We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias.
But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.
Top private lenders for your education.
When federal loans still don’t cover everything, it’s time to start looking into private lenders. We make it easy by breaking our top choices down based on rates, repayment terms and more.
Our methodology: How we picked these student loans
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 recently raised student loan interest rates, we paid extra attention to lenders with starting APRs near or below federal loan rates.
How these 3 top private student loan providers compare
Learn more about how each provider works and what their strongest benefits are to find the best one for you.
Credible: Best for getting multiple quotes
Starting APR: 4.2%
Loan amount: Starting at $1,000
Loan terms: Varies by lender
Eligibility: Enrolled at least half time in qualifying US educational program, ages 18+ or apply with cosigner
Repayment options: Varies by lender
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
CommonBond: Best for business and graduate students
Starting APR: 3.2%
Loan amount: From $5,000 to $500,000
Loan terms: 5 years to 15 years
Eligibility: You must be an American citizen or a permanent resident of the US and have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy cosigner. Education requirements: You must be enrolled at or graduated from an approved Title IV undergraduate, graduate or MBA program
Repayment options: Defer or make interest-only repayments while in school full-time, or start repayment immediately.
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.
Eligibility: Eligible expenses from accredited school, US citizen, good to excellent credit or creditworthy cosigner
Repayment options: Varies by lender
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
Our top pick: Splash Financial Student Loan Refinancing
Min. Credit Score Required: 700
Min. Loan Amount: $7,500
Max. Loan Amount: $300,000
Starting at 3.75%
Parent loan refinancing
Risk-free rate check
Cosigner release on general refinancing
Our top pick: Splash Financial Student Loan Refinancing
Save on your student loans with this market-leading newcomer.
Up to 100% of your cost of attendance, certified by your school
Enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program, make satisfactory academic progress, US citizen or permanent resident, at least 16, good credit.
Compare more private student loans
Updated June 16th, 2019
Is a private student loan right for me?
Private student loans aren’t right for everyone. If you’re still eligible for 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.
5 tips to get the best rates on a private student loan
Get quotes from multiple lenders. There’s no way to know you’re getting a good rate if you don’t compare multiple lenders. One easy way to do this is to apply through a connection service like CommonBond or LendingTree.
Check your credit report first. Your credit history and score are often the most important factor lenders consider when coming up with your rate. Make sure your credit score is accurate and free of errors by contacting one of the top three credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion or Equifax.
Apply with a cosigner. Even if you meet your lender’s credit requirements, applying with a cosigner who has better credit and a higher salary is a great way to keep your rates as low as possible.
Look for discounts. Most lenders offer a 0.25% discount for signing up for autopay, but you can sometimes find lenders out there who will knock your rate down even more. For example, Citizens Bank account holders get an additional 0.25% loyalty discount.
Understand how fixed and variable rates work. The fixed rate you get doesn’t change over the life of your loan. The variable rate does, however. More than that, the variable rate you see posted on the site is just the variable rate for now. Ask your lender if they cap variable rates to get a true idea of how expensive that option can get.
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.
Frequently asked questions
You can. While you won’t be able to take advantage of federal student loan forgiveness programs, there are several private student loan forgiveness programs that offer partial and full student loan forgiveness, no matter who funded your student debt.
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 options you might not have considered, 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 on how to get a student loan with bad credit.
In most cases, yes. If you requested funds to cover costs besides tuition and school fees, your school’s financial aid office will give you the leftover money after paying your school expenses.
Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.