MEFA Student Loans Review

MEFA offers low-interest undergraduate, graduate, and refinance loans nationwide

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MEFA

 MEFA

Investopedia’s Rating
4.4

Our Take

As a non-profit organization, MEFA is an excellent choice if you need to take out a private student loan. It offers fixed-rate loans with competitive interest rates and multiple repayment options, and doesn’t charge any fees, including no late payment fees.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Doesn't charge fees

  • Flexible repayment options

  • Co-signer release available

Cons
  • No ability to pre-qualify for in-school loans

  • Doesn't offer discounts

  • Only one repayment option includes co-signer release

Key Takeaways
  • MEFA is a non-profit state-chartered loan organization based in Massachusetts.
  • The lender offers undergraduate and graduate student loans, as well as refinance loans.
  • Undergraduate loans have two loan terms and four repayment plans to choose from, and refinance loans offer three term options.
  • There are no application fees, origination fees, or late fees.
  • Co-signer releases are available on undergraduate loans with deferred payment plans after 48 months of consecutive, on-time monthly payments.
Company Overview

Short for Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, MEFA was founded in 1982 with the mission of providing affordable student loans with transparent terms. While it's a state-based lender, MEFA offers student loans nationwide.

  • Year Founded 1982
  • Official Website www.mefa.org
  • Loans Offered Undergraduate, graduate, refinance
  • Customer Service By email: mefaloans@mefa.org. By phone: (800) 266-0243

MEFA Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR  Fixed APR 
Undergraduate loan N/A 4.89%–6.99%
Graduate loan  N/A  5.74%–6.94% 
Refinance loan  N/A  4.75%–7.15% 

While MEFA's fixed interest rates are low, it's still a good idea to shop around and compare private student loans to ensure you're getting the best offer.

Pros Explained

  • Doesn't charge fees: It's common for private student loan companies to skip origination and application fees, but MEFA takes it a step further and also doesn't charge fees for late payments and returned checks.
  • Flexible repayment options: College students can choose between immediate payments, interest-only payments, or deferred payments.
  • Co-signer release available: Students who choose a deferred repayment plan can remove their co-signer from the loan after they make 48 consecutive, on-time monthly payments and meet creditworthiness requirements.

Cons Explained

  • No ability to pre-qualify for in-school loans: MEFA offers pre-qualification for its refinance loans, but if you're a college student, you need to submit an official application to get an idea of what you qualify for.
  • Doesn't offer discounts: Unlike most private student lenders, MEFA doesn't offer an interest rate discount when you set up automatic payments.
  • Only one repayment option includes co-signer release: If you're an undergraduate student and want to start making payments immediately or make interest-only payments while you're in school, you won't be able to release your co-signer from the loan without refinancing it. Additionally, graduate loans and refinance loans don't come with a co-signer release feature.

MEFA Student Loan Types

Undergraduate Student Loans

Undergraduate students can use a fixed-rate MEFA student loan to cover up to the total cost of attendance at their school without worrying about potential fees.

Terms for Undergraduate Loans
Fixed APR 4.89%–6.99%
Loan Amounts  $1,500 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  10 or 15 years 

Graduate Student Loans

Graduate students can apply for up to the total cost of attendance and get a fixed-rate, no-fee student loan. Unlike with undergraduate loans, however, MEFA only offers one repayment term on graduate loans.

Terms for Graduate Loans
Fixed APR 5.74%–6.94%
Loan Amounts  $1,500 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  15 years 

Refinance Student Loans

If you have at least $10,000 in student loan debt ,you can refinance your loans with MEFA, even if you didn't obtain a degree. 

Terms for Refinance Loans
Fixed APR 4.75%–7.15%
Loan Amounts  $10,000 up to your total balance 
Loan Terms  7, 10, or 15 years 

Loan Eligibility and Approval

MEFA offers private student loans and student loan refinancing in all 50 states. While the lender doesn't provide specifics for credit score and income requirements, you'll need to meet the following criteria to get approved:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be enrolled at least half-time in an accredited, degree-granting undergraduate program at an eligible non-profit college or university in the U.S.
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress as determined by your school
  • Have no history of default on an education loan
  • Have no history of bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past 60 months
  • Meet MEFA's credit standards or have a co-signer who meets them

Additional requirements for refinance loans include:

  • You must be a borrower on all the loans being refinanced.
  • You've made six on-time payments in the most recent six months on all loans being refinanced.
  • You have no history of default on an education loan and no delinquencies on education debt in the past 12 months.
  • Your loans were used to fund the cost of attendance at an eligible, not-for-profit, degree-granting college or university.

Are Co-Signers Required?

MEFA doesn't require co-signers but says that most students will likely need one to get approved. Co-signer release is only available for undergraduate students who opt for a deferred payment plan, make 48 consecutive on-time payments, and meet the lender's underwriting guidelines.

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

MEFA does not offer pre-qualification for in-school loans. However, you can check your rate on a refinance loan with just a soft credit inquiry, which doesn't impact your credit score.

While a MEFA application will result in a hard credit check, applying for multiple student loans within a short period of time won’t have much of an impact on your credit score because of rate-shopping rules.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

You can complete the process of applying in one day and receive a decision relatively quickly once all parties have submitted the required information.

After you sign the agreement, MEFA will send the loan documents to your school for certification. Some schools won’t certify loans until close to the semester start date, so the process can take several weeks to complete. Once the school certifies the loan, MEFA will disburse the funds directly to the school.

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

MEFA does not charge any loan fees, including origination and late fees.

Loan Discounts

MEFA does not offer any discounts on its student loans.

Repayment Options

MEFA offers a few different repayment options to undergraduate students:

  • Immediate full payment: You'll start making full payments on the 28th day of the month following the final loan disbursement. You can opt for a 10- or 15-year repayment term.
  • Interest-only: Beginning on the 28th day of the month following the final loan disbursement, you will make interest-only payments while you remain in school. Full payments will begin after the end of your anticipated in-school period. Your repayment term will be 15 years.
  • Deferred: You won't need to make monthly payments until six months after you graduate, leave your program, or fall below half-time enrollment. Your repayment term will be 15 years.

Note that graduate students will only get the interest-only and deferred repayment options, while refinance borrowers will need to start making payments immediately. 

Rewards

MEFA does not offer any rewards to its student loan borrowers.

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

While in school, undergraduate students can defer repayment up to 60 months, and graduate students can defer up to 36 months. 

Once you're in repayment, though, MEFA doesn't have a formal policy for forbearance due to financial hardship. The lender simply encourages borrowers who are unable to afford their payments to contact them or their loan servicer—American Education Services (AES)—to apply for modified payment terms to get some relief. 

The lender offers discharge of debt for borrowers who die or become permanently disabled. 

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

MEFA offers refinance loans ranging from $10,000 up to the total amount you've borrowed. However, you must be a borrower on the loans being refinanced, so parents can't refinance loans that are in their child's name. 

No degree is required to refinance your loans with MEFA.

Customer Service

MEFA’s student loans are serviced by American Education Services. Unfortunately, AES doesn’t have a stellar reputation as a loan servicer. 

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) 2021 Annual Report of the Student Loan Ombudsman, AES was the third-most complained about federal loan servicer and fifth-most complained about private loan servicer. A common complaint was that the servicer provided bad information about borrowers’ loans. During the most recent three-year period, ending on December 31, 2021, the CFPB received over 5,500 complaints about AES.

If you need to reach customer service during the application process, you can email MEFA at mefaloans@mefa.org or call (800) 266-0243.

Applying for a MEFA Student Loan 

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, make sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and apply for any federal, state, and institutional financial aid you’re entitled to before applying for a loan from a private lender like MEFA. 

If you reach the annual borrowing limits with federal student loans and still need money to pay for school, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare loans from multiple private lenders to find the best option for your needs.

If you're ready to submit an application with MEFA, you'll need to provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Current and prior addresses (if applicable)
  • Monthly income
  • Employer information

Once you've submitted everything, you'll typically receive an instant credit decision. If MEFA needs more information, it'll reach out to you directly. After you pass a credit review, you'll be able to compare your options. Select a loan, and you'll be asked to review and sign your loan documents. After that, MEFA will submit your loan to your school for certification, then disburse the loan funds directly to your school.

Alternative Choices

  MEFA Discover  Sallie Mae 
Loan Types Offered  Undergraduate; graduate Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional Undergraduate; graduate; medical; technical; bootcamp 
Undergraduate Fixed APR  4.89%–6.99%  5.49%–14.99%  4.50%–14.83% 
Undergraduate Variable APR  N/A  5.87%–15.12%  5.37%–15.70% 
Origination/Administrative Fee  None  None  None 
Repayment Options  Deferment; interest-only; immediate; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing Available  Yes  Yes  No 

Final Verdict

MEFA offers low, fixed interest rates and no fees, making it easier to save money compared to some other private lenders. However, the lender's repayment terms can be somewhat limited, and the only way to get co-signer release is to be an undergraduate student with a deferred repayment plan. Because MEFA doesn't offer pre-qualification for in-school loans, check with other lenders first to see if you can get a quote for better terms before submitting an application to MEFA.

It pays to shop around, especially for long-term debt like student loans. See your options with our picks for the best student loans online.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. MEFA. "Refinance Private Student Loans."

  2. MEFA. "Undergraduate Student Loans." 

  3. MEFA. "Guiding Principles for Our Student Loan Program."

  4. MEFA. "About Us."

  5. MEFA. "MEFA Undergraduate Application and Solicitation Disclosure."

  6. MEFA. "The Role of the Co-Borrower: Whose Loan Is It, Anyway?"

  7. MEFA. "MEFA Loan Application."

  8. MEFA. "You've Been Approved for a MEFA Loan. Now What?"

  9. MEFA. "Graduate Student Loans."

  10. MEFA. "Assistance for MEFA Loan Borrowers."

  11. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Report of the CFPB Education Loan Ombudsman."

  12. MEFA. "Contact MEFA."