Launched in 2011, CommonBond is an online lender that offers private student loans for several degree programs. It’s also a major lender for refinancing student loans, including graduate student loans and parent PLUS loans.
With several lending options, low interest rates, generous forbearance options and strong customer support, it’s worth considering if you need to borrow money for school.
Rates are affordable, ranging from 1.98 percent to 10.74 percent APR depending on the loan type and borrower’s credit score, and can be either fixed or variable. CommonBond offers deferment and forbearance options, which can help if you need to pause payments down the road due to financial difficulty.
Plus, the lender has a charitable mission. Every time a degree is fully funded by CommonBond, the lender funds one year of tuition for a student in need through international education nonprofit Pencils of Promise.
CommonBond student loan snapshot
Undergraduate, graduate, MBA, dental, medical, refinancing
Private loans: $2,000 to 100% of the cost of attendance, with a lifetime maximum of $500,000
Refinancing loans: Up to $500,000
Private loans: 3.79% to 9.35% variable APR, 3.74% to 10.74% fixed APR (with autopay)
Refinancing loans: 1.98% to 7.04% variable APR, 2.59% to 6.94% fixed APR, 2.84% to 6.72% hybrid APR (with autopay)
Private loans: 5 to 20 years
Refinancing loans: 5 to 20 years
Yes for some loans
Pros and cons of CommonBond student loans
CommonBond may not be the right choice for everyone. Below are some of its biggest benefits and drawbacks.
- Generous forbearance program: Borrowers can request hardship forbearance for up to 24 months throughout the life of the loan. The lender also offers natural disaster forbearance, which allows you to pause payments throughout a national emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Low loan amounts available: CommonBond sets its minimum loan amount at $2,000. This is good if you only need a small amount of money to fill in the gaps of your education costs.
- Co-signer release: You can release your co-signer from your loan after you make at least 24 consecutive, on-time payments.
- Co-signer required: All borrowers are required to have a creditworthy co-signer, with the exception of borrowers pursuing business, medical and dental degrees.
- Not available everywhere: There are no loans available to customers in Mississippi or Nevada.
CommonBond student loan requirements
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. You also must be enrolled at least half time at one of CommonBond’s eligible schools.
During the application process, CommonBond will pull your credit and base eligibility and your interest rate on your credit history. All students must apply with a creditworthy co-signer, with the exception of business, medical and dental school borrowers. But after making at least two years of consecutive, on-time payments, you can apply to release your co-signer from your loan.
Who is this loan good for?
CommonBond is best for borrowers who were already planning to use a co-signer. Most students are required to use a co-signer, though this could help you take advantage of the lender’s lowest rates.
The lender also offers a defined hardship program, which provides flexibility if you need to pause payments down the road. Borrowers can request hardship forbearance for up to 24 months total over the course of the loan. The lender also offers natural disaster forbearance, which allows you to pause payments throughout a national emergency.
CommonBond is also a good fit if you want your lender to have a strong charitable mission. Every time it fully funds a degree, CommonBond funds one year of tuition for students in need through the international Pencils of Promise program.
Interest rates and terms
CommonBond borrowers can get a 0.25 percent discount after setting up automatic payments. The following rates include this discount:
|Loan product||Variable rate||Fixed rate|
|Undergraduate student loans||3.79% to 9.35% APR||3.74% to 10.74% APR|
|Graduate student loans||3.82% to 9.35% APR||3.74% to 10.74% APR|
|MBA student loans||4.87% to 6.56% APR||4.09% to 6.95% APR|
|Dental student loans||5.89% to 7.26% APR||5.79% to 7.16% APR|
|Medical school loans||3.40% to 4.57% APR||5.56% to 6.76% APR|
|Refinance student loans||Variable: 1.98% to 7.04% APR
Hybrid: 2.84% to 6.72% APR
|2.59% to 6.94% APR|
Fees and penalties
CommonBond undergraduate, graduate and refinance loans come with no application fees, no origination fees and no prepayment penalties. There’s a 2 percent origination fee baked into the APR on medical, dental and business degrees.
All borrowers pay a late fee equal to 5 percent of the unpaid amount due or $10, whichever is less. There’s also a returned check fee of $5, subject to state law restrictions.
Repayment terms and grace period
CommonBond’s undergraduate and graduate student loan borrowers can choose from four repayment plans:
- Deferment: Borrowers can postpone payments while in school and during a six-month grace period after graduation. Interest will accrue and capitalize at the end of the deferment period.
- Fixed monthly payment of $25: To shrink your principal balance while in school, you can make monthly payments of $25. Any unpaid interest will be capitalized at the end of the fixed monthly payment period.
- Interest-only payment: Making monthly interest-only payments in school will also reduce your loan balance.
- Full monthly payment: You can also choose to make full payments — with principal and interest — as soon as the loan funds are disbursed, while you’re still in school.
Borrowers with other types of student loans have slightly different options:
- Borrowers in business school can choose from the deferment, interest-only and full monthly payment plans.
- Medical and dental school students can choose the deferred repayment plan and the full monthly payment plan. They can also choose a fixed $100 repayment plan, in which you make monthly payments of $100 while enrolled in school. After that, payments will increase to a full monthly payment with principal and interest.
- Borrowers who refinance may choose a “hybrid” repayment plan. The interest rate is fixed for the first five years of repayment, then varies monthly for the final five years.
You can email CommonBond customer service anytime at email@example.com or through live chat, or you can call 800-975-7812.
How to apply for a loan with CommonBond
You can complete the application process entirely online from any device and find out if your loan is approved in just a few minutes. The entire process, from application to funds disbursement, may take up to three weeks.
In order to apply, you’ll need to gather information like your Social Security number, your estimated annual income, your school name and the amount you’d like to borrow. You’ll see your interest rate once you’re approved. If you’re looking to refinance a loan, CommonBond may also need proof of employment, a recent loan statement for each loan you plan to refinance and proof of residency.
Here’s what the process looks like when applying for a student loan through CommonBond:
- Fill out the online application. The process is straightforward, and each section of the application contains frequently asked questions or guides for what to expect.
- Get your response. If you’re approved, select a loan product and e-sign your loan disclosures.
- Wait for the lender to process the loan. CommonBond will contact your school to confirm your enrollment and loan amount. This process can take five days to three weeks, depending on your school and the time of year.
- Get confirmation. Once your school certifies the loan, CommonBond will notify you by email and disburse the funds directly to your school.
How Bankrate rates CommonBond
|Repayment Options||4.4||Borrowers can benefit from many loan types and repayment options, though CommonBond’s loan amount range is smaller than that of similar lenders.|
|Affordability||3.8||Though CommonBond has low rates, it charges a few fees and requires a co-signer for some of its loans.|
|Customer Experience||4.0||CommonBond offers good online tools, but its customer service hours are limited to weekdays.|
Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.