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ELFI Student Loan Refinance Review

Due to excellent interest rates and loan features, ELFI is a great choice for many borrowers. However, there are times when refinancing with ELFI is a mistake.

Written By: Michael P. Lux, Esq.

Last Updated:

Affiliate Disclosure and Integrity Pledge

ELFI interest rates usually rank among the very best in most loan categories.

Refinancing federal loans can be risky because borrowers have to give up the perks that come with federal student loans.

ELFI customer service is award-winning and based in the US — which means fewer headaches for borrowers..

Other lenders may offer better interest rates.

ELFI Review Overview

ELFI has emerged as one of the best student loan refinance lenders on the market.

Our review of ELFI found two big advantages over most other lenders. First, the ELFI customer support is based in the US and has won several awards. Second, because ELFI is backed by a bank, its rates tend to be more stable than those offered by tech companies like SoFi, and Earnest.

That all being said, there is some cause for concern for borrowers considering refinancing with ELFI.

Getting Started: The ELFI Basics

ELFI Overview
Loan Terms5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 Years
Variable Rate Loans5.28% - 8.99%
Fixed Rate Loans5.48% - 8.69%
Minimum Refinance Amount$10,000
New Borrower Bonus$150

While the starting rates on ELFI loans are decent, the highlight for ELFI might be the 15 and 20-year fixed-rate loans which are among the lowest rates on the market.

To qualify for an ELFI loan, a borrower does need to have a degree and pass a credit check. Like most legitimate lenders, there are no loan application fees, origination fees, or prepayment penalties.

One area where ELFI is a little more strict than other lenders is that they require a minimum student loan balance of $10,000 to refinance. Borrowers with smaller balances should look at lenders like CommonBond and Laurel Road, who require a minimum of only $5,000.

ELFI does offer a co-signer release program, but co-signers can only be released if the borrower can pass a credit check on their own.

Education Loan Finance Advantages

ELFI offers more than just low interest rates. Their call centers are all located in Tennessee, and borrowers get a single point of contact with a direct number to call for support. This should make resolving any issues go significantly smoother.

ELFI student loans are serviced by Mohela and American Education Services (AES). Mohela has one of the better reputations among student loan servicers, while AES is just average. Unfortunately, borrowers do not have a choice in the servicer that they are assigned.

ELFI is currently running a promotion that provides new borrowers a bonus of $150 who sign up following this link. While $150 is a decent chunk of change, we should note that it is still critical to shop around — borrowers with larger balances will be much better off in the long run if they chase the lowest rate rather than the biggest bonus.

Borrower Beware: An Important ELFI Concern

The concern we have with Education Loan Finance applies to pretty much every student loan refinance company.

Even though it makes sense for some borrowers to consolidate their federal student loans with a private lender, this move can also be a mistake. Refinancing your federal loans means you lose federal perks such as repayment plans based upon your income and student loan forgiveness programs. We look at these programs as an insurance policy. The cost of that insurance policy is higher interest rates.

If you think you might lose your job or not be able to afford your student loans, it is best to keep your loans with the federal government. If you have no problem paying off the debt, locking in a low interest rate could be a smart move.

Do I have Federal Loans? If you are not sure if your student loans are federal or private, visit the Department of Education’s Student Aid Portal. They keep detailed records of all federal student loans.

Why Pick ELFI Over Refinance Lenders Like SoFi and Earnest?

After watching ELFI for several years, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a lender that marches to the beat of its own drum.

Investor interest tends to move the rates at most tech-based lenders. If student loans are a popular investment, the tech companies can offer excellent rates. If nobody wants to make an investment, funds dry up, and lenders raise rates. Most refinance companies move rates up and down in a similar manner.

ELFI rates move around less. There are times when ELFI is a bit behind the rest of the market, and there are times when ELFI has by far the best rates. For this reason, ELFI is worth a look for any borrower shopping around.

ELFI Student Loan Refinance Review: The Final Thoughts

The Education Loan Finance option sticks out due to the low interest rate offerings in a variety of loan categories.

Ultimately, advertised rates are a tiny part of the refinance equation. What matters is the actual rate offered. Because ELFI combines the stability of a longstanding bank with very low interest rates, it is a lender worth serious consideration.

Click here to check your rate with ELFI.

About the Author

Student loan expert Michael Lux is a licensed attorney and the founder of The Student Loan Sherpa. He has helped borrowers navigate life with student debt since 2013.

Insight from Michael has been featured in US News & World Report, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other online and print publications.

Michael is available for speaking engagements and to respond to press inquiries.

11 thoughts on “ELFI Student Loan Refinance Review”

  1. 45 years old. Very good job (14 yeara) at the same company, very good credit and income, just bought a $500k home with no issue whatsoever. ELFI said I need a cosigner for my loan and I’ve had zero problems with credit anywhere else.

  2. ELFI is terribly misleading. I should have looked at their slightly lower reviews and gone with a different company. The soft credit pull interest rate is a joke compared to what they offered me after a hard credit pull (A full percentage or slightly higher). Then they encouraged me to add a co-signer to lower my rate. After going through the entire process, speaking to multiple “loan officers”, and adding a co-signer, I got back a denial letter. I wasted hours of my time all while multiple employees told me everything looked good for approval and for me to get a good rate. DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME. FYI: Both my wife (co-signer) and I have excellent credit and bring in good money. Their reason for denial, to much debt to income ratio. I called to ask why and they told me they don’t look at combined household income only each person individually. What a joke. I guess if you don’t have a mortgage and a car payment they may approve you, but don’t hold your breath. Even if they do, it will be a higher rate than advertised.

  3. This is a total scam. Bait and switch. Offer you one rate and then make a HARD PULL on you credit and change the rate. They are a HORRIBLE COMPANY. DO NOT GO THROUGH THE PROCESS. They will screw you over as so many more.

  4. My experience with Elfi is very similar to what is described by others below. They conditionally offered one rate, then ran a hard credit check and subsequently began requesting all kinds of unusual paperwork over the course of the next several weeks. I reluctantly jumped through all their hoops knowing that they had already dinged my credit. Eventually they came back and offered a rate and term that wasn’t remotely close to their conditional offer. Classic bait and switch.

    My credit score can survive the hard check, but I suspect that ELFI is all too aware that most potential borrowers will just take whatever is offered rather than going elsewhere and being forced to submit to another hard credit check. Long story short, ELFI is no better than many of the other, more overtly predatory, lenders out there. Apply at your own risk.

  5. I have been trying to help my son refinance his student loans with this company for months! I’ve given them all the info that they have requested but they never get back with me when I email or message them! It’s been a VERY frustrating process. They must not want my business very much. Don’t waist your time with this company as they don ‘t seem to value a good customer who wants to do business with them. VERY DISAPPOINTED! Even when I got a manager involved he apologized for the lack of communication and then he did the very same thing!

  6. Beware of this unethical lender. Their site states they do a soft pull (“doesn’t impact your credit score to check your rate”); however instead they do an unauthorized hard pull. (Note, this is not mentioned in any of their disclosures) So despite what they say even looking at your rate with this lender WILL HURT YOUR CREDIT SCORE. AVOID THIS ONE!

    • Adam,

      Thanks for sharing your input. Did you just do a rate check with ELFI or was it further along in the process that they did the hard pull? Have you disputed this with the credit bureau or does it not matter because other lenders had to do hard pulls as well?

      This is actually an issue that we occasionally see with a number of different lenders, so we wrote an article that might help shed some light on the issue: https://studentloansherpa.com/hard-pull-vs-soft-pull/

      • I recently had a similar experience with the credit pull before I authorized it. I went ahead and continued with the application since they pulled my credit without my permission. I was declined with a 773 FICO Score. When I called they didn’t have any explanation. My wife was also declined on her student loans refi from ELFI as well. Her credit score was a 743. Seems like this is a new company and that are very picky on who they lend to.

      • They are EXTREMELY picky. They went as far as needing my monthly mortgage (even though Im married and my husband pays for it), they couldnt account for any of my husbands income because they claimed to need a worst case scenario for my debt to income ratio if I were to divorce! And even though the initial assessment of my rates and options were extremely good, at the point when the actual underwriters analyzed my REAL options, they denied many of the lowest rates that I had initially been potentially offered. With my credit score above 800, they were still able to offer me a rate lower than the competition so I’ll stick it out

      • This was just on an initial rate check, no where near far enough in the process for a hard pull. While it was unauthorized I didn’t dispute it since I went ahead and refinanced by wife’s loans with another company right afterward and those inquiries will get lumped together when calculating a credit score.

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