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Last updatedDecember 2022

Best Private Student Loan Options 2022

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There's still time to fund your education with lower interest rates. Compare our top private student loans and lock in your rate today.
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      APR 2.48% - 11.27%
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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 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.

      College Finance Disclaimer:

      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.

      Earnest Disclaimer:

      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 4.24% APR to 12.44% 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. 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.

      Sallie Mae Disclaimer: 

      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. 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.

      3. 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.

      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.

      Ascent Disclaimer:

      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 12/01/2022 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 are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a 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.

      Credible Disclaimer:

      To check the rates and terms you qualify for, we will conduct a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you continue and submit an application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

      SoFi Disclaimer:

      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.

      UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.99% to 14.75% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 4.49% to 13.82% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 5.25% to 14.48% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 4.99% to 13.82% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.50% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 13.88% 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 11/14/2022.

      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).

      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 November 1, 2022, the 30-day average SOFR index is 3.03%. 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 for the most creditworthy applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate or medical degree (where applicable), and include Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each. Subject to additional terms and conditions and may change at any time without notice. Such changes apply to applications taken after effective date of change.

      Student Loan Rate: Variable APR rates range from 5.99% - 12.02%. Fixed APR rates range from 5.99% - 12.18%.

      Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VA, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

      Investors Bancorp, Inc. Loyalty Discount: To receive the Loyalty Discount for having a qualifying account with Investors Bancorp, Inc., borrowers must contact Citizens by telephone prior to signing the promissory note. Student loan borrowers please call (877) 291-6385 and education refinance borrowers please call (888) 411-2413.

      † Automatic Payment Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

      Multi-Year Approval: The percentage of borrowers is based on all applicants who received a Multi-Year Student Loan from Citizens between October 1,2021 and October 1, 2022. The percentage represents only borrowers who accepted the Multi-Year Approval offer. It does not include borrowers that qualified for the Multi-Year feature, but did not accept the offer.

      Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply. Borrowers whose loans were funded prior to reaching the age of majority may not be eligible for co-signer release. Note: co-signer release is not available on the Student Loan for Parents or Education Refinance Loan for Parents.

      Student Loan Aggregate Limits: You may borrow up to the maximum qualified loan amount or the total cost of education, whichever is lower. Our student loan does have lifetime aggregate limits (including both federal and private loan debt) of: Undergraduate Degree: $150,000, Graduate Degrees: $150,000, MBA and Law: $225,000, Healthcare: $180,000 or $350,000 depending on your degree (Aggregate limits up to $350,000 for MD, DMD/DDS, OD, DO, DPM, PharmD, and DVM degrees. Aggregate limits up to $180,000 for cardiac perfusion, chiropractic, cytotechnology, nurse practitioner, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant degree).

      Student Loan Repayment: Student borrowers can make full payments or pay interest only while in school or defer payments until after graduation (interest continues to accrue during deferment periods).

      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.

      Student Loan Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution.

      Student Loan for Parents Eligibility: The student whose education expenses will be paid for with the loan proceeds must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree granting program at a Citizens-participating school.

      Student Loan Repayment: Student borrowers can make full payments or pay interest only while in school or defer payments until after graduation (interest continues to accrue during deferment periods).

      This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 20-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 11.87% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): for a total amount of payments of $26,213.77. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.