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Frequently Asked Questions

Top Questions

You can refinance up to $500,000 with CommonBond.

We're glad you asked! Check out our page on the differences between the two here

When you refinance, you take out a new loan to pay off your old loan(s). Some reasons for refinancing include: To get a lower interest rate, to decrease monthly payments or to switch from a fixed rate loan to a variable rate loan or vice versa.

CommonBond can refinance federal, private and previously consolidated loans.

U.S. citizens and permanent residents who graduated from a selection of more than 2,000 Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs are eligible to refinance with CommonBond.

The interest rate for a refinance loan depends on your credit profile, your choice of variable rate or fixed rate, and the length of repayment for the loan.

An interest rate is "fixed" if it remains unchanged over time, while a "variable" interest rate changes over time based on fluctuations in a market benchmark rate. If that market benchmark rate increases, so too would your rate, and vice versa (as the market benchmark rate decreases, so too would your rate).

Our investors believe, as do we at CommonBond, that creditworthy borrowers deserve lower rates than traditional institutions have provided in recent years. We are therefore able to provide funds to these creditworthy borrowers at more affordable terms. It's really a win-win.

There are no fees or penalties associated with refinance loans. There’s no origination fee and no prepayment penalty.

The federal government offers income-based repayment and special forgiveness programs for borrowers in public service professions. Graduates with federal loans working in such industries may therefore prefer to keep their federal loans to maintain these extra borrower protections.

Yes. Similar to federal student loans, under certain circumstances, including for economic hardship, you may be eligible for loan forbearance. In this case, you may temporarily postpone making monthly loan payments for a specific period of time.

Not long. You can have a credit decision in minutes, without any supporting documentation. Just answer a few questions about yourself, where you live and work, and your current loans.

About CommonBond

Founded in 2011 by three Wharton MBAs, CommonBond is an online lending company that makes education finance better. Through CommonBond, our members gain access to a robust suite of low fixed- and variable-rate student loan products to refinance existing student loans after graduation or to finance an MBA while in school.

When comparing CommonBond to the federal government and other private lenders, many students choose CommonBond due to 1) our best-in-class customer service, 2) a greater diversity of low interest rate products, 3) access to our talented, successful community of members (what we call the "CommonBond Family"), and 4) the social mission of our business (what we call our "Social Promise").

Our founders felt firsthand the personal pain of the student loan process when they were in business school: high interest rate loans, poor service, and a confusing process. They founded CommonBond to change all of that - to bring to market a product and a service they wished had existed when they were in school.

You're good. The loan lives on and is tied to the servicer of that loan. You will continue to make payments as scheduled through the servicer.

We like to think of our community as our family: a group of optimistic people who believe in the power of new ideas to change the world. The community comes together in several meaningful ways: networking opportunities, panels and speaker events, dinners in cities across the country, career assistance, and support of our non-profit partners. As the CommonBond Family grows, we will continue to host events to connect our members to incredible people (including each other) who can help them grow personally and professionally, and to offer direct opportunities for our members to take action in their own communities.

In addition to borrowing through the lending platform, there are several ways to learn about, and become part of, our family, including:

  • Join our referral program here. You earn $200 for every friend who becomes a CommonBond member!

  • Read our blog and sign up for our newsletter.

  • Join our team in New York City. If you or someone you know wants experience with a start-up that is disrupting finance, then come join us. We have an incredibly strong social mission, a deeply committed team, and great affinity for our customers. You can apply here.

  • Check out our company pages online on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Eligibility

You can refinance up to $500,000 with CommonBond.

CommonBond's refinance products allow graduates to replace their existing educational loans - whether federal or private - with those provided by CommonBond.

Read about all of the types of loans CommonBond can refinance here.

It's as easy as 1-2-3: 1. You have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. That means if you are an international student, we are not (currently) able to lend to you, but we are working to change that.

  1. You must have graduated from one of the schools in our eligible network. Our network has expanded to more than 2,000 Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs.

  2. CommonBond's originating bank partners, Union Bank & Trust Company of Lincoln, Nebraska or Bank of Lake Mills, consider your credit history and other credit factors and quickly make a decision on your application.

More than 2,000 Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs are eligible to refinance with CommonBond.

Our refinance program does not require loan certification by your school's financial aid office. CommonBond, Union Bank & Trust Company of Lincoln, Nebraska, Bank of Lake Mills, and the refinance loan product are neither endorsed by nor affiliated with any educational institutions.

We perform what's known as a "soft credit pull" to estimate your rate, and this will not affect your credit score. In order to provide you with your actual rate, we must perform a "hard" credit inquiry, which will show up on your credit report and may have an impact on your credit score. This allows us to review your credit profile and determine your actual rate.

A soft credit inquiry allows us to provide you with a preliminary rate without affecting your credit score.

Yes, we need to perform a hard pull to review your credit profile and determine your actual rate. This "hard" inquiry will show up on your credit report.

Refinance loans are currently offered to graduates of thousands of schools across the country. Please email care@commonbond.co if you'd like us to expand our loan program to graduates of your school.

Refinance loans are currently only for United States citizens or permanent residents. We recognize that there's a need for an international product and are working with our partners on solutions for international students. If you register on our website, you will be one of the first to know of our progress.

Understanding Your Refinance Terms

No, there is no origination fee for refinance loans.

The interest rate for a refinance loan depends on the applicant's credit profile, the choice of variable rate or fixed rate, and the term of repayment for the loan. Rates do not depend on the school attended or the amount of the loan request.

  • Our 5-year term loans have fixed interest rates ranging from 3.50% to 5.99% (with auto pay discount) and variable interest rates ranging from 1-month LIBOR + 1.71% (with auto pay discount) to 1-month LIBOR + 4.51% (with auto pay discount). Currently, 1-month LIBOR is 0.43%, implying starting rates of 2.14% and 4.94%.*

  • Our 7-year term loans have fixed interest rates ranging from 4.00% to 6.49% (with auto pay discount) and variable interest rates ranging from 1-month LIBOR + 2.01% (with auto pay discount) to 1-month LIBOR + 4.64% (with auto pay discount). Currently, 1-month LIBOR is 0.43%, implying starting rates of 2.44% and 5.07%.*

  • Our 10-year term loans have fixed interest rates ranging from 4.61% to 7.00% (with auto pay discount) and variable interest rates ranging from 1-month LIBOR + 2.51% (with auto pay discount) to 1-month LIBOR + 4.89% (with auto pay discount). Currently, 1-month LIBOR is 0.43%, implying starting rates of 2.94% and 5.32%.*

  • We also have a 10-year Hybrid Loan. Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for the 10-year Hybrid rate loans range from 3.80% to 6.23% (with auto pay discount). The first 60 payments (5 years) of the hybrid loan have a fixed rate which ranges from 4.06% to 6.50% (with auto pay discount). The last 60 payments (last 5 years) have a variable rate which is the total of the margin plus 1-month LIBOR. Using today's rates, the lowest variable loan rate of 2.94% is based on today's 1-month LIBOR of 0.43% plus a margin of 2.51% (with auto pay discount). The highest variable loan rate of 5.32% is based on today's 1-month LIBOR of 0.43% plus a margin of 4.89% (with auto pay discount).

  • Our 15-year term loans have fixed interest rates ranging from 5.12% to 7.49% (with auto pay discount) and variable interest rates ranging from 1-month LIBOR + 2.88% (with auto pay discount) to 1-month LIBOR + 5.26% (with auto pay discount). Currently, 1-month LIBOR is 0.43%, implying starting rates of 3.31% and 5.69%.*

  • Our 20-year term loans have fixed interest rates ranging from 5.37% to 7.74% (with auto pay discount) and variable interest rates ranging from 1-month LIBOR + 3.13% (with auto pay discount) to 1-month LIBOR + 5.51% (with auto pay discount). Currently, 1-month LIBOR is 0.43%, implying starting rates of 3.56% and 5.94%.*

Refinance loans have no origination or prepayment fees.

*All rates shown include a 0.25% reduction for setting up automatic payments. Failure to make payments may result in the loss of the 0.25% autopay reduction.

All of our refinance loans have these common features:

  • No origination fees.
  • Monthly payments start between 30 and 60 days after your refinance loan is disbursed.
  • No prepayment penalty. All payments greater than the monthly minimum go straight to reducing the principal of the loan.
  • Grace period deferment is available if you graduated this year and your loans are currently in grace period deferment.
  • Academic deferment if you decide to go back to school.
  • Financial hardship forbearance.

Refinance loans allow graduates to consolidate and refinance up to $500,000 of student loans through CommonBond.

Our investors believe, as do we at CommonBond, that creditworthy borrowers deserve lower rates than traditional institutions have provided in recent years. We are therefore able to provide funds to these creditworthy borrowers at more affordable terms. It's really a win-win.

Not necessarily. The federal government has special forgiveness programs for employees in specific industries (e.g., public service). Graduates with federal loans working in such industries may therefore prefer to keep their federal loans to maintain these extra borrower protections.

An interest rate is "fixed" if it remains unchanged over time, while a "variable" interest rate changes over time based on fluctuations in a market benchmark rate, such as 1-month LIBOR. The interest rate for a variable rate loan is typically based off of a calculation that adds a percentage spread to 1-month LIBOR. For example, let's assume an applicant is quoted the following interest rate for a variable rate loan: 1-month LIBOR + 2.00%. If LIBOR is currently at 1.00%, then the effective loan interest rate would start at 3.00%. If LIBOR increases, so too would your rate, and vice versa (as LIBOR decreases, so too would your rate).

Some variable rate loans have a "cap" - a rate the variable interest rate cannot exceed. A cap is included to protect borrowers from excessively high interest rate environments. Interest rate caps on CommonBond loans vary according to the length of the repayment term between 8.99% and 12.99%.

The interest rate of refinance loans depends on the credit profile of the applicant.

The Hybrid Loan

By “Hybrid” we mean the interest rate is fixed for a portion of the repayment term and variable for the remainder:

  • The first five years of the loan are at a fixed interest rate
  • For the remainder of the loan (last five years), the rate varies monthly along with the 1-month LIBOR

It’s important to understand that the rate for the variable portion of the Hybrid Loan isn’t actually set until five years after the loan is disbursed. The rate at that time is the sum of:

  1. A “margin” that is set based on your application when you apply for the loan.
  2. Whatever 1-month LIBOR is five years after your loan is disbursed.

The CommonBond Hybrid Loan option balances the many competing tradeoffs of choosing a particular repayment term, helping to minimize: 1) interest rate, 2) size of required monthly payment, and 3) total interest paid. The Hybrid also helps reduce the uncertainty of a variable rate loan by fixing the interest rate for the first five years of repayment, and then switching to a variable rate for the remainder of the loan period. For members who intend to prepay, this period of interest rate uncertainty can be relatively short, allowing Hybrid loan holders to benefit from a fixed rate lower than our normal 10-year fixed rate loan.

The Refinancing Process

We think so. Here are the steps:

  1. Apply online. You can get started here on our site and have a preliminary decision in minutes.

  2. Upload supporting documentation after receiving your rate and e-sign loan documents.

  3. If your application is approved, we will arrange the student loan(s) with your lender(s) to be paid off.

There are three types of documents you will need to upload after you receive your rate:

  1. Proof of employment: a letter of acceptance from a future employer OR two recent pay stubs OR two recent years of tax documents.

  2. A recent loan statement for each loan you wish to refinance. Each statement must have your servicer’s name, your name, account number, loan balance, and physical address where you would mail a payment.

  3. Proof of residence: Your driver's license if it has your current address on it OR a recent utility bill OR a recent bank statement.

The Bank of Lake Mills or Union Bank and Trust Company of Lincoln, Nebraska underwrite and originate all refinance loans. The Bank of Lake Mills and Union Bank and Trust Company of Lincoln, Nebraska do not have an ownership stake in CommonBond nor are they affiliated with the school you attended.

If you are approved and funded, all funds are directed to your existing lender(s).

A refinance loan looks and acts like any other loan on your credit report. When shopping around for refinancing options, it is best to do so in a shorter period of time. For example, if you do so within 30 days, there should be less impact on your credit score than if you did so beyond 30 days. For more information, check out this post.

The online CommonBond application process can be completed in minutes and the entire process in a few business days.

The Repayment Process

Once your loan disburses, you can log into your CommonBond account to complete the ACH enrollment form.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Care Team at care@commonbond.co or (800) 975-7812.

Yes. Similar to federal student loans, under certain circumstances, including for economic hardship, you may be eligible for a forbearance, in which case you may temporarily postpone making monthly loan payments for a specific period of time.

Yes. You will receive all information regarding the various payment options from your new servicer, ECMC or FirstMark, once you officially accept your loan through CommonBond.

If you have any questions about servicing, please reach out to The Care Team at care@commonbond.co or (800) 975-7812.

Yes. You are welcome to prepay the loan or pay more than the minimum monthly payment amount if you wish, without incurring any penalty. You are only responsible for the interest that has already accrued.

If you would like to do so, please reach out to The Care Team at care@commonbond.co or (800) 975-7812.

First, if you are eligible, you can choose economic hardship forbearance. If you are still unable to pay your loan, we'll work with you and our community to attempt to find a solution. If you ultimately choose not to pay or are unable to pay, then the loan will be subject to default as provided in the promissory note. (This process is similar for federal government loans and other private loans).

We do not offer an income-based repayment plan at the moment, but we fully recognize the importance of flexible repayment terms. As of right now, refinance loans carry standard terms around loan forbearance in case of financial hardship. Situations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If an income-based repayment plan is of interest to you, and you have existing federal loans, you may prefer to keep those loans to take advantage of special government programs such as income-based repayment.

The CommonBond Social Promise

From Day 1, we have had a strong social mission - what we call our "Social Promise." The CommonBond Social Promise: for every degree fully funded on the CommonBond platform, we fund the tuition of a student in need for a full year through our partnership with Pencils of Promise. CommonBond is the first-ever company to bring the "1-for-1" model to education and finance.

Inspired by the likes of TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker, we firmly believe that business can and should be a positive force for change. By empowering our students and investors to become Social Promise champions, we hope to make an exponential difference.

Pencils of Promise, or PoP, is a non-profit founded in 2008 to increase access to quality education – a mission that resonates strongly with us at CommonBond – for children in the developing world. Based in NYC, PoP has developed over 200 schools and educational programs across four countries already: Laos, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ghana. We're excited to help new PoP students achieve their educational dreams for every degree fully funded on our platform.

The CommonBond Social Impact award is an annual prize awarded to the nation's Top MBA Social Entrepreneur. Nominees are assessed by our Selection Committee. Assessment criteria include: number of nominations, innovative nature of the idea, likelihood of long-term impact, and traction to date. The inaugural 2014 award was won by Christine Su, Stanford MBA and co-founder of Summer Technologies, and the 2015 award was won by Sindhura Sarikonda, Wharton MBA and Founder/CEO of Sanlaap North America.

CommonBond is a for-profit company with a strong social mission.

If you would like to make a direct donation, we'd like to point you to our non-profit partners.

Click here to make a gift to Pencils of Promise.

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