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College students with gaps in their financial aid should search for the best private student loans by comparing rates, terms, and loan features.

That’s because once you’ve hit your limits on the most affordable federal student loans, the best private student loan rates can be competitive with costlier federal PLUS loans for grad students and parents.

In this post:

Private student loan interest rates

The student loan companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders, which have been thoroughly evaluated to ensure you find the right private student loan for your needs.

Through Credible, you can compare rates from all of the lenders below without affecting your credit score.

LenderFixed Rates From (APR)
Variable Rates From (APR)Get Rates Through Credible
ascent

View details
4.22%+3.71%+Get Rates
Ascent review

  • Loan terms: 5 or 10 years (Ascent Tuition loan, 15-year term also available with variable-rate loans); 10 years (Ascent Independent loan, 15-year term also available with variable-rate loans)
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 minimum, up to school's cost of attendance within $200,000 cap
  • Repayment plans: Defer payments or make interest-only or $25 minimum monthly payment while in school
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% automatic payment discount, 1% cash back graduation reward Cosigner release option: Cosigner release available after 24 months of consecutive monthly on-time payments
  • Eligibility: Ascent Tuition: Minimum FICO 600 (borrower with cosigner) and 660 (cosigner). Cosigner not required for Ascent Independent loan. No minimum income or credit score requirement for borrowers with less than two years of credit history. Borrowers with two years of credit history need 680 credit score and $24,000 annual income.
  • Loan servicer: University Account Service (UAS)
citizens

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4.40%+¹3.29%+¹Get Rates
Citizens Bank review

  • Loan terms: 5, 10, 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 minimum, school’s cost of attendance up to $150,000 for undergraduates and graduate degrees; $225,000 MBA and law; $350,000 medical school and parent loans)
  • Repayment plans: Pay immediately, pay interest only, or defer payments
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% loyalty discount available (if you have another qualifying account with Citizens Bank) as well as a 0.25% automatic payment discount
  • Cosigner release option: Cosigner release available after 36 months of consecutive monthly on-time payments
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizens or permanent residents; international students can apply with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
collegeave

View details
4.72%+2
3.96%+2Get Rates
College Ave review

  • Loan terms: 5, 8, 10, 15 years
  • Loan amounts: Up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance ($1,000 minimum)
  • Repayment plans: Make full principal and interest, interest only, or flat payments while in school; or defer payments until six months after leaving school
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% rate deduction with autopay
  • Cosigner release option: Cosigner release available once more than half of the scheduled repayment period has elapsed.
  • Eligibility: Available to all U.S. residents attending an eligible undergraduate or graduate school
  • Loan servicer: University Accounting Service LLC
discover

View details
4.74% - 12.99%6
3.37% - 11.87%6Get Rates
Discover review

  • Loan terms: 15 years (undergraduate) or 20 years (graduate, MBA and professional loans)
  • Loan amounts: Up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Repayment plans: Defer payments until 6 months after leaving school, or make interest only or fixed monthly payments while enrolled.
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% autopay discount; good grade award (one-time cash reward for each new loan for earning 3.0 GPA or equivalent)
  • Cosigner release option: Not offered
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student (international students require a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident). Be 16 years or older at the time you apply
  • Loan servicer: Discover Bank
edvestinu

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4.50%+
4.40%+
Get Rates
EDvestinU review

  • Loan terms: 7, 10, 12, 15 and 20 years
  • Loan amounts: Minimum loan amount of $1,000 up to school-certified cost of attendance with $200,000 cap
  • Repayment plans: Full deferment, interest-only payments, and principal and interest payments
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.5% autopay discount
  • Cosigner release option: Cosigner release available after 24 months of on-time payments
  • Eligibility: Borrower or cosigner (if applicable) must have a minimum income of $30,000. Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident, admitted to or enrolled at least half-time at any title IV degree-granting college and university when applying.
  • Loan servicer: Granite State Management & Resources (GSM&R)
invested

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4.63%+3.70%+Get Rates
INvested review

  • Loan terms: 5, 10, 15 years
  • Loan amounts: Up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance (minimum $1,001)
  • Repayment plans: Full principal and interest, interest only, and full deferment
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% autopay discount; 2% principal reduction upon graduation
  • Cosigner release option: Applications accepted after 48 consecutive monthly principal and interest payments
  • Eligibility: Indiana residents enrolled in college and U.S. residents attending an eligible Indiana school
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services
mefa

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3.95%+n/aGet Rates
INvested review

  • Loan terms: 10 or 15 years
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $1,500 (public school) or $2,000 (private school). Maximum up to school’s certified cost of attendance (minus other aid received)
  • Repayment plans: Immediate, interest-only, or deferred
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: None
  • Cosigner release option: Cosigner release available after 48 on-time payments and meeting credit requirements
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services (AES)


View details
4.74% - 11.35%9
3.37% - 10.75%9
Get Rates
Sallie Mae review

  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years
  • Loan amounts: Up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Repayment plans: Make interest-only or fixed monthly amount while in school, or defer payments until six months after leaving school
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% autopay discount
  • Cosigner release option: Available after making 12 on-time principal and interest payments and meeting credit requirements
  • Eligibility: U.S. Citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident. Non-U.S. citizen students, including DACA students attending a school located in the U.S., are eligible to apply with a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident.
  • Loan servicer: Sallie Mae


View details
4.30%
3.63%
Get Rates
SunTrust Bank review

  • Loan terms: 7, 10, or 15 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,001 - $65,000 (up to $95,000 for graduate students)
  • Repayment plans: Immediate or make partial, interest-only or deferred payments while in school.
  • Application fees: No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Discounts: 0.25% autopay discount; 0.25% loyalty discount; other special rewards may include principal reduction at graduation, rate reduction for on-time payments, or zero interest for six months
  • Cosigner release option: Cosigner release after 36 months of consecutive on-time payments
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizens or permanent resident, not available to permanent residents of Iowa or Wisconsin. Union Federal Private Student Loan available to international students with an eligible cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services (AES)
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures| 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures | 6Discover Disclosures


Citizens Bank Student Loan Rate Disclosure

Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.26%. Variable interest rates range from 3.29%-11.62% (3.29%-11.47% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.40%-12.19% (4.40% - 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Credible’s private student loan partners

No two student loan lenders are exactly the same. Each offers unique rates, terms, limits, and more. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most important details about the loans offered by Credible’s top student loan lenders, including special interest rate discounts, policies regarding cosigner release, and loan servicer.

Credible’s top student loan lenders:

  • Ascent
  • Citizens Bank
  • College Ave
  • Discover
  • EDvestinU
  • INvested
  • MEFA
  • Sallie Mae
  • SunTrust Bank

1. Ascent

Ascent offers two private student loans worth considering:

  • Ascent Tuition Loan: Offers competitive rates to borrowers who have a cosigner
  • Ascent Independent Loan: Offers more flexible eligibility for borrowers who don’t have a cosigner

Pros

  • 1% cash back graduation reward and 0.25% autopay discount
  • Borrow up to school’s cost of attendance ($200,000 cap)
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Cosigner release available after 24 consecutive on-time payments

Cons

  • Limited selection of repayment terms
  • Ascent Independent loan available only to juniors, seniors, and grad students
  • Deferred repayment is the only repayment option for Ascent Independent Loan

Check out our Ascent review for more information.

2. Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers student loans not only to undergraduate and graduate students, but parents taking out loans for their child’s education. Citizens also offers loans tailored for students in certain fields, such as law, business, and healthcare.

Pros

  • 0.25% automatic payment discount and 0.25% loyalty discount
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Borrow up to school’s cost of attendance with $150,000 cap for undergraduate and graduate degrees; $225,000 for MBA and law degrees; $350,000 medical school and parent loans
  • Student and parent loans available

Cons

  • Only offers 12 months of forbearance

Check out our Citizens Bank review for more information.

3. College Ave

College Ave is an online lender with a simplified online application and approval process.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Wide selection of repayment terms
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees

Cons

  • Cosigner release not available until at least half of the scheduled repayment term has been completed

Check out our College Ave review for more information.

4. Discover Student Loans

Discover Student Loans are offered by Discover Bank, and are available with fixed or variable interest rates to undergraduate and graduate students.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • Cash reward for good grades
  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees

Cons

  • Cosigner release not offered
  • Limited selection of loan repayment terms

Check out our Discover student loans review for more information.

5. EDvestinU

EDvestinU offers private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students with no fees and a wide selection of repayment terms.

Pros

  • 0.50% autopay discount
  • Borrow up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance with $200,000 cap
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Wide selection of repayment terms
  • Cosigner release available after 24 months of on-time payments

Cons

  • Borrower or cosigner must have a minimum income of $30,000

Check out our EDvestinU review for more information.

6. INvestEd

INvestED offers private student loans with no fees and a graduation bonus to Indiana residents or students attending an Indiana school.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • 2% principal reduction upon graduation
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Borrow up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance ($200,000 cap)

Cons

  • Only available to Indiana residents or students attending an Indiana school
  • Cosigner release available only after 48 consecutive monthly principal and interest payments

Check out our INvestEd review for more information.

7. MEFA (Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority)

MEFA offers fixed-rate private student loans to both undergraduates and graduate students across the United States.

Pros

  • Fixed rates mean stable monthly payment and repayment costs
  • Borrow up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Cosigner release available after 48 consecutive on-time payments

Cons

  • Variable-rate loans not offered
  • 15-year repayment term is the only option for grad students

Check out our MEFA review for more information.

8. Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae offers a range of private student loans with no fees to students and parents, plus medical and dental residency loans and bar study loans.

Pros

  • 0.25% autopay discount
  • Borrow up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fees
  • Cosigner release available after making 12 on-time principal and interest payments

Cons

  • Only offers 12 months of forbearance

Check out our Sallie Mae review for more information.

9. SunTrust Bank

SunTrust Bank offers a range of private student loans with no fees and extra discounts.

Pros

  • Up to 0.50% in rate reductions for making automatic payments (0.25% reduction for authorizing autopay and an additional 0.25% if you’re making automatic payments from a SunTrust bank account)
  • Principal reduction as a graduation reward or a 0.25% rate reduction for on-time payments
  • Option to refinance while still in school
  • Cosigner release after 36 months of consecutive on-time payments
  • No application, origination, or disbursement fee

Cons

  • To get the best benefits, must bank with SunTrust

Check out our SunTrust Bank review for more information.

[ Jump to top ]

Frequently asked questions

How do private student loans differ from federal student loans?

The major difference between private student loans and federal student loans is that federal loans are provided by the government, while private loans are provided by financial institutions like banks, credit unions, online lenders, and state student loan authorities.

Federal student loans:

  • Fixed interest rates
  • Don’t require a credit check (except PLUS loans)
  • You may qualify for income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness
  • You won’t need a cosigner for most federal loans

Private student loans:

  • Typically a choice of fixed or variable rates
  • Require a credit check
  • Lenders may grant loan deferment or forbearance to struggling borrowers
  • You typically need a cosigner due to limited credit history or income while in school

While rates on federal student loans offered to undergraduates are comparatively low, graduate students and parents can expect to pay more. Rates on private loans can be competitive, particularly after factoring in the upfront fees on federal student loans. Credible’s partner lenders charge no application, origination, or disbursement fees. Typically, it’s recommended to exhaust all your federal loan options before pursuing private student loans.

Loan typeFixed interest rateUpfront fee
Direct loans to undergraduate (subsidized and unsubsidized) 4.53%1.062%
Direct unsubsidized loans to graduate and professional students6.08%1.062%
PLUS loans to graduate students and parents of undergraduates7.08%4.248%
Rates on federal student loans for undergraduates, graduate students, and PLUS loans for the 2019-2020 academic year. Interest rates on loans disbursed from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. Source: U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid.

Learn More: Federal Student Loans vs. Private Student Loans

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

How do I choose the best private student loan?

The best private student loan for your particular needs can depend not only on the interest rate, but the loan terms, repayment plans, and borrower benefits available from different lenders.

It’s a good idea to compare annual percentage rates (APRs) from multiple lenders, which take into account any fees. Shorter loan terms will usually provide lower interest rates, but higher monthly payments. Longer loan terms typically come with lower monthly payments, but you pay more in interest over the lie of the loan.

Find Out: How to Choose Between a Fixed- or Variable-Rate Student Loan

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

Will I need a cosigner?

You’ll often need a cosigner to qualify for private student loans. This is because you won’t be able to take out a loan on your own if you have little or no credit history. Having a parent, relative, or friend sign on as a cosigner can help you get a better rate.

Many lenders will allow you to apply to have your cosigner released after you’ve established a track record of repaying your loan. Depending on the lender, you might be able to apply for cosigner release after 12 to 48 consecutive (and on-time) monthly payments. But the request will only be approved if the borrower is able to meet the lender’s income and credit standards.

Credible allows you to add and compare cosigners to see which would offer you the best rates, all without affecting your credit score.

See: The Right Cosigner Can Save Students Thousands on Student Loans

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

How can I qualify for a private student loan?

To qualify for a private student loan, you’ll need to meet a lender’s eligibility requirements or apply with a creditworthy cosigner.

Every lender will have its own requirements for borrowers and cosigners, which may include minimum income and credit score. Some lenders will require that you be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the college you’re attending must be on the lender’s list of approved schools.

Read More: How to Get a Student Loan Without a Cosigner

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

How do I apply for a private student loan?

Before shopping for a private student loan, make sure you’ve filled out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and taken advantage of all the scholarships and federal, state, and institution-based grants and aid that you qualify for.

If you still need money for college, Credible makes it easy to quickly compare interest rates across top lenders for free — without affecting your credit score. Comparing lenders is a great way to ensure you find the best rates you qualify for.

Find Your Student Loan

Read More: How to Apply for a Student Loan

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

Can I qualify even if I have bad credit?

If you have bad credit, you may need to apply with a cosigner to be approved for a private student loan. Private lenders typically have minimum credit score requirements and blemishes in your credit like unpaid bills, bankruptcy or foreclosure can also disqualify you.

Even if you’re approved for a student loan with bad credit, it’s likely you’ll be offered a higher interest rate than if you had good credit or applied with a cosigner. Credible allows you to compare cosigners to see which would help you get the best rates.

If you can’t find a creditworthy cosigner, there are a number of steps you can take to improve your credit, which may help you qualify on your own and get a better rate.

Check Out: How to Build Credit Fast

[ Jump back to FAQ ]

Other options for private student loans

The lenders available below aren’t on the Credible platform but might be good alternatives if you’re considering other student loan options.

Bank of North Dakota

With a Bank of North Dakota student loan, you’re generally allowed to take out a loan between $500 and $50,000 and most loans come with a 10-year repayment plan.

Commerce Bank

If you decide on a student loan from Commerce Bank, you can borrow from $1,000 all the way up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. Commerce’s repayment terms vary.

CommonBond

With CommonBond, you can typically borrow anywhere from $2,000 up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance with terms of five, 10, or 15 years.

Credit Union Student Choice

Credit Union Student Choice loans vary by credit union, so you’ll need to find a credit union near you before you can know the loan amount and loan terms.

iHelp

With an iHelp student loan, undergraduates can take out $1,000 ($3,000 for Georgia residents) up to $100,000 and graduates can take out $1,000 ($3,000 for Georgia residents) up to $150,000. They offer variable interest rates only.

LendKey

If you’re considering a student loan from LendKey, you can usually get loans anywhere from $2,000 to $160,000 over a 10-year term.

Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA)

The minimum loan amount for a MEFA loan is $2,000 for a private school and $1,500 for a public school. The terms range from 10 to 15 years depending on the loan type.

Minnesota Office of Higher Education

A Minnesota Office of Higher Education SELF loan offers 10- to 15-year terms depending on the loan you choose and generally allow you to take out up to $20,000 annually.

PNC Bank

With a PNC student loan, you can take out an annual maximum of $40,000 and the repayment term is up to 15 years.

Raise

Raise offers undergraduate and graduate loans with variable interest rates only. The loan amount will depend on your situation.

Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA)

If you’re considering a loan from RISLA, you’re able to borrow $1,500 to $40,000 with flexible repayment terms from 5 to 15 years.

South Carolina Student Loan

South Carolina Student Loan offers loans up to different amounts (depending on your situation) with terms from 10 to 15 years.

Union Federal

Union Federal loans are funded by SunTrust Bank. You can take out anywhere between $1,001 and $65,000 with repayment terms typically ranging from seven to 15 years.

Wells Fargo

If you decide to take out a student loan with Wells Fargo, you can borrow up to 100% of your eligible college costs (minus other aid). The repayment terms vary.

Your Private Student Loan Search Ends Here

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[ Jump to top ]
Methodology: Credible evaluated loan and lender data points in 10 categories to identify the "best companies" for private student loans. We looked at interest rates, repayment terms, repayment options, fees, and discounts offered by lenders. We also considered each company's eligibility requirements and options for cosigner release. Lenders could receive additional points for the level of customer service provided, their willingness to participate in a marketplace, and whether consumers could request rates with a soft credit check. Because every lender has its own system for evaluating borrowers, the best loan or lender will depend on an individual's unique circumstance, the loan features that are most important to them, and the interest rate and terms they qualify for.