MEFA Review

Top10.com StaffByTop10.com StaffAug. 22, 2019

In a Nutshell

MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority) is a non-profit organization that offers undergraduate and postgraduate student loans at very competitive fixed interest rates, and student loan refinancing at fixed and variable rates. MEFA has flexible repayment plans that include deferred payments and an interest-only grace period.

pros

  • Flexible repayment terms, including deferred payments
  • Low interest rates beginning at 3.95%
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees

cons

  • No details about minimum credit score
  • You need to reapply for a new loan each academic year

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MEFA at a Glance

Loan types: Undergraduate, postgraduate, student loan refinancing

Loan amount: Minimum: $2,000 for a private school. $1,500 for a public school. Maximum: total cost of attendance for one year Refinancing loans from $10,000

Repayment terms: Flexible, including deferred repayments for up to 60 months

APR from: 3.95%

Minimum credit score: Not specified

Fees (including prepayment fees): None

Overview

MEFA is a non-profit organization based in Massachusetts that aims to help all students access the education they want. It offers a range of resources, including advice on saving for college, information on federal and local financial aid, and college payment plans. MEFA has been running for 35 years as a non-profit state-based and state-chartered organization. It provides undergraduate, postgraduate, and refinancing student loans.

Best For?

MEFA student loans are best for any new or existing undergraduate or postgraduate students who are looking for a student loan to cover their entire course of study. MEFA loans have low rates and flexible repayments, making them ideal for cash-strapped students. Because you can apply with a cosigner, it also makes them suitable for anyone with a friend or relative helping them out.

Loan Features

MEFA's student loans include fixed undergraduate and postgraduate loans and fixed and variable student loan refinancing options. You can apply for the assistance alone or with a cosigner, and choose flexible repayments that include deferments and interest-only payments. MEFA doesn’t charge any origination, application, or prepayment fees, and the rates are very competitive, beginning at  3.95%.

  • Choose between fixed and variable rates for student loan refinancing
  • Apply with or without a cosigner
  • Defer repayments or make interest-only payments for up to 60 months
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees

The Application Process

MEFA has a fully online application process, although you can also apply over the phone. You’ll get an instant credit decision without waiting around.

Undergraduate and postgraduate student loans:

You’ll need to begin by sharing your:

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Phone number, email address, and current and previous residential addresses
  • Monthly income
  • Housing costs and employment information

You’ll get an instant credit decision, and then you can compare the costs and rates of different loans to choose the one that’s best for you. Finally, you’ll need to review and e-sign your loan documents before the whole loan application is sent to your college or university to be certified.

MEFA refinancing loan:

  • Create an account
  • Wait while MEFA runs a soft credit check
  • Choose an interest rate, then complete a more detailed online application that includes information about your current loans
  • MEFA will then run a hard credit check to conditionally approve your application
  • Upload some documents
  • Decide on a variable or fixed interest rate and e-sign your document

Eligibility Requirements

Undergraduate and postgraduate student loans:

  • Be enrolled for at least half-time in an eligible educational institution
  • Have a satisfactory attendance record
  • Be a citizen of the US
  • You or your cosigner also need to meet MEFA’s credit approval requirements, but MEFA doesn’t reveal what those are online
  • You can apply for the loan for only one academic year at a time, so you'll need to reapply for each year of your course of study

Student loan refinancing:

You can apply to refinance any federal or private student loan that is:

  • Current and in repayment when you apply
  • Isn’t in deferment, forbearance, or grace period
  • Was used to pay for education at an eligible college or university
  • Was repaid on time each month, for the last 12 months
  • Is for at least $10,000

Loan Rates

Undergrad and postgrad student loans come with fixed interest rates that range from 3.95% to 7.3% APR, while refinanced loans have fixed rates from 4.2% or variable rates beginning at 4.34% APR. 

You can apply with a cosigner for undergraduate and postgraduate loans, but it's not clear how your credit score or the credit score of your cosigner will affect your interest rates.

Repayment Terms

Undergraduate and consolidated or refinanced student loans have a repayment term of 10 or 15 years. Postgraduate loan repayment terms are 15 years, and there’s no prepayment penalties for any MEFA student loans.

MEFA allows you to choose between several repayment options for undergraduate loans:

  • Immediate repayment, where you begin paying off the interest and the principal of the loan the month after receiving the funds, and pay the loan off fully within 10 or 15 years.
  • Interest-only payments begin immediately after receiving the loan funds. You begin paying off the principal of the loan as well after your enrollment in school ends, and complete repayments within 15 years of receiving disbursement.
  • Deferred payments put off repaying anything until 6 months after you graduate, leave school, or are studying less than half-time. You can defer repayments for up to 60 months, but still, need to repay the loan within 15 years.

Deferred with cosigner release defers all repayments until 6 months after you graduate, leave school, or are studying less than half-time. After the first 48 consecutive payments, the cosigner can request release. You can defer payments for up to 60 months, and need to repay the loan within 15 years.

Postgraduate loans can be:

  • Repaid immediately
  • Repaid with interest-only payments until you finish your studies
  • Deferred for up to 36 months or until you graduate, leave school, or are studying less than half-time

Whatever you choose, you have to finish repaying the loan within 15 years of receiving the funds.

Student loans that are refinanced or consolidated through MEFA come with particular repayment terms and conditions that aren’t detailed on the website.

How Safe Is It?

MEFA has a transparent and clear privacy and security policy shared on the website, which specifies how it will gather and share your data. MEFA won’t sell your data to third parties. Although MEFA uses various unspecified security measures, it doesn’t encrypt incoming email or comments, so it warns borrowers not to send sensitive information through the website. It does monitor the site for hacking attempts.

Customer Service

MEFA provides general customer support through email and over the phone, from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. There are dedicated lines for specific departments, and MEFA is also active on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. MEFA doesn’t have an FAQ section or troubleshooting tips.

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How MEFA Compares


MEFA
Ascent
College Ave
APR (Fixed Rate)
3.95%
4.19%
2.84%
Minimum credit score
Not specified
No minimum under certain circumstances
680
Loan amounts
$1,500 - total cost of attendance for 1 year
$2,000-$200,000
$5,000-$250,000
Accepts cosigners 
Yes 
Yes
Yes 
Best for
Undergrad, postgrads, and graduates who want to consolidate their student debt
New students
Graduates who need to consolidate their student debt

Summary

Overall, MEFA provides a great deal of useful resources for students who need help financing their education. The financial education resources, webinars, and advice about different ways to pay for college add value to MEFA’s student loans. Student loans from MEFA come with flexible repayment terms and competitive interest rates, but it would help if the website gave more information about credit score requirements.

Top10.com StaffByTop10.com StaffAug. 18, 2019
Our editorial staff is comprised of writers who are knowledgeable about financial services. We specialize in simplifying the process of choosing the right student loan lender for your needs.
MEFA