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Updated on Tuesday, December 10, 2019
If you’re seeking a private student loan for your first or second degree, it’s hard to go wrong with CommonBond. The online lender’s interest rates, customer service and repayment flexibility beat many competitors — if you meet its sometimes restrictive eligibility criteria.
Of course, the operative question is whether CommonBond is the best provider for your loan. Let’s review the company to find out.
CommonBond student loans in a nutshell
CommonBond offers in-school financing for just about every type of borrower except for parents (although it does offer Parent PLUS refinancing if you want to lower your federal loan rates down the road).
Whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate, MBA student, dental student or medical student, you can check your potential interest rate without affecting your credit. In fact, you’ll just need to input your school name and degree type as well as your income (and your cosigner’s) and credit score before possible rates display.
If you decide to proceed with a formal loan application — you can apply on any device — here’s what you can expect from CommonBond student loans:
- No application, origination or prepayment fees (MBA, dental and medical loans carry a 2% origination fee)
- Fixed and variable interest rates
- Option to borrow from $2,000 to up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance
- Repayment terms of 5, 10 and 15 years available for undergraduates and terms of up to 20 years for dental and medical students
- 4 in-school repayment options, including full deferment
- 6-month grace period
- A 0.25% discount for enrolling in autopay
- Option to apply to pause your payments for up to 12 months of forbearance
- Ability to release your cosigner after 2 years of timely payments
The highlights of CommonBond student loans
A competitive interest rate is a key feature when comparing lenders. CommonBond not only features relatively low fixed and variable rates, but it also provides discounted rates to borrowers who make automatic payments (0.25% reduction) and begin repayment while enrolled in school (discount varies). If you qualify for an 8.03% rate, for example, you might reduce it to 7.30%, saving you at least hundreds of dollars of interest in repayment.
Aside from attractive rates, here are other highlights of CommonBond loans:
Receive a free ‘Money Mentor’
If you and your cosigner want some assistance with the college financial aid process, you might welcome the free support provided by CommonBond. The online company pairs you with a Money Mentor — a trained college student who’s been there, done that and is ready to answer your questions over text.
“We make sure to empathize with students — going to and paying for college is a really stressful and emotional time,” Money Mentor CEO Kelly Peeler told Student Loan Hero. “Not only is it confusing figuring out how loans are, it’s also overwhelming doing that while trying to find housing, pick out classes and live with new people.”
If you have questions that are specific to CommonBond, the lender’s customer service team is also available over the phone and live chat on weekdays until 8 p.m. EST.
As for other unique perks of borrowing from CommonBond, MBA students could participate in CommonBond’s New York-based internship program and take part in the company’s summer workshop series.
Rest easy with repayment protections
Although it falls well short of federal student loan’s safeguards, CommonBond’s private loans come with a safety net. If your finances are in trouble after leaving school, you could request to postpone your monthly payments via forbearance. CommonBond awards up to 12 months of forbearance during your repayment.
In addition, dental students can defer repayment until after completing their residency, while medical students could limit their monthly payments to $100 during residency programs, including internships, fellowships and research.
Give back to other students
You might not feel great about borrowing student loans, but CommonBond delivers a silver lining. When a new customer takes out a loan, the lender funds the education of a child in a developing country, such as Ghana.
CommonBond claimed on its website to have raised over $1 million and built more than 470 schools through its work with the nonprofit Pencils of Promise.
The fine print of CommonBond student loans
CommonBond, which also refinances graduates’ student loans, is able to award decreased rates and increased perks, in part, because it’s more choosy than your average lender. It doesn’t lend to every student.
The strict eligibility criteria could leave you looking elsewhere, either because you’re ineligible or want to avoid a hassle.
Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re considering CommonBond:
A cosigner could be required
Many lenders request undergraduate student loans to bring a cosigner aboard because teens and 20-somethings usually have thin credit histories. A parent or someone else could help them qualify or receive a lower interest rate.
If you’re a creditworthy undergraduate or graduate student, however, you might bristle at the fact that CommonBond requires you to recruit a cosigner. For its part, CommonBond doesn’t require a cosigner if you’re an MBA, dental or medical school student, though.
There are other narrow eligibility requirements
Attaching a cosigner to your application (in the case of undergraduate and graduate students) isn’t the only hard-and-fast rule among CommonBond’s eligibility criteria.
The online-only lender cherry-picks its borrowers in other ways, too. Fortunately, if you don’t meet one or more of these criteria, you could probably find another, more accessible lender.
|CommonBond criteria||Competitor to compare|
|Residency status||Must be a citizen or permanent resident||Prodigy Finance works with international students|
|Enrollment status||Must be currently enrolled at least half time||College Ave lends to part-time students|
|Credit score||Must have a score of 660 and up||Citizens Bank’s credit score requirement starts lower, at 620|
Are CommonBond student loans right for you?
With competitive interest rates, responsive customer support and more repayment protections than your average private lender, CommonBond is worth considering for students of all levels. That doesn’t mean it serves all students equally.
Without cosigner requirements, MBA, dental and medical students seem to benefit most from CommonBond loans. Included are benefits like internship and career resources for MBA students and a residency deferment for dental and medical residents.
Of course, even if you have the cosigner or credit score to qualify, you might find a better student loan elsewhere. To set yourself up for a successful borrowing and repayment experience, compare CommonBond with other highly-rated private student loan companies listed on our site.