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Student Loans

Best Fixed-Rate Student Loans

Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, but private loans may be offered with fixed or variable rates. In almost every circumstance, it makes sense to go with a fixed rate because you know exactly what your interest rate will be over the life of the loan.

If you’re hoping for predictable student loan payments, look for a fixed-rate private loan. Below, we’ll explore the best fixed-rate student loans and the pros and cons of fixed-rate loans versus variable-rate loans.

Best fixed-rate student loans

Typically, the best fixed-rate student loans are federal loans. Federal student loans are usually cheaper for students, can offer income-driven repayment plans, and are more likely to be eligible for student loan forgiveness. 

However, you may not qualify for enough federal loans to cover the full cost of your education—that’s where private student loans come in.

However, not all private loans are created equal. The best fixed-rate student loans from private lenders offer competitive interest rates and flexible loan amounts. Our preferred private lenders currently offer fixed rates starting in the 4% range, though they can top out at roughly 16%.

LenderFixed rates (APR)Loan amounts
College Ave4.39%16.49%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Sallie Mae4.50% – 15.49%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Earnest4.11%15.90%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Ascent4.29%15.76%$2,001 – $200,000

College Ave – Best overall

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • Offers various repayment plans, including deferred and interest-only options
  • Multi-Year Peace of Mind® lets you receive future loans at better approval odds
  • Can apply for an additional 6-month grace period

College Ave stands out for its comprehensive loan products and flexibility. The variety of repayment plans—from deferred to immediate repayment—makes it easier to meet your financial obligations. Customizable terms also allow you to balance your monthly payments and total loan cost.

College Ave doesn’t let borrowers prequalify with a soft credit check, so you can’t check your rate without affecting your credit score. It does offer cosigner release, which lets your cosigner off the hook for your loan after a set number of on-time monthly payments. 

However, College Ave’s cosigner release period is longer than several other competitors: You must be at least halfway through the repayment term. So, if your repayment term is 10 years, you might be eligible to release your cosigner after five years.

Sallie Mae – Best for cosigners

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Offers a cosigner release option after 12 on-time principal and interest payments
  • Terms range from 10 to 15 years
  • Covers a variety of educational programs, including undergrad, grad, and professional courses

Sallie Mae supports borrowers who require cosigners, offering a path to financial independence through its 12-month cosigner release option. This is crucial for many students and families navigating the financial demands of education.

Sallie Mae’s coverage for various educational programs ensures it caters to various students. You can get a lower interest rate if you choose an in-school repayment plan rather than deferring payments. 

Sallie Mae doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty or origination fee, and it doesn’t have minimum enrollment requirements. However, you can’t check your eligibility with a soft credit check—doing so will affect your credit.

Earnest – Best for no fees

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Does not charge origination, prepayment, or late fees
  • Offers repayment periods of five to 15 years
  • 9-month grace period

Earnest’s lack of fees makes it an appealing choice for borrowers seeking to minimize the cost of financing their education. It offers student loans for undergraduates, graduates, and parents. You can choose an in-school repayment plan or defer your payments. 

You won’t pay any fees with Earnest and can skip one payment each year without penalty.

Earnest allows you to check your eligibility in two minutes without affecting your credit score, but it doesn’t allow cosigner release. Earnest borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time, and its loans are unavailable in Nevada.

Ascent – Best for eligibility

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Offers loans to a variety of borrowers, including those without cosigners or strong credit history, based on academic performance
  • Provides repayment terms ranging from 5 to 15 years, with deferred and interest-only options
  • 1% cash back upon graduation

Ascent’s inclusive eligibility makes it an excellent choice for a wider range of borrowers, including DACA and international students. Deferred and interest-only options allow for tailored repayment strategies.

Discounts and resources, such as financial literacy tools, support borrowers in managing their finances. You can start making payments now or after leaving school, and Ascent lets borrowers check prequalified rates without impacting their credit score.

Ascent doesn’t offer student loans for parents, but it allows cosigner release after 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments.

Pros and cons of fixed-rate private student loans

Though there are a few instances where variable-rate student loans may make more sense, fixed-rate loans are typically the way to go. Below, we’ll review the pros and cons of fixed-rate loans.


  • Predictable loan costs

    Fixed private loans carry the same interest rate over the life of the loan. Every month, you’ll owe the same amount. This is convenient when building a budget, considering a new job, or making big purchases that will impact your cash flow.

  • No chance of rate increases

    Variable-rate loans aren’t for the faint of heart. The rates can change on a dime with market conditions, meaning your rate could suddenly get much higher, making it tough to afford your payment. You’ll enjoy peace of mind with a fixed-rate loan.

  • Ideally structured for typical loan repayments

    Most borrowers pay their private student loans between five and 20 years. In most scenarios, a fixed rate will be cheaper in the long term. Choosing a fixed interest rate could be wise if you intend to pay off your student loan at the typical pace.


  • Higher rates upfront

    Variable-rate loans tend to see interest rates increase down the road, but lenders may tempt you with a lower rate. That means, by choosing a fixed-rate loan, you may be choosing the loan with the higher interest rate at that moment.

  • No chance of rate decreases

    Fixed-rate loans are a double-edged sword. While you don’t have to worry about interest rates getting jacked up, there’s also no hope when favorable economic conditions lead to lower interest rates on variable loans. Your fixed-rate loan will stay the same, no matter what.

  • Not ideal if paying off loan quickly

    If you plan to repay your student loan super fast, accepting the variable-rate loan offer might make more sense since the rate is lower to start. Fixed-rate loans aren’t suited to quick loan payoffs; their value is in the long term.

Ask the expert

Eric Kirste


The Federal Reserve hiked interest rates 11 times from 2022 to May 2024. This affects the interest rate banks charge their borrowers—if the Fed rate increases, expect a higher interest rate on your variable rate loan; if the Fed rate decreases, expect a lower interest rate on your loan. Therefore, a variable rate loan may be a good idea if you anticipate rates to decline in the future and stay lower than the fixed rate over the life of the loan, but a fixed rate will be more predictable.

Why do lenders offer student loans with a fixed rate?

All federal student loans are fixed-rate. To remain competitive with federal loan offers, many private lenders decide to give borrowers a choice between fixed and variable interest rates. In both scenarios, the lender can count on profiting from the interest borrowers pay.

Like borrowers may appreciate a predictable payment amount, lenders may appreciate the predictable revenue guaranteed by fixed-rate loans. Fixed loan rates also tend to be higher than variable loan rates when the loan begins; the higher fixed rate gives the lender some wiggle room if and when market conditions change and rates increase.

Variable loan rates may start low, but after the start of the loan, variable rates will rise and fall with the market. In the long run, rates typically tend to go up over time. Student loan interest rates typically follow the rates set by the Federal Reserve.

Private student loan fixed rates compared to federal

Interest rates for federal loans depend on the type of student loan in question. The table below breaks down the current fixed interest rates for each federal student loan type:

Loan typeFixed interest rate
Direct Subsidized Loan5.50%
Direct Unsubsidized Loan (undergraduate)5.50%
Direct Unsubsidized Loan (graduate or professional)7.05%
Direct PLUS Loan8.05%

How do these federal student loan rates compare to private student loan fixed interest rates? That depends entirely on the lender. The best fixed-rate student loans on our list above start somewhere in the 4% range (lower than the federal loans) but top out in the 15% to 16% range—much higher than federal loan rates.

According to the Education Data Initiative, fixed private rates typically range between 4.5% and 16.99%, with many topping out at 17.99%.

What does that mean for students and parents? Federal student loans almost always make more sense than private loans—thanks to the lower (fixed) interest rates, income-based repayments, and eligibility for student loan forgiveness. 

That said, there is a limit to how much you can get in student loans from the federal government. Depending on the cost of your education, you may need to supplement with private student loans.


Can I switch my rate from variable to fixed (or vice versa) during my loan term?

Most lenders offer a choice between a fixed or variable rate when you first borrow. However, changing your rate after this point isn’t typically an option. Refinancing your student loan is likely the only possible solution if you want to change from a variable to a fixed rate or vice versa.

How do I qualify for a fixed-rate student loan?

Qualifying for a fixed-rate student loan usually involves basic eligibility criteria. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Some lenders may allow international students with a U.S. citizen cosigner. 

In many cases, you must be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible degree-granting program. Approval also often requires a good or excellent credit score or a creditworthy cosigner.

Do any student loan lenders not offer fixed rates?

While most student loan lenders offer a choice of fixed or variable rates, this isn’t a universal practice. A few lenders only provide one or the other. We recommend paying close attention to the types of interest rates a lender offers when considering it.

Can I consolidate or refinance my fixed-rate student loans?

Yes, you can consolidate or refinance your fixed-rate student loans. However, it’s important to understand the implications. Refinancing allows you to combine multiple loans into one and possibly secure a lower interest rate. 

Ensure you are aware of refinancing costs, potential loss of federal loan protections, and changes to your repayment schedule before making a decision.

Recap: Best fixed-rate private student loans

LenderFixed rates (APR)Loan amounts
College Ave4.39%16.49%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Sallie Mae4.50% – 15.49%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Earnest4.11%15.90%$1,000 – 100% certified costs
Ascent4.29%15.76%$2,001 – $200,000