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Student Loan Comparison Sites

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Student loan comparison sites enable you to view and compare multiple student loan opportunities in order to find the package that’s best for you. But before you start comparing, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

The following student loan comparison sites and directories of education lenders may accept paid placement for their listings. The loans may initially be ranked according to criteria that maximize profit to the directory and not necessarily criteria that minimize cost to the borrower. Some of the least expensive loans may be excluded from such directories because the lenders may be unwilling to pay for placement. Also, some of the directories rank loans by the best advertised rates or average rates, as opposed to the actual rates. Remove rest of paragraph and join remaining sentence with above paragraph.
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Best Student Loan Comparison Sites

The most useful student loan comparison sites need to satisfy the following minimal standards:

  • Present consumers with actual interest rates and fees, not just the best advertised rates or average interest rates. This will ensure that consumers are making comparisons based on relevant information.

  • Include a critical mass of lenders sufficient to ensure that the borrower has a reasonable chance of obtaining a rate that is close to the best rate the borrower could find on his or her own.

  • Minimize the impact on the prospective borrower's credit score. Each credit inquiry for student loans results in up to a 5-point hit to the borrower's credit score. More than three or four such inquiries are likely to shift the borrower from one credit tier to the next, increasing their costs.

  • The presentation of information must be based solely on the prospective borrower's best interests. In particular, the initial sorting of results must be based on the total cost of the loan, including interest rates and fees, not paid placement or other criteria.

  • The lender listings must provide sufficient information about the loans to permit the prospective borrower to make an informed decision.

  • The sites must provide clear disclosures regarding any potential or actual biases. In particular, the comparison tools should disclose whether the lenders provide any payment for inclusion in the loan comparison tool and whether the payments influence the ranking of the loan product comparisons.

  • The comparison site should provide sufficient contact information for the lender, such as telephone numbers and web links, to permit the prospective borrower to apply for the loan.

  • Prospective borrowers should not be charged any fees for using the comparison site.

  • Loan comparison sites should recommend, in a clear and conspicuous fashion, that prospective borrowers should borrow federal first before relying on any private student loans.

To date, none of the loan comparison sites satisfy all of these standards, although all satisfy some of them.

Student Loan Comparison Sites (Live)

The following student loan comparison sites are live and list more than one lender. The student loan marketplaces built by Overture Technologies have been listed first because they come closest to satisfying all of FinAid's criteria. The other student loan marketplaces are listed in alphabetical order. Overture Technologies also operates a student loan marketplace under its own brand for students in other states, the Overture Student Loan Marketplace.

ElmSelect is a school-specific tool that lists the college's preferred lender list. The loan comparison information does not include repayment examples and is unstructured, without consistent information about all lenders. It also does not adequately distinguish between federal and private loans.

Graduate Leverage offers a loan comparison tool called Insight that ranks FFELP lenders according to "effective APR", which takes into account the industry-wide or school-specific likelihood of qualifying for a loan discount. They provide comparisons for Stafford, PLUS, consolidation and private student loans. Their undergraduate site is called Collegiate Leverage.

SimpleTuition offers loan comparison tools for Stafford, PLUS, Consolidation and Private education loans. The private student loans include both school-certified and non-school-certified loans. The results are initially in random order, but with the paid placement lenders ("Simple Tuition Partners") listed first. Prospective borrowers may have to take an action to see an expanded list of lenders or to sort the loans. Ranking by cost is based on best advertised rates, not actual rates.

Student Lending Analytics provides star ratings for private student loans for undergraduate students. They do not receive any compensation from lenders for the ratings or referrals.

Student Loan Network provides a list of six private student loan programs without any analytical comparison of the loan programs. The comparison chart does not list interest rates side-by-side or provide any kind of feature-by-feature comparison.

 

 
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