What is a private student loan?

A private student loan is a financing option for higher education in the United States provided by a private lender.

How much of my education costs can an ELFI Private Student Loan cover?

The ELFI Private Student Loan program can cover up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance. The cost of attendance typically includes tuition, books, supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. The minimum you can borrow is $1,000.

Do I need to be a full-time student to obtain an ELFI Private Student Loan?

You do not need to be a full-time student, but you must be enrolled in a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Doctoral degree program and be attending classes at least half-time. Check out our full eligibility requirements to learn more.


Which are better, federal loans or private loans?

Both federal and private student loan products are financial tools to assist you in paying for college. As a general rule, we recommend that you complete your FAFSA and take advantage of grants, scholarships, and other federal loan products first before exploring private student loans.

What options do I have for reducing the overall cost of my loan?

ELFI Private Student Loans do not have early payment fees or service fees, so the primary driver of cost is the annual interest rate. Paying your loans off faster will reduce the amount of interest you pay and save you money. Some of your options for faster repayment are:

  • Making payments while in school. Interest accrues from the point the loan was taken out, so beginning to make payments, even if just interest only or partial payments, will reduce the amount of interest added to your loan while you are in school.
  • Select shorter loan terms. Generally, shorter loan terms have a lower interest rate than longer loan terms. Selecting a shorter loan term with a lower interest rate can lead to savings.
Who is SouthEast Bank?

SouthEast Bank is a chartered bank, headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee. The management team has over 30 years of experience in commercial banking and student loans. Education Loan Finance, a division of Southeast Bank, was created to provide lower cost student loan options to borrowers nationwide.

Why should I select ELFI for my private student loans?

Education Loan Finance has three decades of experience in the student loan industry, and throughout that time, we have established a track record of customer service and integrity. Each applicant is assigned a Student Loan Advisor, who is dedicated to helping you throughout the application process.

What loan amounts are eligible to be financed by Education Loan Finance?

The minimum loan amount is $1,000 for a private student loan with ELFI. The maximum loan size is the amount approved by the school for qualified education expenses for the requested academic period.


How long does the application process take? How quickly can I get my loan?

Our entire application process is online, so completing your application can be done in a matter of minutes. Once you have submitted your application, you’re assigned a Student Loan Advisor who will be available to answer any questions.

Once we have your application and your documentation, we send the loan application information to the school for certification. Your school will verify your enrollment status, academic progress, and your financial aid package to confirm the amount of the loan. Once the school has certified the amount, you must complete your application by accepting your loan terms, and then we will send the funds directly to your school on your behalf.

Do you require students to make Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to receive the loan?

Yes, we ask the school to verify SAP during the school certification process. Each school has a SAP policy for financial aid purposes. Compliance with your school’s SAP policies means that you have to have good enough grades and complete enough classes (credits, hours, etc.) to show progress of completing your degree or certificate in a time that’s acceptable to your school. You can check your school’s website or ask someone in the financial aid office if you need clarification on your school’s SAP policies.

What documents will I need to complete my application with Education Loan Finance?

To speed up your private student loan application, you will need to have the following documents:

If applying with or without a cosigner

  • Paystubs documenting the last 30 days of payment (if employed)
  • Previous year W-2
  • Government-issued Identification

Your cosigner should also provide

  • Paystubs documenting the last 30 days of payment (if employed)
  • Previous year W-2
  • Government-issued Identification

Potentially, some additional documents may be required depending on the source of your income or your cosigner’s income. Your ELFI Student Loan Advisor will contact you with details should this be the case.

Will the application process affect my credit score?

During prequalification, which provides you with preliminary rates and terms that you may qualify for, Education Loan Finance will perform a “soft credit inquiry.” A soft credit inquiry will not affect your credit score. However, once you choose your loan product and submit an application, Education Loan Finance will request to view your full credit report, which will show up as a hard credit inquiry. These inquiries are common among lenders and necessary for Education Loan Finance to make a final rate and product offer.

Do I need a cosigner? What are the benefits to having a cosigner?

You don’t need a cosigner when applying for an ELFI Private Student Loan as long as you qualify on your own. If you have limited credit history and income, a cosigner with good credit history and income can improve your chances of obtaining a private student loan.

When should I apply for a private student loan?

Submit your private student loan application before the start of an academic year or semester during the financial aid process. Your school will be required to certify the loan during the application process, so keep that in mind when planning your finances for college.


Will my ELFI Private Student Loan have a variable or fixed interest rate?

Education Loan Finance offers both fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed interest rates will not change from year to year, but variable interest rates will fluctuate based on the LIBOR index, which may increase or decrease over the life of the loan.

Am I automatically approved for the loan if I receive a prequalification interest rate range?

No. Education Loan Finance still has to go through the underwriting process to determine if a borrower is eligible for a loan. Prequalification does not automatically qualify you for a final offer.

What is the basis for Education Loan Finance’s variable rate loans? What is LIBOR?

Education Loan Finance’s variable rate loans are based on 3-Month LIBOR. LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offered Rate) is a benchmark rate used by the world’s leading banks when making short-term loans with each other. This index is the first step to calculating our variable interest rates. The interest rate on an Education Loan Finance variable rate loan may increase or decrease as the 3-Month LIBOR index increases or decreases. This index can be found in resources like The Wall Street Journal.

Do you offer interest rate caps?

Yes. Borrowers who take out a variable rate loan will never have their rate exceed 18.00% APR.*

How often will my variable rates change?

Rates are subject to change without notice, until a Student Loan Approval Disclosure is provided by Education Loan Finance. After receiving a variable rate loan, the rate is subject to change quarterly on January 1st, April 1st, July 1st, and October 1st. For more information about how variable rates are calculated, please view the Application and Credit Agreement.


Do ELFI Private Student Loans have any fees?

There are no application, origination, or prepayment fees.

Do ELFI Private Student Loans have any late fees?

If Education Loan Finance does not receive any part of a payment within ten days after the due date, there is 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 for any reason.

What discounts do you offer?

ELFI does not require you to do anything extra to get the best rate we can offer. All borrowers are required to make payments with an electronic or digital transfer. Therefore the auto pay discount is already reflected in your approved interest rate.


How does deferment work? How long can I defer the loan?

If you choose the deferred repayment option, full principal and interest payments can be deferred as long as the student remains enrolled at a post-secondary institution at least half-time. For undergraduate and graduate loans, full principal and interest payments would begin six months after the student graduates or drops below half-time enrollment. To learn how different repayment options can affect your monthly payment amount and what you might pay overall for the loan, check out our repayment options and examples page.

What will my monthly payment be?

Factors that determine monthly payments include the amount of the loan, the type of loan product, the term of the loan, and the type of interest rate (fixed or variable).

Who will service my loans?

American Education Services (AES) is the third party loan service provider that Education Loan Finance currently partners with to service your student loans. Once you accept your loan, AES will reach out to you to set up an account that you will use to make monthly payments.

When does repayment start?

Repayment depends on the loan option you select. ELFI offers Immediate, Fixed, Interest-Only, and Deferred repayment options.

For Immediate, Fixed, and Interest Only, repayment options begin after the loan has been funded (typically 30-45 days from the date your loan was approved). For deferred, repayment will begin six months after you graduate or are not at least a half-time student.

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