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Being a college student is financially demanding. College tuition and fees keep rising, along with living expenses like rent, groceries, utilities, and transportation that can quickly eat up a college student’s spending cash and part-time earnings.

Many students look to personal loans to help them cover extra costs while in college. However, a personal loan may not be the wisest financial choice, especially if a private student loan can be used to cover many living expenses instead.

Personal loans for college students – when are they needed?

In theory, you can take out student loans up to your school’s certified cost of attendance. Allowable expenses that can be paid for with student loans include tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, transportation, and dependent care. But it’s pretty easy to bump up against your annual borrowing limits for federal student loans, which haven’t been increased since 2008.

If you’re a dependent student, you can take out $5,500 in federal direct student loans as a freshman, $6,500 as a sophomore, and $7,500 as a junior or senior. Independent students can take out $9,500 as freshmen, $10,500 as sophomores, and $12,500 as juniors or seniors.

With tuition, fees, room and board now averaging $26,593 a year at four-year colleges, it’s easy to see how students can hit their limits on the most affordable federal student loans.

This is where you might think a personal loan would come in handy. A personal loan is sent directly to you and allows you to control what the money is used for. The student is in charge with dictating how much money is needed, and the bank lends the student money without the school being the middleman.


Credible makes it easy to compare loan options, fast and secure.

The personal loan companies in the table below compete for your business through Credible. You can request rates from all of these partner lenders by filling out just one form, and without affecting your credit score.

LenderRatesLoan Amounts 
avant

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Fixed: 9.95% - 35.99% APR$2,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, emergency expense, life event, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a resident in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number

Time to get funds
• As soon as the next business day

Key benefits
• Fast online process, with e-signed contract
• Receive funds as soon as next business day (if approved by 4:30pm CT, Monday through Friday)
• Options for borrowers with less than perfect credit (most of Avant’s customers have credit scores in the 600 to 700 range)

Avant personal loans review

best egg

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Fixed: 5.99% - 29.99% APR$2,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident Alien
• Can't be a resident of IA, VT, or WV

Time to get funds
• As soon as one day

Key benefits
• Choose your payment date
• You can have up to two Best Egg loans at the same time

Best egg personal loans review

freedomplus

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Fixed: 5.99% - 29.99% APR$10,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, travel, medical expenses, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a resident in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number

Time to get funds
• Loan decisions as soon as the same day

Key benefits
• No fees

FreedomPlus personal loans review

lendingclub

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Fixed: 6.95% - 35.89% APR$1,000 up to $40,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, paying off credit cards, home improvement, pool loans, vacations, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien with a valid Social Security number and physical address, currently residing in the U.S.

Time to get funds
• As soon as a few days

Key benefits
• The amount you pay will never increase

LendingClub personal loans review

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lendingpoint

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Fixed: 9.99% - 35.99% APR$2,000 up to $25,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 4 years

Loan uses
• Home improvement, consolidate debt, credit card refinancing, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a verifiable Social Security number

Time to get funds
• As soon as the next business day

Key benefits
• Available to "near prime" borrowers with credit scores as low as 585
• Streamlined approval and application process
• No prepayment penalty

lightstream

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Fixed: 3.99% - 16.99% APR $5,000 up to $100,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 7 years

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Borrower must reside in the U.S.

Time to get funds
• As soon as the same business day

Key benefits
• 0.50% autopay discount (only available prior to loan funding)
• $100 rebate if you’re not completely satisfied with the LightStream experience and if you fill out a questionnaire telling LightStream how they can improve their services

LightStream personal loans review

marcus

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Fixed: 5.99% - 28.99% APR
(For NY residents: 5.99% - 24.99% APR)
$3,500 up to $40,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 6 years

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien with a valid Social Security number and physical address, currently residing in the U.S.

Time to get funds
• About 1 - 4 business days, given approval and bank account verification

Key benefits
• Tailored monthly payment options designed to fit your budget
• Option to defer one monthly payment after making 12 or more consecutive in full and on-time monthly payments

Marcus personal loans review

payoff

View details
Fixed: 5.99% - 24.99% APR$5,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation and credit card consolidation only

Residency
• Borrower can't reside in DC, DE, IA, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NE, NV, OH, OK, VA, VT, WA, WI, or WV

Time to get funds
• As soon as 3 - 6 business days

Key benefits
• Free FICO score updates
• If you lose your job, they’ll work with you on payments
• Offers scientific personality, stress, and cash flow assessments to help you get a better understanding of your personal finances

Payoff personal loans review

prosper

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Fixed: 6.95% - 35.99% APR$2,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, home improvement, vehicles, small business, new baby expenses, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. resident with a bank account and Social Security number

Time to get funds
• On average, within 5 days of accepting your offer

Key benefits
• All loans through prosper are unsecured (no collateral required)
• Loan review process usually completed in 7 business days or less

Prosper personal loans review

upstart

View details
Fixed: 7.99% - 35.89% APR$1,000 up to $50,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Borrower can't be a resident of CT, CO, IA, MA, MD, VT, or WV

Time to get funds
• Within a day of clearing necessary verifications

Key benefits
• Free credit monitoring
• Free educational resources that can help borrowers

Upgrade personal loans review

upstart

View details
Fixed: 8.89% - 35.99% APR$1,000 up to $50,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Payoff credit cards, consolidate debt, take a course or bootcamp, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a verifiable Social Security number

Time to get funds
• As soon as the next business day

Key benefits
• Can apply for a second loan after making six on-time monthly payments ($50,000 maximum principal on all loans)

Upstart personal loans review

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | LightStream payment example | Read more about Rates and Terms

Should college students avoid personal loans

The main problem with personal loans for college students is that they can be expensive. Since college students typically have lower credit scores, banks view them as a higher risk. This then gives the bank the freedom to charge high interest rates for these loans. Do you really want to be paying for your college groceries and rent way into your 30s?

Most personal loans for students will also require a cosigner. For some students, it is easy to secure a worthy cosigner, while others students will have hard time finding the ideal candidate. Personal loans might require students to also show proof of adequate income, which might also present a problem for many students.

Unfortunately, high educational costs today mean that many students will graduate with debt. For a student with few financial options, a personal loan might be necessary to be able to concentrate on schoolwork and focus on obtaining a college degree.

Federal PLUS loans instead of personal loans?

Once students hit their annual borrowing limits on the most affordable student loans, they often turn to federal PLUS loans. PLUS loans are available to graduate students and parents of undergraduates, and you the only borrowing limits is your school’s cost of attendance, minus other aid you’ve already received.

One problem with PLUS loans is that they carry the highest interest rates and fees of any federal student loan. Make sure you understand their pros and cons before resorting to PLUS loans.

Private student loans for personal expenses

To cover personal expenses, private student loans might be a better option than personal loans or PLUS loans.

The companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders. Whether you’re the borrower or cosigner, Credible makes it easy to compare rates from multiple private student loan providers without affecting your credit score.

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

View details
4.55%+4.14%+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

View details
4.90%+¹3.89%+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
5.24% - 12.99%6
3.87% - 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

View details
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

View details
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

View details
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
5.24% - 11.85%9
3.98% - 11.35%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
Compare rates without affecting
your credit score. 100% free!


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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 July 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.40%. Variable interest rates range from 3.89%-11.76% (3.89%-11.61% 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 4.90%-12.19% (4.90% - 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.

Private student loans may offer lower interest rates than personal loans or PLUS loans. Although you’ll typically need a cosigner, a cosigner can also help you get a better rate.


And unlike personal loans, many lenders allow students to wait until after they graduate to begin repaying private student loans Private student loans can cover a wide range of educational expenses, including college dorms and apartments, travel to and from school, food, study abroad opportunities, and a student computer.

While you might not be able to fund your Cancun spring break trip with a private student loan, you are able to live on or near campus and have all of your needs paid for while going to class.

In the end, you may find a personal loan for students to be a necessary last resort. It’s a good idea to compare your other — including PLUS loans and private student loans — to find the right loan that meets your needs now and in the future.

To learn more about private student loans and personal loans and compare rates, visit Credible.


About Rates and Terms: Rates for personal loans provided by lenders on the Credible platform range between 3.99% - 35.99% APR with terms from 24 to 84 months. Rates presented include lender discounts for enrolling in autopay and loyalty programs, where applicable. Actual rates may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown and will be based on the lender’s eligibility criteria, which include factors such as credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history, and vary based on loan purpose. The lowest rates available typically require excellent credit, and for some lenders, may be reserved for specific loan purposes and/or shorter loan terms. The origination fee charged by the lenders on our platform ranges from 0% to 8%. Each lender has their own qualification criteria with respect to their autopay and loyalty discounts (e.g., some lenders require the borrower to elect autopay prior to loan funding in order to qualify for the autopay discount). All rates are determined by the lender and must be agreed upon between the borrower and the borrower’s chosen lender. For a loan of $10,000 with a three year repayment period, an interest rate of 7.99%, a $350 origination fee and an APR of 11.51%, the borrower will receive $9,650 at the time of loan funding and will make 36 monthly payments of $313.32. Assuming all on-time payments, and full performance of all terms and conditions of the loan contract and any discount programs enrolled in included in the APR/interest rate throughout the life of the loan, the borrower will pay a total of $11,279.43. As of March 12, 2019, none of the lenders on our platform require a down payment nor do they charge any prepayment penalties.

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