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CommonBond Review 2022: Are Its Student Loans Affordable?

CommonBond is a private lender known for low rates on student loans and student loan refinancing. Driven by its social promise, CommonBond aims to make student loans simpler and more impactful for all.

9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
Ginny Dorn
Personal finance and mortgages specialist
June 22, 2022

Overview

With CommonBond, you can borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Its easy online application takes just minutes to complete. The company aims to offer lower rates than competitors by requiring a cosigner on most of its loans.

CommonBond loans have no application, origination, or prepayment fees. Once you get approval, you can choose from four flexible repayment options and take advantage of a standard six-month grace period before payments begin.

CommonBond prepares undergraduates for financial success with a Money Mentor, a real person who can help you find loans as well as internship and scholarship opportunities.

CommonBond is a reputable company that maintains a B+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. The lender is guided by its “Social Promise,” a mission to donate to the educational nonprofit Pencils of Promise each time it services a loan.

OUR CHOICE 2022
9.0 / 10
Editorial Score
CommonBond
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9.0 / 10
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9.0 / 10

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Options

Products & Services

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loans

You can borrow from as little as $2,000 up to 100% of the cost of attendance, with a lifetime borrowing limit of $500,000 and no application, origination, or prepayment fees. Fixed-rate loans range from 3.74% to 10.74% APR and variable rates range from 3.78% to 9.34% APR. Choose from 5, 10, and 15-year terms.

You can choose from 4 repayment options:

  • Deferment, which allows you to postpone making any payments until graduation. Your loan will accrue interest during the deferment period which will capitalize at the end of the deferment period.
  • $25 fixed monthly payments while you’re in school. Unpaid interest will capitalize when you graduate at the end of each monthly payment period.
  • Interest-only payments, in which you pay only the interest each month while in school.
  • Full monthly payment, in which you begin making full monthly payments on the loan principal and interest while still in school.

Each repayment option has a six-month grace period following your graduation or termination of enrollment. Interest will not accrue and you will not be required to make payments during the grace period. Although undergraduate and graduate degrees do require a cosigner, you can release them from the loan after you’ve made on-time payments for 24 consecutive months.

CommonBond’s undergraduate loans also come with a Money Mentor. Your Money Mentor can help you get more money for school, budget, and find internship opportunities. As an undergraduate, you also have the option to apply for a loan to study abroad, as long as your school’s main campus is based in the U.S. and is on CommonBond’s approved list.

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Options

MBA Student Loans

With CommonBond, you can borrow up to 100% of the cost of your attendance minus other financial aid, like scholarships and grants. There is a loan maximum of $110,000 per year. A 2% origination fee is baked into the MBA loan APR. Fixed interest rates range from 4.09% to 6.95% APR and variable interest rates range from 4.86% to 6.55% APR. There are no application or prepayment fees. You can choose from a 10- or 15-year loan term.

If you’re attending one of CommonBond’s 29 eligible programs, you won’t need a cosigner. If not, you can still apply but you will need a creditworthy cosigner. To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and you must be enrolled at least half-time. You or your cosigner will need a minimum credit score of 670.

You can defer payments while in school. In addition, you can take advantage of a 6 month grace period after graduation or termination of enrollment. This option allows you to defer payment for a maximum of 32 months in total. You may also choose to make interest-only or full principal and interest payments while in school.

Medical Student Loans

CommonBond has no annual limit for its medical student loan. You can borrow up to the maximum set by your school, which is based on the cost of attendance minus any financial aid. There is a lifetime borrowing limit of $500,000. You can choose from 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms.

Fixed interest rates range from 5.56% to 6.76% and variable rates range from 3.39% to 4.56%. There is a 2% origination fee. As long as you meet CommonBond’s underwriting criteria, you don’t need a cosigner to get a medical student loan.

You can choose from several in-school payment options:

  • Full deferment, in which you defer all payments while in school and during a 6 month grace period after graduation.
  • $100 fixed monthly payments while enrolled and during the 6 month grace period after graduation.
  • Full principal and interest payments, in which you pay the principal and interest while still in school. If you choose this option, you cannot choose to defer payments later on in residency.
  • A one-time payment option is always available regardless of which repayment option you choose – there is no penalty or extra payments or prepayments.

During residency and fellowship, you’ll pay $100 per month toward your loan. You may also qualify for forbearance under certain circumstances, like economic hardship. You can apply to defer payments for 3 months at a time for up to 12 months throughout the life of the loan.

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Options

Dental Student Loans

With CommonBond’s dental student loans, you can borrow up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance, minus any financial aid. There is a lifetime borrowing limit of $500,000. Fixed interest rates range from 5.79% to 7.16% and variable interest rates range from 5.88% to 7.25%. You can choose from 10-, 15-, and 20-year terms.

There is a 2% origination fee included in the APR. You won’t need a cosigner to qualify as long as you meet CommonBond’s underwriting criteria.

During school, you can choose from several repayment options: full deferment with no payments, a fixed monthly payment of $100, or full and immediate principal and interest payments.

If you choose to pay in full while in school, you won’t be able to defer while in residency. If you choose the other repayment plans, you can fully defer payments while in a research, academic, or residency program.

There are no penalties for making extra payments or prepayments. You can utilize a 6 month grace period after graduation before beginning to make any payments. If you experience economic hardship or other circumstances that would limit your ability to pay the loan, you can apply for forbearance. If accepted, you can pause payments for 3 months at a time, for up to 12 months over the life of the loan.

Student Loan Refinance

You can borrow up to $500,000 to refinance your student loans with CommonBond. There are no origination or prepayment fees. Fixed interest rates range from 2.59% to 6.94% APR and variable interest rates range from 1.97% to 7.03% APR.

CommonBond also offers a 10-year hybrid refinance loan, which allows you to have a fixed interest rate for the first 5 years of the loan, with the final 5 years of the loan having a variable interest rate. You can choose to pay off a hybrid loan early, during the fixed interest rate to avoid the uncertainty of the variable interest rate. However, the variable interest rate could also offer lower interest rates than your fixed rate, depending on the market.

To qualify for a refinance, you must be a permanent resident, U.S. citizen, or H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, or E-3 visa holder. You must have graduated from one of the 2,000 schools in CommonBond’s eligible network. CommonBond will also review your credit history to determine if you’re eligible.

When you apply for a refinance, CommonBond will first do a soft credit pull to estimate your rate, which won’t impact your credit. Be prepared with documentation including proof of employment, recent loan statements, and proof of residency, such as a utility bill.

If you have a cosigner on your refinance loan, you’ll be eligible for cosigner release after 36 consecutive months of full payment. You may also apply for forbearance for up to 24 months over the life of the loan.

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Refinancing Options

Rates and Terms

CommonBond’s rates and terms vary based on what type of loan you’re getting and what degree you’re pursuing. Your rate will depend on you and your cosigner’s credit profile and the loan term. In general, loan terms range from 5 to 10 years, with MBA loans only offering 10- and 15-year terms.

CommonBond offers a 0.25% autopay discount on your APR, which is included in its advertised rates. For in-school loans, fixed rates range from 3.74% to 10.74% APR and its variable rates range from 3.39% to 9.34% APR. For refinance loans, fixed interest rates range from 2.59% to 6.94% APR and variable interest rates range from 1.97% to 7.03% APR.

CommonBond has no application, origination, or prepayment fees on its undergraduate, graduate, and refinance loans. Its medical, dental, and business student loans have a 2% origination fee included in the APR. Its loans also have late fees of 5% of the unpaid amount or $10, whichever is less, which applies to all borrowers. Returned check fees are $5.

Application Process and Qualifications

To apply for a student loan or student loan refinancing with CommonBond, you’ll fill out an online application. Each section offers a helpful FAQ, answering questions you may have as you move through the process. For example, the undergraduate loan application begins by asking you if you have a cosigner. The FAQ offers information on why you need a cosigner and what a cosigner is.

When you apply, you’ll need to have the following information ready:

  • General personal information, like your name, date of birth, address, and email
  • Social Security number
  • Annual income
  • School information, including your school’s name, the cost of attendance, and any financial aid documentation
  • Cosigner name and contact information (not required if you’re pursuing a business, dental, or medical degree)
  • Proof of employment and recent loan statements (for refinances only)

Once you complete the application and get approved, you’ll be asked to e-sign your loan disclosures to continue. Then, CommonBond will contact your school to confirm that you are enrolled and check your loan amount. When this is completed, CommonBond will disburse the funds to your school’s financial aid department, which will then determine when to disburse the funds to you.

To qualify for a student loan with CommonBond, you’ll need to be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school in a degree-seeking program. You must also be a permanent resident or U.S. citizen. You or your cosigner will need a good credit rating of at least 670 with a minimum of two years of job and credit history.

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Options

Approval Time

CommonBond’s application process takes just minutes to complete and you can get an approval decision in minutes, though it can sometimes take a few days. If you’ve uploaded documents with your application, it may take up to 24 hours for them to come through and be added to your account.

Approvals happen within 1 to 3 days. Funds disbursement can take up to 3 weeks, depending on your school’s financial aid department.

Customer Service

You can reach CommonBond’s customer service team by phone call, email, or live chat Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.

I reached out to CommonBond to test their customer service team’s knowledge and service. I first tried the live chat function, but the chatbot told me that no one was available although it was within CommonBond’s advertised service window. I tried again via email with more luck.

Customer Service

I received a response within 4 hours.

Customer Service

The representative who responded to my email was very friendly and knowledgeable. I appreciated how quickly they responded, as some lenders can take days to respond to emails. Overall, I had a great experience with CommonBond’s customer service team.

Summary

If you have a cosigner and want flexible repayment options, CommonBond could be a great fit for you. Its rates may be lower than the competition, depending on which type of loan you’re getting. With its autopay discount and limited fees, it can potentially save you money in the long run.

For undergraduates, the Money Mentor program can be a financial game-changer at a time when many people make mistakes with their money. The lender also provides great customer service, which is especially helpful as navigating loans can be complicated.

CommonBond does have a few downsides. Unlike some other lenders, CommonBond does not offer multi-year approval, so you’ll need to reapply each year. Other lenders don’t have the same stringent cosigner requirements, though CommonBond’s cosigner release options make this less of an issue.

Despite the drawbacks, CommonBond delivers on its promise of lower rates and simplified student loans, with a speedy application process and easy-to-use online platform. Its charitable mission is an added bonus and sets a higher standard for other lenders. Overall, CommonBond is a trustworthy, affordable lender for student loans.

See CommonBond’s Student Loan Options

FAQ

Is CommonBond credible?

Yes, CommonBond is credible. It has a B+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has funded billions of dollars in loans.

Does CommonBond charge any fees?

CommonBond’s undergraduate, graduate, and refinance loans have no application, origination, or prepayment fees. Loans for medical, dental, and business degrees do have a 2% origination fee included in the APR. Late fees of 5% of the unpaid amount or $10, whichever is less, apply to all borrowers. Returned check fees are $5.

Does CommonBond require a cosigner?

CommonBond requires a cosigner for all undergraduate and graduate degrees. If you’re pursuing a medical, dental, or business degree and are in an approved program, you do not need a cosigner. If your program is not approved, you can still apply but you will need a cosigner.

What credit bureau does CommonBond use?

CommonBond uses TransUnion for its credit bureau.

Ginny Dorn
Written by

Ginny Dorn is a freelance personal finance writer. She specializes in credit card debt, personal loans, and mortgages. She graduated from Western Illinois University with a bachelor's degree in family and consumer sciences.

Pros:
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees on undergraduate loans
  • Cosigner release after 24 months of on-time payments
  • Flexible repayment, deferment, and forbearance options
Cons:
  • Hard credit pull to get rates, affecting your score
  • New application required every year
  • Cosigner needed for undergraduate and graduate loans
Bottom Line

CommonBond’s autopay discount and limited fees offer an advantage if you want to save money on student loans. You can also borrow flexible amounts from $2,000 to the full cost of attendance, with a range of repayment and deferment options. It offers up to 24 months of forbearance in cases of financial hardship, longer than most lenders.

Most CommonBond loans require a cosigner. You or your cosigner will need a minimum credit score of 670. Even with these downsides, CommonBond makes student loans simple and affordable for most borrowers.