Best Private Student Loans

Find the Best Private Student Loans.

Private student loans can help pay for college after you hit federal limits. Get personalized student loan rates and repayment options from our lending partners.

View Loan Options
Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: September 3, 2018

Note from the editor: Our research, news, ratings, and assessments are scrutinized using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, our company may receive compensation from partners listed on our website. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

Private student loans are used by over one million students each year due to the rising cost of college.

Scholarships, grants, and federal student loan options are great ways to help you afford the cost of attendance, but oftentimes are not enough. Private student loans provided by banks, credit unions, and other lenders can help bridge that gap.

You can compare the best private student loans below to ensure you not only meet the eligibility requirements, but also find the lowest interest rate. Having good credit, or a creditworthy cosigner, can increase your chances of receiving the lowest interest rates.

Jump to:

Compare the Best Private Student Loan Interest Rates and Terms

Get personalized rates and repayment options from our top rated private student loan lenders below.

Lender Fixed APR Variable APR Repayment Terms Estimated APR
Discover Student Loans

6.34%-13.99%3

Fixed APR

4.34%-12.99%3*

Variable APR

15 or 201

Repayment Terms

4.34%-13.99%3*

Estimated APR

What we like

  • Cover up to 100% of your school-certified college costs1
  • Get a great interest rate with no required fees
  • 1% cash rewards for good grades2
  • 0.25% auto debit reward while enrolled in automatic payments2
  • Choose from in-school or deferred repayment options and there is never a penalty for prepayment

Additional Information

See Discover Important Disclosures

Servicer Discover Bank
Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum Cost of Attendance1
Loan Types Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional
Fees No origination or prepayment fees
Ascent Student Loans

5.56%-12.11%1

Fixed APR

3.83%-10.58%1

Variable APR

5, 10, or 15

Repayment Terms

3.83%-12.11%1

Estimated APR

What we like

  • In-school interest only, deferred repayment, and a $25 minimum payment plan are available
  • 1% Cash Back at Graduation9
  • No early repayment penalties, origination fees, application expenses, or disbursement charges when an application is submitted
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments
  • Choose a term length of 5, 10, or 15 years

Additional Information

See Ascent Important Disclosures

Servicer Goal Structured Solutions
Loan Minimum $2,000
Loan Maximum $200k Aggregate
Loan Types Undergraduate and Graduate
Fees No origination or prepayment fees
College Ave Student Loans

5.29%-12.07%2

Fixed APR

3.69%-10.94%2

Variable APR

5, 8, 10, or 153

Repayment Terms

3.69%-12.07%2

Estimated APR

What we like

  • New private undergrad, graduate, and parent loans available
  • Full, interest-only, flat, and deferred payment choices when in school
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or prepayment fees
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school

Additional Information

See College Ave Student Loans Important Disclosures

Servicer UAS
Loan Minimum $1,0001
Loan Maximum Cost of Attendance1
Loan Types Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parent
Fees No origination or prepayment fees
LendEDU

Easily Compare Private Student Loans

Find out what rates you are eligible for in 3 simple steps!

Easily Compare Private Student Loans

Sallie Mae Student Loans

5.74%-11.85%*

Fixed APR

4.00%-10.86%*

Variable APR

5 to 151

Repayment Terms

4.00%-11.85%*

Estimated APR

What we like

  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance*
  • It takes about 15 minutes to apply and get a credit result
  • Interest rate reduction available with auto debit*
  • No application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees2

Additional Information

*See Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan® for Undergraduates Important Disclosures

1This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan to a borrower who chooses a variable rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 9.09% variable APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $165.12 and one payment of $120.75, for a Total Loan Cost of $21,045.03. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.

2Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: First to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

Servicer Sallie Mae
Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum Cost of Attendance*
Loan Types Undergraduate
Fees No origination or prepayment fees2
SunTrust Student Loans

5.35%-14.05%2

Fixed APR

3.88%-12.88%2

Variable APR

7, 10, or 153

Repayment Terms

3.88%-14.05%2

Estimated APR

What we like

  • Undergraduate, graduate, and graduate business loans available
  • Principal and interest, interest-only, partial interest, and deferred payment options while in school4
  • Up to 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay5
  • Option to refinance existing private student loans into a new loan6

Additional Information

See SunTrust Important Disclosures

Servicer American Education Services (AES)
Loan Minimum $1,000 for all types7
Loan Maximum Undergrad/Grad:
$65k/year, $150k total7
Grad Business:
$95k/year, $175k total7
Loan Types Undergraduate, Graduate, and Grad Business
Fees No origination or prepayment fees
Citizens Bank Student Loans

5.25%-12.09%1

Fixed APR

4.07%-11.941

Variable APR

5, 10, or 151

Repayment Terms

4.07%-12.09%1

Estimated APR

What we like

  • New private undergrad, graduate, and parent loans available
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school3
  • 0.25% interest reduction for already having a Citizens Bank account2
  • No application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees

Additional Information

See Citizens Bank rate and repayment information and important disclosures

Servicer Firstmark Services
Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum Undergrad:
$90k total
Grad:
$295k total
Loan Types Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parent
Fees No origination or prepayment fees
PNC Student Loans

6.01%-12.29%1

Fixed APR

5.03%-11.23%1

Variable APR

Up to 15

Repayment Terms

5.03%-12.29%1

Estimated APR

What we like

  • Undergraduate, graduate, health professions, residency, & bar study loans available
  • Full, interest-only, and deferred payment choices when in school
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or prepayment fees
  • 0.50% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school1

Additional Information

See PNC Important Disclosures

Servicer PNC Bank
Loan Minimum Undergrad: None
Grad/Professional: None
Loan Maximum Undergrad:
$40k/year, $225k total
Grad/Professional:
$65k/year, $225k total
Loan Types Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional
Fees No origination or prepayment fees

Our Top 7 Private Student Loan Lenders

​Read our detailed reviews of the best student loans from private lenders to find out more about their interest rates, terms, and eligibility requirements.

Here are LendEDU's picks for the best private student loan companies:

1. Discover Student Loans

Discover Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.73 / 5.0)

  • 1% cash rewards for good grades2
  • 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments2
  • Get a great interest rate with no fees
  • Simple application - You could get a response in minutes
  • 24/7 US-Based Customer Service
Show More
Fixed APR

6.34% - 13.99%3

Variable APR

4.34% - 12.99%3

Loan Terms

15 or 201

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

1. Aggregate loan limits apply.

2. At least a 3.0 GPA or equivalent qualifies for a one-time cash reward of 1% of the loan amount of each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited.

3. Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.38% as of July 1, 2018. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the "interest rate change date"), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please click here for more information about interest rates.

4. View Auto Debit Reward terms and conditions

View specific private student loan disclosures directly from Discover Student Loans here.

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: Discover Student Loans Review

2. Ascent Student Loans

Ascent Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.55 / 5.0)

  • Private student loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees
  • 1% Cash Back at Graduation9
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments
  • Loan amounts between $2,000 and $200,000
  • No early repayment penalties, origination fees, application expenses, or disbursement charges when an application is submitted
  • Cosigners are allowed and may be released after 24 months of on-time, consecutive payments
Show More
Fixed APR

5.56% - 12.11%1

Variable APR

3.83% - 10.58%1

Loan Terms

5, 10, or 15

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB) or Turnstile Capital Management, LLC (TCM), which are not affiliated entities. Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. All loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Other terms and conditions apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of TCM and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.

1. Ascent rates are effective as of 10/01/2018 and include a 0.25% discount applied when a borrower in repayment elects automatic debit payments via their personal checking account. Competitive rates calculated monthly at the time of loan approval.

- Ascent Independent Non-Cosigned Loan: Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 4.00% and 12.50% plus the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.290%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 5.70% - 13.00%. Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 7.32% - 14.00%. Click here for Ascent Independent non-cosigned loan current rates and repayment examples.

- Ascent Tuition Cosigned Loan: Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 2.00% and 11.00% plus the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.290%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 4.04% - 13.04%. Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 5.81% - 14.87%. Click here for Ascent Tuition cosigned loan current rates and repayment examples.

2. Payments may be deferred. Subject to lender discretion, forbearance and/or deferment options may be available for borrowers who are encountering financial distress.

3. Making interest only or partial interest payments while in school will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. There are three (3) flexible in-school repayment options that include fully deferred, interest only and minimum repayment.

4. Flexible repayment plans may be offered with up to a fifteen (15) year repayment term for a variable rate *Ascent Tuition borrowers who choose a fixed rate option may ONLY select a loan term of five (5) or ten (10) years (60 or 120 months, respectively). *Ascent Independent borrowers who choose a fixed rate option may ONLY select a ten (10) year repayment term.). For certain loans with low balances, the minimum monthly payment amount may cause the loan amortization schedule to be less than the selected term.

5. Interest rate reduction of 0.25% for enrollment in automatic debit applies only when the borrower and/or cosigner signs up for automatic payments and the regularly scheduled, current amount due (including full, flat, or interest only payments, as applicable) is successfully deducted from the designated bank account each month. Interest rate reduction(s) will not apply during periods when no payment is due, including periods of In-School, Deferment, Grace or Forbearance. If you have two (2) returned payments for Nonsufficient Funds, we may cancel your automatic debit enrollment and you will lose the 0.25% interest rate reduction. You will then need to requalify and re-enroll in automatic debit payments in order to receive the 0.25% interest rate reduction.

6. All applicants (individual and cosigner) are required to complete a brief online financial literacy course as part of the application process to be eligible for funding.

7. Eligibility, loan amount and other loan terms are dependent on a number of factors, including: loan product, other financial aid, creditworthiness, school, program, graduation date, major, cost of attendance and other factors. Aggregate loan limits may apply. The cost of attendance is determined and certified by the educational institution.

8. The legal age for entering into contracts is eighteen (18) years of age in every state except Alabama where it is nineteen (19) years old, Nebraska where it is nineteen (19) years old (only for wards of the state), and Mississippi and Puerto Rico where it is twenty-one (21) years old.

9. In order to be eligible for the 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward, borrower must meet the following criteria after graduation:

  • The student borrower has graduated from the degree program that the loan was used to fund.
  • The student borrower may change majors and/or transfer to a different school, but must obtain the same level of degree (e.g. – undergraduate or graduate)
  • The graduation date is more than 90 days and less than five (5) years after the date of the loan’s first disbursement.
  • Any loan that the student has borrowed under the Ascent loan is not more than 30-days delinquent or in a default status as of the graduation date and until any Graduation Reward is paid.
Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: Ascent Student Loans Review

3. College Ave Student Loans

College Ave Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.63 / 5.0)

  • New private undergrad, graduate, and parent loans available
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or prepayment fees
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school
  • Choose a term length of 5, 8, 10, or 15 years3
  • Variable rates as low as 3.69% APR2
Show More
Fixed APR

5.29% - 12.07%2

Variable APR

3.69%-10.94%2

Loan Terms

5, 8, 10, or 153

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust 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.

1. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

2. All rates include auto-pay 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.

3. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7% variable Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $179.28 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $17,211.20. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

4. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a graduate borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $15,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.82% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $255.99 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $24,574.78. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

5. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a parent borrower who selects the Full Principal & Interest Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 6.83% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $114.82 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $13,778.89. 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 11/1/2018. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: College Ave Student Loans Review

4. Sallie Mae Student Loans

Sallie Mae Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.75 / 5.0)

  • Private undergraduate loans available
  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance*
  • No application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees1
  • Interest rate reduction available with auto debit*
  • It takes about 15 minutes to apply and get a credit result
  • Free FICO credit score reports available2
Show More
Fixed APR

5.74%-11.85%*

Variable APR

4.00%-10.86%*

Loan Terms

5 to 153

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees1

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

*See Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan® for Undergraduates Important Disclosures

1Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: First to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

2Borrowers and cosigners who have an available FICO® Score and a Sallie Mae loan with a current balance greater than $0, may receive their score quarterly after the first disbursement of their loan. The FICO® Score provided to you is the FICO® Score 8 based on TransUnion data, and is the same score that Sallie Mae uses, along with other information, to manage your account. FICO® Scores and associated educational content are provided solely for your own non-commercial personal review, use and benefit. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO® is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

3This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan to a borrower who chooses a variable rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 9.09% variable APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $165.12 and one payment of $120.75, for a Total Loan Cost of $21,045.03. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: Sallie Mae Student Loans Review

5. SunTrust Student Loans

SunTrust Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.53 / 5.0)

  • New undergraduate, graduate, and graduate business loans available
  • Principal and interest, interest-only, partial interest, and deferred payment options while in school4
  • Up to 0.50% interest rate reduction for auto pay5
  • Loan amounts range from $1.001 to $65,000 (aggregate max of $150,000) 7
  • Choose a term length of 7, 10, or 15 years3
  • Option to refinance existing private student loans into a new loan6
Show More
Fixed APR

5.35%-14.05%2

Variable APR

3.88%-12.88%2

Loan Terms

7, 10, or 153

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans.

SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. © 2018 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.

Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue these programs without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and programs may not be available in certain jurisdictions.

1. The 2% principal reduction is based on the total dollar amount of all disbursements made, excluding any amounts that are reduced, cancelled, or returned. To receive this principal reduction, it must be requested from the servicer, the student borrower must have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher and proof of such graduation (e.g. copy of diploma, final transcript or letter on school letterhead) must be provided to the servicer. This reward is available once during the life of the loan, regardless of whether the student receives more than one degree.

2. Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student's and cosigner's (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the requested loan amount and (4) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective for applications received on or after 11/01/2018. The low APR assumes a 7-year $10,000 loan, with two-disbursements and no deferment. The high APR assumes a 15-year $10,000 loan with two disbursements.

The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the current One-month LIBOR index to your margin. LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. The One-month LIBOR is published in the "Money Rates" section of the Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). The One-month LIBOR index is captured on the 25th day of the immediately preceding calendar month (or if the 25th is not a business day, the next business day thereafter), and is rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. The current One-month LIBOR index is 2.375% on 11/01/2018. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the One-month LIBOR index changes.

The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.

3. The 15 year term is only available for loan amounts of $5,000 or more. Payment examples (all assume a 45-month deferment period and a six-month grace period before entering repayment, and the Partial Interest Repayment option): 7 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 7-year repayment term (84 months), and a 8.468% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $199.90. 10 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 10-year repayment term (120 months) and an 8.938% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $162.92. 15 year term: $10,000 loan disbursed over two transactions with a 15-year repayment term (180 months) and a 9.423% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $136.90.

4. Any applicant who applies for a loan the month of, the month prior to, or the month after the student’s graduation date, as stated on the application or certified by the school, will only be offered the Immediate Repayment option. The student must be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible for the partial interest, fully deferred and interest only repayment options unless the loan is being used for a past due balance and the student is out of school. With the Full Deferment option, payments may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time at an approved school and during the six month grace period after graduation or dropping below half-time status, but the total initial deferment period, including the grace period, may not exceed 66 months from the first disbursement date. The Partial Interest Repayment option (paying $25 per month during in-school deferment) is only available on loans of $5,000 or more. See footnote 3 for payment examples. With the Immediate Repayment option, the first payment of principal and interest will be due approximately 30-60 calendar days after the final disbursement date and the minimum monthly payment will be $50.00. There are no prepayment penalties.

5. Earn an interest rate reduction for making automatic payments of principal and interest from a bank account (“auto pay discount”). Earn a 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from any bank account and an extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank checking, savings, or money market account. The auto pay discount will continue until (1) automatic deduction of payments is stopped (including during any deferment or forbearance) or (2) three automatic deductions are returned for insufficient funds during the life of the loan. The extra 0.25% interest rate reduction when you auto pay from a SunTrust Bank account will be applied after the first automatic payment is successfully deducted and will be removed for the reasons stated above. In the event the auto pay discount is removed, the loan will accrue interest at the rate stated in your Credit Agreement. The auto pay discount is not available when your payments are deferred or when the loan is in forbearance, even if payments are being made.

6. Private student loans that can be refinanced with a new SunTrust private student loan are private student loans and private consolidation loans that the student applicant used for, or to refinance loans used for, certain postsecondary expenses, not currently past due. Loans that cannot be refinanced into this loan are (1) private student loans for which the student applicant is not the primary borrower, (2) Federal student loans and (3) student loans made by an educational institution. Loans being refinanced must have been used for “qualified higher education expenses”. Qualified higher education expenses, as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, generally include tuition and fees, room and board, costs for rental or purchase of any equipment, materials, or supplies required of all students in the same course of study, an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, and a reasonable allowance for the documented rental or purchase of a personal computer.

7. The minimum loan amount is $1,001 with exceptions based on the student’s state of permanent residence, as follows: Alaska: $5,001, Colorado: $3,001, New Mexico: $2,501, Oklahoma: $5,101, Rhode Island: $5,001, South Carolina: $3,701. The maximum annual loan limit to cover in-school expenses for each academic year is determined by your school’s cost of attendance, minus other financial aid such as federal student loans, scholarships or grants, up to $65,000 for the Custom Choice Loan or up to $95,000 for the Graduate Business Loan. The loan amount must be certified by the school. In any event, the loan amount cannot cause the aggregate maximum student loan debt (which includes all student loans and certain unsecured consumer debt) to exceed $150,000 for the Custom Choice Loan or $175,000 for the Graduate Business Loan, per applicant (on cosigned applications, separate calculations are performed for the student and cosigner). If you choose the In-School Refinance Option, the maximum amount that you can refinance is subject to the aggregate maximum student loan debt limit ($150,000 or $175,000) minus the amount that you are applying for to cover in-school expenses.

8. A cosigner may be released from the loan upon request to the servicer, provided that the student borrower is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, has met credit criteria, and met either one of the following payment conditions: (a) the first 36 consecutive monthly principal and interest payments have been made on-time (received by the servicer within 10 calendar days after their due date) or (b) the loan has not had any late payments and has been prepaid prior to the end of the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments in an amount equal to the first 36 months of scheduled principal and interest payments (based on the monthly payment amount in effect when you make the most recent payment). As an example, if you have made 30 months of consecutive on-time payments, and then, based on the monthly payment amount in effect on the due date of your 31st consecutive monthly payment, you pay a lump sum equal to 6 months of payments, you will have satisfied the payment condition. Cosigner release may not be available if a loan is in forbearance.

9. The legal age for entering into contracts is 18 years of age in every state except Alabama (19 years old), Nebraska (19 years old, only for wards of the state), and Mississippi and Puerto Rico (21 years old). Private student loans funded by SunTrust are not available to students or cosigners who are permanent residents of Iowa or Wisconsin.

10. Principal and interest payments may be deferred while the student is enrolled at least half-time at an approved school, and during the six month grace period after graduation or dropping below half-time status, but the total initial deferment period, including the grace period, may not exceed 66 months from the first disbursement date. Any accrued but unpaid interest will be capitalized (added to the unpaid principal loan balance) when repayment of principal and interest begins. There are no prepayment penalties. Making interest only or partial interest payments during in-school deferment (including the grace period) will not reduce the principal balance of the loan.

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: SunTrust Student Loans Review

6. Citizens Bank Student Loans

Citizens Bank Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.55 / 5.0)

  • New private undergrad, graduate, and parent loans available
  • 0.25% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school3
  • 0.25% interest reduction for already having a Citizens Bank account3
  • Up to $90,000 for undergraduate student loans and up to $295,000 for graduate student loans
  • 5, 10, and 15 year repayment terms1
  • No application, origination, disbursement, or prepayment fees
Show More
Fixed APR

5.25%-12.09%1

Variable APR

4.07%-11.941

Loan Terms

5, 10, or 15

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of November 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.29%. Variable interest rates range from 4.26%-12.23% (4.26%-12.13% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 5.25%-12.19% (5.25% - 12.09% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown requires application with a cosigner, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible institution. Borrowers must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or an international borrower/eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For borrowers who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank- participating school.

Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

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.

Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

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 cosigner release. Note: Co-signer release is not available on the Student Loan for Parents or Education Refinance Loan for Parents.

Borrowers must be a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident residing in the U.S. and must have attained the age of majority in their state of residence. 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 Bank-participating school. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank-participating school.

Multi-year approval funds available for future use are subject to a soft credit inquiry at time of your next request to verify continued eligibility. After we make the initial Loan to you, we may refuse to allow you to take out additional loans under the multi-year approval feature, terms and conditions will be outlined in your promissory note. Please Note: International students are not eligible to receive an offer for multi-year approval.

Click for rate and repayment information

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: Citizens Bank Student Loans Review

7. PNC Bank Student Loans

PNC Student Loans

LendEDU Rating (4.65 / 5.0)

  • Undergraduate, graduate, health professions, residency, and bar study loans available
  • Full, interest-only, and deferred payment choices when in school
  • 0.50% interest reduction for automatic payments while in school1
  • Borrow up to $40,000 a year (undergraduate) or $65,000 (graduate)
  • Cosigner release after 48 months of consecutive on-time payments (must provide proof of income and pass a credit check)
  • Zero application fees, origination fees, or prepayment fees
Show More
Fixed APR

6.01%-12.29%1

Variable APR

5.03%-11.23%1

Loan Terms

Up to 15

Applicable Fees

No origination or prepayment fees

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Annual percentage rate (APR) is a measure of what a loan will cost and takes into account the interest rate, loan amount, repayment term and the timing of all payments. Variable rate APRs currently range from 5.19% APR to 11.39% APR. Fixed rate APRs currently range from 6.03% APR to 12.29% APR.

Get 0.50% off your interest rate with automated payments from your checking or savings account when making scheduled payments that include both principal and interest. If automatic payment is discontinued, you will no longer receive an automatic payment discount. A federal regulation limits the number of transfers that may be made from a savings or money market account. Please contact your financial institution for more information on transfer limitations on savings account.

View specific private student loan disclosures directly from PNC here.​

Show Disclaimer

>> Read More: PNC Student Loans Review


Private Student Loan Information

To help you better understand private student loans, we provide answers to some of the most common topics surrounding these student loans below. For reference, private student loans can be used for tuition, textbooks, room and board, and all other related educational expenses.

Private Student Loan Application Process

Applying for the best private student loans can be easy. These days, most private student loan lenders prefer that you apply online. Many offering mobile-friendly applications for easy access on the go.

Typically, after choosing a lender, you will first have to fill out some basic personal and educational information. If you are electing to use a cosigner, they may have to provide some information as well.

If you meet the initial requirements, you will next likely be required to upload documents so the student loan lender can determine your eligibility and interest rate.

Within a few days (and sometimes within a few hours), the lender will let you know if you are eligible and, if so, what interest rates and repayment terms you can choose from.

The last step is to sign the promissory note. This is a legally binding contract that requires you to pay back the student loan, over time, with interest. Shortly after you sign this note, your student loan funds will be sent to your school for disbursement.

Private Student Loan Eligibility Requirements

Private loans require borrowers to meet certain eligibility requirements. Each lender has its own specific requirements, but most lenders will examine an applicant’s credit score, assets, debt, income, college or university, and proposed field of study.

Generally, you will need to have at least an average credit score of close to 700 (on a scale of 300 to 850). Otherwise, you'll likely need a cosigner to qualify for a private student loan. A 2017 study by LendEDU found that the average credit score of an approved applicant for a private student loan was 739.

>> Learn More: Student loans for bad credit

Cosigning Private Student Loans

A cosigner is a person who signs a loan agreement along with the primary borrower. The cosigner agrees to pay the loan if the borrower cannot do so, regardless of the reason. A cosigner should have a higher credit score than the borrower to ensure they have a positive impact on the application. Some lenders do offer cosigner release programs after a certain number of on-time payments are made.

In the same 2017 study done by LendEDU mentioned earlier, it was found that 28.75% of applicants with a cosigner were approved for a private student loan while only 4.90% without were approved. In addition, those with a cosigner, on average, had an interest rate that was 1.49 percentage points less than those without a cosigner.

>> Learn More: Student loans without a cosigner

Benefits of Using a Cosigner
  • More likely to be approved
  • Receive a lower interest rate
  • Have someone to motivate you to stay on top of loans
  • Cosigner may be discharged later through refinancing
Risks of Using a Cosigner
  • Credit of primary borrower and cosigner will both be affected if payments are missed
  • Cosigner's retirement could be delayed
  • Cosigner will be required to make payments if primary borrower does not

Other Requirements

In addition to having a good credit score, most banks also require that applicants for private loans be U.S. citizens or either permanent or temporary legal residents.

>> What's next? See if you're eligible for a private student loan

Private Student Loan Interest Rates

Private student loan interest rates are determined by the lenders issuing the loans. Your interest rate, along with your repayment term, determines how much you will have to pay in addition to your principal student loan balance. The higher your interest rate, the more you will pay, and vice-versa.

Most private lenders allow students to select a fixed or variable interest rate.

Fixed interest rates will stay the same for the lifetime of the loan. However, variable interest rates fluctuate over the lifetime of the loan because they move with the market causing them to increase or decrease.

Variable rates typically start lower than fixed rates because they have the potential to increase and even end up higher in the future. The 2017 study done by LendEDU mentioned earlier also found that variable interest rate private student loans, on average, started out 1.85 percentage points lower than those with fixed rates.

>> Learn More: Student loan interest rates

Repayment Options

Most private student loan lenders give you a choice of a few repayment options. Popular options include:

  • Full payments: Make full monthly payments while in school. This saves the most money in interest.
  • Partial payments: Make a flat payment each month to help reduce the total cost of your loan. This does not save as much as making full payments, but saves more than full deferment.
  • Interest-only payments: Pay only the accrued interest each month. When you graduate, your loan balance will be equal to what you originally took out.
  • Full deferment: Do not make any payments while in school. Interest will continue to accumulate the entire time making this the most expensive option.

>> Learn More: Visit our student loan refinance guide to consolidate existing loans

Private Student Loan Servicers

Student loan servicers are your main point of contact regarding your loans. They work on behalf of the bank or private lender that provided you a private student loan. You will be assigned a servicer when you take out your student loan. Your servicer will:

  • Accept your payments
  • Help you decide optimal repayment plans
  • Assist you with any general questions regarding your student loans
  • Help you in times of hardship

Differences Between Federal Student Loans and Private Student Loans

Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
Lender Federal government Private banks, credit unions, and other lenders
Interest Rate Type Fixed Fixed or variable
Repayment Options Not required until after graduation May be required while in school or not until after graduation
Approval Based on The FAFSA and expected family contribution Creditworthiness, income, debt, school, sometimes field of study, and other factors
Cosigner Requirements Do not need a cosigner Most private lenders require a cosigner

Private Student Loan Downsides

While many students will need private student loans to cover the cost of college, there are some downsides to consider:

  • Generally higher interest rates than federal loans
  • Fewer repayment options than federal loans
  • Cannot be discharged in bankruptcy
  • Credit will be damaged if payments are missed