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Last updatedMay 2022

Best Private Student Loan Options 2022

Invest in your future

These private student loan companies will pay your college tuition and living expenses, so you can focus on your education.
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      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 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.

      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. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student 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 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. 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 5/19/2022. 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.

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      Our Best Overall Choice

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      APR 1.86% - 8.73%
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      No matter what your college plans look like—whether you are earning your bachelor’s degree, PhD, or a specialized certificate—you are going to need the financial security to pay for it. Even if you receive financial aid to cover the costs of your books and classes, you might still need a student loan to cover living expenses while you advance your degree. 

      What are Private Student Loans? 

      Private loans are similar to federal loans in the fact that they can be used to pay for school expenses. Taking out a student loan means that you will be responsible for paying back the amount of money borrowed after your grace period—typically six months after graduation or dropping out of school. 

      Unlike a federal loan, a private student loan is not backed by the government. Instead, this type of college loan is backed by a bank, credit union, or online lender. Federal loans generally have better terms, repayment plans, and do not require a credit check, but there is a limit to how much money you can borrow towards your degree. 

      Private student loans help fill in the gap so that you aren’t stuck to foot the bill if your federal-issued financial package isn’t enough. Many students are able to secure financial aid and federal loans during their undergrad degree, but financing becomes harder to receive for advanced degrees. This is where private student loans really shine. They are the additional financing option available so you can finish your degree and advance your career. 

      What to Consider When Looking for a Private Student Loan 

      There are two questions to ask yourself when searching for the right private educational loan. First, how much do I need, and second, how much can I comfortably afford? These two numbers might not be the same, and that is when you will have to decide how much of a college loan you are willing to take out. 

      Here are a few other things to take into consideration as you search:

      • Your credit score: If you don’t have an excellent credit score, you run the risk of getting a high APR or being denied the loan altogether. Find out what the ideal credit score for a lender’s lowest APR rate. Will you need to boost your credit score or have a good cosigner? 
      • The APR rates: Not only do you want to compare APR rates among lenders, but you also want to figure out if a fixed or variable interest rate is better for your unique financial situation. 
      • Loan terms: What terms and rates are the lenders offering? Can you adjust these terms easily in the future or are you locked in? Do the math of a longer loan term because even though it might mean lower monthly payments, it can also mean paying more in interest for the life of the loan. 
      • Discounts offered: Does the lender offer any discounts for being a pre-existing member, setting up autopay, or by having more than one product through them? Even saving 0.25% APR can save you a few hundred dollars in the life of your loan. 
      • Your current budget: It is easy to assume that once you graduate that you will secure a higher-paying job and be able to afford any student loans. This isn’t always the case. Can your current budget support your future monthly loan payments? While you aren’t required to pay on your student loan until after graduation, paying as much as you can while in school will help you out significantly later on. 
      • Any fees: Lastly, you want to know if the lender charges any fees for the loan or if there is a prepayment penalty (a penalty for paying off the loan early). 

      If you are applying for a private student loan to see your eligibility and check rates, be sure to get all of your quotes within 30 days so your credit report shows only one hard inquiry.

      How to Apply for a Private Student Loan 

      After you have done your research, it is time to fill out a private school loan application. Remember, if your credit score is below the excellent range, you will have a harder time getting a competitive APR rate. If you have the time to raise your credit score before applying for a private student loan, then do so. If your credit score is still too low or your credit history hasn’t been fully established, you will need to find a family member or trusted individual with an excellent credit history that doesn’t mind cosigning a loan with you. Being a cosigner is a big financial responsibility—if for some reason you fail to pay your loan, your cosigner will be responsible. 

      Filling out a private school loan application is straightforward, but you and your co-signer will need a few important documents, including the following: 

      • Your social security number
      • Your date of birth, address and identifying details
      • Pay stubs
      • Proof of assets
      • Monthly rent or mortgage receipts
      • Any other information that lays out your financial status.

      You should also be prepared to share the following:

      • The name of the college you are attending
      • When you’ll be graduating
      • Total college costs
      • And how much you are requesting to borrow to cover those costs

      You will also need to fill out the Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification form, which is provided by your school and will show the lender exactly what costs you face for your education. 

      Federal vs. Private Loans

      Both federal and private loans come with their own set of benefits. Federal loans are accessed through filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) while private loans must be applied for through a local bank, credit union, or private lender. Both types of loans must also be repaid, though federal loans have more flexible repayment options if you become unemployed or a low-income earner after graduation. Some private student loan lenders offer some grace when it comes to financial hardship, but this is very temporary if it is offered at all. 

      Private loans allow student borrowers to access more funds for schooling costs that surpass financial aid packages. Another benefit to private student loans is that there is no deadline to apply. If you miss your chance to file a FAFSA, private student loans are still available to help you afford your tuition. 

      Unlike private loans, federal loans do not require a credit check or a cosigner in order to qualify.

      Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized

      Federal loans are offered to students as subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loans are available to only undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need. These loans do not collect interest while the student is in school or if the loan is deferred or in forbearance after graduation. The interest rate on subsidized loans is fixed, but borrowers are limited to how much money they can borrow. 

      Similar to subsidized loans, the government sets a fixed interest rate for direct unsubsidized loans. However, the loan accrues interest while the student is in school or if the loan is in a state of deferment or forbearance. 

      Private vs. Public College

      Both private and public colleges are great school choices and student loans work the same for each. Typically, private colleges are smaller and costlier. Public colleges are funded by the state government and donations and therefore less expensive. 

      Private and public college costs should be considered when you research student loans and financial aid options. Many private colleges will allow students to transfer credit as a junior, meaning you can complete two years at a cheaper, public college first. 

      Parent/Cosign Loans

      Along with the option to have parents or other family members cosign a loan, parents can take out a loan for your education too. This should be the last financial option considered when exploring different financial aid options, though. A parent student loan, or a Direct PLUS loan, is a federal loan that a parent or dependent student can take out for educational costs.

      This puts the parent as the only person on the college loan, and it can be a risky financial move if the parent is set to retire in 10 years or less. Also, unlike other federal student loans, a parent student loan is not eligible for most repayment plans. 

      Conclusion

      Don’t let money be the reason why you don’t accomplish your dream degree and advance your career. Along with financial aid, federal student loans, and private student loans, there are many options to help you afford your degree. 

      Disclaimers

      *The information shown on our site is provided to us directly by our partners, and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date. As products, offers and rates are subject to change at any time, the information on our site may in some cases be different than the information on our partners’ sites, and the terms displayed may not be available to all consumers. Before making any purchasing decision, we encourage you to review the financial institution's website for current information, as well as all terms pertaining to your purchase.

      College Ave Disclaimer:

      *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.
      As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.
      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.
      This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
      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 4/19/2022. 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.

      Union Federal and Custom Choice Disclaimer:

      † Before applying for a private student loan, Citizens and Cognition Financial recommend comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. The Custom Choice Loan® and Union Federal® Private Student Loan are made by Citizens (“Lender”). All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to Lender’s underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions and other terms and conditions apply. LENDER AND COGNITION FINANCIAL CORPORATION EACH RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. TERMS, CONDITIONS AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. Custom Choice Loan® is a service mark used under license. Union Federal is a registered trademark of Cognition Financial Corporation. Union Federal Private Student Loans are not offered in connection with any lender other than Citizens or the federal government. Citizens is a brand name of Citizens Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.
      1 Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the expected number of years in deferment, (4) the requested loan amount and (5) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective as of 12/10/2021.The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the 30-Day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate ("SOFR") index, or a replacement index if the SOFR index is no longer available, plus a fixed margin assigned to each loan. The SOFR index is published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The current SOFR index is 0.05% as of 12/01/2021. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the SOFR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.
      2 APRs assume a $10,000 loan with one disbursement. The high variable rate APR assumes a 15-year term with the Full Deferment option, a 19 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The high fixed rate APR assumes a 15-year term with the Full Deferment option, a 31 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The low APRs assume a 7-year term, and the Immediate Repayment option with payments beginning 30-60 days after the disbursement via auto pay.

      Earnest Disclaimer:

      Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.24% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.19% APR to 11.69% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance 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.

      Citizens Disclaimers

      ERL Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates are based on the 30-day average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. As of May 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 0.29%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the SOFR index, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable interest rate is the greater of 21.00% or the prime rate plus 9.00%.

      Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.

      Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates are only available for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

      Get My Rate: Selecting “Get My Rate” only requires a "soft credit pull" which does not affect your credit score. Submitting a full application will result in an inquiry on your credit report.

      Student Loan Rate: Fixed interest rates range from 3.48%-11.64% (3.48% - 11.34% APR).

      Student Lending Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens participating school.