Best Loan for Students – The Best Private Student Loans of 2020

U.S. News compared the top lenders that offer private student loans nationwide. Each lender was reviewed on product offerings, customer service ratings, eligibility, cost and additional features. best loan for students. Each student has unique funding needs, so there is no single lender that is a good choice for all students. These lenders are a good starting point for your private student loan research.

What are Private Student Loans?

If the cost of attending college is stretching your wallet – and if it isn’t, please tell us your secret – then you may have considered taking out a private student loans. What exactly is a private student loan?

Unlike federal student loans, which are funded and insured by the federal government – private student loans are financed by banks and private lenders. Federal loans tend to have better conditions than private loans, as well as lower credit requirements. In addition, the repayment terms have a tendency to be less forgiving with private loans and you may need a cosigner. In a sense, private student loans more closely resemble personal loans than federal student loans and are often there to fill in the gap for school costs that are not eligible for federal loans.

 

Citizens Bank logo

Citizens Bank – Best Loan for Students

Citizens Bank offers fixed- and variable-rate private student loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as parent loans. Borrowers can get approved for multiple years of student loans.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergrad, grad, parent, refinance for students, refinance for parents
  • Rate types: Fixed and variable
  • Loan terms: Five to 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $350,000
  • Application or origination fees: Save with no application, origination, or disbursement fees.
  • Discounts: Loyalty, autopay
  • Repayment options: Make full or interest-only payments while in school or wait until after graduation
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Economic hardship, military service, post active duty, enrolled or returning to school
  • Co-signer release: Can apply for a co-signer release after 36 consecutive on-time principal and interest payments
  • BBB rating: A+
College Ave logo

College Ave

College Ave Student Loans offers student loans to borrowers in all 50 states. Undergraduate, graduate and parent loans are available. The lender specializes in simple applications with an instant decision.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergraduate, Graduate, Parent Loans, Refinancing, Parent Refinancing, MBA, Law, Dental, Medical and International
  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years in school for undergrad/grad/parent, 5 to 20 years medical, dental and law schools
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to up to 100% of the student’s school-certified cost of attendance.
  • Application or origination fees: If a monthly payment is not made within 15 days of the due date, you will be assessed a late charge equal to 5% of the unpaid amount of the monthly payment or $25, whichever is less.
  • Discounts: 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction with valid bank account designated for required monthly payments
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Yes – case by case
  • Co-signer release: Yes, if borrower has made 24 consecutive payments on time, with no periods of forbearance or deferment.
  • BBB rating: A+
Discover logo

Discover – Best Loan for Students

Discover offers personal loans for debt consolidation, home improvement and major purchases. Loan terms from three to seven years are available.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergraduate, Graduate, MBA, Law, Dental, Medical, International, International students require a cosigner who is a US citizen or permanent resident. Health Professions Loans, Residency Loans, Bar Exam Loans and Consolidation Loans, refinance
  • Rate types: Fixed and variable
  • Loan terms: Up to 15 years for undergraduates; 20 years for graduates; 10 or 20 years for consolidation
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to total cost of attendance minus other financial aid
  • Application or origination fees: No application, origination or late fees
  • Discounts: Customers can lower their student loan interest rate by 0.25% while enrolled in automatic payments. Students can also receive an interest rate discount of 0.35% if they select the interest-only repayment option and make interest-only payments during the in-school and grace periods.
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Deferment or forbearance available
  • Co-signer release: N/A
  • BBB rating: A+
Earnest logo

Earnest

Earnest was founded in 2013 and has funded more than $4.5 billion in student loan refinancing to about 50,000 borrowers. You may be approved for a loan with a debt-to-income ratio of up to 65%.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergraduate, Graduate, Cosigned Private Loans, Business School Loans, Medical School Loans, Law School Loans, Refinance Student Loans
  • Rate types: Fixed and variable
  • Loan terms: N/A
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to your total cost of attendance, minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  • Application or origination fees: No application fee, origination fee not disclosed
  • Discounts: 0.25% Autopay
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Yes. Earnest has multiple options for students having difficulties making payments, including Skip-a-payment, Forbearance, Deferment, Rate Reduction Program, and Term & Rate Modification Program.
  • Co-signer release: Yes, if refinancing through Earnest, you can release the cosigner of previous loan if applying as an individual
  • BBB rating: A+
Education Loan Finance logo

Education Loan Finance – Best Loan for Students

Education Loan Finance has offered student loan refinancing since 2015. A division of SouthEast Bank, the management team has more than 30 years of experience in student loans. The lender offers loan terms from five to 20 years.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergraduate, Graduate, Parental, Refinance
  • Rate types: Fixed and variable
  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $10,000 or higher
  • Application or origination fees: No application or origination fees
  • Discounts: Auto-pay discount is reflected in approved interest rate, as all borrowers are required to make electronic or digital transfer payment.
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: N/A
  • Co-signer release: N/A
  • BBB rating: A+
MPower Financing logo

MPower Financing

MPower offers student loans in the U.S. and Canada to international students without co-signers, collateral or credit history. The lender considers academic success and career path when making credit decisions.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergrad, graduate, international refinancing
  • Rate types: Fixed
  • Loan terms: 10 years
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $50,000
  • Application or origination fees: There is no fee to apply for a loan. If you are approved and choose to proceed with the loan, a 5.0% origination fee will be added to your loan balance and must be repaid over the term of your loan. You are not required to pay this fee upfront; instead, you will pay it back with your monthly loan payments. If you decide to repay part or all of your loan ahead of schedule, there is no penalty.
  • Discounts: Autopay, on-time payment, reporting proof of graduation and employment
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Not disclosed
  • Co-signer release: Our loan process was created so that students wouldn’t have to worry about having a co-signer or credit score.
  • BBB rating: A+
SoFi logo

SoFi – Best Loan for Students

SoFi has offered student loans since 2011. The lender has served more than 250,000 borrowers with more than $18 billion in student loan refinancing. Borrowers with a credit score as low as 650 may be approved. You can apply for student loan refinancing online with SoFi and get an instant decision.

Highlights

  • Loan types: Undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, dental, medical, parent, refinancing, parent refinancing
  • Rate types: Fixed and variable
  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years for private student loans, 5 to 20 years for student loan refinance
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to not disclosed
  • Application or origination fees: None
  • Discounts: 0.25% AutoPay discount is available. If you take out a SoFi loan, you could be eligible for a 0.125% discount on another SoFi loan product.
  • Deferment or forbearance hardship options: Yes, options available
  • Co-signer release: Yes; borrowers can release cosigners with at least 24 months of full principal and interest payments. Terms and conditions apply.
  • BBB rating: A+

 

Credible

Credible

Credible is top on this list due to a unique and helpful feature. Credible is not a direct student lender itself. Instead, with one application at Credible, you can get rates for up to nine student lenders at once. This saves you time and potentially money as Credible does the shopping around for you.

Some of the lenders make our top list in their own right. Current partners include Citizens Bank, College Ave, Discover Student Loans, EDvestinU, INvestEd, Sallie Mae, and SunTrust.

These lenders include options for undergrad and graduate loans with interest rates (APR) starting from 2.84% variable and 4.21% fixed with autopay. Terms range from five to 20 years. If you need a private student loan, odds are you can find it, and a competitive rate, at Credible’s marketplace. See additional rates and terms at Credible.

 

Sallie Mae – Best Loan for Students

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae offers both undergrad and graduate student loans with fixed and variable interest rates. Sallie Mae even offers loans for K-12 if you want to send your kids to a private school.

Sallie Mae can offer pretty much any variation of private student loan that exists. Loans are available to students and parents, and there are no origination fees or pre-payment penalties. For undergraduate loans, variable rates range from 2.75% to 10.65% and fixed-rate loans range from 4.74% to 11.85% APR. Once you make 12 on-time payments, you can apply for a co-signer release and carry the loans on your own.

 

CommonBond

CommonBond

CommonBond isn’t just a student lender trying to make money. They do a lot of social good, too, much of which happens through a partnership with nonprofit Pencils of Promise. CommonBond also offers a program for businesses to offer student loan assistance as an employee benefit. Wouldn’t it be great if all employers helped with student loans? CommonBond offers four repayment options that start either in-school or after graduation.

CommonBond has no application or pre-payment fees, interest rates are competitive, and co-signed loans have no origination fee. (Its medical school, dental school, and MBA loans have a 2% origination fee.) Loans are available for undergrads, grad students, and parents. Variable interest rates for those loans range from 3.31% to 9.29% APR with 5- to 15-year payback periods. Fixed interest rates range from 5.45% to 9.74% APR. (All rates listed include a 0.25 percentage-point discount you get when you sign up for automatic payments.)

 

Ascent – Best Loan for Students

Ascent

Ascent is not as well known as some other student loan lenders, but its independent loan doesn’t require a co-signer, making it a good option for upper-class undergrads and grad students. It also offers a co-signed loan. But for full-time juniors, seniors, and grad students, Ascent may be one of the few options to qualify for private loans without the help of someone else, and rates are competitive.

Fixed rates range from 4.21% to 13.16% and variable APRs start at 3.16% and go up to 11.90%. (These rates include a 0.25-percentage-point discount that comes with automatic payments.) As an added bonus, you get 1.0% cash back at graduation when you qualify. There are no origination or application fees or prepayment penalties and loans come in 5- to 15-year terms, depending on the kind of loan you apply for. If you start with a co-signer, there is a co-signer release available after 24 months of consecutive, full, on-time payments.

LendKey – Best Loan for Students

LendKey

LendKey funds loans through partnerships with community credit unions and banks, but all loans remain serviced by LendKey so the bank or credit union behind the scenes is invisible to borrowers. LendKey doesn’t offer parent loans—it offers loans to students only. It also offers less flexibility for repayment while in school. But, there are no origination or prepayment fees, and interest rates are quite competitive.

Fixed rates currently run from 4.86% to 11.24% APR, and variable rates range from 3.75% to 10.75%. Those rates include a 0.25-percentage-point autopay discount. With LendKey in the middle, you get a simple, high-tech experience with the savings and community power of a credit union.

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