CollegeFinance Score: ★★★★☆
CommonBond offers simpler and smarter private student loans to many types of students and graduates. Their application process is designed to be as easy and quick as possible. CommonBond offers a full suite of financial aid options, including undergraduate, graduate, MBA, dental, and medical student loans. Refinancing options are also available to simplify your current loans and pay off your debt faster.
- Simple and fast application process
- No application, origination, or prepayment fees
- Multiple repayment options
- Generous educational philanthropy
- Free financial counselor
- Young company
- Minimum Loan Amount is $2,000
- Some customer service issues
CommonBond: What You Need to Know
CommonBond was founded by people who thought there had to be a better way to finance your college education and make the world a better place at the same time. One of the company’s goals is to make it easy to understand and apply for private student loans. CommonBond also seeks to keep interest rates low, charge no extra fees, and provide personalized customer service.
CommonBond has funded over $3 billion in student loans since opening for business in 2012. The company has donated much to education over the years via a partnership with the Pencils of Promise program. CommonBond has provided schools, teachers, and technology to thousands of students in the developing world. They promise that with every student loan they fund, they’ll cover the cost of a child’s education.
A Money Mentor is another unique bonus that comes with a private student loan through CommonBond. The mentor guides you through your financial aid options and teaches you how to manage your budget better. They can help you get more money for school and find internship opportunities. CommonBond offers this counseling service for free.
CommonBond’s BBB Rating: B
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is a nonprofit that grades businesses on customer service. A BBB rating represents the organization’s opinion on how a business is likely to interact with its customers. Several factors affect the rating, including:
- Complaint history
- Type of business
- Time in business
- Transparent business practices
- Honoring commitments to the BBB
- Licensing and government actions
- Advertising issues
Based on a 100-point grading scale, the BBB rates CommonBond in the mid-80s, which equals a B rating. While a small number of customers raised concerns about interest rates and credit scores, CommonBond worked to resolve each complaint as satisfactorily as possible. They also provide hundreds of honest customer reviews on their website for a combined rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.
CommonBond: Potential Benefits for Borrowers
CommonBond is a for-profit company with a strong social mission. They offer many potential benefits for borrowers, such as more customer support and flexibility than traditional lenders. Check out several other benefits that may apply to you below.
- CommonBond has a simple and fast application process. Fill out an online application, select a loan product, and e-sign your loan disclosures. CommonBond will confirm your enrollment and loan amount, which takes five days to three weeks, depending on your school. Once your school certifies the loan, CommonBond notifies you by email, and the funds are disbursed directly to your school.
- CommonBond charges no application, origination, or prepayment fees for most student loans. They want to make applying, receiving, and paying for a student loan as affordable as possible, so fees aren’t charged often. MBA student loans are the exception to this policy.
- CommonBond supports repayment efforts with multiple options. The company offers four different repayment choices. One option is deferment, which allows you to postpone all student loan payments until graduation. You can also opt for interest-only payments, full monthly payments, or $25 fixed monthly payments while you’re in school.
- CommonBond donates to children in need. The company has donated over $1 million to students in need through their Social Promise. With over 470 schools built through Pencils of Promise programs, you can feel good knowing your student loan is going to help you and others in need.
- CommonBond provides a free financial counselor. Known as a Money Mentor, your counselor will be a real, live person devoted to helping you better manage your finances now and in the future.
- CommonBond offers a wide selection of products. The company doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all attitude when it comes to private student loans. They offer different financial aid options for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, dental, and medical students.
CommonBond: Potential Drawbacks for Borrowers
No company is perfect, so it’s no surprise that CommonBond has some negatives alongside its positives. For example, some customers have experienced delays in loan disbursements or became confused about available interest rates. Other potential drawbacks for borrowers include:
- CommonBond is a young company. CommonBond hasn’t been around for decades; however, this drawback can also be seen as a positive. Young companies often strive to change the industry for the better and work harder to prove themselves by pleasing their customers.
- Minimum Loan Amount is $2,000. This minimum is somewhat higher than most private student loan programs.
- CommonBond has some customer service issues. Judging by some online reviews, CommonBond has faced negative customer service situations. Many have to do with a miscommunication between CommonBond and the borrowers; however, they have a proven track record of satisfactorily resolving issues. They also offer a chat service on their website where you can talk to a real, live support agent.
CommonBond: The Details
Loan Amounts and Term Lengths
Minimum loan amount: $2,000, subject to state law restriction
Loan term options: 5-, 10-, and 15-year terms
Multi-year approval available: No
Interest Rate Ranges
Fixed and variable rates available: Yes
Fixed low APR: 6.98%
Fixed high APR: 10.74%
Variable low APR: 6.59%
Variable high APR: 9.39%
In-school payment options: Four in-school repayment options, including
- Full monthly payments of interest and principal
- Interest-only monthly payments
- Fixed monthly payments of $25
- No payments while in school (deferment)
Grace period: The grace period is six months following graduation or termination of enrollment. Interest continues to accrue, but you aren’t required to make any payments.
Co-signer release available: Yes, after graduation and 24 consecutive months of full payments being made, your co-signer can be released. Depending on the state in which you live, the student must be the age of majority (i.e., 16 to 21 years old) and meet the current underwriting criteria under the loan program when applying for the release.
Loan servicer: FirstMark
Other Perks and Options
Interest rate discounts: 0.25% autopay discount on fixed and variable rates
Other rewards or services: CommonBond offers a free financial counseling service. Mentors offer personalized service and guide borrowers on topics, such as:
- Creating a budget
- Submitting the FAFSA
- Finding internships
- Mapping majors to career pathways
- Responsibly building credit
Undergraduate borrowers are automatically enrolled in the program, while graduate students can opt in to be paired with a mentor. All counseling is free and done via text messaging.
Refinancing is also available at any time with CommonBond, so you can lower your interest rate when possible. There’s no limit to the number of times that you can refinance with them, and there are never any fees to do so, either. You can complete a two-minute online assessment to see what your new rate would be.
CommonBond also offers forbearance if you’ve encountered economic hardship after graduation. This means you could temporarily suspend payments or lower your monthly payments. Struggling students may qualify for variable interest rates, ranging from 1.99% to 5.41%, or fixed rates, ranging from 2.78% to 5.59%.
CommonBond: Eligibility and Application Requirements
Income requirements: No specific requirement. CommonBond takes into account your and your co-signer’s debt-to-income ratio.
Credit score requirements: A creditworthy co-signer is needed for all student loans. CommonBond looks for a score of 670 or higher.
Eligibility for international borrowers: CommonBond only lends to U.S. citizens and permanent resident undergraduate or graduate students. All students must be currently enrolled at least half-time at a school in the CommonBond network.
Application or origination fees: None
Soft pull rate check availability: No. For a new student loan, CommonBond does not do a soft pull rate check for credit scores. They perform a hard credit check for you and your co-signer that usually lowers credit scores by only five to eight points.
Private Student Loans: Understanding Your Options
Before considering private student loans, you want to make sure you’ve exhausted all of your options for federal financial aid. The first step is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Once it’s reviewed by the U.S. Department of Education, you may be awarded aid, such as a grant that you won’t have to repay or a loan that needs to be repaid after graduation.
Federal student loans often have benefits that private student loans don’t, such as lower fixed interest rates, an income-based repayment schedule, and public service loan forgiveness. The federal government may also pay your interest while you’re in school by subsidizing your loans.
Remember, you must submit a FAFSA form before each year that you intend to enroll in school. There’s no way to apply the FAFSA to multiple years of college. After graduation, you’ll need to repay your federal student loans. The government offers a direct consolidation loan that combines all of your eligible federal loans into one loan with a single loan servicer.
Private student loans should only be used to cover the rest of your educational costs after you’ve qualified for as much federal student aid as possible. Lenders like CommonBond make it possible for many students to pursue higher education.
Is CommonBond Right for You?
While free financial aid and federal student loans are the best first options for financing your education, you may find yourself in need of private student loans to fully cover the cost of college. Whether you’re an incoming college freshman or returning to school to achieve your MBA, lenders like CommonBond help you to bridge the gap between being able to afford school and not.
CommonBond is a reliable lender that offers competitive rates, multiple repayment options, and free financial counseling. While some customer service issues may arise, they work hard to make things right with their borrowers, as shown in their BBB responses.
CommonBond Could Be a Good Option for You If:
- You want access to a full suite of private student loans.
- You want to be able to refinance as needed without any fees or penalties.
- You want flexible repayment options that fit your needs.
- You want free personal counseling to help you with important financial decisions.
Although they are a young company, CommonBond is committed to providing a better borrowing experience. They want to make getting a loan simpler and easier than it’s ever been while giving back to others at the same time.
CommonBond seeks to be a positive force for change. Because of their social promise, they provide a year of tuition for a student in need for every degree fully funded through them. You can feel good knowing that your student loan not only helps you achieve your dream but helps others get educated, as well.
You may feel that CommonBond is a good option for your financial needs; however, it’s important to research more than one private lender. CollegeFinance.com is committed to offering reviews of private student loans from which you can compare and contrast different lenders. We also provide advice about scholarships and guidance on refinancing student loans. Check out the best private student loan options and get ready to invest in your future today.