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Compare the best private student loans

Find out if a private student loan is right for you and learn 5 tips for finding the best rates.

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.

3 best private student loans

Credible: Best for getting multiple quotes

  • Starting APR: 0.99%
  • 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
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • 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: 3.74%
  • 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
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • 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.

Read our review of Commonbond private student loans

LendingTree: Best for easy approval

  • Starting APR: 3%
  • Loan amount: Varies by lender
  • Loan terms: Varies by lender
  • Eligibility: Eligible expenses from accredited school, US citizen, good to excellent credit or creditworthy cosigner
  • Cosigner: Yes
  • 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

A few more providers worth mentioning

ProviderWhat sets it apartStarting APRAmountsTermsEligibilityCosigner
Citizens BankMulti-year approval means you can get approved for funds for your entire degree with one application1.03%$1,000 to $295,000Up to 15 yearsAge of majority in your state, be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible school, US citizen or resident, good creditYes
Ascent Maximum loan amount is almost twice as high as other lenders1.5%$2,001–$200,0005 years–15 yearsUS citizen or permanent resident, annual income of at least $24,000, strong credit, attend an eligible school at least half-time.Yes
DiscoverGives cash rewards for good grades1.24%Up to 100% of your cost of attendance, certified by your school5–20 yearsEnrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program, make satisfactory academic progress, US citizen or permanent resident, at least 16, good credit.Yes

How can I find the best rate on a private student loan?

Five tips to finding a competitive deal on your private student loans include:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Learn more with our guide to student loan discounts.
  5. 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.

LEARN MORE: What’s the average interest rate for a student loan?

Is a private student loan right for me?

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.

Can I get a student loan with no cosigner and bad credit?

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

Bottom line

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.

Compare more private student loans

Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
4.092% to 8.609% with autopay
$1,000 - $200,000
7 to 20 years
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
CommonBond Private Student Loans
3.74% to 10.74%
$5,000 - $500,000
5 to 15 years
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
Edvisors Private Student Loan Marketplace
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Varies by lender
Quickly compare private lenders for your school and apply for the right student loan.
Credible Labs Inc. (Student Loan Platform)
Starting at 0.99% with autopay
Good to excellent credit
Starting at $1,000
5 to 20 years
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.

Compare up to 4 providers

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