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Accurate as of Jun 20th 2024

Best Private School Loans – May 2024

With rates starting at 4.07%, we've compared and reviewed the top private school loan lenders for undergraduate and graduate school.

Ratings by our
  • Jeff Gitlen, CEPF®
editorial team

Accurate as of: June 20, 2024

We recommend adding a cosigner when you apply for your private school student loan to improve your chances of approval, since most lenders require good credit.

A cosigner can also help lower your interest rate, reducing the overall cost of your private school loan.

Best Overall (Recommended For Cosigners)

  • 4.07% to 16.69% APR
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
  • No minimum enrollment requirement
5.0 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.69% APR
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
  • No minimum enrollment requirement
  • Best For Educational Resources

    • 4.50% to 16.70% APR
    • Cover 100% of costs for the full year
    • Lower your rate with in-school repayment
    • No prepayment or origination fees
    • Cosigners can be released after 12 on-time payments
    • Choose your repayment plan and interest rate type
    • Free study help and college expense calculators for borrowers
    • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
    4.8 /5
  • 4.50% to 16.70% APR
  • Cover 100% of costs for the full year
  • Lower your rate with in-school repayment
  • No prepayment or origination fees
  • Cosigners can be released after 12 on-time payments
  • Choose your repayment plan and interest rate type
  • Free study help and college expense calculators for borrowers
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Best For Added Benefits

    • 4.44% to 14.70% APR
    • $5,000 to 100% of certified costs
    • Earn rewards points in the mobile app to pay off your loan
    • No fees, including no late payment fee
    • Checking rates doesn’t impact your credit
    • Existing members can receive a rate discount
    • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
    4.7 /5
  • 4.44% to 14.70% APR
  • $5,000 to 100% of certified costs
  • Earn rewards points in the mobile app to pay off your loan
  • No fees, including no late payment fee
  • Checking rates doesn’t impact your credit
  • Existing members can receive a rate discount
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Best For Large Loans

    • 4.11% to 16.20% APR
    • 100% rate match guarantee
    • Checking your rate doesn’t affect your credit score
    • $1,000 to 100% of certified costs covered
    • No fees
    • Choose your repayment plan and adjust your term down to the month
    • 50% longer grace period than most lenders
    • Skip one payment per year without penalty
    4.7 /5
    • 4.11% to 16.20% APR
    • 100% rate match guarantee
    • Checking your rate doesn’t affect your credit score
    • $1,000 to 100% of certified costs covered
    • No fees
    • Choose your repayment plan and adjust your term down to the month
    • 50% longer grace period than most lenders
    • Skip one payment per year without penalty

    Best Comparison Tool

    • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
    • Compare prequalified rates from over 5 lenders in about 3 minutes
    • No costs
    • Rated Excellent on Trustpilot with over 7,000 reviews
    • Checking rates doesn’t impact your credit
    • $1,000 to 100% of certified costs
    • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
    4.6 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.85% APR
  • Compare prequalified rates from over 5 lenders in about 3 minutes
  • No costs
  • Rated Excellent on Trustpilot with over 7,000 reviews
  • Checking rates doesn’t impact your credit
  • $1,000 to 100% of certified costs
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Best of Badge

    Our team of editors have spent hundreds of hours researching private school student loan lenders.

    Our Pick For Best Overall

    Best Overall (Recommended For Cosigners)

    • 4.39% to 16.85% APR
    • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
    • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
    • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
    • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
    • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
    • No minimum enrollment requirement
    5.0 /5
  • 4.39% to 16.85% APR
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
  • No minimum enrollment requirement
  • 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 numbe
    • 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 for private student loan lenders:

    How To Decide Which Private Student Loan Is The Best One For You

    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.

    Once you select a lender, submit your application and wait for the lender to inform you of your next steps.

    Company
    Best for…
    Rating (0-5)
    Best Overall (Recommended For Cosigners)
    5.0
    Best For Educational Resources
    4.8
    Best For Added Benefits
    4.7
    Best For Large Loans
    4.7
    Best Comparison Tool
    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 a 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.

    Are you ready to apply for a private student loan? Check out our top overall pick, College Ave. College Ave offers:

    • A fast application process
    • Instant credit decision
    • Zero application, origination, or prepayment fees
    • Next steps, like adding a cosigner, to improve your approval chances and lower your rate

    Best Overall (Recommended For Cosigners)

    • 4.07% to 16.69% APR
    • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
    • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
    • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
    • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
    • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
    • No minimum enrollment requirement
    5.0 /5
  • 4.07% to 16.69% APR
  • Applying with a cosigner can increase your chances of getting approved
  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance (1)
  • 3-minute application with instant credit decision
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees
  • The most in-school repayment options and the widest selection of repayment term lengths
  • No minimum enrollment requirement
  • (1) As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.