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Accurate as of Jun 20th 2024

5 Best Private Student Loans – May 2024

Rates starting at 4.07%. Cover up to 100% of your education costs with the best student loan lenders to focus on your degree.

  • Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®
Ratings by our editorial team

696 data points analyzed

403,080+ visitors used LendEDU in the last 30 days

Applying with a cosigner can increase your approval odds by up to 400%.1

Best Overall

  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • Choose your repayment terms
  • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
5.0 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • Choose your repayment terms
  • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
  • Best Cosigner Release

    • 4.50% to 16.70% APR
    • Receive funds for the full year with one application
    • Lower your rate with in-school repayment
    • Cosigner release is available in as little as 12 months
    • Available for students enrolled less than half time
    4.8 /5
  • 4.50% to 16.70% APR
  • Receive funds for the full year with one application
  • Lower your rate with in-school repayment
  • Cosigner release is available in as little as 12 months
  • Available for students enrolled less than half time
  • Best Member Benefits

    • 4.44% to 14.70% APR
    • Financial planning services offered to borrowers
    • Earn points with its mobile app to pay down your loan
    • No origination, application, or late payment fees
    • Check your rate without affecting your credit score
    4.7 /5
  • 4.44% to 14.70% APR
  • Financial planning services offered to borrowers
  • Earn points with its mobile app to pay down your loan
  • No origination, application, or late payment fees
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit score
  • Best for Large Loans

    • 4.11% to 16.20% APR
    • 100% rate match guarantee
    • Cover up to 100% of certified costs
    • Option to skip one payment per year
    • 9-month grace period (50% longer than most lenders)
    • Check your rate in 2 minutes with no credit impact
    4.7 /5
  • 4.11% to 16.20% APR
  • 100% rate match guarantee
  • Cover up to 100% of certified costs
  • Option to skip one payment per year
  • 9-month grace period (50% longer than most lenders)
  • Check your rate in 2 minutes with no credit impact
  • Best Marketplace

    • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
    • See prequalified rates from its partner lenders
    • Doesn’t impact your credit score
    • No costs
    • Easily invite a cosigner to improve your approval odds
    4.6 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • See prequalified rates from its partner lenders
  • Doesn’t impact your credit score
  • No costs
  • Easily invite a cosigner to improve your approval odds
  • Best of Badge

    Our editorial ratings are based on hundreds of hours of research and consider the costs, borrower reviews, and unique benefits for each lender.

    Our Top Choice: College Ave

    Best Overall

    • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
    • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
    • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
    • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
    • Choose your repayment terms
    • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
    5.0 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • Choose your repayment terms
  • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
  • College Ave’s sole focus is making a college degree more attainable by helping students and parents afford the rising cost of higher education.

    Its Multi-Year Peace of Mind™ program has resulted in 90% of undergraduate borrowers being approved for additional loans for future years with a cosigner.

    College Ave lets you select your repayment term and explains how the term and plan you choose will impact your loan’s long-term cost.

    Eligibility requirements

    College Ave student loans are available to undergraduates, graduates, parents, and for career training. According to the lender, 98% of all undergraduate loans are cosigned. By adding a cosigner, you can improve your chances of meeting the following eligibility requirements:

    Financial requirements

    • Minimum credit score: Not disclosed
    • Minimum income: $35,000 per year
    • Approval after prior bankruptcy: No

    Educational requirements

    • School eligibility: Must be enrolled in a degree-granting program at an eligible school
    • Enrolled half-time or more: Yes

    Other requirements

    • Citizenship: U.S. citizen or permanent resident or international students with a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • State: Available in all 50 states
    Repayment details

    College Ave allows you to choose your repayment term (between 5, 8, 10, or 15 years) and select amongst four in-school repayment options.

    In-school repayment options

    • Full: Pay principal and interest
    • Interest-only: Pay interest every month
    • Fixed: Pay $25 every month
    • Deferred: No payment

    Post-school repayment options

    • Repayment terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
    • Grace period: 6 months for undergraduates & 9 months for graduate students
    • Grace period extension: Apply for an additional 6 months
    • Deferment options: In-school & military
    • Forbearance: Up to 12 months, in increments of 3 or 6 months

    Other repayment options

    • Cosigner release: Yes, after finishing more than half of the scheduled repayment period and meeting additional criteria
    • Death discharge: Yes
    • Disability discharge: Yes

    >> Receive an instant credit decision in just 3 minutes


    How Private Student Loans Work

    Private student loans are a form of financial aid that students can use to cover the cost of their education. These loans are offered by online lenders, banks and credit unions.

    You’ll need to apply for a loan directly with a lender and meet certain eligibility requirements to be approved. If you can’t meet the eligibility requirements alone, you’ll need to add a creditworthy cosigner who can.

    Most lenders allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid you receive. Once your loan amount is finalized, the funds will be disbursed to your school to cover tuition and other expenses. Any remaining funds will be sent directly to you to use as needed.

    How To Apply For A Private Student Loan

    Applying for a private student loan involves the following steps:

    1. Consider your finances and applying with a cosigner. Many lenders require good credit and a source of income to repay a private student loan before they’ll approve you. If you don’t think you’ll qualify on your own, you may be able to rely on the credit and income of a cosigner like a parent or grandparent.
    2. Shop for a lender. You’ll have many options for private student loans, so it’s essential to shop for the right lender. Compare terms, rates, and eligibility requirements to find the best fit for you.
    3. Gather the paperwork you’ll need. Make sure you can easily access information about your finances. Be prepared to share:
      • Personal information including your address and Social Security number
      • Income verification documents such as tax returns, W-2s, and pay stubs
      • Bank statements
      • Details about the school you plan to attend
    4. Apply online. You can apply online in just a few minutes, and in most cases, you’ll find out instantly whether you’re approved.
    5. Receive your loan funds. Your lender may distribute the funds to your school, to you, or a combination of both. Confirm with your lender how it will disperse your loan during the application process so you know what to expect.

    Ready to apply? Here are our top choices.

    Find your best private student loan.
    Company
    Best for…
    Rating (0-5)
    Best Overall
    5.0
    Best Cosigner Release
    4.8
    Best Member Benefits
    4.7
    Best For Large Loans
    4.7
    Best Marketplace
    4.6

    How To Decide Which Is Your Best Private Student Loan

    When looking for a private student loan, compare your options, so you find an affordable loan that comes with borrower-friendly repayment terms.

    Here are the steps we recommend:

    1. Compile a list of student loan lenders that you’re interested in. Ideally, you’ll want to choose a reputable company who has demonstrated an ability to support borrowers during repayment.
    2. Review each lender’s eligibility requirements. Make sure you’re eligible with a lender before applying to limit unnecessary hard credit checks. Remember, we recommend adding a cosigner to your loan to improve your chances of approval, but that cosigner is on the hook to pay back your loan if you are unable to. If you and your cosigner don’t meet the eligibility requirements, you should remove that lender from consideration.
    3. Review the loan terms. Look at the specifics of the loan, like loan length, monthly payments, fees and special programs.
    4. Get quotes from the lenders you’re eligible with. The only way to know the actual rate you’ll receive is by prequalifying or submitting a complete application. Utilize soft credit checks when possible to reduce the number of hard credit inquiries on your credit report.
    5. Compare your quotes. Once you’ve received rate estimates from lenders, compare your offers to see which lender offers you the lowest rate. Make sure to consider other factors like the repayment term, borrower protections, and unique benefits as well.
    6. Choose a lender. The lender you borrow from should offer you the most affordable loan, with borrower protections that help you in times of need during repayment.
    7. Apply. Once you select a lender, submit your application and wait for the lender to inform you of your next steps.
    Find your best private student loan.
    Company
    Best for…
    Rating (0-5)
    Best Overall
    5.0
    Best Cosigner Release
    4.8
    Best Member Benefits
    4.7
    Best For Large Loans
    4.7
    Best Marketplace
    4.6

    FAQ

    Should I apply with a cosigner?

    Yes, if you feel your credit score or your source of income may be an issue, then apply with a cosigner to increase your approval odds. Applying with a cosigner may land you a lower interest rate as well.

    When is the best time to apply for student loans?

    The best time to apply for college loans is as soon as possible: Applying early can ensure you get the necessary funds on time. It also allows you to review your options and feel confident you’ve found the best fit, plan your finances more effectively with a clear understanding of the loan amounts and terms, and meet important deadlines.

    Can I apply for a student loan in the middle of the semester?

    Yes, it’s often possible to apply for school loans in the middle of a semester since private lenders generally allow applications year-round. Check with each lender for its specific requirements and processing times.

    Is it ever too late to apply for student loans?

    Deadlines exist, but you might be surprised to find out it isn’t too late to apply for student loans. The FAFSA deadline to apply for student loans is June 30 of the academic year. Private lenders may have more flexible application periods.

    Can I get private student loans with bad credit or low income?

    Bad credit or low-to-no income doesn’t have to stop you from pursuing a college education. Many students haven’t had sufficient time to build a credit history. Your credit will improve as you make on-time payments on loans or credit cards.

    If your credit score is low, or you have no income, there are other options available for you. Look into private student loans that don’t require a cosigner, or ideally, apply for one with a creditworthy cosigner.

    Our Top Choice: College Ave

    Best Overall

    • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
    • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
    • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
    • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
    • Choose your repayment terms
    • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
    5.0 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • Our highest-rated lender for 5 years straight
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance2
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • Choose your repayment terms
  • Available for undergraduate, graduate, parent, and career-training programs
  • 1 Source: “Students who apply with a cosigner increase their chances of approval by 5X and could get a lower interest rate.” https://www.earnest.com/student-loans/undergraduate

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