Editor’s Note: This article was updated on 10/4/18 to reflect the latest interest rate information as well as a $200 new customer bonus.
The number of companies offering private student loan consolidation is surprisingly small. With such a small number of competitors on the market, it critical to explore all of your options. One option to explore is the iHelp Student Loan Consolidation…
What is iHelp?
iHelp loans are funded by member banks of the Independent Community Bankers of America and serviced by the Student Loan Finance Corporation. Because smaller banks are funding these loans, borrowers can expect many of the pros and cons of dealing with a smaller bank.
The minimum consolidated loan with iHelp is $10,000 and the maximum loan for undergraduates is $150,000. Graduates can get loans up to $250,000.
Of all the student loan consolidation programs that this site has reviewed, iHelp is perhaps the most straightforward in its loan terms, and most notably, qualification requirements. With instant approval or rejection becoming standard for most credit applications, lenders make most decisions based upon a formula. However, few actually disclose what is necessary for approval.
On the iHelp webpage, they give fairly specific terms required for approval. Perspective borrowers must make over $24,000 per year, have 2 years of positive credit history, and no bankruptcies, foreclosures, or repossessions in the past 5 years. Borrowers must also stay under the debt-to-income ratio of 45%.
iHelp also has some favorable plans for borrowers who run into financial trouble. iHelp allows up to two years of interest only payments and also offers a graduated repayment plan. Forbearance options are also available for circumstances ranging from military service to dealing with a natural disaster.
While iHelp does offer a limited selection of loan types, their 10 and 15 year loans currently have excellent interest rates. In fact, iHelp currently has the best student loan refinance rates in these categories.
We also think the iHelp fixed-hybrid loan is a very interesting alternative. The first 5 years of repayment are fixed, but after that the interest rate becomes variable. This could be a compelling option for borrowers who want the lowest possible interest rate for the purposes of aggressive repayment, but also want a low monthly payment for debt-to-income ratio reasons.
For years iHelp lagged far behind other lenders in their interest rate offerings. In the middle of 2018, iHelp dramatically reduced interest rates in certain categories and expanded their loan selection. At this point in time it is still to early to tell if iHelp has taken a leap compared to the competition or is still the same lender of old. As we get reader feedback on iHelp, they may move up considerable in our student loan refinance rankings list.
One other thing for potential borrowers to keep in mind is that iHelp will consolidate Federal student loans with private student loans. Because the many advantages of Federal government loans are lost when these loans are combined with private loans, such a combination is rarely recommended.
Who is iHelp best for?
iHelp loans are best for people who are willing to pay a little extra in order to work with a smaller bank. It is also worth noting that iHelp loans are only available to a limited number of graduates. Eligible schools are limited to the following states: Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, West Virginia, or Wisconsin.
Applying to iHelp
We recommend interested borrowers to apply to iHelp using the Credible platform. Going this route allows perspective borrowers to check their rate with iHelp and up to six other lenders. Credible also offers $200 to customers who refinance with iHelp or any of the other lenders on their platform.