Student loans are private loans given to current or prospective students for them to finance their studies or supplement federal loans and help pay for living expenses, tuition and books. Private loans are best used once you’ve exhausted other options, such as grants, federal student loans, financial aid, and work-study options.

If you need funds quickly, only qualify for the highest federal interest rate, or have reached your limit in federal student loans, a private student loan may be a solution. The process for applying for one is considerably different from a federal loan application, including credit scores, employment history and income, and you may need a cosigner to be approved. Loans can have different terms if they’re for undergraduate students or graduate ones.

Before choosing a student loan, compare APRs and interest rates, repayment terms and decide whether you’d prefer fixed interest or variable. It’s important to also be sure your lender is reliable, so make sure to check their reviews and  company standing.

The most full-service lenders have multiple options for contacting them if you need help, as well as career support, and borrower protections like flexible repayment plans or even deferral if you hit a financial rough patch. When taking on any sort of debt, it’s important to be sure you fully understand all the terms of your loan, and the terms of service. Look for companies that can offer competitive rates based on your creditworthiness, and have a repayment plan that works for you.


Top 10 Companies

#1
9.5 / 10
  • Apply online in just 3 minutes
  • Undergrad rates (w/Autopay) Fixed: 6.22% - 12.52% Variable: 3.69% - 10.10%
  • Grad rates (w/Autopay) Fixed: 6.22% - 11.58% Variable: 3.69% - 9.25%
  • Instant credit decision
  • The most repayment options and flexible terms
  • No origination fees
  • BBB A+ Rating
#2
9.4 / 10
  • Affordable Fixed and Variable Rates
  • Discounts for Automatic Payments
  • No Application Fees or Prepayment Penalties
  • With and Without Cosigner
  • Considers Criteria Other Than Credit Score and Income
#3
9.3 / 10
  • Multiple In-School Repayment Options
  • Online Account Provided
  • Undergraduate and Graduate Student Loans Offered
  • Check Application Status Online
  • Loan E-signing
  • Free Scholarship Registration
  • BBB A+ Rating
#4
9.1 / 10
  • No application, origination, and late fees
  • Covers 100% school-certified college costs
  • 24-hour US Based Loan Specialist Available
  • Fast Online Student Loan Application
  • Get rewards for good grades
  • Free College Scholarship Search

 

#5
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • Get quick quotes with minimal information
  • Will not damage credit
  • Compare the best rates from multiple lenders
  • Excellent customer service
  • A+ with the BBB, 9.5 on Trustpilot
#6
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • Rates as low 3.05% with AutoPay
  • Live Chat Support Available
  • Free No-Obligation Service
  • Borrow up to 100% of the cost of attendance
  • Personalized Offers From Top Lenders in under 2 Minutes
  • Fixed and Variable Rates Offered
  • A+ BBB Accredited Company

 

#7
9.0 / 10
  • Custom Private Student Loan Choice
  • Rate Reductions on Your Private Student Loans
  • Weekly Scholarship Sweepstakes of $500
  • Multiple Options of Loans for Graduate and Undergraduate
  • No Origination Fees
  • Fast Online Application

 

#8
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • Get Rates for as low as 3.98% APR with AutoPay
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • 1% interest rate reduction for full repayment period and repaid 10% of principal loan
  • Drop your interest by 0.25% for automatic payments
  • Tax deductible interest payments
  • Get a Private Student Loan in just 3 minutes
  • A+ BBB Accredited
#9
8.8 / 10
  • Quick and Easy Online Application
  • Education Refinance Loan
  • Graduate Student loans
  • E-sign you loan
  • A+ BBB Accredited Company
  • Safe and Secure online services
#10
Our Partner
8.6 / 10
  • Paying for college? Compare up to 5 offers with no obligation. 
  • A+ BBB Accredited Company
  • Safe and Secure Online Student Loan Marketplace
  • More than 40 million customers served
  • When banks compete, you win!
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How We Compare Student Loans

Maximum Loan Limit

15%

Maximum loan limits for student loans may vary from lender to lender. While the amount required by each student loan also varies, having higher loan ceiling makes it possible for the company to cater to more borrowers. Some lenders offer up to 100% funding for school-certified expenses while some have a clear loan limit of $150,000 up to $200,000.


Repayment Options

15%

Another thing you could consider is the lender’s repayment options. It should provide students a variety of repayment options that can meet individual budget and payment scheduling needs. Things to consider includes repayment terms with auto-payment or auto-payment incentive features. These are sometimes coupled discount options especially for automatic payments. Also check for grace periods when looking for student loans.

  • Maximum and Minimum Loan Term
  • Auto-Payment or Auto-Payment
  • Incentive Grace Period

Student Loan Rates

20%

Student loan borrowers should always check for rates especially when a few percentage points could translate to thousands of dollars in additional payments down the road. Search for student loans with the lowest interest rates but also consider other factors such as benefits and loan related fees to get a more complete picture of how much a student loan is going to cost you.


Loan Terms

15%

Making payments on your student loans can be very difficult especially if you’ve just started on your first job. Longer loan repayment terms makes this easier by enabling you to make smaller payments. Additional features to look out for include unemployment protection and career support. This options protect you in cases you have to default in making payments due to a layoff.


Qualifying

15%

Each lender may require a different set of documentation for its student borrowers. Most cases require students need to have a qualified co-signer for loan approval. Some student loan providers don’t require a good credit for students but they must be accompanied by a co-signer that passes all of the qualifications needed. Standard requirements for student loan applications include:

  • Must be of legal age in their state of residence
  • Must be a U.S. citizen of permanent resident
  • Must be attending at least half-time at an eligible school

Rewards and Discounts

10%

Things that can certainly attract student loan borrowers include its rewards and discount options. Consumers should pick a lender that provide a variety of rate reduction options and rewards that can make their loans more affordable.

  • Cash Reward for a Minimum Requirement of GPA
  • Interest Rate ReductionOrigination Fee

Loan Related Fees

10%

There are other loan related fees that may be charged to borrowers by the lenders. Aside from loan payments, loan related fees should be considered.

  • Origination Fee
  • Late Fee
  • Loan Application Fee