CommonBond Private Student Loan Debt Consolidation Review
CommonBond is a great option for refinancing or consolidating private student loans, but it comes with one major catch – this company only services debt from graduate school.
The reason why I’d list CommonBond amongst the Top Student Loan Debt Consolidation Companies is that they offer low interest rates, no origination or application fees, no prepayment penalties, and that they’re a solid lender who you can trust to get things done right.
Oh, and as the cherry on top, CommonBond also offers a great job-finding service called CommonBridge, which was created to help borrowers who lost their jobs find a new one.
The only other lender who provides any sort of similar career services assistance is SoFi, who offers a great job placement and networking service that they call the Entrepreneurship Program.
The major limiting factor with relying on CommonBond is that they are only willing to service graduate school loans, and loans for certain programs from approved schools.
The good news is that their list is pretty comprehensive, so if you went to an accredited, highly-respected school, then you should be in the clear.
Anyway, CommonBond is definitely worth talking to, and if you’re already convinced, then simply click the Apply Now button below to get started.
Not convinced yet? Read on and I’ll tell you more about what makes CommonBond one of the best consolidation companies in the business.
Who is CommonBond?
CommonBond is one of the smaller, newer lenders in the student loan debt refinancing space, so don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of them.
The company was founded by Wharton MBA students who had a great idea for how to better handle student loan debt – focus on those students who have great job prospects, offer then competitive interest rates, support them with career assistance, and make money by retaining customers and attracting new business.
CommonBond may not make much money off of servicing your debt (because their interest rates are low), but they’ll probably get paid back in full because they’re strategy is to keep you well-employed so that you can afford each of your monthly payments.
And it’s a strategy that’s been paying off for them in spades – CommonBond has been growing year over year, it continues to win customers over, and if you search the web for reviews about their consolidation products, you’ll find almost exclusively positive testimonials.
What Types of Loans can CommonBond Consolidate or Refinance?
As I mentioned above, the major limiting factor with CommonBond is that they’ll only consolidate student loans that were taken out to pay for graduate school, and only for certain programs from an approved list of colleges and universities.
Click here to view CommonBond’s approved list of eligible programs and schools
As you can see from the list, lots of well-respected institutions are represented here, but for those who got their graduate degrees from not-so-respected schools (*cough* private for-profits *cough*), you will need to look elsewhere for consolidation services.
I haven’t been able to find anything about minimum requirement for their loan consolidation program, but they will only refinance up to $220,000 in total student loan debt.
For most borrowers, that should be entirely sufficient, but if you’re trying to consolidate loans for law school, dental school or medical school, that may not be enough.
CommonBond also offers refinancing for all Federal student loans, and private student loans issued by financing institutions like banks, credit unions, etc., but they can also consolidate loans for corporate-sponsored institutions (like if your firm paid for your MBA), as well as international student loans (like loans borrowed from the Bank of Mexico, or elsewhere).
CommonBond cannot help you refinance loans that were taken out for personal purposes (“personal loans”), bar study loans or any other loans from family and friends, or which your school wouldn’t certify as “qualified education expenses”.
A Warning: Don’t Consolidate Federal Loans with Private Loans
CommonBond offers consolidation for both private and federal student loans, but that’s not necessarily a product that I’m excited about because it’s almost never a good idea to combine your federal loans with private debt.
My golden rule for student loans is to avoid borrowing private money whenever possible, and for good reason – federal student loan debt is far easier to get rid of since there are so many excellent benefits programs created to help borrowers pay down their federal loans.
From the awesome income-based Federal Student Loan Repayment Plans to President Obama’s Forgiveness Program, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, Federal Deferments and Forbearances, there are all sorts of assistance programs to help provide debt relief for Federal borrowers.
For those of you with both federal loans and private loans, keep in mind that consolidating them together makes you ineligible (permanently!) for all of these awesome federal financial assistance programs.
In a word – do not do it! While it may be a great idea to consolidate your private student loans, there are very few good reasons (none if you ask me) to your federal loans up with private debt.
Does CommonBond Offer Fixed-Rate Loans?
I always include this question in my reviews of student loan debt consolidation companies because it’s the safest way to refinance your debt and ensure that you’ll never get his with a crazy rate adjustment.
Yes, in 2016, interest rates are at literally historic lows, but no one knows how much longer that situation will last, so even though you could get a variable-interest rate loan with a significantly lower interest rate, almost all financial experts would recommend that you instead opt for a slightly higher interest fixed-rate loan.
Choosing the fixed-rate option locks in your interest rate for the lifespan of your loan, so no matter what happens with rates – even if they tripled over the next five years, your cost for borrowing wouldn’t increase.
In addition to CommonBond’s fixed rate loans, they also offer variable rate loans, and a new product that they call the “Hybrid Rate Loan”. I’m a little skeptical of this one, but it may be a good option for certain borrowers, as it offers a 10 year loan which starts out as fixed rate for 5 years, followed by variable rate for the remaining 5 years of the loan term.
That’s a little risky though, and I’ll expand on that in the content below.
What are CommonBond’s Minimum Interest Rates?
I’m pretty pleased with the interest rates offered here – compared to the other major competitors, there’s not much of a gap.
In fact, for some borrowers, CommonBond will have the lowest interest rates in the market – that depends on things like your credit, financial history, debt to income ratio, etc., and can’t be determined in advance though – you’ll simply have to apply to CommonBond and the other companies to shop their rates and figure out who offers you the best deal.
CommonBond’s minimum rates vary by the length of your loan, and as of Summer 2016, were reported as follows:
|Term (Years)||APR Range|
|5||1.94% - 4.76%|
|10||3.16% - 4.79%|
|15||3.41% - 4.79%|
|20||3.74% - 4.81%|
Variable rate loans are tied to 1-month LIBOR and may increase or decrease.
|Term (Years)||APR Range|
|5||3.74% - 5.64%|
|10||4.74% - 5.74%|
|15||4.99% - 5.99%|
|20||5.34% - 6.14%|
Fixed rate loans never change. The rate you agree to at signup remains constant throughout the course of your loan.
|Term (Years)||Rate Range||APR||Payments||Starting Rate|
|10||Low||3.99%||1st 60 (fixed)||4.24%|
|2nd 60 (variable)||3.16%|
|High||5.48%||1st 60 (fixed)||5.69%|
|2nd 60 (variable)||4.79%|
Hybrid rate loans are only offered with a 10 year loan term, and start out for 5 years as a fixed-rate loan, then become variable rate loans for the final 5 years of the term.
Note also that with the hybrid rate loan, you’ll either quality for the “Low” or “High” rate range on disbursement (during your application process), and you can’t jump between those ranges down the line.
If interest rates were to stay as low as they are now for the next 10 years, then this would be a good option, but I think most people watching the market would argue that there’s virtually no way these low rates can continue for that long.
Does CommonBond Charge Origination Fees?
No. Most of the big, reputable lenders no longer charge origination fees, and CommonBond has joined with the others to offer their consolidation loans without up-front costs.
Does CommonBond Charge Prepayment Penalties?
No. If you end up coming into some money, or simply deciding that you’d rather pay off your loan early to reduce interest costs, then you’ll be free to do so without any penalties.
Does CommonBond Offer Interest Rate Reductions?
Yes. Like some of the other big lenders, CommonBond provides an interest rate reduction for borrowers who agree to enroll in the automatic payments program.
Just like LendKey and SoFi, CommonBond appears to offer a 0.25% discount when you enroll in Auto Pay.
Does CommonBond Offer an Interest-Only Payment Plan?
No. I haven’t been able to find any mention of interest-only payments during any sort of grace period.
Frankly, I’m not surprised, because I think that CommonBond assumes you’ll be able to land a job once you’ve completed your graduate program (it’s a much bigger problem for undergrads), but still, that’s something to consider when determining who to refinance with.
If you’re shopping consolidation companies and looking for an interest-only deferment type plan, then you should check out my review of LendKey’s program.
Yes. CommonBond states that they offer unemployment protection, but I haven’t been able to find any details of what the program actually includes.
Their website says:
If you hit hard times you may be eligible for forbearance and can temporarily postpone making loan payments.
To me, that’s not all that reassuring. To compare this to LendKey and SoFi, LendKey specifically states that you can qualify for up to 18 months of unemployment forbearance time, and SoFi offers up to 12 months of the same.
If you’re seriously concerned about large gaps in your future employment, then you may need to look at one of the other competitors with a better offer on this front.
Does CommonBond Offer Career Counseling?
Yes. One of the biggest draws to CommonBond’s consolidation package is that they provide a career counseling-type service called CommonBridge.
CommonBridge helps those borrowers who lose jobs find new ones, by offering them time with job-placement consultants, but it also offers borrowers to take part in social events, professional dinners, and introductions with other CommonBond alumni and participating companies.
Personally, it sounds to me like SoFi’s job placement program is probably more comprehensive, so if career services are high up on your list of needs, I’d probably look to them instead, but there’s no doubt that CommonBridge also sounds like a pretty good deal.
Does CommonBond Offer a Deferment Period for Recent Graduates?
Not that I can find. I’ve looked all around their website and all over the web and I can’t find any evidence that CommonBond offers a deferment program for recent graduates.
Once again, it looks like SoFi has better options here. If you need a few months to get your financial house in order after graduation, then you will want to look to them instead.
Does CommonBond Offer Cosigner Release?
Yes. And this is a great deal, because cosigner release is one of the better benefits available to student loan borrowers.
The way it works at CommonBond is that you’ll need to make on-time payments for at least three years, when you can request that your cosigner be released from the loan.
The company will reevaluate your financial situation, and if you’re found to meet their underwriting criteria for your loan at that time (without your cosigner), then they’ll release the cosigner from the loan.
Who Funds CommonBond’s Loans?
Here’s another interesting facet to CommonBond which separates it from other vendors – the loans this company provides are actually crowd-funded!
That may sound crazy, but I think it’s a pretty cool idea, and something that we’re going to continue seeing more and more of in the future.
CommonBond uses platforms like LendingClub and Prosper to crowd-source money raising efforts, but they’ve also relied on some Venture Capital funding to come up with cash, having taken $100+ million from Tribeca Venture Partners, The Social + Capital Partnership, VIkram Pandit and some other notable VCs.
Can You Trust CommonBond?
Yes, you certainly can. I said this above already, but looking at first-hand reviews of CommonBond’s consolidation loans from all around the web, I’m finding almost exclusively positive testimonials.
It looks like CommonBond is doing a good job servicing loans, answering questions, helping people with problems, and following up on their promises with reliable service.
You can trust CommonBond to get things done right, and you should have no reasons to be afraid of relying on them to consolidate your private student loan debt.
Also, if you’re into corporate do-gooding, then it’d be hard to make an argument against using CommonBond, as they’re policy on enacting “social good” is a pretty strong one.
They’ve pledged fund a full year’s worth of education for one needy student for every single degree fully funded on their platform, which is pretty awesome, and must amount to a serious expenditure (considering they only offer funding for professional, graduate programs).
What are CommonBond’s Eligibility Requirements?
They say that their eligibility process is as easy as 1-2-3, and they’re basically right about the first steps, but it gets significantly more complicated after that…
To qualify for a loan from CommonBond, you must:
- Be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Be a graduate from a degree program on their list of eligible programs, and from one of the schools listed as part of their network
- Be able to pass the credit check and other credit factors to receive approval
If you’re not sure that you’ll be able to pass their checks, you can rest assured about having your credit hit, because CommonBond uses a “soft pull” to pre-qualify you.
If you receive approval and then want to proceed with finding out exactly what rate you’d be able to get from them, then you’d need to face a “hard” inquiry (which does show up on your credit report), but you’d have a pretty good idea of what the interest rate would be anyway, so you’d typically only do that if you were sure that you were going to use CommonBond to refinance your loans.
And, like anywhere else, you aren’t obligated to work with them after receiving approval, so you really do have very little to lose by shopping their rates and comparing their offer to the other competitors.
Should I Consolidate with CommonBond?
If you graduated from one of the approved programs from a school in CommonBond’s network, then yes, you should definitely consider qualifying here.
However, keep in mind that it’s always worth checking out the competition as well.
My personal advice to you would be to shop the top 5 or so consolidators, find out what deals they’re offering, then consolidate with the company that offers you the lowest fixed rate.
How Do I Apply?
That part is easy, click the orange button below to start the applications process.
Other Questions? Comments?
Have any other questions about CommonBond, student loan consolidation and refinancing, or other elements of dealing with student loan debt?
Please feel free to leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to respond in the next day or so.
Also, if you have consolidated with CommonBond, and are willing to share your experience with them, then please do so in the comments below!
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In the interest of full disclosure, I want to point out that I have affiliate links to CommonBond in the post above.
What that means is that if you click through my “Apply Now” links and have your loans refinanced or consolidated through CommonBond, I’ll receive a small commission for referring you to them.
That is not why I feature them on my site, however. They really do offer one of the best refinancing packages in the market, as well as some incredibly unique benefits not available from other lenders.