Best Private Student Loans - December 2022

Fund your education with these top-rated lenders

Our recommended lenders provide student loans with the most attractive rates, flexible terms, and other bonuses. Apply now to fund the full cost of your college tuition and living expenses.
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Updated in December 2022
Best Choice 2022
1
9.8 Editorial score
  • Variable rates from 3.24% to 14.86%¹
  • Fixed rates from from 3.99% to 14.96%
  • Apply in as little as 3 minutes and get an instant credit decision
  • Multiple repayment options from deferred to immediate principal and interest
  • Repay in 5,8,10, or 15 years²

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2
9.7 Editorial score
  • Variable Rates: 3.58%-12.28% APR
  • Fixed Rates: 3.99%-12.78% APR
  • Check your eligibility in just 2 minutes
  • No fees for origination, disbursement, prepayment, or late payment

No-Fee Student Loans

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3
9.4 Editorial score
  • Variable rates from 3.39% to 13.65%
  • Fixed rats from 4.12% to 15.75%
  • Cosigner and no-cosigner loan options
  • Free rate check with no impact to your credit score

Flexible Repayment Option

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4
8.9 Editorial score
  • Variable rates from 3.58% to 12.28%
  • Fixed rates from 3.65% to 15.57%
  • Compare offers from multiple lenders instantly
  • Free rate check with no impact to your credit score

100% Free To Check Prequalified Rates

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5
8.1 Editorial score
  • Fixed rates from 4.89% to 15.75%
  • Repay in 7, 10 or 15 years
  • Instant application decision
  • Covers up to 100% of cost of attendance

Fully Remote Process

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Ready to refinance your student loan?

Compare rates with the top pick for student loan refinance
9.8 Editorial score
  • APR starts at 2.75% Variable or 3.99% Fixed
  • Fast, easy online funding
  • Min. credit score required: 640
  • Fee-free loans with rates below 2%

Editor's Choice

Best Choice 2022
9.8 Editorial score
  • Variable rates from 3.24% to 14.86%¹
  • Fixed rates from from 3.99% to 14.96%
  • Apply in as little as 3 minutes and get an instant credit decision
  • Multiple repayment options from deferred to immediate principal and interest
  • Repay in 5,8,10, or 15 years²

Apply In Less Than 3 Minutes

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What Is a Private Student Loan and Who Is Eligible?

When you take out a private student loan, the lender pays for your college degree and associated expenses. You repay these funds over time according to the loan agreement. You can use your loan to cover tuition, fees, books, supplies, and living expenses.

You’re eligible for a student loan if you’re enrolled at an eligible school, are at least 18 years old, and have a high school diploma or an equivalent. Most lenders will also require you to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

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How to Apply for a Private Student Loan?

Once you select a private student loan offer that meets your needs, you’ll need to complete a full application. Usually, you’ll have to provide proof of identity, address, and financial status.

If you’re applying with a cosigner, you’ll need to provide their information as well. It’s a good idea to gather your pay stubs, tax forms, and other related documentation to stay ahead of the game. You will also need proof of acceptance at a qualifying college or university.

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How Does the Student Loan Process Work?

After you submit your private student loan application, the lender reviews your paperwork to make sure you meet its qualifications. Generally, you can expect an answer to your application in 5-7 business days.

Once you receive approval, most lenders send the money to your school’s financial aid office. However, you may be able to request direct funds to cover books, supplies, and approved living expenses.

After you receive your funds, the loan starts accruing interest right away. You can save money over the life of the loan by making interest-only payments while in school. Most lenders also let you defer payments until you graduate, sometimes after a grace period of about six months.

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What Are the Requirements for a Student Loan?

You’ll need good credit and a steady strong income to qualify for a private student loan. Different lenders have different standards, but most ask for a credit score of at least 640 and earnings of at least $24,000 per year.

If you’re not quite there yet, applying with a cosigner will seriously increase your chances of private student loan approval. Your cosigner will need to meet the requirements and agree to take responsibility if you can’t repay your loan. Many lenders offer cosigner release after you make a certain number of on-time payments.

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How to Choose the Right Student Lender for You?

When comparing private student loan options, the offer with the lowest interest rate may seem tempting. You can use a student loan calculator to see how much you will pay in total, including interest and fees.

While an affordable APR does play a role in choosing the right student loan, you should also consider the available repayment terms and options. For example, you might want to give yourself time to earn money after graduation by choosing a lender with a generous grace period.

Different lenders offer different customer service channels, so make sure the one you select can work with your preferred contact method. In other words, don’t choose a tech-averse company if you use your mobile to manage your finances.

Finally, you might want to consider other benefits offered by each lender. Some student loans come with advantages like autopay discounts, hardship forbearance, and automatic cosigner release.

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FAQ

What’s the difference between an adjustable and a fixed-rate student loan?

A fixed-rate student loan maintains the same interest rate for the life of the loan. You can only get a new interest rate if you refinance. An adjustable-rate loan has a fixed rate for the first few years, then the APR changes based on the federal interest rate and other factors established in your loan documents.

Will applying for a student loan affect my credit score?

Your credit score may decrease when you apply for a student loan, which occurs when the lender does a so-called “hard” credit pull. Student loans also affect your debt-to-income ratio, a factor that compares how much you owe to how much earn. Over time, however, paying back your student loan as agreed will have a positive effect on your score.

How long does the student loan application process take?

Some lenders have short processing times, generally 7-10 business days. Others can take two to four weeks to complete the private student loan application process. If you need funds quickly, you may want to look for lenders that have a reputation for fast approval and disbursement.

What do student lenders consider when reviewing applications?

Lenders make sure that you have the income to make payments on the loan. They also review your credit score to determine the risk associated with lending to you. Other factors that play into the approval decision include the school you will attend, the type of degree program, your citizenship status, whether you have a cosigner, and the amount you want to borrow.

How do I choose the right term for my student loan?

The answer depends on your financial goals. If you want lower monthly payments, you should select a longer term to pay back your loans. If you want to get out of debt as quickly as possible, you can save significantly on interest with a shorter loan term. You can also balance these priorities with a term somewhere in the middle.

Disclosures:

Sallie Mae Disclosure

Borrow Responsibly

We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.

Sallie Mae loans are subject to credit approval, identity verification, signed loan documents, and school certification. This loan is available to students at participating schools and is not intended for students pursuing a graduate degree. Student or cosigner must meet the age of majority in their state of residence. Students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must reside in the U.S., attend school in the U.S., apply with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident), and provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID. Requested loan amount must be at least $1,000.

1. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment.

2. From January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021, instant credit decisions were provided to 98% of applicants. Other applications received credit decisions in 3 to 5 business days.

3. Although we do not charge a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as outlined in your promissory note—first to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

4. This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with undergraduate or graduate loans with a first disbursement between May 1, 2021 and April 30, 2024. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. Chegg Study® offers expert Q&A where students can submit up to 20 questions per month. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit http://www.chegg.com/legal/smtermsandconditions for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

5. Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.

6. Based on a comparison of approval rates for Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans for Undergraduate Students who applied with a cosigner versus without a cosigner from May 1, 2020 through April 30, 2021.

SALLIE MAE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

Information valid as of 7/25/2022.

Smart Option Student Loans® are made by Sallie Mae Bank. Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

©2022 Sallie Mae Bank. All rights reserved.

SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Sallie Mae Bank, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

College Ave Disclosure:

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2) This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. 

Information advertised valid as of 11/15/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Earnest Disclosure:

Variable Rates: 3.58%-12.28% APR. Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.24% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 3.83% APR to 12.53% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

College Finance:

1. To receive the $100 statement credit, borrower must take out a loan via the Apply Now link provided here, sign-up for Candidly education loan management, and link this loan to their Candidly account within 180 days of the first loan disbursement. Once the loan is linked, Candidly will remit payment to the loan servicer, and it will be applied as a payment. College Ave Student Loans Disclosures College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. * Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. Information advertised valid as of 8/11/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Ascent Disclosure

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply.

For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 11/01/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.