Editor's choice: EDvestinU Private Student Loans
- Nonprofit lender
- Good for international students
- Autopay discounts
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When federal loans don’t cover everything, it’s time to start looking into private lenders. To choose the best private student loans, we first confirmed each lender’s legitimacy, business practices and website security. We also considered customer comments on sites like Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau and Reddit to weed out providers with red flags.
We then weighed and analyzed each lender’s rates, terms, borrowing amounts, cosigner options and application process. Since Congress raised student loan interest rates in 2019, we paid extra attention to lenders with starting APRs near or below federal loan rates.
Credible isn’t a lender, but it can make finding one a whole lot easier. It’s a connection service that allows you to get estimates from multiple lenders on your interest rate, how much you can borrow and how long you’ll have to pay it back.
Not interested in any of your offers? There’s no obligation to continue. Credible conducts a soft credit check that doesn’t affect your score when you submit your initial application. Its service is free so there’s little risk involved in seeing what’s out there. Plus Credible allows you to apply with a cosigner, you don’t have to meet all of the eligibility requirements to qualify.
If you have any trouble with your application or can’t find an answer to a question online, you can reach out to its customer service team any day of the week by phone or live chat. In addition to private student loans, Credible offers personal loans and student loan refinancing products.
Read our review of Credible private student loans
You can apply online to get funding for your undergraduate and graduate degrees through CommonBond like any other private student loan provider. But its MBA student loans are what really set it apart.
As former MBA students, its founders know first-hand what paying for business school is like. You can typically cover your education costs, borrowing up to $110,000 per year to pay for business school. And once your school has your funds, you can either defer your repayments until you drop below half-time, make interest-only repayments or start making full repayments right away.
The downside is that you need to attend a business school in CommonBond’s network to get an MBA loan. You’ll also have to pay a 2% origination fee on any CommonBond student loan.
LendingTree is an online marketplace that can connect you with lenders who fund student loans for undergraduate, graduate and associate’s degrees, as well as PhDs. While you or your cosigner need to have good credit to qualify for the best rates, LendingTree’s wide network of lenders means that you’ll have a better chance of getting approved.
The application itself only takes a few seconds: All you need to do is fill in basic information about where you go to school, how much you need to borrow and some contact details before hitting submit. You’ll see around five or six offers broken down by total cost, monthly payments, number of payments and APR.
In an effort to help consumers borrow wisely, LendingTree also has lots of free educational resources on its site. Not sure if you have the credit to qualify without a cosigner? You can find out what yours is by using its free credit score tool.
Read our review of LendingTree private student loans
|Provider||What sets it apart||Starting APR||Amounts||Terms||Eligibility||Cosigner|
|Citizens Bank||Multi-year approval means you can get approved for funds for your entire degree with one application||1.25%||$1,000 to $295,000||Up to 15 years||Age of majority in your state, be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school, US citizen or resident, good credit||Yes|
|Ascent||Maximum loan amount is almost twice as high as other lenders||2.73%||$2,000–$200,000||5 years–15 years||US citizen or permanent resident, annual income of at least $24,000, strong credit, attend an eligible school at least half-time.||Yes|
|Discover||Gives cash rewards for good grades||4.49%||Up to 100% of your cost of attendance, certified by your school||5–20 years||Enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program, make satisfactory academic progress, US citizen or permanent resident, at least 16, good credit.||Yes|
Five tips to finding a competitive deal on your private student loans include:
Private student loans aren’t right for everyone. If you’re still eligible for federal student loans or other types of federal aid, most private lenders recommend that you apply for those first. But if you aren’t, a private student loan is typically the next best option — they tend to have more flexible repayment plans and more favorable rates than a personal loan, even with a cosigner.
Still not sure? You can learn more about how private student loans work by visiting our guide.
You might have a difficult time qualifying for a private student loan, let alone get a good rate. Your best option is to look into federal student loans, scholarships and grants. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office to get a better idea of what options are available to you.
LEARN MORE: How to get a student loan with bad credit
There’s no best private student loan for everyone — it depends on your personal needs. And if you’re still eligible for federal financing, private student loans might not be the best choice for you at all. You can compare all of your education financing options by visiting our student loans guide.
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