Best of

Best Student Loans for 2019

Anna HelhoskiJuly 26, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Use federal loans first, then the best private student loan companies below to fill any gap.

Our pick for

Overall

Federal student loans don't require a co-signer and offer unmatched payment flexibility. Use them first.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Fixed APR

4.53-4.53%

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.
  • Subsidized loans do not collect interest while in school or during deferment.
  • Lower interest rates compared with other lenders.

Cons

  • You pay an origination fee.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.
  • Loan amounts: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Our picks for

Best private student loan

These lenders offer competitive rates, generous repayment options and borrower protections.

Ascent Private Student Loans
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Fixed APR

4.22-13.66%

Variable APR

3.71-13.01%

Min. Credit Score

600

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is only available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 for co-signed option.
  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
  • Non-co-signed borrowers must maintain 2.5 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer: 6 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 please visit: www.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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

SoFi Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Fixed APR

4.33-11.99%

Variable APR

2.93-11.57%

Min. Credit Score

700

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.
  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Minimum income: No minimum.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer: Undergraduate Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Graduate Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 4.33% APR to 11.99% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 2.93% to 11.57% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 0.86% and 9.76%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Parent Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Autopay Discount. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make your scheduled monthly payments by an automatic monthly deduction (ACH) from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Credit Pulls. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms you are pre-qualified for, subject to the verification of the information you have submitted as part of your application. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan and may impact your credit score. Unemployment Protection.If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. If you qualify, SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in up to three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance, you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with SoFi Career Services to look for new employment. If the loan is cosigned, the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions. Learn more about SoFi’s Unemployment Protection here #what is sofis unemployment protection program. Negative Amortization. Interest begins accruing on the first disbursement date, but some repayment options do not require full principal or interest payments until the end of the deferment period. Any unpaid interest that has accrued and remains unpaid at the end of the deferment period will be added to the principal balance at the end of the deferment period. Thereafter, interest will accrue on this new principal balance. This is known as negative amortization. You can help avoid negative amortization by making extra payments on your loan during the deferment period. Check out our APR examples and terms. Still have questions? Our FAQs have answers. Important Information About Federal Repayment Options.SoFi Private Student Loans do not have the same repayment options that federal loan programs offer, such as Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment, or PAYE or REPAYE. In addition, federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance options that are not available for SoFi Lending Corp. Private Student Loan borrowers. Find out more about federal repayment options here.

RISLA Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on RISLA's website

Fixed APR

3.64-5.59%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Loans available only to Rhode Island residents or those who attend school there.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.
  • Minimum income: $40,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 or 15 years

Our pick for

Private student loan without a co-signer

Federal loans don't require a co-signer; if they are an option, use them first.

Ascent Private Student Loans
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Fixed APR

4.22-13.66%

Variable APR

3.71-13.01%

Min. Credit Score

600

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is only available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 for co-signed option.
  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
  • Non-co-signed borrowers must maintain 2.5 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer: 6 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 please visit: www.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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

Our pick for

Part-time students

Only a few companies offer loans to students who attend less than half-time.

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Fixed APR

4.74-11.35%

Variable APR

3.37-10.75%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a co-signer.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 748.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5 to 15 years

Disclaimer: Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.74% - 11.35% APR and Variable 3.37% - 10.75% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 08/02/2019 and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The rate reduction benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. This benefit may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.44% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $156.04 and one payment of $118.97, for a Total Loan Cost of $19,962.73.

Our pick for

Community college

Many lenders restrict borrowing to students at four-year schools only.

SoFi Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Fixed APR

4.33-11.99%

Variable APR

2.93-11.57%

Min. Credit Score

700

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.
  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Minimum income: No minimum.
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer: Undergraduate Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Graduate Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 4.33% APR to 11.99% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 2.93% to 11.57% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 0.86% and 9.76%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Parent Student Loans Fixed Rates: Fixed rates range from 5.05% APR to 11.71% APR (with autopay). Variable Rates: Starting variable rates range from 3.65% to 11.25% APR (with autopay), and will never exceed 13.95% (sometimes lower in certain states as required by law). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin of between 1.58% and 9.98%. The current one-month LIBOR rate is 2.27%. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Autopay Discount. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make your scheduled monthly payments by an automatic monthly deduction (ACH) from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the interest savings are applied to the principal loan balance, which may help pay the loan down faster. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Credit Pulls. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms you are pre-qualified for, subject to the verification of the information you have submitted as part of your application. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan and may impact your credit score. Unemployment Protection.If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. If you qualify, SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in up to three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance, you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with SoFi Career Services to look for new employment. If the loan is cosigned, the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions. Learn more about SoFi’s Unemployment Protection here #what is sofis unemployment protection program. Negative Amortization. Interest begins accruing on the first disbursement date, but some repayment options do not require full principal or interest payments until the end of the deferment period. Any unpaid interest that has accrued and remains unpaid at the end of the deferment period will be added to the principal balance at the end of the deferment period. Thereafter, interest will accrue on this new principal balance. This is known as negative amortization. You can help avoid negative amortization by making extra payments on your loan during the deferment period. Check out our APR examples and terms. Still have questions? Our FAQs have answers. Important Information About Federal Repayment Options.SoFi Private Student Loans do not have the same repayment options that federal loan programs offer, such as Income-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment, or PAYE or REPAYE. In addition, federal student loans offer deferment and forbearance options that are not available for SoFi Lending Corp. Private Student Loan borrowers. Find out more about federal repayment options here.

Our pick for

Bad or no credit

Federal loans don't require credit history; neither do these lenders.

Ascent Private Student Loans
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Fixed APR

4.22-13.66%

Variable APR

3.71-13.01%

Min. Credit Score

600

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is only available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 for co-signed option.
  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
  • Non-co-signed borrowers must maintain 2.5 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer: 6 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 please visit: www.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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

Our pick for

International students without a co-signer

MPOWER Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Fixed APR

7.52-13.63%

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.
  • Borrowers are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.
  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 years

Our pick for

International students with a co-signer

Ascent Private Student Loans
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Fixed APR

4.22-13.66%

Variable APR

3.71-13.01%

Min. Credit Score

600

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is only available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 for co-signed option.
  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
  • Non-co-signed borrowers must maintain 2.5 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer: 6 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 please visit: www.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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

Our pick for

Medical school

Compare rates with federal PLUS loans.

Discover Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Discover's website

Fixed APR

4.74-12.49%

Variable APR

3.37-11.87%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.
  • No origination or late fees.

Cons

  • Only one repayment term: 15 years.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 660+.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance, minus other financial aid.

Available Term Lengths

  • 15 years

Disclaimer: The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.50% as of July 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the "interest rate change date"), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please click here for more information about interest rates.

Our pick for

Law school

Compare rates with federal PLUS loans.

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Fixed APR

4.74-11.35%

Variable APR

3.37-10.75%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a co-signer.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 748.
  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5 to 15 years

Disclaimer: Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.74% - 11.35% APR and Variable 3.37% - 10.75% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 08/02/2019 and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The rate reduction benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. This benefit may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.44% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $156.04 and one payment of $118.97, for a Total Loan Cost of $19,962.73.

Our picks for

Graduate students

Compare rates with federal PLUS loans.

College Ave Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.72-12.94%

Variable APR

3.96-11.98%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.

Cons

  • No formal forbearance options.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.
  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $80,000.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 8, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

RISLA Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on RISLA's website

Fixed APR

3.64-5.59%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Loans available only to Rhode Island residents or those who attend school there.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.
  • Minimum income: $40,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 or 15 years
MPOWER Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Fixed APR

7.52-13.63%

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.
  • Borrowers are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.
  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 years

Our picks for

Parent loans for college

Not all lenders offer parent loans. Compare with federal PLUS loans.

RISLA Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on RISLA's website

Fixed APR

3.64-5.59%

Min. Credit Score

680

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Loans available only to Rhode Island residents or those who attend school there.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.
  • Minimum income: $40,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 or 15 years
College Ave Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Fixed APR

4.72-12.94%

Variable APR

3.96-11.98%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.

Cons

  • No formal forbearance options.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.
  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $80,000.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 8, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer: College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 7/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

Summary of Best Student Loans for 2019

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-4.53%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Ascent Private Student Loans

Ascent Private Student Loans

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

4.22-13.66%

3.71-13.01%

600

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

SoFi Private Student Loan

SoFi Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

4.33-11.99%

2.93-11.57%

700

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on RISLA's website

3.64-5.59%

N/A

680

Check Rate

on RISLA's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

4.74-11.35%

3.37-10.75%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

7.52-13.63%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Discover Private Student Loan

Discover Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Discover's website

4.74-12.49%

3.37-11.87%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

4.72-12.94%

3.96-11.98%

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-4.53%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Ascent Private Student Loans

Ascent Private Student Loans

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

4.22-13.66%

3.71-13.01%

600

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

SoFi Private Student Loan

SoFi Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

4.33-11.99%

2.93-11.57%

700

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on RISLA's website

3.64-5.59%

N/A

680

Check Rate

on RISLA's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

4.74-11.35%

3.37-10.75%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

7.52-13.63%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Discover Private Student Loan

Discover Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Discover's website

4.74-12.49%

3.37-11.87%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

4.72-12.94%

3.96-11.98%

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Best private student loan companies

Chances are that multiple private lenders offer the kind of student loan you want. We've gathered them by category below. Compare offers from as many as you can before signing on the dotted line.

No co-signer

Bad or no credit

Part-time students

Community college

Lenders that offer co-signer release

International students

Medical school

Law school

Graduate school

Parent loans

Last updated on July 26, 2019

Methodology

NerdWallet student loan experts evaluated more than 50 data points across five categories to see which student loan companies rank highest among all lenders we review. Here’s the criteria:

  • Enable faster repayment: Lenders score highly if they offer a variety of term lengths and make extra payments easy.
  • Disclose requirements and limit costs: Lenders score highly if they limit fees and interest rates, are transparent about their underwriting criteria and allow borrowers to get personalized rate estimates before applying.
  • Serve a range of borrowers: Lenders score highly if they cater to customers in varying locations, in different financial situations and with varying citizenship statuses.
  • Offer payment flexibility: Lenders score highly if they offer longer than 12-month forbearance periods, in-school and military deferment, and any other flexible policies that help borrowers during tough times.
  • Supports customers: Lenders score highly if they assign borrowers an advisor, offer multiple ways to get in touch and have in-house customer service. Websites should display full APR ranges, fees and forbearance policies.

Our best private student loan selections drill down on certain loan types or loan features and present the highest-rated lender meeting those criteria.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Student Loans for 2019