June 4, 2019

CommonBond Review

CommonBond

4.7

Repayment options


5.0/5

Junk fees


5.0/5

Customer service


4.5/5

Availability


4.5/5

Forbearance, deferment, and forgiveness


4.5/5

Pros

  • Flexible repayment options
  • Attractive profession-specific loans
  • Loans go to help "Pencils of Promise" needy kids
  • Can refinance Parent Plus loans

Cons

  • Refinancing not available in Mississippi, Nevada, or Vermont
  • Borrowers not assigned a dedicated banker



While some lenders only offer student loan refinancing, CommonBond is a full-service student loan company. In other words, CommonBond actually gives original loans to enrolled college students as well.

But whether you’re looking for an in-school loan or to refinance student loans, CommonBond is one of the best student loan companies on the market today. In fact, they were included in our Best Lenders to Refinance Student Loans guide.

Read our full review of CommonBond to see if they could be a good fit for you.

What Makes CommonBond Unique?

As usual, we begin by taking a look at the distinctive features and benefits that set CommonBond apart from other student loan lenders.

1. Flexibility

CommonBond is not a one-size-fits-all kind of student loan lenders. Customization is one of their strong suits…especially when it comes to their in-school deferment flexibility.

When you take out federal student loans, you often can defer payments until 6 months after you finish school. But that’s not the way things typically work with private student loans. It’s not unusual for payments to begin the month after the loan is taken out.

But CommonBond gives four different repayment options for students that take out loans while they’re still in school.

  • Deferment: Allows you to completely postpone making your student loan payments until graduation. Keep in mind that interest will accrue during deferment and will be capitalized at the end of the deferment period.
  • Fixed monthly payment of $25: Allows you to make fixed payments of $25 each month while you are in school. Any unpaid interest will be capitalized at the end of the fixed monthly payment period.
  • Interest-only payment: Allows you to make interest-only payments each month while you are in school.
  • Full monthly payment: Full monthly payment of the student loan (principal plus interest) begins while you are in school.

It’s highly unusual for a private lender to offer so many repayments options to new student loan borrowers.  If for any reason you can’t take out federal loans while you’re in college, a CommonBond loan could help you keep your head above water financially until you graduate. Get started with CommonBond.

2. Extended Forbearance Periods

If you lose your job or experience any other kind of economic hardship, most lenders will allow you to apply for forbearance. However, a large majority of private lenders cap forbearance periods at a maximum of12 months. But you can qualify for up to 24 months of forbearance with CommonBond.

The forbearances are given out in 3-month increments. You’ll need to continue to show that you have an economic need.  And it’s also important to note that these extended forbearance periods are only offered on refinances, not on CommonBond’s original loans.

But, nonetheless, this is an area where CommonBond really shines and stands out from the crowd. Check your rates with CommonBond.

3. Profession-Specific Loans

CommonBond also has a few profession-specific loans that are worth taking a closer look at.

Dental School Loans

CommonBond claims that they’ve worked with the ASDA to meet the specific needs and challenges of dental students. Since dental students are grad students, they don’t have very attractive federal loan options. Grad PLUS Loans have an APR of 7.6% and a 4.25% origination fee. And residency can be killer for dentists too.

CommonBond says that they can offer a better interest rate to dentists than what Grad PLUS loans have to offer. Plus, they offer the following additional benefits to dentists:

  • Resident deferral: Focused on your residency? You can fully defer payments on a verified program until after you’re done.
  • 6-month grace period: Getting your dental career started? Take some extra time before your payments begin.

Medical School Loans

CommonBond’s medical loans offer many of the same benefits as their dental loans. However, their residency benefit is a little bit different. When doctors or nurses are in a verified program (internships, fellowships, and research included), they can make monthly payments as low as $100.

MBA Loans

If you’re planning to start an MBA program soon, you may want to check out CommonBond’s MBA school loans. Here are a few of the perks that they offer to MBA students:

  • An MBA internship program
  • Summer career development series
  • Social Promise trip to Ghana

It’s important to note that for all 3 profession-specific loans (dental, medical, and MBA), cosigners are not required. This is significant because all of CommonBond’s other original loans DO require cosigners. Finally, all three profession-specific loans come with up to 12 months of forbearance.

4. Hybrid Loans

Like most student loan lenders, CommonBond offers fixed interest rate loans and variable rate loans. But they also offer an additional product for refinances that’s a bit unique. They call it a “hybrid loan.”

Here’s how it works. You’re given a 10-year repayment term. You’re given a fixed interest rate for the first five years and a variable interest rate for the last 5 years. These loans are only available for student loan refinances.

The rationale behind these loans is that you get a lower interest rate for the first 5 years than you would if you had simply signed up for a fixed-rate loan. And the hope would be that you pay off your loan early into the last 5 years when your loan switches to a variable interest rate.

If you think that you could realistically pay off your student loans early, then this could be an attractive product. But if not, then it would be safer for you to go with a traditional fixed-rate loan. Check your rates with CommonBond without affecting your credit score.

5. Giving Back

There are corners of the financial industry that can be pretty cold and heartless. But CommonBond thinks lenders should be able to “have a heart” and run a profitable business at the same time.

CommonBond especially believes in investing in the next generation. For years now, CommonBond has partnered with the non-profit, Pencils of Promise, to help get technology, teachers, and schools to students in Ghana.

Here’s how they do it. Any time someone takes out a loan or refinance with CommonBond, they fund a child’s education in the developing world. CommonBond says they’ve already donated over $1 million to Pencils of Promise and helped build over 470 schools.

6. Parent Plus Refinancing

If you’re looking to refinance Parent Plus loans, you can do that with CommonBond.

Also, if you are someone who would like to transfer a Parent Plus loan from your parents’ name into your own, CommonBond allows that as well. In order to do that, you’ll need to be able to meet the lending criteria on your own.

Apply now for a CommonBond student loan or refinance.

The Nuts and Bolts

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of CommonBond’s distinctive features, let’s get into some of the finer details of their business.

1. Junk Fees

This one is a bit confusing. For undergraduate loans and refinances, CommonBond does not charge an origination fee.

But taking out any graduate loan or profession-specific loans is a different story. In that case, you will pay a hefty 2% origination fee. While it’s true that this is less than the origination fees on Grad Plus loans, it’s more than you’d pay with a Stafford loan.

CommonBond does not charge any prepayment, early payment, or extra payment fees.

2. Interest Rates

Here are CommonBond’s current interest rates for each of their loan products.

Undergraduate Loans

  • Fixed: 5.45-9.74%
  • Variable: 3.74-9.72%

Refinance Loans

  • Fixed: 5.45-9.74%
  • Variable: 2.46-7.08%
  • Hybrid: 4.28-7.02%

MBA Loans

  • Fixed: 5.8-7.2%
  • Variable: 5.73-7.13%

Dental Loans

  • Fixed: 5.56-6.76%
  • Variable: 5.6-6.79%

Medical Loans

  • Fixed: 5.56-6.76%
  • Variable: 5.6-6.79%

Graduate Loans

  • Fixed: 5.4-9.74%
  • Variable: 3.64-9.72%

I highly recommend that you compare CommonBond’s rates with other top lenders by using Credible.

  • Credible is like the Kayak of student loans.
  • It gives you the ability to compare several student different student loan refi companies at one time.
  • You should never take out any new student loan or refi until you’ve checked Credible to see what other lenders can offer you.

Related: Read our review of Credible and our guide to using their comparison tool.

3. Customer service

CommondBond’s loans are serviced by Firstmark Services, but they do have their own in-house customer service team.

Borrowers are not assigned a dedicated banker, though. And unfortunately,  you can’t read reviews of CommonBond on Trustpilot as they are not on the platform.

4. Repayment Periods

Depending on the type of loan that you take out with CommonBond, these are the repayment terms that may be available:

  • 5 years
  • 7 years
  • 10 years
  • 15 years
  • 20 years

This is pretty much par for the course for the repayment terms that lenders tend to offer for student loans. If you’re looking for flexibility on your repayment terms, you may want to check out Earnest.

5. Requirements

Here are the key requirements and eligibility criteria that you need to be aware of with CommonBond:

  • Minimum loan amount: $5,000
  • Minimum credit score: 670
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not disclosed
  • Typical income of approved borrowers: Not disclosed
  • State Eligibility: Available in every state except Mississippi, Nevada or Vermont
  • Co-signer release: Yes
  • Must have graduated: For refinances, must have had at least a Bachelor’s Degree
  • Must have attended a Title IV-accredited school: Yes

6. Forgiveness Options

CommonBond will forgive your student loans in the event of your death or permanent disability. This is a big deal because it’s something that not every private lender offers.

Apply now for a CommonBond student loan or refinance.

Our Warning to Federal Student Loan Borrowers

As we make clear in our student loan refinance guide, federal student loan borrowers need to think long and hard before refinancing into private loans.

When you move a federal loan to private, you lose all of your federal student loan benefits. While CommonBond offers many of these same benefits, there are a few that they do not offer — specifically income-based repayment plans and eligibility for Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

We recommend that you take the time to read The Complete Guide to Getting Out of Student Loan Debt to learn more about each of these benefits.

You, ultimately, may decide that the lower monthly payments would outweigh the loss of the federal student loan benefits. But that’s a decision that you should make with a full understanding of what you’d be giving up.

Conclusion:

If you have maxed out your federal student loan options, CommonBond offers some of the best repayment options for students while they’re in school. Also, if you’re in dental, medical, or MBA school, CommonBond’s profession-specific graduate loans are worth looking into.

As always though, don’t take my word for anything. Make sure to research CommonBond for yourself and use Credible to compare their rates to other lenders.

Apply now for a CommonBond student loan or refinance.

About the author 

Clint Proctor

Hi, I'm Clint! I love writing about everything personal finance. In addition to this site, my work has been featured on several major publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Credit Karma, and U.S. News and World Report. My hope is that you'll be able to find plenty of helpful information and inspiration on this site to help you reach your financial goals. Thanks for visiting!

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