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Education Loan Finance (ELFI) Review

ELFI offers low rates for private student loans and refinancing

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Investopedia’s Rating

Our Take

Education Loan Finance (ELFI) provides student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as student loan refinancing options. ELFI offers low rates, multiple repayment terms, and a fairly quick application process, but refinancing requires a $10,000 minimum per loan.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
  • Low rates on student loans and refinancing

  • Repayment terms from 5 to 20 years

  • Ability to refinance Parent PLUS loans into child’s name

  • Assigned student loan advisor to help with application process

  • Late fees and penalties charged

  • No co-signer release available

  • High refinancing minimum amount

Key Takeaways
  • ELFI offers low rates on undergraduate, graduate, parent, and refinanced student loans.
  • ELFI offers multiple forbearance and deferment options.
  • Student loans are available starting at $1,000, and refinanced student loans start at $10,000.
  • International students must have a valid Social Security number and co-signer to be approved.
Company Overview

ELFI is a student loan company that started as a refinancing company, and now also offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as parent loans. ELFI was founded in 2015 and is part of SouthEast Bank, a Tennessee-based bank. Co-signers are available on loans and there are multiple deferment and forbearance options available.

  • Year Founded 2015
  • Official Website
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, Graduate, Refinance, Parent
  • Customer Service: Email. Live Chat. Phone: (844) 601-3534

ELFI Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR? Fixed APR?
Undergraduate loan 4.98%–12.79% 4.48%–12.29%
Graduate loan? 4.98%–12.79%? 4.48%–12.29%?
Parent loan? 4.98%–12.79%? 4.48%–12.29%?
Refinance? 5.28%–8.99%? 5.48%–8.94%?

ELFI may be a good choice, but there are many student loan lenders out there; see our picks for the best student loans to help fund your education.

Pros Explained

  • Low rates on student loans and refinancing: Interest rates on student loans start at 2.69%, and refinancing starts at 3.53%, lower than many competitors.
  • Repayment terms from 5 to 20 years: ELFI offers multiple repayment terms, including 5-year, 7-year, 10-year, and 15-year term lengths. Refinanced loans offer up to 20-year repayment terms as well.
  • Ability to refinance Parent PLUS loans into child’s name: ELFI refinancing allows children of parents with Parent PLUS loans to refinance into the child’s name.
  • Assigned student loan advisor to help with application process: ELFI assigns every applicant a student loan advisor to help walk them through the application process and choose the right loan.

Cons Explained

  • Late fees and penalties charged: ELFI charges a late fee of up to $50 for payments that are 11 days late. Returned payments are charged $30.
  • No co-signer release available: Co-signers on student loans cannot be released without refinancing the loan.
  • High refinancing minimum amount: While student loans start at a $1,000 minimum, refinancing with ELFI requires a $10,000 minimum.

Student Loans Offered by ELFI

Undergraduate Student Loans

ELFI undergraduate student loans are available to full-time and half-time enrolled students. Loans are available starting at $1,000, but maximum borrowed amounts are limited to one year of school costs. Students can apply with or without a co-signer.

Terms for Undergraduate Loans
Variable APR 4.98%–12.79%
Fixed APR? 4.48%–12.29%?
Loan amounts? $1,000 up to one year of costs?
Loan terms? 5-, 7-, 10-, and 15-year?

Graduate Student Loans

ELFI graduate student loans are available to full-time and half-time enrolled students in graduate-level programs, including medical, dental, and MBA school. Grad students can borrow as little as $1,000, and maximum borrowed amounts are limited to one year of school costs. Co-signers are available for graduate loans, but cannot be released without a refinance.

Terms for Graduate Loans
Variable APR 4.98%–12.79%
Fixed APR? 4.48%–12.29%?
Loan amounts? $1,000 up to one year of costs?
Loan terms? 5-, 7-, 10-, and 15-year?

Parent Student Loans

ELFI parent student loans are available to parents of full-time and half-time enrolled students. Parent loans can use a co-signer as well.

Terms for Parent Loans
Variable APR 4.73%–12.79%
Fixed APR? 4.48%–12.29%?
Loan amounts? $1,000 up to one year of costs?
Loan terms? 5-, 7-, and 10-year?

Loan Eligibility and Approval

To qualify for a student loan with ELFI, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old or the age of majority in your state
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien without conditions and with proper evidence of eligibility
  • Be enrolled in a program for a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree
  • Be attending an eligible school
  • Have a valid Social Security number

There are also personal financial requirements considered as part of the application process, including:

  • Minimum income of $35,000
  • Minimum credit score of 680
  • Minimum credit history of 36 months

For parent loans, the borrower must meet the qualifying dependent requirements. International students must have a valid Social Security number and a qualified co-signer to be eligible. DACA recipients are not eligible for ELFI student loans.

Are Co-Signers Required?

Co-signers are required only in cases where students do not meet the qualifying criteria for approval of a student loan or refinance. Co-signers are required for international students, who also must have a valid Social Security number.

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

ELFI offers pre-qualification online, with a simple application that can be completed within a few minutes. You will need to provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Estimated annual income
  • Estimated credit score
  • School name
  • Expected graduation date
  • Amount you'd like to borrow

ELFI will run a soft pull of your credit profile for pre-qualification, then will show your loan options and interest rates. You can then pick a loan option and move forward with completing your application.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

Loan applications can be done online in less than one hour. Once the application is submitted, ELFI will reach out to your listed school for certification. Certification time varies by school, and may take some time. Some schools also don’t certify until a certain length of time before classes start. Once certification is complete, ELFI will send funds to the school at the scheduled time.

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

ELFI does not charge loan application fees, and there are no origination, prepayment, early payment, or extra payment fees either.?

There are late fees applied to payments that are more than 11 days late. The fee is either 5% of the total payment or $50, whichever is less. There is also a returned payment fee of $30 per returned payment.

Loan Discounts

ELFI does not offer loan discounts, and autopay is required, so all rates listed are the lowest available.

Repayment Options

ELFI offers several repayment options, allowing students to choose how they prefer to repay their loans.

  • Deferred payment: Deferred loans don’t require payment during school and up to six months after graduation. Interest will accrue during deferment, which makes this option more expensive over the life of the loan.
  • Fixed payment: ELFI offers a fixed payment option for $25 per month during school and up to six months after graduation. Interest will still accrue, but this helps pay it down during school.
  • Interest-only payment: ELFI offers interest-only loan repayment during school and up to six months after graduation, which allows students to pay off interest so it doesn’t accrue during school.
  • Immediate full payment: Students can pay the full payment amount during school (principal and interest), which starts the loan payoff process right away, and saves the most money over the life of the loan.


ELFI offers a referral program for student loan refinancing. For each referral, you will receive $400 upon a successfully funded refinance, and the referred will receive $100 off the balance of their loan.

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

ELFI does not service loans directly, but partners with American Education Services or MOHELA (depending on your location). Both of these services offer several options for student loan forbearance, deferment, and loan discharge.

Forbearance is typically available for up to 12 months over the life of a loan, and is determined on a case-by-case basis. Deferment may be available to graduate students and active-duty military, depending on the loan.

Loan forgiveness and/or discharge may be available in the event of a permanent disability or death of the borrower.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

ELFI offers student loan refinancing to graduates, with 5- to 20-year loan terms and low interest rates. 

Student loan refinancing is not available for students who have not completed their degree.

Refinancing is available on loans as low as $10,000 and up to $250,000 in total. Refinancing may allow you to pay off your old student loans and lower your rate, or consolidate multiple loans into a single loan. There are no fees for refinancing with ELFI.

Terms for Refinancing Loans
Variable APR 5.28%–8.99%
Fixed APR? 5.48%–8.94%?
Loan amounts? $10,000–$250,000?
Loan terms? 5–20 years?

It’s always best to explore your options. Check out our picks for the best student loan refinance companies to see which one is right for you.

Customer Service

ELFI offers basic help documentation on its website, and you can access the customer support team via email (, live chat, and phone (844-601-3534). Support is available from Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET, and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) did not include ELFI, nor its funding bank (Southeast Bank) in its annual consumer report, which indicates there have been no formal complaints lodged against ELFI or its partners through that service.

Applying for an ELFI Student Loan

You can apply for a student loan with ELFI online or over the phone (though documents must be submitted online). You can start by first checking your rate through the pre-approval application. Once you are pre-approved, you can choose a loan term and rate, and then complete the application by providing further information and documentation.

Some of the information you will need to provide includes:

  • Full name and address
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Household income
  • School of attendance
  • Cost of attendance
  • Expected graduation date
  • Requested loan amount

ELFI also requires you to submit additional documentation, including pay stubs, tax forms, and a picture of your government-issued ID. Once your application is completed, ELFI will request certification from your school before disbursing the loan.

We recommend completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before applying for a private student loan, as you may qualify for grants or federal loans with more favorable terms.

Alternative Choices

Education Loan Finance (ELFI)?  Discover ISL Education Lending 
Loan types offered? Undergraduate; graduate; parent Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional Undergraduate; graduate; parent?
Undergraduate fixed APR? 4.48%–12.29%? 5.24%–15.99%? 3.95%–8.01%?
Undergraduate variable APR? 4.98%–12.79%? 6.62%–17.49%? 6.10%–10.64%?
Origination/administrative fee? None? None? None?
Repayment options? Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment? Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment? Deferment; interest-only; full payment?
Refinancing available? Yes? Yes? Yes?

Final Verdict

ELFI is a great student loan company that offers low interest rates and flexible repayment terms. It also offers refinancing for both student and parent loans, and assigns a student loan advisor to each applicant to help answer any questions during the application process.

ELFI does charge high fees for late payments and returned payments, and hardship support is up to the servicer (AES or MOHELA), but overall the rates make it a very competitive company. If you are looking for private student loans of $1,000 or more, or to refinance student loans of $10,000 or more, ELFI is a good option to consider.

There are many other lenders out there. Browse our selections for the best private student loans to see if one might be a better fit.


Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. ELFI. "About ELFI."

  2. ELFI. "Undergraduate Student Loans for College."

  3. ELFI. "Graduate School Loan."

  4. ELFI. "Parent Loans for College."

  5. ELFI. "Student Loan Refinancing."

  6. ELFI. "Private Student Loan Eligibility."?

  7. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Report of the CFPB Education Loan Ombudsman."