BEST OF

12 State Student Loans and Nonprofit Lenders

Compare the rates and features of state student loans with other private lenders after exhausting federal aid.

Ryan LaneJun 1, 2021
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States are in the student loan business, too. They can help you pay for college or refinance education debt.

While these loans come from nonprofit and state-based agencies, they are still private student loans. Exhaust free money, like scholarships, and federal student loans before turning to any private lender.

If you need a private student loan, a state-based lender can make sense if it offers the lowest interest rate you can get or a repayment feature you want, like potential loan forgiveness, zero capitalized interest or an income-based repayment plan.

Many state student loan programs are limited to residents or schools within their specific state, but some lend nationwide. Here are lenders that might be available to you, as well as more information on state student loan programs.

Summary of State Student Loans and Nonprofit Lenders

Our picks for

Student loans available in multiple states

Advantage Education Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Advantage Education Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

3.75 - 6.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans aren’t available if you live and attend college in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Pros

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

  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.

  • Loans are available if you’re enrolled less than half time.

Cons

  • Loans may not be available depending on where you live or go to school.

  • Fewer repayment terms than other lenders offer.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: Minimum $1,000. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Read Full Review

RISLA Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RISLA Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

680

Fixed APR

3.64 - 5.46%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

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

  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.

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

Read Full Review

EDvestinU Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
EDvestinU Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

750

Fixed APR

3.91 - 6.28%

Variable APR

1.86 - 4.23%

Variable APR

1.86 - 4.23%

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • In-person support and counseling are available.

  • Deferment/forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.

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: 787.

  • Minimum income: $30,000.

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

Available Term Lengths

7, 10 or 15 years.

Disclaimer

APR or "annual percentage rate," projected monthly payments, and total cost of loan examples are based on a $10,000 loan disbursed in two equal disbursements with a 7, 10, or 15 year repayment. Lowest rates require immediate repayment. The examples assume a 0.50% interest rate reduction for authorizing our servicer to automatically deduct monthly payments from a savings or checking account. Loans that are in a deferment (including borrowers who elect deferred repayment), grace period, or forbearance are not eligible to enroll and receive the automatic payment benefit until they enter into repayment. Once the repayment period commences, the borrower may enroll in automatic payment. Borrowers enrolled in immediate or interest-only repayment are eligible to enroll in automatic payment once all disbursements on the loan have been made and the loan is considered fully disbursed. The interest rate reduction for authorizing our servicer to automatically deduct monthly payments from a savings or checking account will not reduce the monthly payment, but will reduce the monthly finance charge, resulting in a lower total cost of loan. Variable APR rates may increase or decrease depending on fluctuations in the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) index. Monthly interest rate accrual is based on the published One-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) as of the last business day of the previous month plus your applicable margin. As of October 30, 2020 the One–Month LIBOR rate is 0.14%.

Read Full Review

ISL Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
ISL Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

670

Fixed APR

4.60 - 7.40%

Variable APR

3.51 - 6.14%

Variable APR

3.51 - 6.14%

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.

  • No 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 or co-signers: 759.

  • 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 Lengths

10 or 15

Read Full Review

MEFA Private Student Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
MEFA Private Student Loan

Min. Credit Score

670

Fixed APR

3.75 - 5.75%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • No late fees.

Cons

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

  • Only one repayment plan offers co-signer release.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: $26,200

  • Loan amounts: Minimum: $2,000 for a private college, $1,500 for a public college; maximum: total cost of attendance minus other financial aid.

Available Term Lengths

10 or 15 years

Read Full Review

Our picks for

State refinance student loans

EDvestinU Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

EDvestinU Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
EDvestinU Student Loan Refinance

Min. Credit Score

700

Fixed APR

3.91 - 6.28%

Variable APR

1.86 - 4.23%
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

1.86 - 4.23%

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • You can refinance without a degree.

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

Cons

  • You cannot refinance parent PLUS loans in your name.

  • Maximum loan amount is lower than most lenders offer.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 756.

  • Minimum income: $30,000.

  • Loan amounts: $7,500 to $200,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

APR, projected monthly payments, and total cost of loan examples are based on a $10,000 loan disbursed in one disbursement with either 5–year, 10–year, 15–year or 20–year repayment. APR’s provided include a 0.25 percent interest rate reduction for authorizing our loan servicer to automatically deduct your payments each month from your bank account. The interest rate reduction for authorizing our servicer to automatically deduct monthly payments from a savings or checking account will not reduce the monthly payment, but will reduce the monthly finance charge, resulting in a lower total cost of loan. Variable APR rates may increase or decrease depending on fluctuations in the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) index. Monthly interest rate accrual is based on the published One–Month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") as of the last business day of the previous month plus your applicable margin.

Read Full Review
Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Advantage Education Loan Student Loan Refinance

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

3.99 - 7.78%

Variable APR

N/A
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans aren’t available in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C.

Pros

  • You can refinance without a degree.

  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.

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

Cons

  • Loans aren’t available in Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington or Washington, DC.

  • You cannot postpone repayment if you re-enroll in school.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: Minimum $7,500. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.

Available Term Lengths

10, 15 or 20 years

Read Full Review
ISL Refinance Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

ISL Refinance Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
ISL Refinance Loan

Min. Credit Score

670

Fixed APR

2.55 - 7.63%

Variable APR

N/A
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

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

  • You can refinance without a degree.

  • You can refinance while in school or during a medical residency.

Cons

  • Interest rates vary by refi product.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Approximately 750.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $300,000. (Minimum for California residents is $10,000.)

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15 or 20

Read Full Review
RISLA Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

RISLA Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RISLA Student Loan Refinance

Min. Credit Score

680

Fixed APR

3.49 - 8.14%

Variable APR

N/A
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.

Cons

  • No co-signer release available.

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

  • Students cannot refinance a parent PLUS loan in their name.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 748.

  • Loan amounts: $7,500 to $250,000, depending on the highest degree earned.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Read Full Review
MEFA Student Loan Refinance
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

MEFA Student Loan Refinance

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
MEFA Student Loan Refinance

Min. Credit Score

670

Fixed APR

3.65 - 5.50%

Variable APR

3.05 - 5.55%
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Variable APR

3.05 - 5.55%

Key facts

Loans are available nationwide.

Pros

  • No late fees.

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

Cons

  • No formal deferment/forbearance options.

  • No co-signer release.

Qualifications

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

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 minimum.

  • Must have a degree: No.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10 or 15 years.

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Borrowers from Texas

Brazos Parent Loan
Check rate

on Brazos's website

Brazos Parent Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Brazos Parent Loan

Min. Credit Score

720

Fixed APR

2.95 - 5.65%

Variable APR

0.94 - 5.54%
Check rate

on Brazos's website


Variable APR

0.94 - 5.54%

Key facts

Brazos is best for parent loan borrowers who live in Texas and want to finance undergraduate or graduate education for their children.

Pros

  • Borrowers can finance undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

  • Students do not have to attend college in Texas to qualify.

Cons

  • Available only to parent borrowers in Texas.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: N/A

  • Minimum income: $60,000 for co-signer or primary borrower, or $30,000 for primary borrower if applying with a co-signer.

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to $400,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

Disclaimer

Rates as of 08/01/2021. Lowest rate shown is for eligible, creditworthy applicants, requires a 5 year repayment term and assumes the current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.15% plus a margin of 3.5% minus the .25% Auto-Pay Discount. Your actual interest rate and repayment terms may be different depending upon the terms you choose and your financial and credit history. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. In addition, the variable rate is subject to change monthly, based upon the 1-month LIBOR index, and, as such may increase (or decrease) monthly, even after consummation. This means that your payment may increase, or decrease, after disbursement. The variable rate is capped and will never exceed 9.90%. The rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan, the APR is the same as the actual interest rate for the loan. While the APR, once you proceed, may differ slightly depending upon the calculation methods and certain assumptions, the base rate and margin that you are charged will remain as stated. Auto-Pay Discount includes a .25% interest rate reduction when either the borrower or cosigner authorizes ACH payments of full principal and interest from any bank account. Certain other terms and conditions apply.

Read Full Review
Brazos Student Loan Refinance
Check rate

on Brazos's website

Brazos Student Loan Refinance

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Brazos Student Loan Refinance

Min. Credit Score

690

Fixed APR

2.15 - 3.97%

Variable APR

1.88 - 4.80%
Check rate

on Brazos's website


Variable APR

1.88 - 4.80%

Key facts

Brazos is best for student loan borrowers who need a refinancing loan and live in Texas.

Pros

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

  • Offers greater-than-minimum payments via autopay.

Cons

  • Only available to borrowers in Texas.

  • Does not offer co-signer release.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 781 for primary borrower or 794 for co-signer (and 690 for primary borrower).

  • Minimum income: $60,000 for co-signer or primary borrower, or $30,000 for primary borrower if applying with a co-signer.

  • Loan amounts: $10,000 up to $150,000 for bachelors degree holders; $250,000 for graduate or professional degree holders.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years

Disclaimer

Rates as of 08/01/2021. Lowest rate shown is for eligible, creditworthy applicants, requires a 5 year repayment term and assumes the current 1 month LIBOR rate of 0.15% plus a margin of 3.5% minus the .25% Auto-Pay Discount. Your actual interest rate and repayment terms may be different depending upon the terms you choose and your financial and credit history. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. In addition, the variable rate is subject to change monthly, based upon the 1-month LIBOR index, and, as such may increase (or decrease) monthly, even after consummation. This means that your payment may increase, or decrease, after disbursement. The variable rate is capped and will never exceed 9.90%. The rate is expressed as an APR. Since there are no fees associated with this loan, the APR is the same as the actual interest rate for the loan. While the APR, once you proceed, may differ slightly depending upon the calculation methods and certain assumptions, the base rate and margin that you are charged will remain as stated. Auto-Pay Discount includes a .25% interest rate reduction when either the borrower or cosigner authorizes ACH payments of full principal and interest from any bank account. Certain other terms and conditions apply.

Read Full Review

What are state student loans?

State student loans are a type of private education loan. They’re issued by nonprofit and state-based agencies whose mission is to promote college access. These agencies may invest in many higher education-related initiatives within their state or local communities, including:

  • Scholarship and grant programs.

  • Financial literacy campaigns.

  • Events to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

  • Loans for students and parents, as well as for refinancing existing student debt.

Which states offer student loans?

Twenty-three states offer student loans, according to the Education Finance Council, a nonprofit trade organization that represents these agencies. You can find a list at ForYouNotForProfit.org.

If your state doesn’t have a program, you may still be able to borrow a state student loan. Many fund in-state residents, as well as students who attend school within that state.

For example, say you’re from Nevada — a state without a loan program — but will attend college in Indiana. You would be eligible for a loan from Indiana’s program, INvestED.

A handful of state-based lenders also lend nationally:

But these lenders may have benefits specifically for in-state residents. For example, RISLA has a student loan forgiveness program for nurses who live in Rhode Island.

Should you take out a state student loan for college?

Loans from state-based lenders are private student loans. That means they lack all the benefits and protections of federal student loans. Don’t borrow any private student loan before maxing out federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

If you’ve exhausted those options, consider a state student loan in the following instances:

  • The loan has the lowest interest rate. State lenders aim to offer low-cost loans, but that won’t automatically make them the best choice. Get quotes from multiple private lenders so you pay the least possible. If your credit is good enough for a private loan — but not a single-digit interest rate — look for a state student loan lender. State programs tend to have low maximum rates, and some offer everyone the same rate.

  • You can get a feature unavailable elsewhere. Because state student loans don’t come from for-profit businesses, they may have consumer-friendly features traditional lenders lack. For example, Louisiana’s LelaCHOICE loan never capitalizes unpaid interest and the Missouri Family Education Loan Program doesn’t charge interest at all. When you compare private loan options, look at all the terms in addition to the cost of the loan.

  • You want to “shop local.” Like many local businesses, state-based lenders give back to their community and aim for personal customer service. These mission-driven organizations also adhere to published principles, which include helping borrowers who run into financial trouble. Such intangibles may matter to you, especially if a state student loan’s interest rate is comparable to other private options.

Keep in mind that while state loans come from nonprofits, their credit and income requirements are often similar to traditional lenders. Students will likely need a co-signer.

Should you refinance student loans with a state-based lender?

Refinancing student loans can save you money on loan payments or how much you repay overall. If a state lender offers you a lower interest rate than your current loan, consider refinancing with it.

Be sure to compare multiple lenders before refinancing to get the best deal possible.

If you have state student loans or other private student loans, refinance as soon as you can qualify for a better rate. Iowa Student Loan actually lets you refinance while in school — a unique feature that could reduce your interest costs over multiple years.

Refinancing federal student loans will cost you access to federal relief programs and benefits like loan forgiveness. State loans may come from government agencies, but they aren’t the same as federal loans.

Last updated on June 1, 2021

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's State Student Loans and Nonprofit Lenders