Best of

4 Banks That Offer Student Loans

Ryan LaneJuly 9, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Few traditional banks offer student loans, but private loans are available from online lenders.

Which banks offer student loans? Not many. Traditional brick-and-mortar banks used to be a student lending staple, but only a handful still have private loan programs.

If you already use one of these banks — such as Citizens Bank or Wells Fargo — they may offer you a lower interest rate. But compare that offer with rates from other lenders, and exhaust available federal loans before turning to any private option.

Here’s a look at banks that do and don’t offer student loans, plus information on getting a private student loan from a bank.

Summary of Banks That Offer Student Loans

LenderNerdWallet Rating Fixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Best for International students with an eligible co-signer

4.25 - 11.53%

1.24 - 11.00%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

LendKey Private Student Loan

LendKey Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

Best for Borrowing from a community bank

4.25 - 12.35%

1.25 - 11.76%

660

Check Rate

on LendKey's website

PNC Private Student Loan

PNC Private Student Loan

Best for Students who plan to start repayment immediately

4.49 - 11.49%

4.59 - 11.59%

Does not disclose

Read review
Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Best for Students with existing Wells Fargo student loans

4.53 - 10.72%

3.39 - 10.09%

Does not disclose

Read review
Citizens One Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 11.53%

Variable APR

1.24 - 11.00%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.24 - 11.00%

Key facts

Borrowers with an existing Citizens Bank account — like a checking account or auto loan — at the time of application get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount.

Pros

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.

Cons

  • You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $100,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.24%-11.39% (1.24%-11.00% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.25%-11.95% (4.25% -11.53% APR)
Read Full Review
LendKey Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on LendKey's website

LendKey Private Student Loan

LendKey Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.76%

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rate

on LendKey's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.76%

Key facts

LendKey partners with community banks, as well as credit unions, to offer private student loans.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 18 months is longer than many lenders offer.

Cons

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • No in-school deferment.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 748.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance, minus other aid received.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years.

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

PNC Private Student Loan

PNC Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.49 - 11.49%

Variable APR

4.59 - 11.59%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose


Variable APR

4.59 - 11.59%

Key facts

PNC doesn’t offer an additional interest rate discount if you already have an account with the bank.

Pros

  • Interest rate discount for autopay is larger than most lenders offer.

Cons

  • No formal forbearance options.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years.

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.53 - 10.72%

Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose


Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Key facts

Wells Fargo offers interest rate discounts for borrowers with a qualifying Wells Fargo consumer checking account, a prior federal or private student loan made by Wells Fargo, or Portfolio by Wells Fargo.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • One of the few lenders to offer loans to borrowers enrolled less than half-time.

  • More payment reduction options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Shorter length of hardship forbearance than most other lenders.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Only borrowers with existing Wells Fargo student loans are eligible.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $120,000

Available Term Lengths

15 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Banks that offer student loans

Only a few national banks offer private student loans. These include:

  • Citizens Bank.

  • PNC.

  • Wells Fargo.

Some community banks provide private loans through third-party services, such as LendKey and iHELP. State banks — for example, the Bank of North Dakota — may have loan programs for students who are from or attending college in that state.

Many of the biggest and most well-known banks in the United States don’t offer private student loans, including:

How to get a student loan from a bank

If you’ve found a bank that offers student loans, follow these steps before you borrow:

  • Exhaust federal student loans. Banks only offer private student loans. Before borrowing those, max out unsubsidized and subsidized federal student loans because of their low fixed rates and consumer protections. You can qualify for federal student aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

  • Compare offers. If federal loans won’t cover all your costs, compare private student loans to get the best rate possible. That may be with a bank — for example, Citizens Bank offers a 0.25 percentage point discount to its existing customers — or an online lender may offer a better deal.

  • Check your qualifications. Banks can be tight-lipped about their financial requirements. But private lenders typically want you to have a credit score above 670 and enough income to afford all your debts and expenses. Banks may have additional requirements; for example, as of July 1, 2020, Wells Fargo only lends to borrowers with outstanding Wells Fargo student loans.

  • Apply with the bank. You’ll likely be able to complete the application process on the bank’s website. If a smaller or local bank has not partnered with a lending platform like LendKey, find out the steps you’ll need to complete your paperwork.

Which bank has the best student loan?

The best student loan is generally the one that costs you the least. That may come from a bank, especially if it offers a loyalty discount that lowers your interest rate.

But if your bank doesn’t have a student loan program, evaluate all your options.

Online lenders may lack the brand recognition of some banks, but there are reputable options that offer quick preapproval and match other features you might value in a bank. For example:

  • One-stop shopping. Online lender SoFi provides multiple products in addition to student loans, including mortgages and investment accounts. This matches the convenience banks offer of working with a single financial institution.

  • Long-term experience. Education Loan Finance, or ELFI, is not a bank itself, but it is an offshoot of SouthEast Bank in Tennessee. ELFI is a nonprofit organization that has worked with student borrowers for 25 years.

  • Personal support. Online lender CommonBond rates among NerdWallet’s best private student loans for customer service. Its personalized support includes offering students a dedicated Money Mentor who can answer questions on topics like financial aid, budgeting and credit.

Last updated on July 9, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Banks That Offer Student Loans