following information:

  • Name
  • Account Number
  • Current balance or payoff amounts
  • Payment mailing address

Please note that each statement should not be more than 30 days old. Additionally, if you plan to exclude some loans from a single servicer, you will need to provide sequence numbers, loan IDs, or any identifying number for each loan to be included in your refinance. Click here to view sample statements.

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FEES & PAYMENTS

What fees can I expect to pay?

There is no application or origination fee and no penalty for paying off your loan early. However, if SouthEast Bank does not receive any part of a payment within 10 days after the due date, it may assess a late fee of 5% of the past due amount or $50, whichever is less. The borrower may be charged $30 for any payment (including electronic payments) that is returned unpaid due for any reason.

When does repayment start?

Repayment starts 30-45 days after disbursement. If you are currently enrolled in a grace period on your student loans, contact an ELFI application specialist to discuss your options and for help determining if refinancing today fits your budget.

What will my monthly payment be?

Monthly payments are based on a number of factors: amount of the loan, number of years in which it will be repaid, and interest rate (fixed or variable). To get an idea of what you can expect and what term might be right for you, try out our Payment Estimator.

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BONUS PROGRAMS

What is the ELFI Referral Program?

The ELFI Referral Program is a rewards program for anyone who successfully refers individuals to refinance a student loan with ELFI. Whenever a new customer registers for the program through your referral link and completes an ELFI loan within 90 days of registering, you will receive a $400 cash bonus via check and the referred customer will receive a $100 cash bonus via check by mail within 6-8 weeks after the loan disburses. A new customer is defined as an individual without an existing ELFI loan account or who has not held an ELFI loan account within the past 24 months.

What is the ELFI Fast Track Bonus program?

In addition to the potential benefits to your monthly budget, the ELFI Fast Track Bonus program offers one more reason to finalize your loan application promptly. New customers who complete an application, including submission of all required documents, and accept the terms of an approved ELFI education loan within 30 days of initial application will receive a $100 ELFI Fast Track Bonus via check by mail within 6-8 weeks after the loan disburses. A new customer is defined as an individual without an existing ELFI loan account or who has not held an ELFI loan account within the past 24 months.

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