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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

View details
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
best egg

View details

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
freedomplus

View details
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
lendingclub

View details
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.
Compare rates from all of these lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!

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lendingpoint

View details
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

lightstream

View details
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.
marcus

View details
Fixed: 5.99% - 28.99% 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.
• Borrower cannot reside in MD
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
prosper

View details
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
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
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
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
citizens5.25%+¹4.45%+¹Get Rates
Citizens Bank review
collegeave5.29%+2
4.20%+2Get Rates
College Ave review
discover 6.34% - 13.99%6
4.84% - 13.49%6Get Rates
Discover review
edvestinu4.50%+
4.49%+
Get Rates
EDvestinU review
Compare rates without affecting
your credit score. 100% free!


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ihelpN/A4.63%+Get Rates
iHelp review
invested5.58%+3.73%+Get Rates
INvested review
raiseN/A6.212%+Get Rates
raise^ review
5.49% - 11.85%9
4.25% - 11.35%9
Get Rates
Sallie Mae review
Ready to find your student loan?

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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures| 2,3College Ave Disclosures |raise^ Repayment Examples | 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 March 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.48%. Variable interest rates range from 4.45%-12.42% (4.45%-12.32% 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 5.25%-12.19% (5.25% - 12.09% 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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