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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sallie Mae Disclosure:
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.
Loans for Undergraduate & Career Training Students are not intended for graduate students and are subject to credit approval, identity verification, signed loan documents, and school certification. Student must attend a participating school. 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. Advertised APRs for undergraduate students assume a $10,000 loan to a student who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae-serviced loans. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. 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. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount 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. For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website may be subjected to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.
SALLIE MAE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
Information valid as of 02/27/2023.
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.
©2023 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)Rate shown include 0.25% auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. 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.
Information advertised valid as of 10/04/2023. 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.
¹ Student Loan Rate and Terms Disclosure: Rates displayed include Automatic Payment and Loyalty Discounts, where applicable. Note that such discounts do not apply while loans are in deferment. The lenders on the Credible.com platform offer fixed rates ranging from 3.65% - 16.18% APR and Variable interest rates from 4.74% - 15.95% APR. Variable rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the Index rate. The Index will be either LIBOR or SOFR. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Your actual rate may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown above and will be based on factors such as the term of your loan, your financial history (including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history) and the degree you are in the process of achieving or have achieved. While not always the case, lower rates typically require creditworthy applicants with creditworthy co-signers, graduate degrees, and shorter repayment terms (terms vary by lender and can range from 5-20 years) and include Automatic Payment and Loyalty discounts, where applicable. Loyalty and Automatic Payment discount requirements as well as Lender terms and conditions will vary by lender and therefore, reading each lender’s disclosures is important. Additionally, lenders may have loan minimum and maximum requirements, degree requirements, educational institution requirements, citizenship and residency requirements as well as other lender-specific requirements. Lenders will conduct a hard credit pull when you submit your application. Hard credit pulls will have an impact on your credit score.
Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or other eligible status and and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, evaluation of your creditworthiness, years of professional experience, income, and a variety of other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers, or may become available, such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi Rewards Points: If you elect to redeem points for cash deposited into your SoFi Checking and Savings or SoFi Money account, fractional shares in your SoFi Invest account, or as a payment to your SoFi Personal Loans or SoFi student loans, your points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. If you elect to redeem points as a statement credit to your SoFi Credit Card account, your points will redeem at a rate of 0.5 cents per every point. For more details, please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.24% to 13.55% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 5.24% to 12.82% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 5.00% to 13.35% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 12.82% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.25% to 13.73% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 6.07% to 12.88% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 05/31/2023. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Loans originated by SoFi Lending Corp. or an affiliate (dba SoFi), Licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).