CommonBond is a private lending company dedicated to student loans and refinancings. Launched in 2013, it originally targeted MBA students; it has since expanded to undergraduate, graduate, and medical and dental school loans. It makes loans both to individuals and through businesses that want to help employees fund their kids' higher education.

What makes CommonBond unique is it's the first financial company to commit to a one-for-one model of business. For every degree fully funded through CommonBond, the firm, in turn, funds the education of a needy student in a developing nation. In addition, CommonBond's partnership with nonprofit Pencils of Promise has provided schools, teachers, and technology to thousands of students in Ghana.

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Pros
  • Access to free mentoring

  • No fees on many loans

  • Simple co-signer release

Cons
  • Co-signer required on most loans

  • Higher repayment amounts on some loans

  • No medical school residency deferment

Pros Explained

  • Access to free mentoring: CommonBond's Money Mentor, a text messaging service, offers borrowers counseling on topics like getting more money for school, managing their budget, and finding internship opportunities.
  • No fees on many loans: CommonBond's loans carry no application fees or prepayment penalties; there are no origination fees on undergraduate and graduate loans. The medical/MBA financing does come with origination fees, but these are openly disclosed and figured into the advertised APRs.
  • Simple co-signer release: Borrowers just need 24 consecutive months of payments after graduation to apply to drop their co-signers.

Cons Explained

  • Co-signer required on undergraduate and graduate loans: Student applicants for undergraduate and graduate loans won't be approved without a co-signer, even if otherwise eligible.
  • Higher repayment amounts on some loans: The in-school, fixed-payment option for dental and medical school students is $100 per month.
  • No medical school residency deferment: Medical school students must begin payments of at least $100 per month after their six-month grace period, even as residents (dental school students can defer payments during residency).

CommonBond Student Loans Available

Undergraduate Student Loans

Undergraduate student loans provide the most flexible repayment plans and terms of all CommonBond loans. They also automatically include the Money Mentor.

Variable Rates 6.61% - 9.42%
Fixed Rates 6.98% - 10.74%
Loan Amounts $2,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

Graduate Student Loans

Graduate students see many of the same flexibility undergraduate borrowers receive and may opt-in to receive a free Money Mentor.

Variable Rates 6.76% - 9.42%
Fixed Rates 7.12% - 10.74%
Loan Amounts $2,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

MBA Loans

No co-signer is required for a CommonBond MBA loan if you're enrolled in one of about 30 in-network partner schools . In addition to loans, CommonBond has offered unique perks to its business school borrowers: an internship program, summer career development series, and trips to Ghana.

Variable Rates 5.82% - 7.17%
Fixed Rates 6.04% - 7.25%
Loan Amounts $2,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 10 or 15 years

Dental School Loans

DMD or DDS students attending any dental school in the U.S. are eligible for a CommonBond dental school loan. These loans have a six-month grace period and the option for residency deferment.

Variable Rates 5.95% - 7.32%
Fixed Rates 5.79% - 7.16%
Loan Amounts $2,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 10, 15, or 20 years

Medical School Loans

Medical students attending one of CommonBond's 59 partner medical schools in the U.S. are eligible for this loan. There's no option for deferment in residency but you can make monthly payments as low as $100.

Variable Rates 3.46% - 4.64%
Fixed Rates 5.56% - 6.76%
Loan Amounts $2,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 10, 15, or 20 years

Loan Eligibility

CommonBond's minimum loan amount is $2,000 but you can borrow up to the cost of attendance determined by your school's financial aid office. This cost includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses.

To be eligible for a CommonBond private student loan you must meet a few requirements:

  • be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • be currently enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school.
  • have a minimum credit score of around 660

To determine eligibility, CommonBond also looks closely at an applicant's free cash flow, meaning how much disposable income you have after paying your monthly debt obligations.

Is Loan Prequalification Available?

CommonBond does offer loan prequalification, meaning you can get a quick preview of your eligibility and what sort of terms you'd qualify for—without it impacting your credit score. To check, click the "Apply Now" button and select "View my rates" under the student loans section. CommonBond will perform a soft inquiry of your credit to estimate your rates.

Loan Fees

CommonBond doesn't charge application fees or prepayment penalties on any of its loans. Late payments incur a fee of 5% of the unpaid amount of the payment due or $10, whichever is less, and there's a $5 fee for returned checks.

There is no origination fee on undergraduate and regular graduate loans. MBA, medical and dental school loans do have a 2% origination fee, but it is reflected in CommonBond's advertised rates.

Loan Discounts

All loans are eligible for a 0.25% interest rate reduction (reflected in CommonBond's advertised rates) when you enroll in auto-draft payments.

Repayment Options

CommonBond offers four in-school repayment options valid through a loan's six-month grace period:

  • Full: Full monthly payment of the student loan, principal and interest, beginning while you're in school.
  • Interest-only: Pay only the interest that accrues. This option is only available to undergraduate, graduate, and MBA students.
  • Fixed: Allows you to make low fixed payments each month while you're in school. Fixed payments are $25 per month for undergraduate and graduate students or $100 per month for dental and medical school students. There is no fixed option for MBA students.
  • Deferred: Postpone making payments until the end of your grace period, at which time all interest will be capitalized.

Repayments terms range from five to 20 years, depending on the loan type:

  • Undergraduate and graduate loans: 5, 10, or 15 years
  • MBA loan: 10 or 15 years
  • Dental and medical school loans: 10, 15, or 20 years

Rewards

CommonBond has a referral program where you can earn $200 every time someone takes out a student loan or refinances using your referral link.

Are Co-Signers Required?

Co-signers are required for undergraduate and graduate loans. A co-signer is also required for MBA loans unless you're enrolled in one of CommonBond's partner schools.

After graduation and 24 consecutive months of full payment, the borrower can apply to release their co-signer. The student must be the age of majority (16 to 21 years old, depending on which state in which you live) and any period of forbearance interrupts the consecutive payments.

Forbearance and Loan Discharge Options

In the case of financial hardship or medical impairment, you can put your loan payments on pause for three months at a time up to 12 months over the life of the loan.

And in the event of death or total and permanent disability, your CommonBond loan is canceled and will not be passed on to anyone else.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

Loan disbursements are paid directly to your school after CommonBond confirms your enrollment. Confirmation can take anywhere from five days to three weeks. If you took out more than required for official expenses (tuition, room and board), your school will send a refund check.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

CommonBond refinances federal, private, Parent PLUS, and previously consolidated loans with no application, origination or prepayment fees. You can refinance up to $500,000 with repayment terms of five to 20 years. Rates are currently:

  • Variable: 3.18% to 6.06%
  • Fixed: 2.99% to 5.99%
  • Hybrid: 4.05% to 5.75%

Advertised rates include a 0.25% discount for enrolling in auto-draft and refinanced loans are eligible for up to 24 months of forbearance.

Student loan refinancing is also available to international students with any major U.S. visa who have graduated from a U.S. university. 

Customer Service

CommonBond's U.S. based care team is available by phone and live chat Monday through Friday, 9 am to 8 pm EST. You can also access them quickly by live chat on their website or email with a response time of less than 24 hours.

According to the Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Student Loan Ombudsman, CommonBond received three complaints in 2019, mostly about its refinancing service.

Applying for a CommonBond Student Loan

CommonBond uses an online application and each approved application is valid for one academic year. To apply you'll need:

  • Your Social Security number
  • School information
  • Loan amount requested
  • Expected financial aid
  • Financial information, including rent or mortgage payments and income

Paying for College

CommonBond encourages students to exhaust all their free and low-cost federal and state financial aid options before taking out a private student loan. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid every year to see your eligibility and use a private student loan to fill in the gap.

Verdict

CommonBond offers competitive interest rates and a pleasant lack of fees. However, its co-signer requirement might limit those who qualify for their loans. And medical school students who want to defer their loans during their residency will have to look elsewhere.

But its mentorship tools and commitment to positive social impact promise do make CommonBond stand out from other lenders. If those things are important to you, then CommonBond could be the right choice for your private student loans or loan refinancing.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected over 45 data points across more than 15 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.