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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has temporarily paused interest and payments on federal student loans through the CARES Act. However, you might be wondering if coronavirus has affected private student loans, too.
While every private lender has its own policies, the good news is that many of them are offering help to borrowers who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Here’s what you should know about the effect of COVID-19 on private student loans:
- How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected private student loans?
- How lenders are handling the pandemic
- How to take out a new student loan
- How to manage existing student loans
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected private student loans?
Whether you are currently attending school or have graduated, private student loan lenders are generally operating without any changes. This means private student loans have largely been unaffected by COVID-19.
However, while the CARES Act doesn’t cover private student loans, lenders seem to understand that borrowers might be facing hardship in these difficult times — which is why many of them are providing various forms of assistance for borrowers.
Taking out private student loans during the pandemic
If you need to take out a private student loan to pay for school, the application process should generally be the same regardless of the pandemic.
Before getting a loan, make sure to consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan terms (years)||Loan amount|
|4.53%+10||6.16%+10||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20|
(depending on loan type)
|$2,001* - $400,000|
|4.99%+1||6.37%+||5, 10, 15||$1,000 - $350,000
(depending on degree)
||5.59%+2,3||5, 8, 10, 15||$1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance|
|4.43%+||5.39%+||7, 10, 15||$1,000 to $99,999 annually
($180,000 aggregate limit)
|6.25%+7||8.13%+7||7, 10, 15||$1,000 - $200,000|
|4.6%+8||7.64%+8||5, 10, 15||$1,001 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance|
|5.35%+||N/A||10, 15||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school-certified cost of attendance
(depending on school type and minus other aid received)
|4.50%9 - 15.49%9||6.37%9 - 16.70%9||10 to 20||$1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance|
your credit score. 100% free!
Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | Read our full methodology | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 11Custom Choice Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Learn More: Best Graduate Student Loans
How lenders are handling the pandemic
Here’s how each of Credible’s partner lenders are handling private student loans during the pandemic:
- New loans: There haven’t been any changes when it comes to taking out a new private student loan with Ascent. You can borrow $2,001 to $400,000 to pay for school — though keep in mind the maximum limit will depend on the type of loan you apply for and whether your credit is reviewed.
- Loans in repayment: Ascent is offering a three-month emergency forbearance option for current borrowers impacted by coronavirus. If you’re dealing with financial hardship, you might be able to pause your payments for up to four consecutive periods (a total of 12 months).
Contact information: Call Launch Servicing at 877-354-2629 to discuss your Ascent loans.
- New loans: If you’d like to take out a private student loan with Citizens, there shouldn’t be any changes to the process. You can borrow $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance — though keep in mind that aggregate limits might apply.
- Loans in repayment: Borrowers who have a Citizens student loan can apply for a three-month emergency forbearance if they’re experiencing financial hardship. This forbearance can be renewed up to two additional times — meaning you can pause your payments for a total of nine months.
Contact information: You can contact Firstmark Services at 866-259-3767 to discuss options for your Citizens loans.
- New loans: College Ave is also operating as usual when it comes to new student loans. You can borrow $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received).
- Loans in repayment: If you have College Ave student loans, you might qualify for assistance. Be sure to contact them to see if any options are available to you.
Contact information: Call 844-803-0736 to request assistance from College Ave.
- New loans: The process for taking out new undergraduate and graduate private student loans from Custom Choice have remained unchanged. You can borrow $1,000 up to $1,000 to $99,999 annually ($180,000 aggregate limit) with a three- or five-year term.
- Loans in repayment: Custom Choice offers several options for borrowers experiencing financial hardship, including deferment and forbearance for borrowers who have lost their jobs.
Contact information: Call 866-266-3637 to discuss your options with Custom Choice.
- New loans: EdvestinU continues to offer private student loans with no changes to its process. You can borrow $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance — though keep in mind that a $200,000 aggregate limit applies.
- Loans in repayment: Borrowers struggling to make payments on an EdvestinU loan could qualify for deferment or forbearance options. Contact EdvestinU to see which option might be available to you.
Contact information: Call Firstmark Services at 888-538-7378 to discuss options for your EdvestinU loans.
- New loans: New private student loans from INvestEd have remained unchanged. If you’re living or attending college in Indiana, you might qualify for an INvestEd student loan ranging from $1,001 up to your school’s cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received).
- Loans in repayment: If you currently have INvestEd loans, you might qualify for assistance options. Be sure to contact INvestEd to see what help is available to you.
Contact information: Call American Education Services (AES) at 800-233-0557 to discuss options for your INvestEd loans.
Learn More: Applying for Student Loan Unemployment Deferment
- New loans: MEFA has continued to issue new private loans to students attending public and private schools. These loans start at $1,500 for public schools and $2,000 for private schools, and they can go up to your school’s cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received).
- Loans in repayment: MEFA offers several options for dealing with your student loans during the pandemic, including forbearance and modified payment plans.
Contact information: Call AES at 800-233-0557 to see what option best suits your MEFA loan needs.
- New loans: Taking out new student loans through Sallie Mae hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. You can borrow $1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance.
- Loans in repayment: Sallie Mae borrowers who are experiencing financial hardship might qualify for various assistance options. Reach out to Sallie Mae to see what’s available to you.
Contact information: Call 833-558-6577 to discuss your options with Sallie Mae.
How to take out a new student loan
If you need to take out a student loan to pay for school, follow these steps:
- Apply for scholarships and grants. Before turning to student loans, be sure to apply for any scholarships and grants that you might qualify for. Unlike student loans, these don’t have to be repaid, which makes them a good option to pay for school.
- Fill out the FAFSA. Next, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student loans and federal grants. Your school will use your results to determine what federal aid and school-based scholarships and grants you’re eligible for. Also keep in mind that unlike private student loans, most federal student loans don’t require a cosigner or a credit check.
- Apply for private student loans. After you’ve exhausted your other options, private student loans could help fill any financial gaps left over. You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for private loans. Some lenders offer student loans for bad credit, though these generally come with higher interest rates. If you’re struggling to get approved, consider applying with a cosigner. Even if you don’t need a cosigner, having one could get you a lower rate than you’d get on your own.
If you decide to take out a private student loan, be sure to consider how much that loan will cost you in the future. This way, you can prepare for any additional expenses.
You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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How to manage existing student loans
You might be having a hard time managing the student loans you already have. If this is the case, your first step should be contacting your lender.
While this might feel intimidating or even scary, your lender might be able to offer you student loan help — such as reducing your payments or temporarily deferring your loans.
If your lender has no options for you, you could consider refinancing your student loans. You might qualify for a lower interest rate, which could help you save money on interest.
Or you could opt for a longer repayment term to reduce your monthly payment — though this means you’ll pay more in interest over time.
Refinancing with a cosigner might also get you a lower rate — or help you get approved if you have poor or fair credit.
If you decide to refinance your student loans, you can use our calculator below to see how much you might be able to save.
Step 1. Enter your loan balance
Step 2. Enter current loan information
Step 3. Enter your new loan information to start calculating your savings
If you refinance your student loan at % interest rate, you can save will pay an additional $ monthly and pay off your loan by . The total cost of the new loan will be $.
Does refinancing make sense for you?
Compare offers from top refinancing lenders to determine your actual savings.
Checking rates won’t affect your credit score.
Keep Reading: When to Refinance Student Loans