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7 Best Private Student Loans of June 2020

NerdWalletApril 28, 2020

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Always borrow federal student loans before private loans. Once you've exhausted federal options, compare offers from multiple private lenders to find the lowest interest rate.

Private student loans can be a good option if:

  • You have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to see if you’re eligible for federal grants, work-study and federal loans.
  • You have already borrowed the maximum in both subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans.
  • You have good credit or a co-signer who does. Most private student loan borrowers have a co-signer.
  • You borrow only what you need.

Below, you can get personalized rates from these well-established lenders and learn more about borrowing private student loans.

Summary of Best Private Student Loans of June 2020

LenderNerdWallet Rating Fixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Best for: Part-time students and those who want repayment flexibility.

4.74 - 11.85%

1.25 - 9.44%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Best for: Students who want to make payments while they’re still in school.

4.39 - 12.99%

1.49 - 11.98%

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Ascent Private Student Loan

Ascent Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Best for: Independent students; faster payoff.

3.82 - 14.50%

2.71 - 12.99%

540

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Best for: Faster payoff.

5.45 - 9.74%

3.31 - 9.29%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Best for: International students; existing Citizens Bank customers.

4.40 - 12.19%

1.20 - 9.53%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Discover Private Student Loan

Discover Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Discover's website

Best for: Students who may need wiggle room on payments.

4.49 - 12.39%

1.49 - 11.49%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Best for: Flexible repayment.

4.39 - 12.78%

1.78 - 11.44%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.74 - 11.85%

Variable APR

1.25 - 9.44%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 9.44%

Key facts

Best for part-time students and those who want flexibility with repayment.

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 U.S. 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.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • 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% - 11.85% APR and Variable 1.25% - 9.44% 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 05/26/2020. 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 to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This 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 and 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.

Read Full Review
College Ave Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.99%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.98%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Variable APR

1.49 - 11.98%

Key facts

College Ave Student Loans is an online lender that offers student loans for undergraduates, graduate students and parents, plus student loan refinancing.

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

  • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance.

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 5/18/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Lowest advertised rates require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Read Full Review
Ascent Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Private Student Loan

Ascent Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

3.82 - 14.50%

Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

Min. Credit Score

540

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

2.71 - 12.99%

Key facts

Online lender Ascent offers two private student loan products, one for borrowers who have a co-signer and one for independent students who don't have a co-signer or established credit.

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 future-income based option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based option is available only to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed future income-based option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 for the co-signed and non-co-signed credit-based option. Income is not considered for the non-co-signed future income-based option.

  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $1,000 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, $1,000 to $20,000.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based borrowers must also meet satisfactory academic performance requirements with a 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

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 05/14/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.

Read Full Review
CommonBond Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

5.45 - 9.74%

Variable APR

3.31 - 9.29%

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website


Variable APR

3.31 - 9.29%

Key facts

Best for students who are already planning to use a co-signer and value customer support.

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • You are assigned a dedicated Money Mentor.

Cons

  • Loans aren't available in Nevada and Mississippi.

  • Co-signer required.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: No set minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to the total cost of attendance. Maximum $500,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The Annual Percentage Rates (APR) shown reflect the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.14% effective August 25, 2019.

Read Full 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

4.40 - 12.19%

Variable APR

1.20 - 9.53%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.20 - 9.53%

Key facts

Citizens One is the student loan arm of well-established Citizens Bank. It offers undergraduate and graduate student loans, plus refinancing of existing student loans.

Pros

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.

  • 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 1.20%-9.53% (1.20%-9.38% APR).Fixed interest rates range from 4.40%-12.19% (4.40% -12.04% APR)

Read Full Review
Discover Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Discover's website

Discover Private Student Loan

Discover Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.49 - 12.39%

Variable APR

1.49 - 11.49%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Discover's website


Variable APR

1.49 - 11.49%

Key facts

Discover offers private student loans and student loan refinancing to undergraduates and graduate students. Discover’s flexible payment options for borrowers experiencing financial hardship are noteworthy.

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

  • No origination or late fees.

Cons

  • 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: 750+.

  • 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 undergraduate, 20 years graduate

Disclaimer

Lowest [rates/APRs] shown [for Discover Student Loans] are available for the most creditworthy applicants and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate 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. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 1.00% as of April 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1, 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. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Rates.

Read Full Review
Earnest Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.39 - 12.78%

Variable APR

1.78 - 11.44%

Min. Credit Score

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website


Variable APR

1.78 - 11.44%

Key facts

An option for borrowers who want flexible repayment.

Pros

  • Option to skip one payment every 12 months.

  • No late fees.

  • Nine-month grace period is longer than most lenders offer.

Cons

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

  • Loans aren't available in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: $35,000.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

How do private student loans and federal student loans differ?

You apply for a federal student loan by submitting a FAFSA. Taking on a federal loan means you’re borrowing a loan funded by the government. You apply for a private student loan through a bank, credit union or online lender.

Federal student loans offer borrowers protections and alternative repayment options that private loans may not, such as income-based repayment and forgiveness programs. Federal student loans also have flat interest rates set by Congress, while the interest rate on a private student loan depends on your or your co-signer’s credit. Without a credit score of at least 690, you'll likely pay a higher interest rate for a private loan than you would for a federal loan.

» MORE: How to get a student loan

How do I choose a private student loan?

Compare offers from multiple lenders including banks, credit unions and online lenders to find the lowest interest rate. Depending on the lender, you may be able to choose a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate stays the same throughout the life of a loan. A variable rate may start out lower than a fixed rate, but could increase or decrease over time depending on economic conditions.

Consider any borrower protections your private lender offers, including deferment and forbearance, as well as repayment options. You may also have the option to choose your loan term, which means you could pay off your loan faster and with less interest by making higher payments or pay lower amounts with more interest over a longer period of time.

How do I qualify for a private student loan?

Each lender will have its own requirements for taking out a loan. With most loans, credit score and income are taken into account. Higher scores and incomes tend to get the best rates or higher borrowing amounts. However, since undergraduate borrowers are less likely to have established credit or an income, lenders will usually require students to apply with a co-signer. Some lenders who have loans for borrowers without a co-signer will consider career and income potential.

Lenders will often require you to attend a Title IV school, which means your school processes federal student aid. Some lenders don't offer loans in certain states.

Can I get a private student loan with bad credit?

You’ll have a hard time finding a private student loan from a bank, credit union or online lender if you have bad credit. Federal student loans don’t require borrowers to demonstrate creditworthiness, so they’ll be your best option. If you’ve already hit your limit on federal loans, you may be able to get a private student loan if you apply with a co-signer who has solid credit — typically scores in the high 600s or better.

» MORE: Student loans for borrowers with bad or no credit

Will I need a co-signer for a private student loan?

If you have no income and either no credit or bad credit, you’ll need a co-signer to get a private student loan. Without bills in your name, such as a credit card, car loan or utility, you have no way to demonstrate that you can pay bills on time. Your co-signer will need to have a steady income as well as good to excellent credit scores, typically at least in the high 600s. Signing with a co-signer means they’re on the hook for your loan bill if you can’t pay.

Some lenders offer loans exclusively for student borrowers that don't take credit into consideration. Instead, these lenders look at the school you’re attending as well as your income and career potential to determine the amount you can borrow and at what rate.

» MORE: How to get a student loan without co-signer

How do I apply for a private student loan?

Each lender will have its own application requirements. You’ll usually need to provide documents that prove citizenship, identity and income along with school attendance and cost information or a financial aid award letter from your college.

As part of underwriting, you or your co-signer will need to show you have a credit score in the high 600s or higher, as well as cash flow to make loan payments. They’ll also look at your or your co-signer’s debt-to-income ratio to make sure you have the funds to pay a student loan bill in addition to any other bills in your name.

Find the best student loan for you

Last updated on April 28, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Private Student Loans of June 2020

Frequently asked questions