Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.
Monday, August 2nd
If you like the thought of having your student loan financed by a community bank rather than a big-name financial institution, you'll want to check out what iHelp has to offer. Since 2010, they've managed more than $600 million in private student loans as a subsidiary of the Student Loan Finance Corp. (which maintained an A+ rating as an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau at the time of our review).
It's important to note that iHelp has a single student loan product: a variable-rate Private Student Loan with a 20-year repayment term, so if you feel more comfortable with fixed-rate products and/or shorter terms, you will want to choose another lender. On the other hand, if current market interest rates leave you feeling like a variable-rate loan is a good thing (as it often is), here's what iHelp requires for eligibility:
Your loan must be a minimum of $1,000 ($3,000 in Georgia) and can be a maximum of $100,000 for undergraduate studies and $150,000 for graduate programs.
Student loan interest rates
Your interest rate will be based in the LIBOR, the interest rate London banks charge each other for loans, which is a common benchmark used for bank rates around the world. At the time we looked at iHelp, their interest rates were as follows:
Interest rate reduction
Unlike the majority of the lenders we considered, iHelp does not offer a rate discount for making automatic payments to the account. On the other hand, for borrowers who qualify only for the highest interest rate, you may be eligible for a reduction of 0.30% after you have made your first 24 payments on time. We also like that cosigners can be released after those same 24 on-time payments, regardless of the interest rate on the loan.
Loan repayment options
iHelp also has a great range of possibilities for loan repayments. If you're attending school at least half-time, you can opt to make interest-only payments, no payments at all until you graduate or attend less than half-time; or making principal and interest payments as normal. Or, after your loan enters the repayment period; you can also choose principal and interest; interest-only for 24 months, or graduated repayment, which starts with interest-only repayments and moves up gradually until you're making the full principal plus interest payment amount.
Generous deferment options
iHelp also has one of the most generous deferment and forbearance options we've found. Like most lenders, you can defer repayments as long as you're enrolled half-time or more at an eligible school. But, what happens if you have a temporary financial difficulty, military service, or a natural disaster? iHelp will work with you to forbear your payments for up to 24 months, or to make partial payments, if you can demonstrate the need.
Overall, if you're comfortable with the relative uncertainty of a variable-rate loan and like the idea of borrowing from a community bank, iHelp is an excellent option for your student loan.
As the costs of higher education rise, so does the need for student loans. While some individuals are eligible for federal loans, those loans don't always cover the full cost of getting an education - not just tuition and room/board, but books, laptops, transportation and other expenses. And, people who are ineligible for federal loans don't necessarily have overflowing savings accounts to match their college or university costs.
Private student loans are the way that many students close that gap. On average, students have nearly $40,000 in student loan debt at the time of graduation; without those funds, their aspirations of being a teacher, engineer, or social worker may have been put on hold indefinitely.
Fortunately, there are many lenders who want to make it as affordable and simple as possible to complete undergraduate and graduate-level studies. Some represent well-known, established financial institutions, while others work directly with networks of community banks to get much-needed cash into the hands of eager learners.
Comparing offers from lenders can be as easy as going online; in a matter of minutes and mouse clicks, you can see a variety of interest rates, repayment terms, and other details of each program for which you are eligible. This saves you significant time compared with going hat in hand to your local bank or other lending institution, hoping that they will say yes to your loan application.
When deciding on which lender to use for your student loan, you should consider the following factors:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Student Loan providers available today. We hope this information helps you to get the money you need for your studies right away!
Select any 2 Student Loan Providers to compare them head to head