Despite its name, the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) isn’t just for Massachusetts residents. It issues private student loans and student loan refinancing to borrowers nationwide. Its products boast competitive fixed interest rates, and MEFA doesn’t charge any fees — not even late fees.
If you’re considering applying for a loan from MEFA, here’s what you should know about its available loans, repayment terms and benefits.
MEFA student loan refinance review
MEFA offers student loan refinancing for borrowers with federal or private student loans. Unlike other lenders, MEFA doesn’t require a degree to qualify for a loan, so you can refinance your debt even if you didn’t graduate.
MEFA student loan refinancing is a good fit for individuals that didn’t complete their degrees.
MEFA student loan refinance review: The basics
With no loan maximum limits, MEFA is best for borrowers with a substantial amount of student loan debt that want to secure a fixed interest rate. Rates are as low as 3.05%, with repayment options as long as 15 years.
|APRs||● MEFA Refinance Loan: 3.05%-5.55% (fixed)|
|Basics||● Prequalify and check rates without affecting your credit
● Minimum loan amount is $10,000
● Eligible loans include federal and private student loans
|Eligibility||● U.S. citizen or permanent resident
● Established credit history
● Six on-time payments over the past six months
|Applying||● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No application, origination or late fees
|Repayment||● No prepayment penalties
● Repayment term options: 7, 10 or 15 years
● No cosigner releases available
|Support||● MEFA does not list details about financial hardship programs, deferment, forbearance or loan forgiveness|
What to like about MEFA refinance for student loans
Compared to other refinancing lenders, MEFA offers the following advantages:
No degree required
Most student loan refinancing lenders require applicants to earn a degree before they’re eligible for refinancing. If you leave school before graduating, you’re ineligible for most refinancing loans.
MEFA doesn’t require applicants to earn a degree before refinancing, allowing you to refinance even if you dropped out of college.
Prequalify without affecting your credit score
When you apply for a loan, sometimes you have to submit an application and undergo a hard credit inquiry before you can view your loan options and interest rates. Every hard credit inquiry can cause your credit score to drop.
With MEFA, you can use the MEFA Refi tool to check your eligibility and view current interest rates. It only involves a soft credit inquiry and doesn’t impact your credit score.
|What you need to begin the refinancing process with MEFA|
|● Proof of identity
● Social Security number
● Employment information
● Recent pay stubs or other proof of income
● Current billing statements for your loans
No loan maximum
MEFA doesn’t have a cap on loan amounts, so you can refinance up to the total amount of your existing student loan debt. For borrowers with large amounts of debt — such as those that attended medical or law school — the ability to refinance all of their loans is a significant advantage.
MEFA doesn’t charge any fees. It doesn’t have application or origination fees, nor does it charge late fees or returned payment fees. With other lenders, late fees can be as much as 6.00% of the late payment amount.
What to keep in mind about MEFA refinance for student loans
MEFA is a reliable lender with refinancing options that can be useful for nongraduates and those with large loan balances. However, you should weigh those advantages against these drawbacks:
No variable interest options
Most student loan refinancing lenders allow borrowers to choose a fixed or variable interest rate. Many borrowers opt for variable-rate loans because they have lower initial rates, so they can be a good choice if you want to pay off your debt more aggressively.
With MEFA, variable-rate loans aren’t available. You can only refinance with a fixed-rate loan.
Not eligible until after six months of timely payments
To qualify for refinancing with MEFA, you must have made six on-time payments in the most recent six months on all of the student loans you refinance. If you’re in school and have deferred payments, or haven’t made payments because your loans are in their grace period, you won’t qualify for a loan until you make six timely payments.
Does not allow cosigner releases
Although MEFA allows you to apply for student loan refinancing with a cosigner, it’s a big commitment for the cosigner. Unlike other lenders, MEFA doesn’t have a cosigner release option, so your cosigner will remain on the loan until it’s paid in full. The only way to get a cosigner release is to refinance the loan with another lender.
Unclear deferment and forbearance terms
MEFA doesn’t publicly disclose information about its deferment programs or forbearance options for borrowers experiencing financial hardship. Instead, it encourages borrowers to call its customer support line to discuss their options. Without clear details, it can be difficult to compare MEFA with other lenders.
How MEFA student loan refinance compares
Before refinancing your loan with MEFA — or any lender — shopping around is a smart idea. Loan options, interest rates and other factors vary by lender, so you may find you can get a better deal with another lender.
|MEFA||Citizens Bank||PNC Bank|
|Products||● Student loan refinancing||● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
|● Student loan refinancing
● Parent PLUS loan refinancing
|Eligibility requirements||● U.S. citizenship or permanent residency
● Six months of timely payments on existing loans
● Established credit history
|● 700 credit score
● $24,000 income
● U.S. citizen or permanent resident
● Nongraduates and associate degree students must make 12 monthly payments before applying
|● U.S. citizen or permanent resident
● At least 18 or age of majority in your state
● 24 monthly payments completed toward loans
● Two years of continuous income or employment
|APRs||Variable starting at 4.80% and fixed starting at 4.45%||Variable starting at 1.99% and fixed starting at 2.99%||Variable starting at 1.46% and fixed starting at 3.44%|
|Minimum loan amount||$10,000||$10,000||$10,000|
|Repayment terms available||15 years||Up to 20 years||10,30 years|
|Apply with a cosigner||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Is refinancing student loans with MEFA right for you?
With all of the refinancing lenders out there, how does MEFA measure up?
MEFA has fixed-rate loans with terms as long as 15 years, and it doesn’t have a loan maximum. It makes sense for borrowers that have substantial amounts of student loan debt that want to secure a fixed interest rate over the life of their loans. Because MEFA doesn’t require degrees, it’s also a good choice if you left school before graduating.
However, MEFA doesn’t offer cosigner releases, and it has fewer repayment options or benefits than some other lenders provide. Before applying for a loan, make sure you request rate quotes from top refinancing lenders to ensure you’re getting the best loan for your needs.
How to apply for refinancing with MEFA
MEFA does have a prequalification tool, so you can get a rate quote and view your potential loan options without affecting your credit score. Once you find a loan that matches your needs, you can apply entirely online. If you plan on adding a cosigner, they can also complete the application online.
According to MEFA, the application process only takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete if you’re applying alone. After submitting all of your documents, the final review can take 10 to 14 days.
MEFA student loans review
MEFA has loan options for undergraduate and graduate students. It has a relatively low loan minimum — just $1,500 — and allows borrowers to request up to 100% of the total cost of attendance. And, it has several repayment options to choose from while you’re in school.
MEFA student loans are a good fit for students that want to entirely defer payments until after graduation.
To qualify for a MEFA loan, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and enrolled in school at least half time.
|APRs||● Undergraduate loans
○ Fixed: 3.75%-5.75%
● Graduate loans
○ Fixed: 4.50%-5.65%
|Basics||● Borrow as little as $1,500 and as much as 100% of the total cost of attendance
● Only fixed-rate loans available
|Eligibility||● Must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident
● Must be enrolled at least half time
● Established credit history (or apply with a cosigner)
|Applying||● Option to apply with a cosigner
● No late fees or returned check fees
● No origination fees, application fees or prepayment penalties
|Repayment||● Repayment terms of 10 or 15 years for undergraduate loans
● Repayment terms of 15 years for graduate loans
● Four in-school repayment options for undergraduates: Immediate, full deferment, deferred with cosigner release, and interest-only payments
● Two in-school repayment options for graduates: Deferred and interest-only
|Support||● MEFA doesn’t disclose its forbearance or deferment policies, nor does it list its requirements for forgiveness due to disability or death|
What to like about MEFA student loans
If you need additional money to cover your college costs, MEFA’s undergraduate and graduate loans could be useful for the following reasons:
Many private student loan lenders have added fees, such as origination or late fees. But with MEFA, you never have to worry about unexpected fees. It doesn’t charge origination fees, application fees, late fees, returned payment fees, insufficient fund fees or prepayment penalties.
Borrow up to the total cost of attendance
Lenders usually cap how much you can borrow, and their aggregate limits may even include your federal student loans. With MEFA, there is no loan maximum, so you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance.
Multiple in-school repayment options
MEFA’s undergraduate loans have multiple loan terms and in-school repayment plans to choose from. You can choose a term of 10 or 15 years and decide whether to make payments while enrolled with one of the following plans:
- Immediate: You make full interest and principal payments starting the month after the loan’s disbursement.
- Interest-only: During school, you make payments against the interest that accrues on your loan. Principal and interest payments begin at the end of your in-school period.
- Deferred: Deferred repayment allows you to postpone payments until six months after you graduate, leave school or drop below half-time status.
- Deferred with cosigner release: If you intend to apply for a cosigner release, you must enroll in the deferred with cosigner release plan. Your payments are postponed until six months after you leave school, and you can request a cosigner release after making 48 on-time monthly payments.
|Can’t find a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner?||Prodigy Finance is among lenders assisting international student borrowers|
|Not attending an eligible degree-granting school?||Check out options for nondegree student loans|
|Not attending classes at least half time?||There are lenders with part-time student loan options|
What to keep in mind about MEFA student loans
MEFA could be a valuable resource for some borrowers, but there are some drawbacks to its loans:
No loan prequalification
With many private loan companies, you can get a rate quote without affecting your credit score. Unfortunately, MEFA doesn’t have a loan prequalification tool for its student loans. The only way to view your rates is to submit an application and consent to a credit check, which can cause your credit score to drop.
Limited options for graduate students
While undergraduate students have multiple loan terms and repayment options, MEFA’s graduate loans are more limited. Graduate students only have one loan term option — 15 years — and only two repayment plans: interest-only and deferred.
Cosigner release requirements are stringent
With private loans, most students will require a cosigner to qualify for a loan. However, some lenders allow you to apply for a cosigner release after making a certain number of monthly payments on time, such as 24 to 48.
Although MEFA does have a cosigner release program, its requirements are strict. You can only apply for a cosigner release if you opt for the deferred repayment with cosigner release option; other payment plans aren’t eligible. To qualify, you also must make 48 consecutive monthly payments on time.
Unclear forbearance or deferment options
Private student loans aren’t eligible for federal benefits, so it’s important to review the individual lender’s policies.
However, MEFA doesn’t provide much information about deferment or forbearance for military service, graduate school enrollment or financial hardship. It simply states that borrowers should contact their loan servicer to discuss their options.
How MEFA student loans compare
Before choosing a lender, see how MEFA compares to other leading student loan providers.
|MEFA||College Ave||Sallie Mae|
|Loans for:||● Undergraduate and graduate students||● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career school students
● Business, law, medical and dental school
|● Undergraduate and graduate students
● Career training
● Dental school, residency
● Health professions
● Law school, bar study
● Medical school, residency
|APRs||Variable starting at 0.00% and fixed starting at 3.95%||Variable starting at 1.19% and fixed starting at 3.49%||Variable starting at 1.37% and fixed starting at 3.50%|
|Ability to prequalify without affecting credit||No||Yes||No|
|In-school repayment options||3||4||1-2|
|Repayment terms||10 years||5,8, 10, 15 years||5, 10, 15 years|
|Cosigner release available||Yes — after 48 months of on-time payments (and meeting other criteria)||Yes — after half the repayment term has elapsed||Yes — after 12 months of timely payments (and meeting other criteria)|
You’ll very likely be better off if you shop around beyond a few lenders. Make sure you learn all about the best options for your specific needs.
Are MEFA student loans right for you?
MEFA has low loan minimums and allows you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance. It could be a good choice if you need to borrow a significant amount to cover the cost of school, or if you want to defer payments until six months after graduation.
If you’re looking for a lender that has more options for graduate students — or that has a loan prequalification option — check out our picks for the best private student loan lenders.
How to apply with MEFA
MEFA allows applicants to apply entirely online. The lender says that borrowers can complete all the necessary steps in a single day. Once the loan is approved, MEFA will work with your school to send the loan funds.
How to contact MEFA
MEFA’s student loans are serviced by American Education Services (AES). If you’re shopping for a loan and considering MEFA, you can reach its customer support by phone or email.
|Phone||800-266-0243||● Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET|
P.O. Box 927
San Dimas, CA 91773
Frequently asked questions about MEFA student loans
If you didn’t find your question answered in our MEFA reviews, see the following FAQs:
Is MEFA reliable?
MEFA is a reliable private student loan and student loan refinancing lender. It was founded in 1982 by the Massachusetts state legislature. As a not-for-profit student loan organization, it provides loans with competitive rates and terms.
What kind of loan is a MEFA loan?
MEFA isn’t a federal loan issuer. Instead, it’s a state-based loan organization that issues private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
Can I get a loan from MEFA if I don’t live in Massachusetts?
While MEFA’s full name is the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, that doesn’t mean it only works with Massachusetts residents. The organization issues loans to borrowers in all 50 states.
Methodology for ratings
To come up with our star rating for student loan refinancing lenders and companies, and private student loan lenders and companies, Student Loan Hero asks hard questions — 20 of them, in fact. These questions span three categories: accessibility, rates and terms, and repayment experience. That’s because we want to judge financial institutions on their products and services from start to finish: when our users are shopping around, filing applications and paying down their debt. A top-rated lender, for instance, has inclusive eligibility criteria, allows you to prequalify and check rates without harming your credit score and is supportive as you face monthly payments.
The answers that we get to our 20 questions — either from the lenders themselves or by combing through their fine print — determine the overall rating. We score answers consistently, sometimes awarding partial points, to ensure that you can make equal comparisons between all lenders that we put under the microscope.
Student Loan Hero isn’t paid for conducting these reviews, and lenders don’t have a say in their content. The goal with our reviews and ratings, along with everything else we do, is to give our users the most comprehensive and up-to-date information available to make the best decisions according to their borrowing needs.
Student Loan Hero has independently collected the above information related to MEFA student loans, which is current as of April 15, 2022, unless otherwise noted. None of the financial institutions named has either provided or reviewed the information shared in this article.