Community Savings Bank Student Loan Refinance Review

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Updated on Monday, June 29, 2015

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Community Savings Bank has seven locations in Iowa and serves the counties of Delaware, Dubuque, and Linn. There are no special member requirements to apply to refinance your student loans with its program.

Community Savings Bank Consolidation Terms

You can consolidate both private and federal student loans with Community Savings Bank. $7,500 to $125,000 in undergraduate debt and $7,500 to $175,000 in graduate debt may be consolidated. A 15 year repayment term is offered on variable rates ranging from 5.80% – 8.67% APR.

There are two repayment options available: graduated and level (standard). Graduated repayment means you’ll be making interest-only payments for 4 years, while the next 11 years are under level repayment (principal and interest).

Community Savings Bank does note that level repayment “can result in lower interest rates,” so keep that in mind when choosing between the two.

Here’s what an example payment looks like: borrowing $10,000 at a 8.67% APR over a 15 year term results in a $99.50 monthly payment.

Pros and Cons of Consolidating With Community Savings Bank

Pros

  • For a smaller bank, the amounts you can consolidate are quite high. Most private lenders aren’t consolidating up to six-figures (especially for undergraduates), so this is a good option if you have a large amount of undergraduate or graduate debt.
  • There’s a cosigner release available after 24 consecutive, on-time payments of principal and interest. Be aware that if you choose the graduated repayment plan, your payments won’t count toward this requirement, as they’ll be interest-only.
  • The graduated repayment option is great for graduates who might not be earning a lot right away, but think their income will increase over the course of the 4 years of interest-only payments.

Cons

  • Along with having only variable interest rates, the only repayment term offered is 15 years. There are other lenders that will refinance loans on 10, 15, or 20 year terms, giving you more flexibility with your payments.
  • Only variable rates are available. While these rates are on the lower end, you might be looking to get away from having a variable rate because the payments aren’t stable.
  • There’s a 2.5% origination fee associated with this loan. While that might not seem like a large percentage, if you’re consolidating a large amount, such as $125,000, the origination fee will be $3,125.

Who Qualifies to Consolidate With Community Savings Bank?

To qualify, you must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident, have graduated from an eligible school, and meet the minimum credit requirements. Those with a credit score in the upper 600s will have a better chance of approval.

If you apply without a cosigner, you need a steady gross monthly income of $2,000. If you apply with a cosigner, your cosigner needs to have a steady gross monthly income of $2,000. However, you still need to be earning an income, even if you apply with a cosigner.

Application Process and Documents Needed to Consolidate

The first page of the application is dedicated to figuring out your eligibility. For example, you’ll be able to find out if your school is eligible.

Community Savings Bank conducts a hard credit pull during the application process for both you and your cosigner (if you apply with one). There are six stages of the application process, and you can track your progress at any time by logging in online.

You should have the following documents ready to go during the application process:

  • Proof of graduation: copy of transcript, degree, or certificate
  • Proof of income: two most recent pay stubs, dated within the past 60 days
    • Self-employed: last two years of tax returns, plus required schedules
    • Retired: pension, Social Security award letter, or 1099R
    • Commission-based: last two years of W-2 forms and two most recent pay stubs
  • Most recent student loan statement
  • Payoff letter for your loans or a screenshot of the payoff amount 30-45 days in the future

If you have second thoughts about consolidating your loans, you can withdraw your request at any time during the application process. Loans can be canceled for up to 3 days after signing the agreement.

Who Benefits the Most from Consolidating With Community Savings Bank?

The lack of flexibility with repayment options doesn’t exactly make Community Savings Bank an attractive option in light of other lenders out there. Even if you have an established relationship with the bank, you could get better rates and terms elsewhere. There are many online lenders offering to refinance and consolidate without an origination fee, too.

The Fine Print

There’s a 2.5% origination fee associated with the loan. You can prepay your loan fully or partially without incurring a fee.

As far as late payment fees go, the representative we spoke with couldn’t find specific information for Community Savings Bank (since loans are serviced through LendKey*, when you call for information, you’re speaking with a LendKey representative). However, they did advise us that most loans through their network have a late fee of $25 or 5% of the missed payment amount – whichever is greater. This is standard for most student loan lenders.

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Alternative Student Loan Refinancing Options

If you’re looking to refinance to a fixed rate option, would like a lower variable rate, or don’t want to pay an origination fee, there are plenty of other options out there that might work better for you.

One option is SoFi – there’s no origination fee associated with its student loan refinance program, and it offers some of the best rates in the industry. Fixed rates start as low as 2.99% and variable rates start at 2.25%. Either way, both rates are better than what Community Savings Bank offers.

SoFi also offers repayment terms of 5, 10, 15, and 20 years, which gives you more options when it comes to your monthly payment. There’s no maximum limit for how much you can refinance with SoFi, either.

SoFi offers repayment assistance in the form of its unemployment protection program. If you lose your job and aren’t at fault, you may be eligible to enter into forbearance. Forbearance periods last up to 3 months, and can’t total more than 12 months over the life of your loan. While interest continues to accrue on your loans, you don’t have to make any payments during this time.

SoFi requires you to be in one of the states they’re able to lend in, and you must have graduated from an eligible school. It frequently expands its refinancing services, so make sure to check back if you’re not eligible at this time. Additionally, SoFi only accepts cosigners on a case-by-case basis. You’ll have a better chance of being approved if your credit score is in the 700s.

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Earnest is another online-only lender with great rates. With Earnest, you can actually switch between fixed and variable interest rates, in case one ends up benefitting your financial situation more than the other.

Like SoFi, Earnest offers flexible repayment terms up to 20 years, and there’s no cap on the amount you can refinance. Earnest also lets you skip a payment once every 12 months if you’re unable to pay, and offers temporary forbearance if you’re facing financial hardship.

Fixed interest rates range between 2.98% – 5.79% and variable rates are between 1.99% – 5.64%. (These rates are with a 0.25% auto-pay discount).

Earnest

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Additionally, both lenders will give you rates and terms based off preliminary information by using a soft pull of your credit, but if you choose to accept the terms, a hard credit inquiry will be used.

Shop Around

Since the purpose of refinancing or consolidating your student loans is to get better rates and terms for a more affordable monthly payment, you want to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal available to you.

If you’re worried about your credit score being affected by applying with multiple lenders, you’ll be glad to hear that shopping around within a 30 day window won’t penalize you that much. Getting better rates could save you thousands over the life of your loan – don’t take a chance and go with the first lender you apply with. Do your research and look out for yourself.

Refinancing student loans

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