In a Nutshell: CommonBond refinances student loans in a simple online process. Customer-friendly and community-minded, the team at CommonBond assists students across the nation and around the globe. This company is more than just a transaction. Using a one-for-one model, for every loan it funds, CommonBond will fund a child’s education in Ghana. This Social Promise sets CommonBond apart from the typical lender and underscores the company’s overall commitment to funding education and thereby making the world a better place.
On a sunny afternoon in the middle of May, my graduating class filed into our college’s football stadium for our long-awaited rite of passage. The heat was intense. We sat in our black garb, playing with the colorful tassels on our caps, and hoped for a breeze.
But the summer sun wasn’t the only thing hanging over our heads that day. I looked around at my fellow graduates and wondered how many of them, like me, were already tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Graduation day ought to be a joyous occasion, filled with promise and pride, but I was filled with concern. Even though I was lucky enough to have the help and support of my parents throughout my education, at the end of my degree I still found myself anticipating years of payments.
This is a problem that many face. Saddled with high interest rates, students often struggle to cast off the burden of their loans.
When finishing their schooling, graduates should focus on finding jobs and opportunities, not paying back debt. As a graduate student in business school, David Klein saw this issue—experiencing high rates and poor service firsthand—and he decided to act on it. In 2011, he founded CommonBond as a technology-enabled lender in support of higher education.
Today, CommonBond offers reasonable refinancing plans for all students bogged down by debt. This company isn’t satisfied simply providing loans, however; CommonBond also gives back to the community with an innovative one-for-one model that finances the education of students in need.
Phil DeGisi, Chief Marketing Officer at CommonBond, sat down with us to talk about CommonBond’s goals, its benefits, and its social promise.
More Than a Transaction: CommonBond is a Friendly Lender
The inspiration for CommonBond came from the very personal motives of a student who knew the true cost of education. David Klein took it upon himself to build a company focused specifically on refinancing loans for students.
This is a mission that Phil is happy to rally around. “We believe student loans should be more affordable, more transparent, and able to be managed easily online whether it’s on your mobile phone or desktop computer.”
The CommonBond team puts every effort into being as helpful and user-friendly as possible. The online process is simple—and you can do it all from your phone. With no application fees, CommonBond makes it easy to sign up for a loan and refinance your education. “To get to a free, no-obligation rate quote, that’s about two minutes,” Phil says. In just a couple minutes, CommonBond assesses your creditworthiness and puts together a personal profile in order to make you the best possible offer.
Available to customers via phone, LiveChat, and email, CommonBond is an attentive lender every step of the way—This is a company that looks out for its clients.
CommonBond brings a community outlook to refinancing and makes education affordable as a matter of principle, not profit. Cutting out the confusion, CommonBond’s lending process is decidedly straightforward and simple for students (and parents) who need to pay for schooling. CommonBond will lend anywhere from $3,500 all the way up to $500,000 to help its customers deal with debt, and their members save over $14,500 on average over the life of the loan by refinancing. Those who work for CommonBond know that such loans are an unfortunate necessity for many students seeking to better themselves and achieve financial stability.
There’s no denying that student debt is a widespread issue affecting America’s youth. “The average undergrad is graduating with about $30,000 to $35,000 in student debt,” CommonBond’s CMO tells us. CommonBond’s goal is to lessen this financial burden so that everyone has the means to go to school without worry.
CommonBond helps its members to consolidate debt with an affordable interest rate and friendly service. This lender strives to go beyond the typical cold, faceless transactions. Instead, CommonBond behaves conscientiously, compassionately, and competently to refinance student debt. With a sympathetic system, CommonBond recognizes that their customers are often just starting out: looking for houses, getting married, beginning a career, and seeking better finances.
“We see ourselves as able to deliver a really good experience across all of those needs,” Phil says. “We want to be the financial services platform that they work with.”
CommonBond Gives Back, Funding Education for Thousands
What makes CommonBond truly stand out as a lender is its steadfast generosity. This company is dedicated to fostering education through refinancing as well as acts of charity.
“One of the coolest thing about us is our Social Promise.” Phil tells us. “We’re the first company in finance and education to have one-for-one model.”
CommonBond’s Social Promise means that for every loan that’s taken out with CommonBond, a student in Ghana is able to attend school and get an education. CommonBond partners with an education non-profit called Pencils of Promise to pay for tuition, school uniforms, school supplies, and other education-related costs for children in rural parts of Ghana.
“To date we’ve helped over 2,000 kids get access to education,” Phil says.
Recently, CommonBond gave three of its employees (including co-founder and CEO, David Klein) and three of its borrowers the chance to travel to Ghana and witness for themselves the power that education can have in a community. On a five-day trip in October 2015, David Klein and a few lucky CommonBond members got to actually see the impact their charitable work was having. “It’s pretty incredible,” CommonBond’s CMO comments about the trip. “Something that’s very unique to CommonBond—and a reason a lot of people like working with us—is we’re a values-driven organization. This isn’t purely a transaction with CommonBond.”
The Ghana trip was so successful that they plan on repeating it this coming October. CommonBond has already asked for video submissions on “What Education Means to You,” so that they can choose who will go on this special trek.
Applying a one-for-one model to refinancing, CommonBond has helped further the education thousands of people, both here at home and across the globe.
CommonBond Expands Its Lending From Coast to Coast
What began as a pilot program at David Klein’s own business school, Wharton at University of Pennsylvania, soon grew beyond a simple peer-to-peer model of alumni helping students. Focused on the opportunity to assist students in the US, CommonBond steadily built up its borrowing network to provide loans for more and more recent graduates.
“We started at 50 graduate schools,” Phil says, “and today we’re pretty much in every undergraduate and graduate program in the country.” Alumni across the nation can apply for refinancing with CommonBond, easily going online to begin a path to better finances.
Just a little over a year ago, CommonBond was made up of fifteen people dedicated to helping students get out of debt. Its success as a lender has since allowed them to grow rapidly to nearly 100 team members. Their size may be noticeably bigger, but their goals remain unchanged.
Growing methodically with each passing year, CommonBond has cemented its place as a popular fixture in the lending industry. Its Chief Marketing Officer says, “We expect to cross a billion dollars in loans funded this year.”
Final Thoughts on CommonBond and its Social Promise
The cost of education shouldn’t be a burden that follows you for years to come. Using a marketplace model, CommonBond provides financial backing for students who find themselves mired by debt. Great customer service, transparency, consistency, and simplicity are the hallmarks of this company.
Phil emphasizes the importance of companies like CommonBond helping students out of debt. “About seven out of ten people have student debt coming out of college now—that’s just on the undergrad side.” For doctors, lawyers, and other graduate students, the cost of such an advanced degree is naturally going to be much higher, even into six figures. That creates a need for lenders who can ease the financial cost of schooling.
CommonBond is committed to being a positive force for change in the lending and education community. Its Social Promise is proof of that. When you refinance with CommonBond, you’re not just helping yourself but also helping underprivileged kids get the education they deserve.
Through its refinancing plans and charitable partnerships, CommonBond is making the world a better place, one student at a time.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.