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Education Loan Finance Student Loans: 2023 Review

Updated on 6-19-2023
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At a glance

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
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Repayment Options
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
Rating: 3.6 stars out of 5
Customer Experience
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

About Bankrate Score

Education Loan Finance — also known as ELFI — is a division of SouthEast Bank. Based in Tennessee, ELFI offers a range of student loan products for undergraduate and graduate students. ELFI products are best suited for students looking to refinance existing loans and students who need to take out a large student loan. ELFI’s private loans are only available to students attending one of the approved schools listed on its website.

Loan amount $1,000 to total cost of attendance
APR from 4.98% Variable; 4.48% Fixed
Clock Wait
Term lengths 5 to 20 years
Credit Good
Min Credit Score 680
This lender is best for students attending one of its approved schools who have a trusted co-signer or an established financial history.
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Education Loan Finance features

Education Loan Finance offers undergraduate loans, graduate loans, health care loans, law school loans, MBA loans, parent loans and student loan refinancing. Low fees, competitive rates, a wide selection of student loan products and reliable customer service make ELFI worth considering.

One of ELFI’s more unique features is its application process, wherein each applicant receives a student loan advisor. This student loan advisor is there to guide you through the process and answer any questions along the way. Unlike with other student loan lenders, you also don’t need a co-signer to qualify. However, you can use a co-signer to help qualify if needed.

Education Loan Finance: in the details

Pros and cons of Education Loan Finance student loans

Education Loan Finance can be a great way to finance your higher education, but there are some drawbacks to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know before applying for a student loan with ELFI.


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    Few fees: You won’t be charged any application or origination fees with ELFI.

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    Good customer service: ELFI assigns each applicant a personal student loan advisor.

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    No co-signer needed: Many student loan lenders require undergraduates to use a co-signer, but ELFI allows applications without one if you meet the credit requirements on your own.

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    Many loan programs: ELFI offers specialized loan programs for a variety of needs, including law school, getting an MBA, and parent loans.


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    Strict eligibility requirements: In order to qualify for a student loan with ELFI, you or your co-signer must have a minimum credit score of 680 and a credit history of at least 36 months. You must also have a minimum yearly income of $35,000.

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    No co-signer release: Unlike many private lenders, ELFI doesn’t let co-signers be released from the loan unless the borrower refinances the loan.

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    Limited schools: You are eligible for an ELFI private student loan only if you attend one of the eligible schools that are listed on the lender’s website.

Education Loan Finance student loan requirements

In order to quality for an ELFI student loan, you and/or your co-signer must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be enrolled in an approved bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree program.
  • Be the age of majority at the time of application.
  • Be enrolled at least half time at an eligible school.
  • Have a credit score of at least 680, at least 36 months of credit history and a minimum income of $35,000.

To qualify for ELFI student loan refinancing, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be at the age of majority at the time of application.
  • Have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved postsecondary institution at the time of application.
  • Have a credit score of at least 680, at least 36 months of credit history and a minimum income of $35,000.
  • Must have a minimum loan amount of $10,000

Who is this loan good for?

An ELFI student loan is a solid choice for students attending one of its approved schools who have a trusted co-signer or an established financial history. It’s also a good option for students who need higher loan amounts and who value one-on-one customer service.

Interest rates and terms

ELFI offers both variable and fixed interest rates on all of its student loan products. ELFI doesn’t offer any specific discounts, claiming that autopay discounts are already rolled into its pricing. Its variable-rate loans are subject to an 18 percent rate cap.

Here are the ranges for all of the loan products that it offers:

Loan product Variable rate Fixed rate
Undergraduate student loans 4.98% to 12.79% APR 4.48% to 12.29% APR
Graduate student loans 4.98% to 12.79% APR 4.48% to 12.29% APR
Health care student loans 4.98% to 12.79% APR 4.48% to 12.29% APR
Tennessee Lending Program for Teachers and Nurses N/A Undergraduates: From 3.00% Graduates: From 4.00%
Law school student loans 4.98% to 12.79% APR 4.48% to 12.29% APR
MBA student loans 4.98% to 12.79% APR 4.48% to 12.29% APR
Parent loans 4.98% to 12.54% APR 4.48% to 12.04% APR
Student loan refinancing 5.28% to 8.99% APR 5.08% to 8.54% APR
Parent loan refinancing 5.28% to 8.49% APR 5.08% to 8.14% APR

Fees and penalties

ELFI charges no application or origination fees on its refinance and private student loans. However, you can be hit with a late fee of 5 percent of the unpaid amount or $50 (whichever is less) if you fail to make your monthly payment within 10 days of the payment due date. You could also be subject to a $30 returned payment fee.

Repayment terms and grace period

ELFI offers five- to 15-year repayment terms on its private student loans and five- to 20-year terms on student loan refinancing. In both cases, parents have a 10-year cap.

Here are the repayment options for a private student loan:

  • Immediate: Loan term begins when funds are disbursed to the school. Full principal and interest payments while in school, starting 30 to 60 days after the disbursement of funds. 
  • Interest-only: Interest-only payments while in school and throughout the grace period. Full payment of principal and interest begins 30 to 60 days after the grace period ends.
  • Fixed: $25 payments while in school and during the grace period. Begin paying principal and interest 30 to 60 days after grace period ends.
  • Deferred: No payments will be made while in school or during the grace period. Full payments of principal and interest will begin 30 to 60 days after the grace period ends.

Customer service

ELFI gets an “A+” from the Better Business Bureau. This score takes into account customer complaints and how the company responds to those complaints. You can reach out to ELFI through phone, email or an online contact form.

You can call or text seven days a week at 844-601-3534. The available hours are:

  • Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET.
  • Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
  • Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET.
You can also reach out to customer support at any time with questions at or on the website’s contact form.

How to apply for a loan with Education Loan Finance

The application process for every ELFI student loan product is completed online and can be done in a matter of minutes, according to the website. After completing the application, you’ll be assigned your own student loan advisor to assist you with any questions you may have about the process.

In order to speed up the application process, you and your co-signer will need to have these documents on hand:

  • Pay stubs documenting the last 30 days of payment (if currently employed).
  • The previous year’s W-2 form.
  • A form of government-issued identification.

There may be additional documentation needed depending on your current income or the income of your co-signer. If this is the case, your student loan advisor will be available to walk you through the process.

How Bankrate rates Education Loan Finance

Overall Score 4.0
Repayment Options 4.4 In general, ELFI has a good range of rates and terms, although refinancing borrowers have a high minimum loan amount and private loan borrowers have fewer repayment terms than with other lenders.
Affordability 3.6 ELFI loans come with a few fees, and grace periods are relatively short. However, the lender’s minimum APRs are competitive for creditworthy borrowers.
Customer Experience 4.0 Borrowers can access ELFI’s customer service department seven days a week, though it doesn’t have any kind of mobile app.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by 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.