FinAid - Financial Aid Advice The SmartStudent Guide to Financial Aid
Site MapAbout FinAid

Private Student Loans



Advertisement

Private student loan volume grows when federal student loan limits remain stagnant.

Private student loan volume grew much more rapidly than federal student loan volume through mid-2008, in part because aggregate loan limits on the Stafford loan remained unchanged from 1992 to 2008. (The introduction of the Grad PLUS loan on July 1, 2006 and the increases in the annual but not aggregate limits had only a modest impact on the growth of private student loan volume. The subprime mortgage credit crisis of 2007-2010, however, limited lender access to the capital needed to make new loans, reining in growth of the private student loan marketplace.) The annual increase in private student loan volume was about 25% to 35% per year, compared with 8% per year for federal loan volume.
Student Loan Comparison Sites

This page provides a basic comparison chart that highlights the key characteristics of the major private education loans. FinAid also provides a separate list of private consolidation loans. In addition to the private student loan programs, there are several websites like Credible and other student loan comparison sites that provide tools for comparing private student loans which help identify the loans that match your criteria.

Then the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008 increased the annual and aggregate loan limits on the federal Stafford loan starting July 1, 2008. This shifted significant loan volume from private student loan programs to federal. Private student loan volume dropped in half in 2008-09, according to the College Board's Trends in Student Aid 2009.

Private student loan volume is expected to return to the 25% annual growth rate unless there is another increase in federal loan limits or an expansion of the availability of federal student loans. For example, the proposal for expanding Perkins loan funding from $1 billion a year to $8.5 billion a year will cause a significant decline in private student loan volume. But so long as federal loan limits do not increase every year, private student loan volume will continue to grow at double-digit rates.

If current trends continue, annual private education loan volume will surpass federal student loan volume by around 2030. Accordingly, it is important that students have tools they can use to compare different private student loans.

Advertisement
Best Private Student Loans

As a general rule, students should only consider obtaining a private education loan if they have maxed out the Federal Stafford Loan. They should also file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which may qualify them for grants, work-study and other forms of student aid. Undergraduate students should also compare costs with the Federal PLUS Loan, as the PLUS loan is usually much less expensive and has better repayment terms.

The fees charged by some lenders can significantly increase the cost of the loan. A loan with a relatively low interest rate but high fees can ultimately cost more than a loan with a somewhat higher interest rate and no fees. (The lenders that do not charge fees often roll the difference into the interest rate.) A good rule of thumb is that 3% to 4% in fees is about the same as a 1% higher interest rate.

Be wary of comparing loans with different repayment terms according to APR, as a longer loan term reduces the APR despite increasing the total amount of interest paid. FinAid's Loan Analyzer Calculator may be used to generate an apples-to-apples comparison of different loan programs.

The best private student loans will have interest rates of LIBOR + 2.0% or PRIME - 0.50% with no fees. Such loans will be competitive with the Federal PLUS Loan. Unfortunately, these rates often will be available only to borrowers with great credit who also have a creditworthy cosigner. It is unclear how many borrowers qualify for the best rates, although the top credit tier typically encompasses about 20% of borrowers.

Generally, borrowers should prefer loans that are pegged to the LIBOR index over loans that are pegged to the Prime Lending Rate, all else being equal, as the spread between the Prime Lending Rate and LIBOR has been increasing over time. Over the long term a loan with interest rates based on LIBOR will be less expensive than a loan based on the Prime Lending Rate. About half of lenders peg their private student loans to the LIBOR index and about 2/5 to the Prime lending rate.

Some lenders use the LIBOR rate because it reflects their cost of capital. Other lenders use the Prime Lending Rate because PRIME + 0.0% sounds better to consumers than LIBOR + 2.80% even when the rates are the same.

It is not uncommon for lenders to advertise a lower rate for the in-school and grace period, with a higher rate in effect when the loan enters repayment.

Federal student loans are not available for expenses incurred by law, medical and dental students after they graduate, such as expenses associated with study for the bar or finding a residency. There are two types of private student loans for these expenses:

  • A Bar Study Loan helps finance bar exam costs such as bar review course fees, bar exam fees, as well as living expenses while you are studying for the bar.
  • A Residency and Relocation Loan helps medical and dental students with the expenses associated with finding a residency, including interview travel expenses and relocation costs, as well as board exam expenses.

Comparing Private Student Loans

Key information to understand student loans includes being aware of the annual and cumulative loan limits, interest rates, fees, and loan term for the most popular private student loan programs. Often the interest rates, fees and loan limits depend on the credit history of the borrower and co-signer, if any, and on loan options chosen by the borrower such as in-school deferment and repayment schedule. Loan term often depends on the total amount of debt.

Most lenders that require school certification (approval) will cap the annual loan amount at cost of education less aid received (COA-Aid). They may also have an annual dollar limit as well.

Lenders rarely give complete details of the terms of the private student loan until after the student submits an application, in part because this helps prevent comparisons based on cost. For example, many lenders will only advertise the lowest interest rate they charge (for good credit borrowers). Borrowers with bad credit can expect interest rates that are as much as 6% higher, loan fees that are as much as 9% higher, and loan limits that are two- thirds lower than the advertised figures.

The APRs for variable rate loans, if listed, are only the current APRs and are likely to change over the term of the loan. Borrowers should be careful about comparing loans based on the APR, as the APR may be calculated under different assumptions, such as a different number of years in repayment. All else being equal, a longer repayment term will have a lower APR even though the borrower will pay more in interest.

The information presented below is based on lender provided information. Actual rates and fees may differ.

Featured Student Loan Providers

Name Loan Limits Rates (Min/Avg/Max) Fees Term

Credible

Credible offers borrowers a "kayak-style" experience while shopping for student loans. Similar to the "Common App," users (and co-signers) complete a single, brief form and receive personalized offers from multiple lenders. The process is free and does not impact a user's credit score to compare offers.
Credible's marketplace includes
  • Ascent
  • Citizens Bank
  • CollegeAve
  • Discover Student Loans
  • EDvestinU
  • INvested
  • Mefa
  • Sallie Mae
  • SunTrust
Choose between fixed and variable rate loans, as well as deferred and interest-only repayment options for your school loans.

Graduate and undergraduate loans for almost every degree type.

Repayment options range from immediate full repayment (principal and interest payments immediately after the loan is fully disbursed), interest only (interest-only payments while you are in school, and start making principal and interest payments after you leave school), full deferral while in school, flat payment while in-school, graduated repayment (payments increase over time).
COA-Aid (annual limit)
Borrow up to $170,000 through Credible's marketplace.

Annual max (100% of school certified costs minus other financial aid received).

Lifetime aggregate loan amount 200K.
Fixed rates as low as 4.50% APR and variable rates as low as 4.20% APR with auto pay. Access special discounts from some lenders. No fees 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15 and 20 year terms available

Student Loan Providers

AdvertisementAdvertisement
Name Loan Limits Rates (Min/Avg/Max) Fees Term

ASCENT STUDENT LOAN OPTIONS WITH OR WITHOUT A COSIGNER

Ascent offers benefits that put students first:

  • 1% CASH BACK Graduation Reward*
  • NON-COSIGNED option for eligible students*
  • COSIGNER RELEASE option*
  • DISCOUNT for enrolling in auto payments*
  • AFFORDABLE fixed or variable rates
  • 100% US-BASED Customer Service
  • FREE financial Tools

APPLY NOW>>

*See Ascent Terms & Conditions

MORE OPPORTUNITIES: Ascent's private student loan gives students more opportunities to qualify for a loan! Ascent loans are for undergraduate and graduate students. Eligible juniors, seniors and graduate Students can also apply for a loan without a cosigner.


Customize your loan payments to fit your budget with our flexible Ascent Tuition repayment options:
  • In-School Interest-Only Repayment
  • Minimum Payment
  • Deferred Repayment

APPLY NOW>>
COVER UP TO 100% college tuition and living expenses with a minimum loan amount of $2,000 and up to $200,000 (or total cost of attendance less aid received).

AFFORDABLE RATES

Fixed: 4.55% - 13.77%*
Variable: 4.14% - 13.13%*



*Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs
Rates are effective as of 07/01/2019 and include a 0.25% discount applied when a borrower in repayment elects automatic debit payments via their personal checking account. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates

AVOID FEES -

No application, origination or disbursement fees.


NO PENALTY FEE if you pay off your loan early.

FLEXIBLE 5-year, 10-year or 15-year repayment terms.


Rate and Repayment Example..

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers loan options for undergrad, grad students and parents with competitive rates, flexible terms and interest rate discounts. As the only lender to offer multi-year approval on the Citizens Bank Student Loan,® qualified borrowers can secure funding for multiple years in school, without completing a full application each year and impacting their credit score.

Choose between our student or parent loan options with competitive interest rates and flexible payment terms. Loans from $1,000 to $295,000 depending on education level Variable rates as low as 3.89% APR* and fixed rates as low as 4.90% APR* including all available discounts No application fees or origination fees 5, 10, or 15 year options available
Rate and Repayment Examples

Citizens One

Citizens One, the national lending division of Citizens Bank, offers loan options for undergrad, grad students and parents with competitive rates, flexible terms and interest rate discounts. As the only lender to offer multi-year approval on the Citizens Bank Student Loan,® qualified borrowers can secure funding for multiple years in school, without completing a full application each year and impacting their credit score.2

Choose between our student or parent loan options with competitive interest rates and flexible payment terms. Loans from $1,000 to $295,000 depending on education level Variable rates as low as 3.89% APR* and fixed rates as low as 4.90% APR* including all available discounts No application fees or origination fees 5, 10, or 15 year options available
Rate and Repayment Examples
College Ave Student Loans

College Ave Student Loans offers loan options for undergrads, grad students and parents. Our loans are designed to give you great rates plus the most repayment options so you can create a loan that fits your monthly budget while paying as little interest as possible.

Our simple application process takes just 3 minutes to complete and get an instant credit decision. Not sure which repayment plan is right for you? Our student loan calculator and free credit pre-qualification tool can help.

For footnotes, please refer to the links for product specifics (undergraduate, graduate or parent).

Undergraduate Student Loan

Help cover tuition and other education costs for students in associates and bachelors degree programs.2
You decide whether to make loan payments during school:

  • Full Principal and interest payments
  • Interest only payments
  • $25 payments each month during school3
  • Defer payments while in school
COA-Aid ($1,000 minimum)2 Variable Rates: 3.96%-11.98% APR (with auto-pay discount)1

Fixed Rates: 4.72%-12.94% APR (with auto-pay discount)1
No application or origination fees and no penalties for paying early. Choose between 5, 8, 10 or 15 year options.3
Graduate Student Loan

Cover the costs of school for students pursuing a masters, doctoral or professional degree.2

Graduate students should also check out our other graduate loan products...

  • Dental Loan
  • Medical Loan
  • Law School Loan
  • MBA Loan
  • Find out more


You can also choose from 4 different repayment options
COA-Aid ($1,000 minimum)2 Variable Rates: 4.87%-10.92% APR (with auto-pay discount)1

Fixed Rates: 5.55%-11.68% APR (with auto-pay discount)1
No application or origination fees and no penalties for paying early. Choose between 5, 8, 10 or 15 year options.3
Parent Loan

Help pay for your child's education with a customized loan.

Choose how quickly to pay back the loan:

  • Full Principal and interest payments
  • Interest plus payment
  • Interest only payments
COA-AID ($1,000 minimum)2

Variable Rates: 5.23%-11.76% APR (with auto-pay discount)1

Fixed Rates: 5.96%-12.27% APR (with auto-pay discount)1

No application or origination fees and no penalties for paying early. Choose to pay back the loan in as little as 5 years or take up to 12 years (or pick something in between).3

Private Student Loans


Private Student Loans offers borrowers the ease of comparing multiple lenders at once. Users may choose lenders directly to see if they are eligible, or explore lenders through our school matching technology for a more customized experience.
Lenders we work with offer fixed and variable rate student loans.

Student loans available from lenders include:
  • Undergraduate loans
  • Parent student loans
  • Graduate loans
  • MBA loans
  • Law school loans
  • Residency loans
  • Bar loans
Limits vary by lender and range from $1,000 to $300,000 depending on education level/degree program.

100% of school-certified costs minus other financial aid received.

Annual and aggregate loan limits apply.
Current fixed rates as low as 4.49% APR.

Current variable rates as low as 3.34% APR.

Lowest rates include applicable autopay.
Fees vary by lender and may include application, processing or origination fees. Terms vary by lender.

Commonly offered terms include: 5, 8, 10, 15, and 20+ years
Sallie Mae-the nation's saving, planning, and paying for college company.
Funded by Sallie Mae Bank.
Lender ID 900905.

Special Features/Benefits:

  • Auto Debit Savings - 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction for enrolling in and making monthly payment by auto debit.*
  • Free financial literacy tools and resources, including access to quarterly FICO® Credit Scores for both borrowers and cosigners.*
  • Loan Limit - Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance (minimum $1,000)*.

    Application Process - Borrower can initiate the application process at SallieMae.com. It only takes about 15 minutes to apply online and get a credit result.

    Sallie Mae reserves the right to modify or discontinue products, services, and benefits at any time without notice and provides compensation to FinAid for the referral of loan customers. Terms, conditions, and limitations apply.

    Information advertised valid as of 2/25/2019.

    LIBOR is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent.

    Sallie Mae and other Sallie Mae names are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank or its subsidiaries.

    Click here for additional important information.

    Smart Option Student Loan®

    For Undergraduate Students attending degree-granting institutions only. (School Certified)

    Pay now or later - choose an in-school repayment option that fits your needs or defer your payments until after school.*

    • Make interest payments each month*
    • Pay $25 per month*
    • Defer payments*

    Get 24/7, online help with our exclusive Study StarterSM benefit, which includes free access to 4 months of Chegg Study® and EasyBib® Plus and 30 minutes of Chegg® Tutors.*

    *Click here for additional important information.

    COA-Aid ($1,000 minimum)* Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 2.00% (4.25% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.88% (11.35% APR)*

    Fixed Rates: 5.75% (5.49% APR) to 12.88% (11.85% APR)*

    Lowest APRs shown include the auto debit discount.

    No origination fee and no prepayment penalty1.



    1 Although 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.

    5-15 years based on cumulative Sallie Mae loan balance, repayment option and year in school.*
    Sallie Mae® Graduate Student Loan Suite

    Graduate students aren't all the same; graduate school loans shouldn't be, either.

    For Graduate and Professional School Students attending degree-granting institutions only. Our suite of school-certified graduate loans include the MBA Loan, Medical School Loan, Law School Loan, Dental School Loan, Graduate School Loan, and Health Professions Graduate Loan.

    Choose from multiple repayment options.

    ^Click here for more information on Sallie Mae graduate student loans.

    Visit Sallie Mae.com for details on individual graduate loans. Visit Sallie Mae.com for details on individual graduate loans. No origination fee and no prepayment penalty1.



    1 Although 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.

    Visit Sallie Mae.com for details on individual graduate loans.
    Sallie Mae® Parent Loan

    Any creditworthy individual other than the student can take out a Sallie Mae Parent Loan, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, spouses, and guardians. The Loan, which is available to pay for education expenses of both undergraduate and graduate students.

    Choose a repayment option that fits your needs:

    • Interest Repayment: Borrowers make monthly interest payments while the student is enrolled in school for up to 48 months, followed by principal and interest payments#
    • Principal and Interest Repayment: Borrowers make monthly principal and interest payments while the student is enrolled in school and through the life of the loan#

    Get 24/7, online help with our exclusive Study StarterSM benefit, which includes free access to 4 months of Chegg Study® and EasyBib® Plus and 30 minutes of Chegg® Tutors.#

    #Click here for additional important information.

    COA-AID ($1,000 minimum)

    Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 3.50% (5.74% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.88% (12.37% APR)#

    Fixed Rates: 5.75% (5.49% APR) to 12.88% (12.87 APR)#


    Lowest APRs shown include the auto debit discount.

    No origination fee and no prepayment penalty1.



    1 Although 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.

    10 years of principal and interest payments#
    SoFi Private Student Loans

    SoFi is helping students pay for school with our no-fee private student loans. Get competitive-rate in-school loans that work for you.

    SoFi makes the process simple -- so paying for school is stress-free.

    -All online in just minutes. Get your rate fast and find out if you're pre-qualified before you even finish the full application.
    - Undergrad and grad students can seamlessly add a cosigner in just a few clicks.
    - Repay your way: flexible repayment options to help you find the loan that fits your budget.
    - Zero fees. Period.
    - Exclusive rate discounts. Get a 0.25% discount when you set up autopay.1 Plus, SoFi members can qualify for exclusive rate discounts.2



    Variable interest rates are derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Learn more.



    For full legal disclosures, please go here.

    Undergraduate Student Loans



    SoFi helps undergrads pay for college without the hassle. See rates and terms in just minutes—and get access to tips, tools, and resources along the way.


    Repay your way: pick the repayment option that works for you and your budget:
    - Full principal and interest payments right away
    - Interest-only payments while in school
    - $25 payments each month while in school3
    - Defer payments while in school


    3View repayment examples.

    Get peace of mind knowing SoFi will cover up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance, which typically includes things like tuition, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. The minimum you can borrow in most states is $5,000.

    See full eligibility criteria here.
    Variable: 3.99% - 11.39%4

    Fixed: 5.05% - 11.71%4

    As of 7/1/2019

    4All rates are listed as APRs with a 0.25% autopay discount. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
    Zero fees, period.

    That includes:
    - no late fees
    - no insufficient funds fees
    - no application fees
    - no origination fees
    - no disbursement fees
    - no prepayment penalties
    Choose from 5, 10, or 15 year options5 5view repayment examples.

    Graduate Student Loans



    Go to grad school and focus on your degree-not your debt. SoFi helps graduate students get competitive-rate loans and pay them back on their own terms.



    Repay your way: pick the repayment option that works for you and your budget:
    - Full principal and interest payments right away
    - Interest-only payments while in school
    - $25 payments each month while in school6
    - Defer payments while in school

    6view repayment examples.
    Get peace of mind knowing SoFi will cover up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance, which typically includes things like tuition, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. The minimum you can borrow in most states is $5,000.

    See full eligibility criteria here.
    Graduate:
    Variable: 3.27% - 11.70%4

    Fixed: 4.33%-11.99%4

    As of 7/1/2019

    4All rates are listed as APRs with a 0.25% autopay discount. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
    Zero fees, period.

    That includes:
    - no late fees
    - no insufficient funds fees
    - no application fees
    - no origination fees
    - no disbursement fees
    - no prepayment penalties
    Choose from 5, 10, or 15 year options7

    7View repayment examples.
    Parent Student Loans

    Parents rejoice: now you can pay your child's tuition with a flexible, competitive-rate parent loan. SoFi's application is quick and easy-and the repayment plans are flexible.

    Repay your way: pick the repayment option that works for you and your budget:
    - Full principal and interest payments right away
    - Interest-only payments while student is in school
    Get peace of mind knowing SoFi will cover up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance, which typically includes things like tuition, books and supplies, room and board, transportation and personal expenses. The minimum you can borrow in most states is $5,000.

    See full eligibility criteria here.

    Variable: 3.99% - 11.39%4

    Fixed: 5.05% - 11.71%4

    As of 7/1/2019

    4All rates are listed as APRs with a 0.25% autopay discount. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

    Zero fees, period.

    That includes:
    - no late fees
    - no insufficient funds fees
    - no application fees
    - no origination fees
    - no disbursement fees
    - no prepayment penalties
    Choose from 5, 10, or 15 year options8

    8View repayment examples.
    Advertisement Advertisement Advertisement

    Additional Lenders listed below. Please visit lender website for updated information.


    Definitions

    • LIBOR is the 3-month average of the London Interbank Offered Rate. LIBOR is the average interest rate paid on deposits of US dollars in the London market.
    • PRIME is the Prime Lending Rate as published in the Wall Street Journal. This is the rate banks charge their most creditworthy customers.
    • COA-Aid is the Cost of Attendance minus all other student aid received.
    • APR is the Annual Percentage Rate, a rate that factors in the interest rate, fees, and other terms.

     


     
    Home | Loans | Scholarships | Savings | Military Aid | Other Types of Aid | Financial Aid Applications
    Answering Your Questions | Calculators | Beyond Financial Aid | Site Map | About FinAid®
    Copyright © 2019 by FinAid Page, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Mark Kantrowitz, Founder
    www.FinAid.org