CommonBond Review: See If Refinancing Student Loans Can Save You Money


CommonBond was founded in 2012 after cofounder David Klein found the process of taking out and repaying student loans to be complex and intimidating. Today, this lender has funded $4 billion in student loans, offering both refinancing and student loan products to borrowers looking to pay for their education debt.

CommonBond’s student loans are best for borrowers with creditworthy cosigners and are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Refinance loans are geared toward non-international students who have graduated from one of the schools in CommonBond’s university network.

Here’s a deeper look at what this lender has to offer.

CommonBond student loan refinance review

Since its founding in 2012, CommonBond has distributed billions in student loans, offering low APR rates, flexible loan terms and an autopay discount. If you have a large amount of student debt and want to refinance your loans with a company that offers deferment and forbearance plans for borrowers (just in case), CommonBond might be worth a look.

CommonBond student loan refinancing is a good fit for those who have graduated with a degree from a school within CommonBond’s network of more than 2,000 Title IV schools and programs. To be considered eligible, those graduates must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. This means that, unfortunately, CommonBond does not cater to international students.

This lender is also best for those with good credit scores — though, there is an option to opt for a cosigner if you don’t have strong credit — and for borrowers who want a lender with support for those going through financial hardship. This may be important for some borrowers as once you opt to refinance your federal loans into private loans, you can lose many of the benefits and protections that come with federal loans.

CommonBond student loan refinance review: The basics

While CommonBond does lack in its accessibility, many former graduates may still qualify for a refinance loan with CommonBond. To do this:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • You or your cosigner needs to have a credit score of at least 660
  • You’ll have to have attended one of the 2,000 schools across the U.S. in CommonBond’s network

If you clear these qualifications, you’ll be eligible for the following benefits with CommonBond:

  • Choose from variable, fixed and hybrid rates
  • Prequalify for a loan so you can compare other competitor rates without harming your credit.
  • Refinance a minimum of $5,000, up to $500,000.
  • Choose between repayment terms of Up to 20 years.
  • Receive a 0.25 percentage point discount on your interest rate if you sign up for autopay.
  • Avoid application, origination, prepayment and even late fees (temporarily, due to COVID-19).
  • Option to release your cosigner after 36 months of on-time payments.
  • Ability to apply for forbearance if you experience financial challenges.
  • Ability to have the loan discharged should you die or experience permanent disability.
Rates ● Student loan refinancing: 2.83% – 6.74%(fixed), 2.50%–6.85%(variable)
Basics ● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Refinance a minimum of $5,000 and up to $500,000
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Fixed rates, variable rates and hybrid rates
Eligibility ● 660 credit score
● No income requirement
● Must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
Applying ● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No application, origination or prepayment fees
● Temporarily waiving all late fees during COVID-19 pandemic
Repayment ● Payments will begin 30 to 60 days after you receive your loan
● No prepayment penalties
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Any payments applied that are more than the monthly minimum go toward reducing the loan’s principal amount
● If you graduated from school this year and your loans are in grace period deferment, you may be eligible for grace period deferment
● Should you return to school, you can apply for academic deferment
● If you experience financial challenges, you can apply for forbearance
● Repayment term option: Up to 20 years
● Release your cosigner after 36 months of prompt payments (and meeting other criteria)
Support ● CommonBond offers natural disaster forbearance for those suffering economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For challenges not related to COVID-19, CommonBond offers forbearance options.

What to like about CommonBond refinance for student loans

If you graduated from one of the more than 2,000 schools in CommonBond’s network, here are a few reasons you might like refinancing with this lender.

Refinance up to $500,000

CommonBond offers a high threshold for the amount it allows you to refinance — up to $500,000. Some lenders, such as Laurel Road and PenFed Credit Union, only allow borrowers to refinance up to $300,000. Other lenders only allow you to borrow so much based on your degree. Citizens Bank, for example, allows a maximum loan of $300,000 for a bachelor’s degree or $500,000 for a graduate degree. As such, CommonBond may be a good option for those with a large amount of student loans they need to refinance.

Few fees to worry about

This lender does not charge any origination or application fees, nor does it penalize borrowers from prepaying. CommonBond has also temporarily stopped charging customers late fees as part of its efforts to offer flexibility to borrowers struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What you need to begin the refinancing process with CommonBond
● To apply to refinance with CommonBond, you’ll need personal information like your Social Security number, the school you graduated from and your degree. You’ll also need to provide your financial information including your income and student loan amount.

Multiple loan terms

Borrowers with CommonBond can choose from multiple repayment plans that, if you’re going with a fixed or variable rate, range from 5- to 20-year terms. If you go with a hybrid rate, your options are more limited, however. This flexibility allows for borrowers to repay their refinance loan at their own pace, whether they want to pay it off as quickly as possible or stretch out their payments.

Up to 24 months of forbearance

One of the most prominent things to like about CommonBond loans is how upfront they are about the support programs they have in place. If you experience financial hardship, CommonBond offers up to 24 months of forbearance throughout the lifetime of your loan. Student loan forbearance temporarily pauses your payments and allows you to avoid defaulting on your loan. Keep in mind, however, that interest typically continues to accrue during forbearance, which can ultimately increase the size of your overall loan.

Can have a cosigner

CommonBond requires that you have a credit score of at least 660 in order to qualify to refinance your loans. If your credit score could use some work, though, you have the option to apply with a cosigner.

When applying with a cosigner, you’ll want to find someone — perhaps a friend or family member — with good credit to increase your chances of getting approved. However, you’ll want to be sure your cosigner is aware that if you’re unable to make payments on the loan, they can be held responsible for paying it off. That said, the good news is CommonBond does allow for cosigners to be released from the loan after you’ve made 36 punctual payments.

What to keep in mind about CommonBond refinance for student loans

CommonBond offers many benefits; however, there are still drawbacks borrowers will want to be aware of before agreeing to refinance with this lender.

Loss of access to federal programs

Refinancing your student loans can be a good way for you to save money over the life of your loan. But when you refinance your federal loans through a private company, you’ll lose your ability to take advantage of federal programs like income-driven repayment plans, student loan forgiveness, forbearance and deferment. While some private lenders do offer these protections as well, some do not — or their stipulations are much more narrow.

Mississippi and Nevada residents not eligible

CommonBond is available to former students from all over the country, with two exceptions: Mississippi and Nevada. If you are a resident of either of these states, you may not be eligible to refinance your student loans through this lender.

Minimum credit score

To be considered eligible to refinance with CommonBond, you’ll need to have at least a 660 credit score. A 660 is on the high end of what FICO and VantageScore consider to be a fair credit score, meaning you’ll want to make sure your credit is in a good place before you apply. If it’s not, however, you may apply with a cosigner.

Not available to international students

Refinancing with CommonBond is currently only available to U.S. citizens or permanent residents, so if you’re an international student, unfortunately, you may not be eligible. Other lenders, such as Citizens Bank, tend to be much more accessible to those who are not citizens or permanent residents of the U.S.

Must have graduated from school in CommonBond network

Before refinancing with CommonBond, you’ll want to ensure the university or college you graduated from is within their network. CommonBond’s network is made up of 2,000 Title IV schools and programs. If you did not graduate from within its network, you may not be eligible to refinance through this lender.

How CommonBond student loan refinance compares

Even if you think CommonBond might be the right fit for you, it’s wise to compare what else is on the market. Here is how CommonBond fares against two similar lenders.

CommonBond iHELP/ZuntaFi Citizens Bank
SLH rating 4.1/5 4.1/5 4.6/5
Products ● Student loan refinancing ● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
● Student loan refinancing
● Parent loan refinancing
Eligibility requirements ● 660 credit score
● No income requirement
● Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
● Two years of positive credit history
● Minimum annual income of $24,000
● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
● 700 credit score
● $24,000 income
● U.S. citizenship, permanent residency or have a Social Security number
● Bachelor’s or advanced degree
● Associate degree-holders and nongraduates must make 12 monthly payments before applying
Interest rates Variable: 2.50%–6.85%
Fixed: 2.83% – 6.74%
Variable: 3.94% – 9.80%
Fixed: 2.83% – 6.74%
Variable: 1.99% – 8.27%
Fixed: 2.74% – 8.52%
Minimum loan amount $5,000 $10,000 $10,000
Repayment terms available Up to 20 years 20 years Up to 20 years
Apply with a cosigner Yes Yes Yes

Is refinancing student loans with CommonBond right for you?

CommonBond makes it easy to apply to refinance your loans with its straightforward platform and questions. This lender’s website also offers a thorough outline of what to expect when you use its services. CommonBond’s support system for borrowers struggling financially also makes it an attractive option.

However, its limited accessibility may make it difficult for some borrowers to qualify, particularly for nontraditional or international students. Before getting too attached to this lender, borrowers will need to make sure they qualify for CommonBond’s services.

In order to weigh all your options thoroughly, compare these lenders in our student loan refinancing marketplace.

How to apply for refinancing with CommonBond

Overall, CommonBond’s platform is user-friendly and straightforward. If you have all your information handy, the process only takes a few minutes.

  1. To get started with the CommonBond student loan refinance form, you will fill in basic information about yourself, including your name and address, as well as your student loan balance and estimated pretax annual income. CommonBond will conduct a soft credit check to provide you a rate estimate, but it won’t affect your credit score.
  2. Next, you’ll get estimated APRs and monthly payments based on possible terms. The information will be broken down by fixed, variable and hybrid rates. Once you choose a term, you’ll need to provide more information, including specifics about your residence, degree and career.
  3. You’ll then be asked to verify information. Once that’s complete, CommonBond will perform a hard credit check to determine your final rate.
  4. Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, CommonBond will coordinate with your original lender to pay off your loans.

CommonBond student loans review

While CommonBond student loans offer low APR rates, a high borrowing ceiling and flexible terms, applying to see if you qualify with this lender might be best after you’ve looked around at other companies. This is because to learn your rates, you and your cosigner will have to submit to a hard credit check, which will temporarily put a dent in your credit score.

CommonBond student loans are a good fit for students that are enrolled in a school within CommonBond’s network, are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have access to a cosigner with a good credit score.

CommonBond student loans reviews: The basics

CommonBond offers student loans for those enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, MBA and dental school programs. However, in order to be eligible for an undergraduate or graduate loan with this lender, you’ll need to have a cosigner.

To further qualify with CommonBond, you’ll need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as well as be enrolled at least half time in a school connected to CommonBond’s network of over 2,000 schools and programs.

Rates ● Undergraduate loans: 3.74% – 10.74%(fixed), 3.80% – 9.36%(variable)
● Graduate loans: 3.74% – 3.74%(fixed), 3.87% – 3.87%(variable)
● MBA loans: 5.51% – 5.51%(fixed), 5.48% – 5.48%(variable),
● Dental school loans: Inquire with lender for current rate
● Medical school loans: Inquire with lender for current rate
Basics ● Application requires a hard credit check, no option to prequalify
● Borrow as much as your cost of attendance (with an aggregate maximum of $500,000)
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Fixed rates and variable rates
Eligibility ● Cosigner required for undergraduate and graduate loans
● Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
● Be enrolled at least half time in a school that is part of CommonBond’s network
Applying ● Requires a cosigner for undergraduate and graduate loans
● No application, origination or prepayment fees
● Late payment fees are temporarily being waived due to the COVID-19 pandemic
● Return check fee: $5
Repayment ● Standard six-month grace period
● No prepayment penalties
● Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points if you enroll in autopay
● Three in-school repayment options as well as post-graduation deferment
● Repayment term option: 5, 10, 15 years
● Release your cosigner after 24 months of prompt payments
Support ● CommonBond offers natural disaster forbearance for those suffering economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For challenges not related to COVID-19, CommonBond offers deferment and forbearance options.

What to like about CommonBond student loans

Between its dedication to having a social impact and variety of repayment options, there’s a lot to like about CommonBond student loans. Here are some of the benefits of using CommonBond to fund your education.

Borrow up to $500,000

CommonBond allows you to borrow as much as the cost of attendance, up to $500,000. This is quite high compared to other competitors like Citizens Bank, which only allows customers to borrow up to $100,000 for an undergraduate loan. This may make CommonBond a good option for those anticipating having to take out a sizable loan.

Cosigners can be released

While you do need a cosigner in order to be approved for an undergraduate or graduate loan, CommonBond allows cosigners to be released from their obligations after loan payments have been made on time for 24 months. Those applying for MBA, dental or medical school loans do not need a cosigner — though it is an option.

Flexible repayment options

With loan terms of 5, 10, 15 years, CommonBond offers flexibility to borrowers. This allows borrowers who want to condense or stretch out their loans to do so. Keep in mind, the shorter the loan term, the higher the monthly payments, while the longer the loan term, the smaller the monthly payments but the more you’ll pay over the life of the loan.

Very few fees

As a borrower with CommonBond, you will not be charged origination, application or prepayment fees. Additionally, due to the financial hardship the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought, CommonBond has temporarily paused late fees, as well.

Social impact for every loan given out

One of the most unique aspects of CommonBond is its commitment to having a social impact. Through a partnership with Pencils of Promise, for every loan CommonBond gives out, the company donates toward the education of students in Ghana. To date, the lender has donated more than $2 million and helped build 470 schools.

Can’t find a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or permanent resident cosigner? Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international student borrowers.
Not attending an eligible degree-granting school? Check out options for non-degree-seeking student loans.
Not attending classes at least half time? There are lenders with part-time student loan options.

What to keep in mind about CommonBond student loans

While there are plenty of upsides to using CommonBond as your lender, there are a few negative aspects, as well — particularly, its narrow accessibility. Here’s what you need to know.

Not available in all 50 states

CommonBond is licensed to do business in all 50 states except in Mississippi and Nevada. Unfortunately, if you’re a resident in one of these two states, you won’t be able to get a loan with this lender.

Cosigner required

Even if you may have good credit, in order to qualify for a loan from CommonBond, you’ll need to have a cosigner. A cosigner can be a friend or family member that has good credit and is willing to be financially culpable if you’re not able to repay the loan. However, a cosigner can be taken off the loan after 24 months of timely payments.

No prequalification available

Unlike with CommonBond’s refinance services, prequalification is not available to those who want to take out a student loan with this lender. This means that you won’t be able to see your rates without a hard credit pull. Unlike a soft credit pull, a hard credit pull can temporarily harm your credit.

International students not eligible

To be eligible for a loan with CommonBond, you must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. This means that if you are an international student, unfortunately, you will not be eligible for a student loan through this lender.

Must attend school in lender’s network

If you want a loan through CommonBond, you’ll need to attend a program or school in this lender’s network. While CommonBond’s network contains many colleges and universities — 2,000, to be exact — this could still be a barrier to many applicants.

How CommonBond student loans compares

Before signing on the dotted line for a student loan, it’s important to contrast a lender’s offerings compared to others. Here’s how CommonBond stacks up against two other lenders.

CommonBond Laurel Road Sallie Mae
SLH rating 4.2/5 4.3/5 4.4/5
Loans for… ● Undergraduate and graduate students
● MBA students
● Dental students
● Medical students
● Graduate students in medical care-related degrees ● Undergraduate and graduate student loans
● Bar study loans
● Health professions graduate loans
● Dental residency and relocation loans
● Graduate school loans
● Dental school loans
● MBA loans
● Law school loans
● Medical school loans
● Medical residency and relocation loans
Interest rates Variable starting at 3.80% and fixed starting at 3.74% Variable starting at 3.00% and fixed starting at 3.10% Variable starting at 1.13% and fixed starting at 3.50%
Ability to prequalify without affecting credit No Yes No
Borrowing amount $2,000 to $500,000 Check with lender $1,000
In-school repayment options 3 3 2
Repayment terms 5, 10, 15 years 5, 7, 10, 15, 20 years 5, 15 years
Cosigner release available Yes — after 24 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria) Yes — after 36 months of timely payments Yes — after 12 months of timely payments

You’ll very likely be better off if you shop around beyond a few lenders. Make sure you learn all about the best options for your specific needs.

Are CommonBond student loans right for you?

CommonBond student loans can be a good option for borrowers looking to take out a large debt or who want deferment or forbearance support. This lender may also be a good option for those who want to use a company making a social impact. However, qualifying for a CommonBond loan is a bit narrower compared to other lenders.

Since CommonBond doesn’t offer prequalification as part of its application process, it may be a good idea to apply with lenders that offer soft credit checks first. To see more lenders, visit our student loan marketplace for private loans and to learn about your options.

How to apply with CommonBond

Applying for a student loan with CommonBond is a fairly straightforward process. Here’s what you can expect.

  1. To begin, you (along with your cosigner) will have to fill out your personal and financial information, including your name, address and the school you plan to attend. CommonBond will then perform a hard credit inquiry to find what rates you’ll qualify for.
  2. Next, CommonBond will send you possible APR rates, loan terms and monthly payments. At this point, you’ll need to choose which plan you’re comfortable going with.
  3. Once you choose your loan, you and your cosigner will need to officially accept the offer from CommonBond. After this, CommonBond will confirm your enrollment and loan amount with your school.
  4. After CommonBond verifies the information with your school, it will send the funds to your school.

How to contact CommonBond

For questions about your loan, you can contact CommonBond in several ways:

  • Call: 800-975-7812
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Live chat with an agent Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST

Frequently asked questions about CommonBond student loans

If you didn’t find your question answered in our CommonBond reviews, see the following FAQs:

Is CommonBond trustworthy?

Yes — CommonBond is a legitimate company that was founded in 2012. This lender has provided $4 billion in student loan funding.

Does CommonBond have any fees?

CommonBond does not charge application or origination fees, nor does it make customers pay prepayment penalties. Typically, CommonBond charges late fees, though the company has temporarily halted this fee in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does CommonBond require a cosigner?

While the option to have a cosigner is optional with all of CommonBond’s loan options, including refinancing, only undergraduate and graduate student loans require a cosigner.

Is CommonBond able to refinance my federal loans?

Yes — CommonBond can refinance federal loans as long as you meet its eligibility requirements:

  • 660 credit score
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must have attended a school or program within CommonBond’s network

Methodology for ratings

To come up with our shield rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies/private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact — spanning three categories: accessibility, rates & terms and repayment experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt.

A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.

The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine each lender’s overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.

Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.

Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to CommonBond student loans, which is current as of January 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.
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