Not finding an answer to your question? Our U.S.-based care team is available by phone and live chat Monday–Friday, 9am–8pm EST, and you can email us anytime.
Who is CommonBond?
While taking out loans for business school, our co-founder David Klein found himself asking a lot of questions: Why is the process so confusing? Why is the customer service so bad? Why are the interest rates so high? Isn’t there a better way for people to borrow?
That led to the creation of CommonBond, a company that offers affordable lending solutions. Our products—solar financing, and student lending—are designed to save people money and drive sustainable impact. Since we launched in 2012, we’ve funded over $5 billion in better loans. Our approach is no big secret: lower rates, simpler options, and a world class experience—all built to support you throughout your loan journey.
What happens to my loan if CommonBond is no longer around?
Not to worry; you're good. The loan lives on and is tied to the servicer of that loan. You will continue to make payments as scheduled through your servicer.
Is CommonBond a nonprofit?
We’re a for-profit company with a strong social mission.
What is federal student loan relief?
Currently all payments are suspended, and all interest is paused, for student loans held by the US government (Direct Loans and Department of Education administered FFEL loans) until August 31st, 2022. Visit the StudentAid.gov for more details.
What is CommonBond doing to help members impacted by COVID-19?
As COVID-19 has been classified as a national disaster, it qualifies for natural disaster forbearance for CommonBond student loan members.
This functions in much the same way as standard student loan forbearance, but you can take advantage of this program through the end of the national emergency declaration. Any time that you are in natural disaster forbearance does not count towards your standard student loan forbearance. As with any form of forbearance, be aware that interest will still accrue, but there are no fees to participate.
I am experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, what are the options for my federal student loans?
Federal loans currently have 0% interest and no payments due. By refinancing your student loans you lose access to this and other federal protections. For more information on federal student loan repayment options and programs visit: https://studentaid.gov/
What is CommonBond's Social Promise?
Inspired by companies like TOMS Shoes and Warby Parker, we have been committed since our launch to proving that business can and should be a positive force for change—we call it our "Social Promise." It means that for every degree fully funded through us, we fund the tuition of a student in need for a full year through our partnership with Pencils of Promise. We’re the first-ever company to bring the "1-for-1" model to education and finance.
Can I make a donation to CommonBond's Social Promise?
If you would like to make a direct donation, we'd like to point you to our non-profit partners. Click here to make a gift to Pencils of Promise.
Who’s eligible to refinance?
Qualifying usually consists of meeting a few criteria: You have to be a U.S. citizen; permanent resident; or H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, and E-3 visa holder. That means if you’re an international student, we’re not (currently) able to lend to you, but we’re working to change that. You must have graduated from one of the schools in our eligible network. Our network has expanded to more than 2,000 Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs. After that, we’ll consider your credit history and other factors and will quickly make a decision on your application.
Are there loans available for international students?
Yes, the following visa types are eligible for CommonBond student loan refinancing: H1-B, J-1, L-1, E-2, and E-3. Applicants must also have graduated from a U.S. nonprofit undergraduate or graduate school.
What’s refinancing and what type of loans can be refinanced?
When you refinance, your old loans are paid off and combined into one, simple loan. You might consider refinancing if you want to: get a lower interest rate, decrease your monthly payments, or switch from a fixed-rate loan to a variable-rate loan or vice versa. We can refinance federal, private, and previously consolidated loans.
How much can I refinance?
You can refinance up to $500,000 with us.
What is the application process?
Applying for a CommonBond Student Loan is easy.
1. Fill out our online application and have a preliminary decision in minutes.
2. Upload supporting documentation after receiving your rate and e-sign loan documents.
3. If your application is approved, we’ll arrange with your lender(s) for your existing student loans to be paid off.
What documents will I need for my application?
We’ll try to automatically verify the information you provide, but we could need up to three types of documents to complete your application:
1. Proof of employment: a letter of acceptance from a future employer OR a recent pay stub OR two recent years of tax documents.
2. A recent loan statement for each loan you wish to refinance. Each statement must have your servicer’s name, your name, account number, loan balance, and physical address where you would mail a payment.
3. Proof of residency: a recent utility bill or a recent bank statement.
What are the terms of the loan?
All of our refinance loans have these great things in common:
1. No origination fees.
2. Monthly payments start between 30 and 60 days after your refinance loan is disbursed.
3. No prepayment penalty.
4. All payments greater than the monthly minimum go straight to reducing the principal ofthe loan.
5. Grace period deferment is available if you graduated this year and your loans are currently in grace period deferment.
6. Academic deferment is available if you decide to go back to school, and forbearance is available in the event of financial hardship.
Is an income-based repayment plan currently available?
We don’t offer income-based repayment plans at the moment, but we fully recognize the importance of flexible repayment terms. As of right now, refinance loans carry standard terms around loan forbearance in case of financial hardship. Situations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If an income-based repayment plan is of interest to you, and you have existing federal loans, you may prefer to keep those loans to take advantage of special government programs such as income-based repayment.
What is the Hybrid Loan?
By “Hybrid,” we mean the interest rate is fixed for a portion of the repayment term and variable for the remainder:
1. The first five years of the loan are at a fixed interest rate.
2. For the remainder of the loan (last five years), the rate varies monthly along with the 1-month LIBOR
How do you come up with the rate for the variable portion of the Hybrid Loan?
The rate for the variable portion of the Hybrid Loan isn’t actually set until five years after the loan is disbursed. The rate at that time is the sum of:
1. A “margin” that is set based on your application when you apply for the loan.
2. Whatever 1-month LIBOR is five years after your loan is disbursed.
What is cosigner release and when can I apply?
A borrower is eligible to apply for cosigner release after 36 consecutive months of full payment. They must be the age of majority (16-21 years old, depending on the state in which they live) and meet the current underwriting criteria under the loan program at the time of applying for cosigner release. Any period of forbearance interrupts consecutive payments.
Does my school have to certify my refinance loan?
Our refinance program does not require loan certification by your school's financial aid office. Our company and our refinance loan product are neither endorsed by nor affiliated with any educational institutions.
How much does the loan cost?
The interest rate for a refinance loan depends on the applicant's credit profile, the choice of a variable or fixed rate, and the term of repayment for the loan. Rates don’t depend on the school attended or the amount of the loan request. See more information here.
What types of credit inquiries does CommonBond do?
We perform what's known as a "soft credit pull" to estimate your rate, and this will not affect your credit score.
In order to provide you with your actual rate, we must perform a "hard" credit inquiry, which will show up on your credit report and may have an impact on your credit score. This allows us to review your credit profile and determine your actual rate.
Can I prepay my loan in full or partially, without incurring a penalty?
Of course! We’d never hold it against you for being on the ball. You’re welcome to prepay the loan or pay more than the minimum monthly payment amount if you wish, without incurring any penalty. You’re only responsible for the interest that has already accrued. If you would like to do so, please reach out to the Care Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 975-7812.
Who should choose the Hybrid Loan?
Our Hybrid Loan option balances the many competing tradeoffs of choosing a particular repayment term, helping to minimize: 1) interest rate, 2) size of required monthly payment, and 3) total interest paid. The Hybrid also helps reduce the uncertainty of a variable rate loan by fixing the interest rate for the first five years of repayment, and then switching to a variable rate for the remainder of the loan period. For members who intend to prepay, this period of interest rate uncertainty can be relatively short, allowing Hybrid loan holders to benefit from a fixed rate lower than our normal 10-year fixed rate loan.
I don't see my school listed, can I still apply?
Refinance loans are currently offered to graduates of thousands of schools across the country. Please email email@example.com if you'd like us to expand our loan program to graduates of your school.
Are there any fees or penalties?
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties for refinancing. CommonBond does charge a return check fee of $5.00, subject to state law restrictions.
How is my credit score affected?
A refinance loan looks and acts like any other loan on your credit report. When shopping around for refinancing options, it is best to do so in a shorter period of time. For example, if you do so within 30 days, there should be less impact on your credit score than if you did so beyond 30 days.
Where do I go to see the payments I have made? Can I make payments online?
CommonBond uses a company called Firstmark to accept payments for your loan. You can definitely pay online and you’ll receive all information regarding any other payment methods from Firstmark once you officially accept your loan. If you have any questions about servicing, please reach out to the Care Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 975-7812.
Can I pay off the entire loan while the rate is fixed?
Yes, of course! We’d never hold it against you for being on the ball.
Can I restructure or consolidate my loans through CommonBond?
Our refinance products allow graduates to replace their existing student loans — whether federal or private — with loans provided by us. Read about all of the types of loans we can refinance here.
How do I enroll in autopay to receive the 0.25% discount?
As soon as we approve your loan application, you’ll be able to enroll in autopay and begin receiving the 0.25% discount.
Are there ways to lower my interest rate or monthly payments?
CommonBond offers a .25% interest rate reduction for auto-draft payment enrollment. You can enroll in autopay during the loan application process! Once you sign your final documents you can fill out the autopay form and start receiving the .25% rate discount on your next payment. If you’ve already begun repayment you can apply in your account with your new servicer. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Care Team at email@example.com or (800) 975-7812.
Does the Hybrid Loan offer a temporary forbearance for economic hardship?
It sure does. Similar to federal student loans, under certain circumstances, including for economic hardship, you can apply to defer your payments through our forbearance program.
What’s the difference between student loan refinancing versus consolidation?
Good question! Check out this page for a more in-depth look at the differences between the two.
Do you offer forbearance?
We do! Similar to federal student loans, under certain circumstances, including economic hardship, you can apply to defer your payments through our forbearance program.
How do CommonBond loans differ from federal loans?
The federal government offers income-based repayment and special forgiveness programs for borrowers in public service professions. Graduates with federal loans working in such industries may therefore prefer to keep their federal loans to maintain these extra borrower protections.
How do you calculate my interest rate?
The interest rate for a refinance loan depends on several factors, like your credit profile, income, your choice of a variable or fixed rate, and the length of repayment for the loan.
What's the difference between a fixed-rate loan and a variable-rate loan?
An interest rate is "fixed" if it remains unchanged over time, while a "variable" interest rate changes over time based on fluctuations in a market benchmark rate. If that market benchmark rate increases, so too would your rate, and vice versa (as the market benchmark rate decreases, so too would your rate).
What’s an APR?
APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. The APR takes into account any fees and other charges over the life of the loan. APR allows you to compare rates for different loan products on an apples-to-apples basis, which can be helpful if you are comparing loans that have different fee structures.
Where will my loan money be sent?
If you’re approved and funded, all funds are directed to your existing lender(s).
Who exactly is originating my loan?
We underwrite and originate all refinance loans. We’re not affiliated with the school you attended.
What is the solar investment tax credit?
The solar investment tax credit (ITC) is a government incentive that allows you to directly reduce the taxes you owe. The federal tax credit is for up to 26% of the cost of your solar system. That means, if you invest in a $100,000 solar system, you may be able to reduce the taxes you owe up to $26,000. Learn more about the ITC here.
How does the solar investment tax credit get applied to my loan with CommonBond?
Your initial monthly payment with CommonBond assumes you apply the full amount of the ITC as a principal payment within 18 months of the solar installation. You must apply the ITC to your loan once you receive it, to prevent your monthly payment from increasing.
CommonBond does not offer tax advice. Contact a tax advisor to determine if you may qualify for the ITC.
How do I make a payment?
Once your solar panels are installed, our servicing partner, Scratch, will reach out to you! Your first payment is due 60 days from your installation. Head to Scratch.Fi to set up your online account and monitor your loan balance.
Are there prepayment penalties?
There are no prepayment penalties! Paying off your loan early is a great way to save on interest.
What if I want to sell my home?
Once you sell your home, your solar loan becomes payable in full. The loan does not transfer to the new homeowner.
Can I apply with a co-borrower?
At this time we only allow one borrower, the homeowner, to apply for a CommonBond solar loan.
What are the minimum and maximum loan amounts?
The minimum loan amount is $15,000 and the maximum is $125,000. Each homeowner’s maximum loan amount can differ based on credit approval.
Do you take household income or allow co-borrowing?
No, we only accept the individual income of the borrower. At the moment, we do not allow co-borrowing.
What is your price per watt limit?
The price per watt limit is $5.50 for solar-only installations. The limit increases to $7.00 per watt if the cost includes other projects necessary to install the solar system, like roofing or electrical upgrades.