Find the Best Private Student Loans

Private student loans can help pay for college after you hit federal loan limits. Make sure to review private student loans’ eligibility rules, rates, and terms before borrowing for college or graduate school. Compare student loan variable interest rates from 1.21% and fixed interest rates from 3.49% APR1 without affecting your credit score.

I’m a student

  • Students who add a co-signer are 3x more likely to qualify for a loan
  • Choose from multiple repayment types
  • No prepayment penalties
Takes 3 minutes

I’m a co-signer

  • Easily add the student to your application
  • Many lenders allow co-signer release
  • No prepayment penalties
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Why request private student loan options with Credible?

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Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
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Get actual rates, not estimated ones
Finance almost any degree
Flexible repayment plans
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    There’s no prepayment penalty if you’d like to pay off your loans faster.

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Choose from a range of great options

Rates from (APR)
Fixed: Variable:
Loan term

5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20 yrs

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Citizens Bank
Rates from (APR)
Fixed: 5Variable: 5
Loan term

5, 10, 15 yrs5

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

College Ave
Rates from (APR)
Fixed: 6Variable: 6
Loan term

5, 8, 10, and 15 yrs8

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Student Loans
Rates from (APR)
Fixed: APR - APR12
Variable: APR - APR12
Loan term

15, 20 yrs12

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Rates from (APR)
Fixed: 13Variable: 13
Loan term

7, 10, 15 yrs

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Rates from (APR)
Fixed: 14Variable: 14
Loan term

5, 10, 15 yrs14

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Rates from (APR)
Loan term

10, 15 yrs

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Sallie Mae
Rates from (APR)
Fixed: APR - APR9
Variable: APR - APR9
Loan term

5 - 15 yrs10

Eligible degrees


Rates from (APR)
Fixed: APR - APR
Variable: APR - APR
Loan term

7, 10, 15 yrs

Eligible degrees

Undergrad & Graduate

Get personalized rates from multiple lenders in 2 minutes
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Commonly asked student loan questions

What are private student loans?

Private student loans are provided by private lenders — banks, credit unions, and online lenders. You can use private loans to pay for education costs and living expenses, which might not be covered by your federal education loans. Interest rates and terms on private student loans can vary, depending on your financial situation, credit history, and the lender you choose.

How can you use private student loans?

You can use private student loans to pay for education-related costs and living expenses, which might not be covered by your federal school loans. Some uses include:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Housing utilities
  • Meals and groceries
  • Books
  • Supplies
  • A personal computer you’ll use for school
  • Dependant childcare expenses

What is the difference between federal student loans and private student loans?

Typically, you want to exhaust all your more affordable federal loan options before turning to private loans. But keep in mind, private loans have competitive rates when compared to some of the more expensive federal loan options like PLUS loans.

Here are a few notable differences between the two:

  • Lender: Federal student loans are provided directly by the U.S. Department of Education, whereas, private loans are from private lenders.
  • Qualifying: You can qualify for federal student loans by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to get student aid — and they don’t require a credit check; private loans, however, do not require you to fill out the FAFSA, but do require a credit check.
  • Rates: Once taken out, federal student loans have fixed rates for life. Most private student loan lenders offer a choice of both fixed- or variable-rate loans.
  • Extra perks: Federal student loans offer borrowers a number of benefits and protections — such as loan deferment, income driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness — that most private lenders often can’t match. However, more private lenders have begun adding similar programs to better compete with federal loan offerings.

See More: Federal vs. Private Student Loans

How much money can I borrow with a private student loan?

With a private student loan, you’re eligible to borrow up to 100% of what your school says it costs to enroll and attend classes (the “cost of attendance”), minus other financial aid and loans you’ve already received.
How much you can actually borrow will vary by lender and can include annual or cumulative borrowing limits. Other private lender criteria that can affect how much you can borrow might include your credit history, the credit quality of your co-signer, your school’s certified cost of attendance, the degree you’re earning, and more.

When should I apply for a private student loan?

You can apply for private student loans at any time, since there’s no deadline tied to them (like filling out the FAFSA for federal loans). But it’s still a good idea to apply for private loans as soon as you know you’ll need them to cover education costs.
Although it varies depending on the lender and your school, it can sometimes take 3 to 5 weeks for you to receive the funds. So, give yourself some time and apply sooner rather than later.

How do I qualify for a student loan?

Each lender has different requirements when it comes to qualifying for a private student loan. But typically you must:

  • Have a qualifying credit score (or a co-signer with one)
  • Have a qualifying income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI) (or a co-signer with one)
  • Be enrolled in an eligible education program
  • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident with a Social Security number
  • Be at least 18 years old and hold a high school diploma or equivalent (or have a co-signer)
  • Use the loan for education purposes only

Learn: How to Qualify for a Student Loan

What credit score do I need to get a student loan?

To get a private student loan, lenders typically look for a credit score of 670 or above. If your score is much worse than that, though, don’t panic. Applying with a creditworthy co-signer can help you get the loan you need.

Can I get a private student loan with bad credit or no credit?

You can get a student loan with bad credit, but not necessarily on your own. While federal loans don’t require a credit check, private student loans do. Many students don’t qualify for private loans on their own because they don’t have a credit history or they have bad credit. If that’s your situation, you may need to add a co-signer to qualify for a private loan.

Private student loans require a credit application that examines income, employment, and a credit report. The lower your credit score, the higher the risk for the lender, which translates into higher interest rates. One way to get approved for a loan with a lower rate can be to add a creditworthy co-signer to your loan application.

Do I need a co-signer for a private student loan?

It depends, but in most cases, yes. You don’t have to add a co-signer unless you’re under the age of majority in your state (usually between 18 and 21). But if you have a limited or poor credit history, a lender may require you to add a creditworthy co-signer to balance out their risk on the loan.
Plus, more than 90% of private student loans taken out by undergraduate students are co-signed. Even if you’re a graduate student and don’t need one, adding a co-signer with good credit can improve your chances of qualifying for a private student loan at a lower rate
Credible even makes it easy to compare co-signers to see which co-signer can help get you the best rate.

When can I start paying back student loans?

With most lenders, you can usually begin making payments as soon as you want to. You can even pay your loan off completely without penalty. But the good news is, you typically don’t need to make monthly payments while in school. You usually have until 6 months after you graduate — though there are a couple lenders that don’t give you this grace period.
Most private lenders offer flexible repayment options, too, that include interest-only repayment options, deferral options, and more. Just make sure you ask your lender about the different loan repayment plans before you agree to take on the loan
Most lenders offer an autopay discount. This means that if you sign up to have your monthly payments automatically deducted from your savings or checking account, you can get a discount on your interest rate. This discount typically only applies when you’re actively making payments. So when you’re in periods of deferment or forbearance, your interest rate will be accruing at the higher, non-discounted rate.

How do I compare private student loan lenders?

Credible makes it easy to compare rates, terms, fees, and benefits on private student loans for undergraduate students, grad students, medical students, and law students. Just fill out one form to request prequalified rates from all of our partner lenders (instead of one form per lender). The best part is it’s completely free and won’t affect your credit.
Ready to get started?
Three easy steps and you're done
Get prequalified rates

Answer a few quick questions to request student loan rates from multiple lenders.

Select preferred lender

Choose a lender and provide a bit more information so your rates can be finalized.

Receive funds

Upload a few documents and your loan is then disbursed to your school.

Checking your rate won’t affect your credit score

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