One of the most overwhelming decisions a student has to deal with in terms of searching for the best student loans is which option to go with, as there is an overflowing abundant market of the same. Fortunately, services like iHelp take much of the guesswork out of the equation in order to bridge the gap between the cost of education and the family’s resources.
Owned and operated by the Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation (RSLFC), a highly respected student loan originator and loan servicer with over 40 years of experience, this company has been serving students and their families since 1978 and continues to maintain its pristine A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. (BBB)
They offer student loan refinancing and private student loan programs which are primarily funded by community banks who invest in students’ educational dreams. The personalized customer service sets them apart in an industry dominated by recordings.
When iHelp renders to you their services, almost all of your contact will be with RSLFC representatives who serve as the main point of contact for borrowers— some with decades more experience under their belts than other online student loan refinancing lenders.
Table of Contents
- Types of iHelp Loans
- Interest rates and fees
- How do I qualify for iHelp?
- Contact iHelp
Types of iHelp Student Loans
A disclaimer that everyone should be aware of is that before taking out a private student loan with iHelp or any other lender, make sure you exhaust all of your federal student loan options.
iHelp offers broadly two different avenues for their student loans.
One type serves the currently enrolled or soon to be enrolled student, i. e. to pay for an undergraduate or graduate degree; while the other type is for graduates who are looking to consolidate as much of their encumbering student debt as they can.
The application process to begin your search for a loan can be performed at any local branch of any of their participating institutions or online.
It also intends to offer iHelp parent loans in the near future.
1) Undergraduate/Graduate Student Loan
To put it most simply, as a student attending an eligible school, you are eligible to apply for an iHELP® student loan. The financial aid office, at your school of choice, can give you viable information as to what other kinds of student loans are available to you.
If after obtaining any of the various kinds of financial aids such as scholarships, grants, and federal loans, you still face a college financing gap, RSLFC's loan programs offer students an affordable private student loan. You can borrow up to the cost of your education or less than any other aid you are scheduled to receive.
Undergraduate loan: These loans intend to cover the cost of education for those students who are enrolled in: Associate or Bachelor degree program
Graduate loan: These loans are intended to cover the cost of education of those students who are enrolled in a - Master Degree program, Doctoral degree program, professional degree program
iHelp’s private student loans present the student with multiple repayment and postponement options, making these an unequivocally a strong choice for students who may need future payment flexibility. Apart from this, the other features offered by this loan are - a single, 20-year repayment term and no fixed interest rates for the entire repayment term.
This particular feature may not be the most flexible as most other lenders offer a fixed-rate option, as well as 5-, 10- and 15- year terms.
When you apply through iHelp’s website, your loan will be funded by a community bank in the state or region where you’re attending college.
On the other hand, if you wish to apply through a specific community bank that uses the platform of iHelp, that bank will be given the charge of funding your loan regardless of where you attend college.
Fixed APR Range of 4.00%–5.55% (10 years), 4.50%–8.00% (15 years)
Variable APR Range of LIBOR + 2.50% to LIBOR + 7.50% (20 years)
Benefits entailed by iHelp borrowers include -
Eligibility to avail a 0.25% rate discount for payments that are made with automatic debit
The Minimum loan amount is $1,000 ($3,000 for Georgia residents) and maximum is $100,000 for undergraduates, and $150,000 for graduates
Co-signer of the borrower may be eligible for release at any time after 24 months of sequential, full and successive on-time payments that have been made, provided the borrower is ready to meet the credit requirement at that moment of time
Deferment and forbearance options are available for those who qualify for those after graduation or drop below at least half time attendance
Multiple in-school payment options
Adjustable repayment plans including income-sensitive options
There is no origination fees and no prepayment penalty
In-school payment options include immediate repayment, interest-only repayment, and full deferment
As per the details provided on the official website, the following is concise information regarding repayment options as well as deferment and forbearance options:
IN SCHOOL Repayment Options
A total of three repayment options are offered while the student s attending school at least half time:
Make no payments at all
Make interest-only payments
Make principal and interest payments
Once the loan enters the phase of repayment:
Make Principal and Interest Payments – This is the default payment schedule that will automatically be set up unless specified otherwise
Make Graduated Payments – Payments are greater than or equal to the monthly interest followed by a gradual increase in the payment amount
Make Income Sensitive Payments – Payments are based on the gross monthly income, but no less than the monthly interest accrual
There is no Origination Fee for this loan
There is no Repayment Fee for this loan
iHelp might not offer the lowest interest rates or the widest selection in loan terms. But for a recent graduate trying to figure out their career, iHelp’s flexible repayment, and forbearance options could be invaluable.
Deferment and Forbearance Options for iHelp student loans
There are deferment and forbearance options available for students to opt for in case of certain contingent situations that might arise.
(i) Deferment Options
In-School - Loan payments can be deferred while the borrower is enrolled at least half time at an eligible school
Internship/Residency - For borrowers in a supervised training program that requires the completion of at least a bachelor’s degree before acceptance into the program, and are accepted into the program
Fellowship - For borrowers with at least a bachelor’s degree and are engaged in full-time study in an academic or professional study and has been recommended by an institution of higher education
(ii) Forbearance Options
Hardship - For borrowers experiencing temporary financial difficulty
Partial Payment - This allows borrowers to make partial payments (less than their regularly scheduled monthly payment)
Administrative - Those who qualify for this can use it to cover several scenarios including, but not limited to Military Service and Natural Disaster
2) Consolidation Loan
These loans are intended to allow students to consolidate their private and/or federal student loans. This could potentially lower the interest rate and provide one place above all to make payments instead of paying multiple lenders and falling into an intricacy of a financial puzzle.
The minimum loan amount in case one wants to opt for consolidation is $10,000, and the maximum amount permissible is $250,000.
The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is around 3.94% to 9.8%, with interest rate being fixed.
iHelp Interest Rates and Fees
The Interest Rate and APR are either a fixed hybrid rate or a variable rate for the life of the loan depending on the loan program you choose.
The Interest Rate and APR are variable for the life of the loan.
The Variable Rate is based upon the 3 month LIBOR (as published in the Wall Street Journal calculated to the nearest one-eighth of one percent 0.125%), and adjusts quarterly.
The LIBOR Rate and APR may increase after the loan is made.
The interest rate you qualify for is dependent upon your credit or your cosigner's credit.
Fixed Hybrid Rate (FX5)
The Fixed Hybrid Rate means your initial interest rate will stay fixed for 5 years from the first disbursement date and will be adjusted every 5 years.
The Fixed Hybrid Rate will be adjusted based upon the Quarterly Prime Rate (as published in the Wall Street Journal) plus a margin.
The Prime Rate and APR may increase after the loan is made.
The interest rate you qualify for is dependent upon your credit or your cosigner's credit.
There is no Origination Fee for this loan. There is no Repayment Fee for this loan.
Qualifying for iHelp Private Student Loans and/or Consolidation loan
There are certain prerequisites and criteria’s that need to be actualized to pre-qualify for the services of iHelp:
(i) The first thing to do is essentially submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to apply.
(ii) A co-signer is not required; however, a co-signer generally helps a student qualify for a loan and possibly a lower interest rate.
(iii) The minimum loan term is 10 years and the maximum loan term can be 20 years.
(iv) Evidently, the borrower or co-signer must be a US citizen or permanent resident and be at least 18 years of age in most states.
Requirements - Fulfillment of the underlying requirement of including 3+ years of credit history, 2 of which are positive, either by the borrower or the co-signer and other credit-worthy requirements.
Income - The annual gross income varies based on the institution, state and type of loan borrowed. If the borrower isn’t able to meet the income requirements, he must have a co-signer that meets the requirement. Generally, as an overview, the borrower or the co-signer should have made at least a $24000+ income for 2 years or at least $1500 as monthly income.
Debt to Income Ratio - The borrower must have a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 45% or less with no bankruptcies over a period of 7 years. No open collections of charge off in 2 years and no defaults as such on student loans.
If you meet iHelp’s initial requirements, you will be turned over to one of their affiliated institutions such as Citizen’s Bank.
iHelp Student Loan Refinancing
Now we will review iHelp’s refinance loan as much as it is needed to give you a brief understanding of how it can benefit you.
Before deciding on a student loan refinance lender to chalk out a manageable payment for yourself, it is incumbent on you to compare multiple student loans refinance options to make sure you’re getting the best rate you can possibly qualify for. In addition to interest rates, comparison of lenders’ repayment options and the flexibility they offer borrowers who are struggling to make payments is also an important factor to look into.
iHelp can be a great match for certain borrowers, especially if you’re looking to serve and in a way, support your local community. Each refinancing lender determines the rate they’ll offer you on a personalized basis — so it’s impossible to know your lowest possible rate without doing a comparison.
Perks of refinancing with iHelp
It must be noted that refinanced student loans work a little differently. If you apply for student loan refinancing, you could get a range of interest rates depending on your credit score, which varies from case to case, as mentioned above. The stronger your credit history, the lower rate you’ll get.
Keep in mind that most interest rates you’ll find through the iHelp program are not the most competitive in the student loan lending space. Since each loan comes from a community bank, it won’t necessarily have the lowest rate.
That being said, community banks offer other perks like flexible repayment plans and great customer service which you most definitely won't get all together from other lenders. In addition, they’re especially transparent when it comes to eligibility requirements, interest rates, and fee structures.
Eligibility for availing refinancing with iHelp
To refinance student loans with iHelp, you don’t need to have graduated from a post-secondary school. Plus, the borrower need not have graduated or attended a school on the eligible school list, making it a very preferred and strong option for those without a degree. You must have two years of good credit history, though, including no open accounts in collections and no student loans in default.
Steady employment for atleast 2 years with a minimum income of $24000 is a must
Being a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
There are other things to keep in mind while you're refinancing with iHelp such as the following:
There are no fees in refinancing from iHelp.
Loans eligibility - Both federal and private student loans are eligible for refinancing. Note that if you refinance federal loans, you lose access to federal programs such as income-driven repayment.
A form of its flexibility is its graduated repayment plan which lets you make interest-only payments for a set amount of time usually 2 years. You might also be able to temporarily pause your payments by putting your loans into forbearance.
Amount and Term - Depending on educational background, you can refinance from $10,000 - $150,000 (undergraduate) or $10,000 - $250,000 (graduate). For terms, you can choose a 10-year fixed rate, 15-year fixed rate, or 20-year variable rate.
Debt-to-income-ratio - An important point of eligibility is that your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio cannot exceed 45 percent. If you’re not sure where your DTI falls, you can use a debt-to-income calculator to find out.
iHelp lets borrowers make full monthly payments or pay on a graduated or income-sensitive plan. These are unique options for a refinance loan that aren’t generally provided by other lenders.
Though iHelp sometimes calls their student loan refinancing a “consolidation loan,” it’s important to note that it’s actually refinancing. It’s very different in comparison to the process of federal student loan.
iHelp Student Loan Reviews
If you manage your student loans responsibly, they won’t take over your life. Start by doing your homework and continue being a responsible borrower by aggressively making payments on time, both in school and after graduation.
Community banks often offer benefits that you can’t find with other lenders — like multiple repayment options whereas on the other hand, applying for financing with a local institution can involve a lot of red tape.
Unlike big banks, community banks reinvest money back into the towns they serve. When you support a small bank, you’re also supporting local families, jobs, and small businesses and eventually you’re playing a part in the growth of a country. Plus, community banks look for more than just your credit score when they consider you for a loan. They look at your individual circumstances and make “relationship banking” a priority which is also a quality that stands out.
Advantages of iHelp Student Loans
1. A dedicated account manager is assigned to your specific account. You have direct email and phone access to your account manager. Private student loan products are offered to meet individual needs, including consolidation loans.
Expertise to guide the borrower through every aspect of the student loan process from selecting the right student loan through loan repayment.
It offers a number of ways you can quickly and easily reach a customer service agent
Uniquely flexible repayment options
Low-cost student loans from trust lenders such that one can refinance even without a degree
Graduated and income-sensitive repayment plans are available
Personalized rate estimates are available via a soft credit check
iHelp lets borrowers make full monthly payments or pay on a graduated or income-sensitive plan. These are unique options for a refinance loan; not provided by others.
2. Multiple repayment options - There is a choice between making interest-only repayments, graduated repayments or fixed repayments which is generally not an option on most refinancing loans.
3. High maximum amount - You can borrow up to with iHelp’s refinancing loan regardless of your degree type — an amount typically reserved for medical or law students.
4. Co-signer release - You can apply to have your co-signer taken off your loan after you’ve made at least two years of on-time repayments and meet iHelp’s credit requirements.
5. Cancellation period - Permitted to cancel your loan any time without penalty between the time you’re notified of your loan’s final terms and when your funds are disbursed to your current lenders, with a minimum of at least 30 days.
4. Parent PLUS refinancing - Not all lenders are willing to work with parent PLUS loans but iHelp will let you refinance it into the student’s name or include it as part of your student loan consolidation.
5. No degree necessary - This is one of the highlights as you can refinance debt from a degree you never got the chance to finish or even while you’re still in school and moreover, you won’t have to start making full repayments right away if you make the choice of the interest-only or graduated repayment plan.
6. Community banks - iHelp loans come with a humanitarian aspect which is usually not seen with a student loan provider: You will have the honor of supporting local financial institutions, which often provides invaluable, inexpensive products to their communities and contribute to its overall economic development.
Disadvantages of iHelp Student Loans
1. Loss of benefits - Some advantages of Federal government loans are lost when they are combined with private loans which is a major risk that borrowers should keep in mind and consider.
2. Not competitive rates - It is in recent times (2018) that iHelp has decreased its interest rates and expanded its loan selection. But it can be said that the rates aren't the most competitive.
Apart from the above, there aren't many cons to look out for, but nonetheless, one should choose the appropriate lender and finance option with due diligence.
iHelp, which as we know is a collaboration between the Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation (RSLFC) and the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), takes the good and streamlines the bad by simplifying the application process.
Final thoughts on iHelp
A very common scene is that most people graduate out of college these days with some kind of student debt. Those monthly bills may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems to manage your private student loan payments. It goes without saying that, from pre-college to post-college, it’s important to practice good financial habits when it comes to your student loans.
A significant tip to keep in mind, which will aid you in being a responsible borrower is doing your research.
Study up on all things student loans so you’re an educated decision-maker. You can go through our articles blog to find out more details on all possible relevant topics. If you’re like most students, a school loan is the first loan they’ve ever taken out and there’s lots of new information to take in.
Hence, the first step would be to start by getting a good grasp on the student loan lingo, all the terms connected to it and ensure you understand the basic differences between fixed and variable, subsidized and unsubsidized, and the cost differences in making in-school payments versus making none.
This is a big financial decision that will impact you for years to come, invest the time in it that it deserves.
And during the entire procedure, it is evident that a companion quality that will get you through smoothly is getting organized!
iHelp Contact details
iHelp’s online platform doesn’t have an exceptionally outstanding blow you away design, but what matters is that it is relatively easy to use. You can check your rates in under a minute with iHelp’s instant preapproval process. All you have to do is provide basic information.
For any loan-related inquiries, feel free to contact the following number, or use the email id provided below:
Email address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone Number - 800.645.7404
The corporate office address of iHelp is:
Reunion Student Loan Finance Corporation
105 1st Ave SW
Aberdeen, SD 57401-4104
and the toll-free number is: 800.645.8272
Official Website - www.slfc.com/ihelploan