Today’s show: a conversation for anyone with student loans. We’re talking with CommonBond’s Phil DeGisi about options to save money by refinance outstanding student loans and financing your education, as well as CommonBond’s MBA Accelerator and Social Impact Award and his own MBA experience.
Meet Phil DeGisi [1:40]
Undergrad at Vassar, Tuck MBA. After earning his MBA, he focused his career on merchandising and then digital marketing. In 2014 he became VP of Marketing at CommonBond and just 3 months ago, he became CB’s Chief Marketing Officer.
CommonBond Overview [2:25]
CommonBond considers itself a values-driven and customer-service centric lender. They can refinance your undergraduate or graduate loan at a lower interest rate, potentially saving you significant money over the life of the loan. And they offer new loans for MBA students at low rates.
Parent PLUS loans, too [4:50]
Most Parent PLUS loans have a higher interest rate- 7-8%- so refinancing for a lower rate can save a lot of money. It’s also possible to transfer the loan from the parent to the child, which can help the student build their credit history.
The 3 S’s: Savings, Simplicity, Social Good [6:05]
Saving: students can save over $14k on average (over the life of the loan) by refinancing. Simplicity: it’s easy to get decisions and information. Social promise: for every loan they fund, they also pledge to fund the education of a child in the developing world. They partner with Pencils of Promise.
A fourth element is customer service: the marriage of tech and customer service. The decision to refinance $100K in debt is a big decision, so it’s important to be able to talk to someone—they offer live chat, email, phone.
How does it work? [8:39]
Go to the site and get a rate quote (to do that, only basic info is required). This is an estimate with no credit impact. If you are interested in moving to the next step after that, you can supply more detailed information electronically (pay stubs, etc).
Applying for an in-school loan for MBA [10:05]
Also a straightforward, easy application process. MBA loans have a 5.78% APR for a 10-year loan.
MBA Accelerator Program [10:45]
CommonBond has developed an internship program for MBAs, where interns design and build a product that solves a problem in personal finance. A previous intern (who originally learned about CommonBond by borrowing from them) is now a full-time employee.
Social Impact Contest [14:00]
They consider themselves a “values driven company” and are looking to reward and mentor entrepreneurs who are using business to drive social change. The award is $10K, and the application is open through the end of February. The initial entry is a 2-minute video: how your business is a force for positive change.
Where CommonBond is going next [16:55]
Striving to keep making finance more human. And they see a potential for CommonBond to be a platform for financial services beyond student loans.
DeGisi’s own MBA experience at Tuck [21:30]
He’s definitely glad he went! The Tuck network has helped him in his career.
What does he miss? [23:40]
It can be easy to take some b-school opportunities for granted—such as access to great speakers. And some classes you don’t necessarily appreciate fully at the time are really important in hindsight.
He paid back his $150K in student loans in about 6 years, saving substantial money in interest. His repayment tips? [25:45]
Know your budget: know the living expenses in the city you’re living in, know what your loan payments are. When he could afford to pay over the minimum payment (such as when he had a bonus), he did. If you want to pay off the loan faster than the standard period, you’ll need to pay more than the minimum payment.
Many lenders offer a rate reduction if you set up direct deposit/autopay. (He cautions that you should make sure there aren’t any strings attached – that they’re not requiring you to set up a checking account with them, etc.)
Last tips for borrowers [29:40]
You’re not alone! Know the tools and options to help decrease your loan burden.
• CommonBond Social Impact Award Opens for Applications: Win $10,000 For Your Business!
• CommonBond Launching a “Startup Within a Startup”
• How to Pay Off a Huge Debt in Five Years, Phil’s interview with the BBC.
• Reflections of a Wharton MBA Student and CommonBond Intern
• How to Pay for Your MBA, an on-demand webinar presented by CommonBond.
• CommonBond’s Story: A Revolution in Student Loans
• Making International Student Loans a Prime Investment
• SoFi: Alumni Funded Student Loans
• Financial Aid & Health Insurance for International Students
• Promoting Financial Health for Doctors
• Tuck Talk: IV with The Dean of Admissions
• The Tuck School of Business and the Global Insight Requirement