6 Best Private Student Loans Available in 2018

Andy Josuweit

Andrew Josuweit Updated February 5, 2019

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Andy Josuweit

Andrew Josuweit Updated February 5, 2019


Paying for school can be a tricky process. Federal student loans are easy to get, but sometimes your federal student aid allotment isn’t enough to cover your tuition and other college costs.

If you come up short, you have another financing option at your disposal: private student loans.

We’ve highlighted the best private student lenders, ready to provide you with a little extra help as you navigate your college costs, based on your financial situation and your education needs.

As you review different interest rates and terms, remember that you can apply for more than one loan to see which one will give you the best deal. Besides looking for offers for the best private student loans for college, don’t forget to look for perks.

When you apply, most lenders will consider your credit situation and income. You might need a cosigner to help you qualify for the best rates and terms on your private student loans.


Our top 6 picks for Private Student Loans

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.


Compare Lender rates

Variable APR
Variable-rate private loans have interest rates that can change during the repayment period. Interest rates may increase or decrease at any time and typically do so based on changes to LIBOR. Often, the introductory rate on a variable-rate loan is lower than that of a fixed rate loan, though it has the potential to increase later. Learn more
4.20% to 11.44%1
4.26% to 13.26%
4.62% to 11.47%1
4.38% to 13.38%1
4.84% to 13.49%
5.85% to 6.99%
Fixed APR
A fixed-rate private loan guarantees a single interest rate that does not change over the lifetime of the loan. Fixed-rate loans often have higher rates than the introductory rates on variable loans. However, borrowers have peace of mind knowing their monthly payments will always be the same amount. Learn more
5.29% to 12.78%1
5.38% to 14.46%
5.74% to 11.85%1
5.35% to 14.05%1
6.34% to 13.99%
4.68% to 6.54%
Private Student Loans
Available From
This refers to the length of the loan, typically in years. In general, the shorter the term, the lower the interest rate and the higher the monthly payments. Longer terms will typically result in lower monthly payments but at a higher interest rate. Borrowers may select any term offered by a lender regardless of the current loan term. Learn more
5, 8, 10, 15 years25, 10, 15 years5 to 15 years27, 10, 15 years315 years10 years
Can Apply with Cosigner
Adding a cosigner can be a smart way to help applicants meet eligibility requirements like having a minimum income or a minimum credit score. This can improve an applicant's odds on getting approved, plus help them qualify for better interest rates and/or loan terms.
Parent Loans Available
For parents who want to help their child pay for college, parent loans can help fill the gap between college savings and the actual cost of attending school. If you're a parent thinking of taking out a parent loan, be sure to weigh all your options, as this decision has the potential to affect your finances for the next decade or longer.
1

MOST ASKED ABOUT STATS

Making automatic payments
reduces rate
Loan providers may offer an interest rate reduction for setting up automated monthly loan payments. This reduction is typically already factored into the fixed and variable rates quoted above.
0.25% less
0.25% less
0.25% less1
Up to 0.50%
0.25% less
0.25% less
Unemployment Protection
If a borrower loses their job through no fault of their own, they may be eligible for unemployment benefits provided by some loan providers. If approved for this benefit, the loan provider will put the borrower's loans into forbearance, suspending their monthly loan payments. It's important to note, unpaid interest that normally would have been paid during this time will still be charged and added to the borrower's original balance. It's a good idea to take advantage of the interest-only payment option while in forberance if possible. This will keep any missed interest payments from being added to the overall loan total in the long run. Unemployment protection varies from loan provider to loan provider, so be sure to take a closer look at the exact details when you visit their website.
Checking Your Rate Won’t Affect Your Credit Score
Can Apply Without Cosigner
Not planning on having anyone cosign? There are still loan providers with options that can help, though they may have certain minimum requirements for income or credit score.

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO COMPARE

No Origination Fees
Origination fees are added expenses that loan providers may charge for granting a new loan.
No Penalty for
Prepaying
Prepayment penalties are fees charged by loan providers for paying off the balance of the loan before its scheduled pay-off date.
1
Can Be Resident
of Any State
Some loan providers may not offer private student loans to residents of certain states.
Any except Iowa & Wisconsin
Any except ME, ND, NV, RI, WV
Interest Accrues On Loan
While Still In School
Most private student loans accrue interest while the borrower is still in school. This is one of the big differences between a private student loan and a federal student loan, which puts off charging interest until the borrower is no longer enrolled in school. For this reason it is usually advantageous to exhaust all your grant, scholarship and federal loan options before taking out a private student loan.
YesYesYesYesYesYes
Multiple Repayment
Options / Programs
Customizable repayment options and plans may include the ability to make interest only payments, flat payments, deffered payments and more. Specific details on the individual loan providers repayment options can be found on their website.
Debt Forgiven Upon Death
If checked, this means the debt would not transfer to the borrower's family or next of kin should they pass away.
3

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Degrees That Qualify
Our partners offer private student loans for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Undergraduate
Graduate
Undergraduate
Graduate
Undergraduate
Graduate
1
Undergraduate GraduateUndergraduate GraduateUndergraduate
Graduate
Minimum Credit Score
This is the lowest credit score a lender will consider when determining borrower eligibility. While some lenders do not indicate a specific minimum score, they typically still evaluate a borrower's credit profile to determine eligibility. Learn more
660680Not specifiedFairNo minimum660
Minimum Income Required
This is the minimum annual income a loan provider is will consider for borrower eligibility. If you're applying with a co-signer, their income will be factored into this number.
$35k$24,000 per yearNone$10,000 per yearNone$24,000 per year

ADDITIONAL ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Ability to Release Cosigner In The Future
If checked, this means the Cosigner's name may be removed from the borrower's private student loan in the future. The private student loan would then be solely in the borrower's name, "releasing" the original cosigner(s) from their obligation.
1
Borrower Can Be Delinquent
on Current Student Loans
If the borrower's student loans are currently delinquent (but not in default), they may or may not be eligible for a private student loan.
Borrower Can Apply While
Still Enrolled in School
If a borrower is currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program and has not yet earned a degree, the borrower may or may not be eligible for a private student loan.
Borrower Doesn't Need To Be Currently Employed
If a borrower is currently enrolled in a graduate or undergraduate degree program and has not yet earned a degree, the borrower may or may not be eligible for a private student loan.
No Minimum GPA
Some loan providers offer private student loans regardless of a borrower's undergraduate or graduate GPAs, while others may have a minimum.
Satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school2.0 and above

CUSTOM RATES, APPLICATION DETAILS, AND MORE

Getting Your Custom
Rate Takes
How long getting a custom rate will take (on average), based on a completing a quick and easy application on an individual loan provider's website.
3 minutes or less5 minutes or less*about 15 minutes10 minutes or less15 minutes or less5 minutes or less
Can Apply on Any
Mobile Device
Indicates whether or not a loan provider accepts applications from a mobile device.
Interest Is Tax Deductible
Indicates whether or not the interest paid on the private student loan may be eligible for the student loan interest tax deduction (assuming all other eligibility requirements are met). Learn more
4
No Personal
Reference Needed
Some lenders may require a personal reference in order to apply for a private student loan.

Our top 6 picks for Private Student Loans

LenderVariable APRLoan TypesTermsEligible DegreesEligible LoansMore Info
4.20% to 11.44%
Variable & Fixed5, 8, 10, 15Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit CollegeAve

4.26% to 13.26%
Variable & Fixed5, 10, 15Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit Ascent

4.62% to 11.47%
Variable & Fixed5 to 15Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit SallieMae

4.38% to 13.38%
Variable & Fixed7, 10, 15Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit SunTrust

4.84% to 13.49%
Variable & Fixed15Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit Discover

5.85% to 6.99%
Variable & Fixed10Undergrad & GraduatePrivate & Federal

Visit LendKey

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.



What To Look For

What to look for in a private student loan

As you consider options for private student loans, the biggest items to focus on include interest rates and fees. As with all loans, you’ll repay more than you borrowed when you take private student loans. Give yourself the best chance of maintaining a manageable level of debt by keeping your rates and fees as low as possible.

There are two ways to compare private student loan offers without taking a big hit to your credit score:

  1. Start with companies that perform a “soft” inquiry. This will give you an idea of what you qualify for without impacting your credit score.
  2. Do your shopping in a two-week window. Even with a “hard” credit pull, if you have multiple inquiries for similar products in a short period of time, they are treated collectively as a single entry.
Don’t forget to find out if potential lenders offer perks, like discounts for good grades, hardship programs, deferred repayment while you’re in school, and cosigner release.

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of options, use the Student Loan Hero payment calculator to determine what your monthly payments might be.


Lender Highlights

Unique lender highlights at a glance

Ok icon Get an instant credit decision

Ok icon Choose from a variety of loan terms

Ok icon Parent Loans available

Get Your Rate

Ok icon Get an instant credit decision

Ok icon Choose from a variety of loan terms

Ok icon Parent Loans available

Visit CollegeAve

Ok icon 100% US-based customer service team

Ok icon Free help with your application available by phone

Ok icon Flexible loan terms and repayment options

Get Your Rate

Ok icon 100% US-based customer service team

Ok icon Free help with your application available by phone

Ok icon Flexible loan terms and repayment options

Visit Ascent

Ok icon No origination fees

Ok icon No prepayment penalty1

Ok icon Benefits and interest rate reduction available

Get Your Rate

Ok icon No origination fees

Ok icon No prepayment penalty1

Ok icon Benefits and interest rate reduction available

Visit SallieMae

Ok icon Choice of repayment term: 7, 10 or 15 years3

Ok icon Graduation Reward: 2% principal reduction with proof of graduation4

Ok icon Up to 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay5

Get Your Rate

Ok icon Choice of repayment term: 7, 10 or 15 years3

Ok icon Graduation Reward: 2% principal reduction with proof of graduation4

Ok icon Up to 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay5

Visit SunTrust

Ok icon Cover up to 100% of college expenses

Ok icon Great rates and $0 fees

Ok icon Get a cash reward for good grades

Get Your Rate

Ok icon Cover up to 100% of college expenses

Ok icon Great rates and $0 fees

Ok icon Get a cash reward for good grades

Visit Discover

Ok icon Great rates and no fees from not-for-profit credit unions

Ok icon Ability to release Cosigner

Ok icon Automatic payment discount

Get Your Rate

Ok icon Great rates and no fees from not-for-profit credit unions

Ok icon Ability to release Cosigner

Ok icon Automatic payment discount

Visit LendKey

Considerations

Before turning to private student loans, double-check that you have exhausted other options. Private loans don’t come with the same protections and options available with federal student loans.

For example, federal student loans offer income-driven repayment plans, as well as deferment, forbearance, and forgiveness options. Some private student loan lenders offer hardship programs in case your income hits a snag, but that option isn’t guaranteed. On top of that, the Department of Education will pay interest on some of your student loans while you’re in school if you qualify for subsidized federal loans. That won’t happen with private student loans.

Also, with federal loans you don’t have to worry about credit or income requirements — unlike with private loans. Chances are, you’ll need a cosigner to qualify for private student loans since many college students don’t have a very long credit history.

Like all financial tools, private student loans can be a lifesaver if you use them wisely. They are best used to bridge your college funding gap when you can’t secure enough in scholarships, grants, and federal student loans to cover your tuition and other education costs.

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Published in Paying for College, Review