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14 Best Private Student Loans

Compare offers from multiple private lenders to find the lowest student loan interest rate — but only after you've exhausted all federal financial aid.

NerdWallet
By
Last updated on June 27, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Karen Gaudette Brewer
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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NerdWallet's student loans content, including articles, reviews and recommendations, is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in consumer lending. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nasdaq, MSN, ABC News, MarketWatch and many other national and regional media outlets. They also have appeared on NerdWallet's “Smart Money” podcast, as well as local TV and radio.
Top Private Student Loan Lenders
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2024 Best Private Student Loan Overall
College Ave Private Student Loan
5.0/5
NerdWallet rating
College Ave Private Student Loan
Fixed APR
3.99-17.99%
Variable APR
5.59-17.99%
Min. credit score
Mid-600s
on College Ave's website
on Credible’s website
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan
Fixed APR
4.15-15.49%
Variable APR
5.37-15.70%
Min. credit score
Mid-600's
on Sallie Mae's website
on Credible’s website

Best Private Student Loans

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

GO TO LENDER SITE
on Sallie Mae's website
on Sallie Mae's website
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website

Mid-600's

4.15-15.49%

5.37-15.70%

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

2024 Best Private Student Loan Overall
5.0
/5
Best for Private student loan + Part-time students

Mid-600s

3.99-17.99%

5.59-17.99%

Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
4.5
/5
Best for Private student loan

Low-Mid 600s

3.79-15.41%

5.99-15.85%

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website

Our pick for

Private student loan

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan
GO TO LENDER SITE
on Sallie Mae's website
on Sallie Mae's website
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

4.5
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.15-15.49%

Variable APR

5.37-15.70%

Key factsBest for part-time students and those who want to make payments during school.
Pros
  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, who live in the U.S. and attend school in the U.S. can apply with a qualified co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
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 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 Lengths10 to 15 years
DisclaimerLowest rates shown include the auto debit. Advertised APRs for undergraduate students assume a $10,000 loan to a student who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae-serviced loans. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount 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. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. Advertised APRs are valid as of 7/12/2024. Loan amounts: For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website will be subject to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.28% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $182.67 and one payment of $121.71, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,134.44. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.78% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $132.53 and one payment of $40.35 for a total loan cost of $24,438.22. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years. A variable APR may increase over the life of the loan. A fixed APR will not.
Read Full Review
College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

3.99-17.99%

Variable APR

5.59-17.99%

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.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.
  • Six-month grace period extension is available.
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 Lengths5, 8, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community 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. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. 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 7/10/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
Ascent Credit-based Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

Min. credit score

Low-Mid 600s

Fixed APR

3.79-15.41%

Variable APR

5.99-15.85%

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
  • Among the best for payment flexibility.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Stands out for features that enable faster loan repayment.
Cons
  • Students enrolled less than half-time are not eligible.
  • Co-signer release not available to international students.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: $0 for primary borrower. $24,000 for current and previous year for co-signer.
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $200,000 per year with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
DisclaimerAscent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each 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: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 7/8/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-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: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest rates require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.
Custom Choice Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Custom Choice Loan

Custom Choice Loan

Min. credit score

600

Fixed APR

4.24-14.14%

Variable APR

5.44-14.91%

Key factsCustom Choice student loans are best for upperclassmen who are confident they can take advantage of the 2% Grad Reward and returning borrowers who want to take advantage of a pre-filled application and income verification waiver.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • No late fees.
  • Principal reduction of 2% if you graduate.
  • Stands out for features that enable faster loan repayment.
Cons
  • Doesn't apply extra payments to the principal balance by default.
  • Forbearance program is less generous than others.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 700 for a non-cosigned loan and 733 for co-signed loans.
  • Minimum income: No minimum, but borrowers must demonstrate positive income.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to $99,999.
Available Term Lengths7, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerBefore applying for a private student loan, Citizens and Monogram recommend exhausting all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. The Custom Choice Loan® is made by Citizens (“Lender”). All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to Lender’s underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions and other terms and conditions apply. LENDER AND MONOGRAM LLC EACH RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. TERMS, CONDITIONS AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the expected number of years in deferment, (4) the requested loan amount and (5) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective as of 7/1/2024. The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the 30-Day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index , or a replacement index if the SOFR index is no longer available , plus a fixed margin assigned to each loan. The SOFR index is published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The current SOFR index is 5.33% as of 7/1/2024. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the SOFR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount. APRs assume a $10,000 loan with one disbursement. The high variable APR assumes a 7-year term with the Fully Deferred Repayment option, a deferment period greater than 30 months, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The low APRs assume a 7-year term, and the Immediate Repayment option with payments beginning 30-60 days after the disbursement via auto pay. Auto pay yields a 0.25% interest rate reduction which is applied after the Servicer validates your bank account information. Automatic payments and the associated discount will be temporarily discontinued (1) if you elect to stop automatic deduction of payments and (2) during periods when you are not required to make payments. The discount will be permanently discontinued in the event three automatic deductions are returned by the financial institution for any reason. The auto pay discount is not available when reduced payments are being made or when the loan is in a deferment. Custom Choice Loan® is a registered trademark of Monogram LLC. Monogram LLC (NMLS #2542102) NMLS Consumer Access.
Education Loan Finance Private Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Education Loan Finance Private Student Loan

Education Loan Finance Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

4.50-14.22%

Variable APR

6.00-14.22%

Key factsBest for borrowers with a significant funding gap.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • You are assigned a student loan advisor.
Cons
  • No co-signer release available.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not available.
  • Minimum income: $35,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10 or 15 years.
Earnest Undergraduate Loan

Earnest Undergraduate Loan

Min. credit score

650

Fixed APR

4.17-16.49%

Variable APR

5.62-16.85%

Key factsAn option for undergraduate 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
  • Loans aren't available in Nevada.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 758.
  • Minimum income: $35,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
DisclaimerActual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.42% APR to 16.74% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.87% APR to 17.10% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan origination loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.
SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

SoFi Undergraduate Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

4.19-14.83%

Variable APR

5.74-15.86%

Key factsBest for flexible repayment options and no fees.
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.
Cons
  • Does not offer bi-weekly payments via autopay.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.
  • Minimum income: No minimum.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 minimum.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerInterest Rates: Eligibility and Important Details. Fixed rates range from 4.19% APR to 14.83% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 5.74% APR to 15.86% APR with a 0.25% autopay discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates are capped at 17.95%. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 6/20/24 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on the term and type of repayment option you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer (if applicable) and a variety of other factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Check out our eligibility criteria at https://www.sofi.com/eligibility-criteria/. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30- day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. UNDERGRAD + GRADUATE + MBA/LAW SCHOOL LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Partial Payment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 8.52%-14.83% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) (with autopay). It also assumes the borrower remains in school for 4 years and has a 6-month grace period (together, the deferment period) before the loan term begins. It works out to 54 monthly payments of $25 during the deferment period, followed by 120 monthly payments ranging from $124.09-$160.30 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments ranging from $14,891.12-$19,235.46. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. HEALTH PROFESSION LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a first year borrower who selects the Partial Payment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 8.52%-14.83% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) (with autopay). It also assumes the borrower remains in school for 4 years and has a 9-month grace period (together, the deferment period) before the loan term begins. It works out to 57 monthly payments of $25 during the deferment period, followed by 120 monthly payments ranging from $124.09-$160.30 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments ranging from $14,891.12-$19,235.46. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. PARENT LOANS: This repayment example is based on typical loan terms for a borrower who selects the Immediate Repayment option with a 10-year repayment term, a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in a single disbursement, a 0.25% autopay discount, and a fixed rate between 9.02-14.83% APR (with autopay). The Immediate Repayment option assumes full payment begins 1 month after full disbursement. It works out to 120 monthly payments ranging from $126.78-$160.30 for a total amount of payments ranging from $15,214.08-$19,235.46. This repayment example assumes that the borrower is signed up for autopay and that all payments are made on time, with no pre-payments. Actual rates may vary based on repayment type, loan amount, creditworthiness, and other terms and conditions. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.19% to 14.83% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 15.86%% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 15.86% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 15.86% APR (with autopay). HEALTH PROFESSION LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.74% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 15.86% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.25% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 6.07% to 15.86% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 17.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction 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. Information current as of 6/20/24. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Private Student loans are originated by SoFi Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. NMLS #696891 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. This benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.
Funding U Private Student Loan

Funding U Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

7.95-12.49%

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsBest for high-achieving independent students enrolled in four-year programs who have small funding gaps.
Pros
  • You don't need a co-signer or credit to get a loan.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Cons
  • Loans aren't available in 12 states.
  • Payment required while in school.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 650.
  • Minimum income: No minimum, but borrowers must demonstrate they can pay $20 per month toward their loan.
  • Loan amounts: $3,001 up to $10,000.
Available Term Lengths10 years
LendKey Private Student Loan

LendKey Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

3.99-12.61%

Variable APR

5.98-13.74%

Key factsBest for students who value working with a community bank or credit union.
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.
  • Payment required while in school.
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 Lengths5, 10 or 15 years.

Our pick for

International students

Ascent requires a co-signer; MPOWER does not.

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

12.99-15.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsBest for international students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status.
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.
  • Borrowers can request forbearance of up to 24 months, which is longer than many lenders offer.
Cons
  • Payment required while in school.
  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
Qualifications
  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $100,000, limited to $50,000 per academic period.
Available Term Lengths10 years
DisclaimerNote: Our loan does not support Canadian citizens studying in Canada. Canadian Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens are considered “international” when studying in Canada. International students, U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and DACA recipients in the U.S. or Canada. ‘International’ means you are a non-U.S. citizen or U.S. non-permanent resident studying at a university in the U.S., or you are a non-Canadian citizen or Canadian non-permanent resident studying at a university in Canada. ‘DACA’ means the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program initiated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. In order to qualify as a DACA Student, you must have applied for, and been granted, DACA status by USCIS. As a graduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 12.99% (13.98% APR¹). This is the maximum rate and will not increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 12.74% (13.72% APR²). ¹[International graduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation, plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 13.98%, the monthly payment amount is US$113.66 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is about $156.71. ²[International graduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. At an APR of 13.72%, the monthly payment is US$111.47 for the first 30 months. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$155.17. Undergraduate Students in the U.S. or Canada As an undergraduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 13.99% (15.01% APR³). This is the maximum rate and will never increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 13.74% (14.75% APR⁴). ³[International undergraduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of $500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 15.01%, the monthly payment amount is $122.41 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is $162.97. ⁴[International undergraduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. A forbearance is never utilized and there is no prepayment of any principal. At an APR of 14.75%, the monthly payment is US$120.22 for the first 30 payments. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$161.39.

Our pick for

Graduate school

College Ave Graduate Student Loan

College Ave Graduate Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

4.22-14.49%

Variable APR

5.59-14.49%

Key factsBest for graduate students who'll need extra time before starting repayment.
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.
  • Nine-month grace period is longer than other lenders offer.
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 the total cost of attendance.
Available Term Lengths5, 8, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community 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. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. 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 7/10/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Our pick for

No co-signer

Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan
Check rate
on Ascent's website
on Ascent's website
Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan

Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan

Min. credit score

Low-Mid 600s

Fixed APR

13.09-15.08%

Variable APR

13.46-15.40%

Key factsBest for independent students with strong credit or upperclassmen with good grades.
Pros
  • Among the best for payment flexibility.
  • Grace period of 9 months is longer than most lenders.
Cons
  • International students are not eligible.
  • Freshmen, sophomores and those enrolled less than half-time are not eligible for the Outcomes-based loan.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year for credit-based loan. No minimum for future-income based loan.
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $200,000 per year with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000 for credit-based loan. $2,001 to $20,000 per year for future-income based loan.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
DisclaimerAscent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each 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: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 7/8/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-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: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest rates require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.

Our pick for

Parent loan

ISL Private Student Loan

ISL Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

3.85-8.40%

Variable APR

5.59-10.71%

Key factsBest for low-interest loans with consumer-friendly features, like a generous forbearance policy.
Pros
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.
  • No late fees.
Cons
  • Only offers 2 loan terms.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 670.
  • Minimum income: No minimum income.
  • Loan amounts: $1,001 or $2,001, based on residency and school location, up to cost of attendance minus other aid received.
Available Term Lengths10 or 15

Our pick for

Part-time students

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

3.99-17.99%

Variable APR

5.59-17.99%

Key factsBest for students who want to make payments while they're still in school.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.
  • Six-month grace period extension is available.
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 Lengths5, 8, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community 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. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. 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 7/10/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Our pick for

Income-based private loan

Income-based private student loans give you money to finish school in return for part of your pay later.

Edly Non-Cosigner Student Loan

Edly Non-Cosigner Student Loan

Min. credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

9.40-23.00%

Key factsBest for seniors and graduate students with small funding gaps and no co-signer or credit history.
Pros
  • No credit history required.
  • Available to students without a co-signer.
Cons
  • Borrowers have to repay 2.25X the borrowed amount if they want to pay off the loan early.
  • Low income forbearance is not automatic and interest accrues.
  • Not available to borrowers in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia.
Available Term Lengths5 years of payments and up to 10 years with deferment periods.

Learn more about private student loans

Find the best student loan companies for:

Options for independent students

Remove parents from your student loans quickly

College loans in a parent's name

Lenders that don't require a full-time class load

Funding without a credit score requirement

Most lenders require a U.S. co-signer

PLUS loans, co-signer and other options

Loans for students

How do private student loans and federal student loans differ?

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

Federal student loans only come with fixed interest rates — rates that are locked in for the life of the loan — that are set by Congress annually. Private lenders can offer fixed or variable rates that are based on your creditworthiness — and your co-signer's if you have one. Federal loans also charge origination fees; private loans typically do not.

Borrowers of federal student loans get extra protections — like income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness — that private loans lack.

How do I choose a private college loan online?

Compare offers from multiple lenders including banks, credit unions, online companies and state-based 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 other 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. Credit score and income are taken into account for most student loans. Higher credit scores and incomes tend to get the best rates and are more likely to be approved for higher borrowing amounts. Since undergraduate borrowers are less likely to have established credit or income, lenders will usually prompt students to apply with a co-signer. Some lenders who have loans for borrowers without a co-signer will consider academic performance 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 have bad credit. 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.

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

If you have no income and 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, it's hard to demonstrate that you can pay bills on time. Your co-signer will need a steady income and excellent credit scores, typically in the high 600s. Signing with a co-signer means they’re on the hook for your loan if you can no longer pay it.

Some private lenders will let students apply without a co-signer. Instead of basing your loan offer on your credit, they look at your academic performance and earning potential to determine your ability to pay back the debt.

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 information, like cost of attendance or the 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.

How exactly do student loan interest rates work?

Learn more about how student loan interest rates are determined, including a history of rate changes through the years. Private student loan interest rates can sometimes be lower than federal rates, but approval for the lowest rates requires excellent credit. If you have good credit, you may be able to refinance existing student loans to get a lower rate.

Recent studies on paying for college

NerdWallet study: College-bound grads could exit with $37K of student debt

A 2024 high school graduate who will depend on student loans to pay for college can expect to borrow about $37,000 for their bachelor’s degree, according to a recent NerdWallet analysis.

For more details, and to learn a number of ways to cut down on the amount borrowed for a bachelor's degree before, during and after college, see the full study here.

College Board study: More than half of college students take out student loans

Among 2021-22 bachelor's degree recipients from public and private four-year colleges, 51% graduated with student debt, according to College Board’s latest 2023 Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid study.

However, overall student borrowing is steadily falling. In 2022-23, borrowing decreased for the 12th year in a row, the study found. Families borrowed $98 billion in federal and private student loans, down from an inflation-adjusted peak of $153 billion in 2010-11.

If you or your child are considering going to college, familiarize yourself with all of the options available to you to fund that education — and submit the FAFSA to be considered for the most aid possible.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 26 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Last updated on June 27, 2024

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Private Student Loans

Frequently asked questions

  • Take out a private student loan only after you have exhausted your eligibility for federal student loans and you need additional financing to cover your remaining financial need. Borrow only what you need.

  • To qualify for most private student loans, you (or your co-signer) will need good credit and income. Information on your citizenship and your education costs, among other criteria, is also required.

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders to see which will offer you the lowest interest rate. Ensure that lender meets your other needs, like offering funding in your state or for your degree program.

  • You will almost certainly need a co-signer to meet a lender’s credit and income requirements. A few lenders consider borrowers without a co-signer, looking at career and income potential instead.

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