Student Loans

What Is The Best Student Loan Company

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 19 minute read

Federal student loans provide the lowest interest rates and the most flexible repayment plans, but there are annual borrowing limits.

You may need to take out a private student loan if you find yourself in need of additional funding for your education, but be aware that these loans do not come with the same borrower safeguards as federal student loans. This is why it’s important to take a step back, evaluate your financial situation, and select the most appropriate private student loan provider.

Best Private Student Loan Providers

Private student loan alternatives, unlike government student loans, are based on credit rather than need. Possessing excellent credit is a must for eligibility. Furthermore, your credit history will determine the interest rate options available to you.

This is especially challenging for first-year college students who have yet to build a credit history. One of the major distinctions between undergraduate and graduate student loans. Therefore, first-year students could need a co-signer when applying.

Before asking for a loan, you should check your credit score to see where you are financially.
Remember that the APR and other terms offered by lenders may change at any time. If you want the most up-to-date facts, check the lenders’ websites often.

Though a lower interest rate is great for your wallet, it isn’t the only factor to consider when evaluating private loan offers. There should be no origination costs, prepayment penalties, or exorbitant late fees with the finest lenders, and repayment terms should be flexible. Rewards such as reduced rates for automatic payments are provided.

Money may be saved by choosing one of these alternatives in addition to getting the best rates possible. However, these financial institutions are the best since they provide the best rates and the most choices.

  1. Credible
  • Credible’s partner lenders provide undergraduate and graduate student loans.
  • Loan options include variable-rate and fixed-rate loans. Annual percentage rates (APRs) differ depending on the lender.
  • Repayment Options: Loan lengths ranging from five to twenty years are available, depending on the lender you contact with through Credible.
  • Applicants must be US citizens who are students. International students who have a creditworthy co-signer who is a US citizen or permanent resident can apply for loans with Credible’s partner lenders.
  • Co-Signer Release Options: Co-signer release options (the opportunity to withdraw your co-signer from the loan after a specified period) are determined by loan conditions, which vary per lender.
  • Fees: There are no fees associated with using Credible. (Lenders pay Credible fees to recruit consumers.) However, depending on your lender, you may be required to pay expenses such as application fees and origination fees. You are under no obligation to apply for or accept a loan offer from a lender that provides you with a pre qualified rate.
  • Discounts and Rewards: Some lenders may provide discounts, such as an interest rate reduction for making automatic payments. Discounts are available from different lenders.
  • No Hard Credit Check: By using the marketplace to see pre qualified interest rates, you may shop around for the best lenders without having to fill out several applications, which would result in many credit inquiries (which can lower your credit score). Once you have a pre qualified offer, you may apply with the lender knowing you have a greater probability of getting approved, lowering your risk of rejection following a rigorous credit check.
  • Minutes of Prequalification: To view rates, you must first answer a series of questions using Credible’s comparison engine. In just a few minutes, you’ll view your loan alternatives side by side in your Credible dashboard. If you don’t want to wait for all of the prices to come in, Credible may notify you through email, phone, or text when they’re ready.

If you’re looking for a private student loan, personal loan, mortgage, credit card, or even a mortgage or student loan refinancing, Credible can help you get the best prequalified rates from many lenders in one convenient spot. They collaborate with a network of private student loan providers.

If you’ve never applied for a loan or credit before and have no idea what type of loans you could be eligible for based on your credit history, Credible could be a good fit. Before applying and submitting to a hard credit check, you may try out different scenarios by inputting your information both on your own and with a co-signer.

The greatest student loan is the one that meets all of your needs while charging you the least amount of interest. But without comparing prices, it’s tough to determine which is better. Because of this, using a marketplace such as Credible is a good idea.

  1. LendKey
  • LendKey provides a variety of lending options, including loans for college and graduate students as well as refinancing for existing student debt.
  • LendKey provides access to a variety of loan products with interest rates as low as 2.14% (variable) and 3.99% (fixed). The financial assistance office at your school will calculate your “cost of attendance,” which includes things like tuition, fees, housing, food, and books.
  • Alternative Loan Repayment Terms: 5, 10, or 15 Years
  • Eligibility: Open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an accredited institution.
  • If you apply for a loan with a co-signer, you may be able to get them released from their responsibility on the loan if your credit scores rise. You must have a steady source of income, a good credit history, and no recent bankruptcies, foreclosures, or defaulted debts in order to qualify for a consolidation loan.
  • When you apply for a loan with LendKey, no matter the lender, you won’t have to pay any origination or application costs.
  • Benefits and Savings: Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points when you pay your loan on auto-pay.

Lending marketplaces like LendKey are not uncommon. In contrast to Credible, however, its primary lenders are thrift institutions and small commercial banks. As a result of its collaboration with these organizations, it is able to provide borrowers with private student loans, student loan refinancing options, and home renovation loans.

On top of that, LendKey isn’t the actual lender, but it does handle the loan servicing (manages all payments and billing). LendKey’s digital platform also serves as the point of origin for all loans made by the company’s partner lenders.

Lending alternatives offered by LendKey are standard for the industry, and the company offers little extra benefits that would make it attractive to customers. But if you’d rather work with a local credit union or a small community bank than a giant, for-profit financial institution, this is a viable alternative.

  1. RISLA
  • RISLA provides many types of student loans, including those for parents and those with higher education credentials (certificate holders, undergraduates, and graduates). Additionally, they provide services for consolidating debt.
  • The available loan amounts range from $5,000 to $35,000, and the fixed interest rates range from 4.99% to 6.74% APR. The interest rates on all loans are fixed. You can borrow between $1,500 and $45,000 annually, with the total cost of attendance at your institution per year not to exceed $150,000 over the course of your entire borrowing career.
  • The loan period might be either 10 or 15 years. Deferring payment on your RISLA student loan while enrolled in school and during a six-month grace period is possible if you select the appropriate loan type. Your loan payments may also be deferred for up to two years. With RISLA’s income-based repayment plan, borrowers can spread their payments out over 25 years while paying no more than 15% of their income in total.
  • Funding is available to students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States who are enrolled full-time in a degree program at a public, nonprofit institution that participates in Title IV of the Higher Education Act.
  • After completing 24 on-time monthly payments, you may submit an application to have your co-signer released. Time spent on an income-contingent repayment plan does not count.
  • You will not have to pay any fees to apply or get the ball rolling.
  • Internships provide a discount and rewards, including the opportunity to have up to $2,000 in student loans canceled. For the first 48 months following nursing school, RNs don’t have any payments. Borrowers using an automated payment plan can reduce their interest rate by 0.25%.

The initials stand for “Rhode Island Student Loan Authority,” which is a charitable organization in the Ocean State. It’s not only in the name to mislead you; it actually provides student loans in all 50 states plus DC.

Reasonably low rates are one thing that sets it apart; the interest rate cap is set at 6.74% for all borrowers. The repayment plan is also exceptional because it is based on one’s salary. RISLA’s income-based repayment plan offers a lifeline for grads who may have trouble making their loan payments on their own.

  1. Ascent
  • Ascent Financial Services, Inc. (Ascent) provides student loans to persons enrolled in or planning to enroll in an accredited college or university for the purpose of obtaining a Bachelor’s, Master’s, Juris Doctorate, or Doctor of Philosophy degree.
  • Borrow up to the whole price of attendance, no matter how much it is ($200,000 maximum). Pick from both adjustable and fixed lending rates. Borrowing of up to $20,000 annually is available to juniors and seniors who do not meet the credit-based loan prequalification requirements, based on underwriting that takes into account alternative variables such as future income, school, degree program, graduation date, major, and GPA. (Please be aware that this is a standard student loan with terms and interest. It is not a contract for the distribution of profits.
  • You can repay a loan depending on your credit history over 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years with no prepayment penalty.
  • Students of any nationality attending a qualifying school are encouraged to apply. A creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer is required for applications from those who are not U.S. citizens.
  • After completing 24 on-time monthly loan payments, you may submit an application to have your co-signer released. Students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or students who are not U.S. citizens are not eligible for co-signer release.
  • Fees: When you apply for a loan and receive funding from Ascent, you won’t have to worry about paying any hidden costs.
  • Ascent provides a reduction of 0.25 percentage points on the interest rate for automatic payments. You are eligible for a cash incentive equal to one percent of your loan’s principal sum after repayment has been completed. Automatic payments must be set up and you must graduate within five years.

Financial technology firm Goal Structured Solutions and financial institution Bank of Lake Mills developed the Ascent student loan scheme. Unlike its rivals, it provides a cash-back benefit in addition to special underwriting considerations.

As a result, Ascent is a viable choice for students who want more leeway than is often provided by private lenders, particularly if they are unable to apply with a co-signer and do not have an established credit history. It’s a one-of-a-kind choice that also provides broader options for covering professional degrees like MBAs, MDs, JDs, and PhDs.

  1. SoFi
  • SoFi provides private student loans for all levels of education, from undergraduates to postgraduates, and for a wide variety of programs and degrees, such as law school, business school, and parent repayment plans. SoFi’s parent loans work similarly to the federal parent PLUS loan in that they allow parents to take out loans in their name rather than the student.
  • SoFi offers both fixed and variable interest rates on student loans, with the former ranging from 3.22% to 11.16% and the latter from 1.10% to 11.68%. Borrow as little as $5,000 or as much as 100% of your expected total educational expenses.
  • Choose from loan lengths of 5, 10, or 15 years to suit your budget. Borrowers who have lost their jobs or are suffering severe financial difficulties can apply for deferral or forbearance from their SoFi loans. If you lose your work through no fault of your own, you can apply to the Unemployment Protection Program to have your loan payments temporarily halted for three months (up to 12 months total).
  • This opportunity is open to all students, whether they are U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or international visitors. In order to apply for a loan in the United States, foreign nationals need a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
  • After making all scheduled payments on time for a period of twenty-four months, you may submit an application to have your co-signer released from the loan.
  • Fees: There are no costs associated with applying for the loan, getting the loan, making payments, or paying it off early.
  • Rewards and reductions: Setting up automatic payments for your loan might save you 0.25 percentage points. Use your points to reduce your outstanding student loan balance.
  • Before completing a formal application and submitting to a rigorous credit check, you may be prequalified on SoFi’s website and obtain a quoted interest rate for your loan.

When it comes to private student loans and refinancing, SoFi is at the top of the online lending industry. Borrowers may sign up for free as “members” of SoFi and have access to a wide range of benefits, including banking, investing, financial planning, career counseling, member events, and prizes.

You may earn rewards for using your SoFi checking, savings, and credit card, as well as for saving, spending, and monitoring your credit with the brand-new SoFi Points program. In order to repay some SoFi loans, you can utilize points as payment.

SoFi is a good option if you place a premium on good customer service, since this has been consistently praised by the company’s clientele. In addition to student loans, SoFi is an excellent option if you’re looking for a place to open a bank account or begin investing.

  1. Earnest
  • Types of Loans: Domestically enrolled college and university students in the United States are welcome to apply.
  • There are two types of loans available, with variable rates beginning at 1.74% and fixed rates beginning at 2.99%. You can get a loan for anywhere from $1,000 to full tuition.
  • Borrowers can choose from loan periods between 5 and 20 years in length. If you put off paying until after you graduate, you’ll have nine months until your first monthly payment is due (interest continues to accrue). If you have made all of your payments on time for the previous six months, you are eligible to skip one payment every year.
  • In addition to the interest you’ll still have to pay for the months you don’t pay, you’ll also have to add that many more months onto your loan’s payback schedule. Pick a payment frequency, either monthly or biweekly, for your loan. Interest costs on loans can be lowered by making payments every two weeks.
  • Earnest loans are accessible everywhere with the exception of the state of Nevada. All applicants must either be U.S. citizens or permanent residents themselves or have a cosigner who meets this requirement.
  • Earnest does not provide co-signer release, but rather encourages consumers to take out a new loan in their own name if they have a co-signed loan.
  • There are no fees associated with getting the loan itself or paying it off early or paying late.
  • Rewards and reductions: Save 0.25 percentage points on your interest rate with automatic payments.

Earnest is a digital firm that provides incentives for borrowers and loan servicers alike, with a particular emphasis on consumer success and adaptability. Students who are just starting out in the workforce and require a lending partner with some leeway are a priority for this firm. It could be an excellent option for those who are studying subjects that don’t lead directly to well-paying jobs with secure futures.

  1. College Ave
  • College Ave provides many types of student loans for individuals in need, including those in professional degrees such as dentistry, medicine, law, and business administration. Parents can take out loans in their own names to cover the cost of their children’s educations, with the option of receiving $2,500 of the loan money upfront so they can direct its usage anyway they see fit.
  • Loan Amounts and Interest Rates College Ave provides loans from $1,000 to the full cost of tuition at your chosen institution, with fixed interest rates from 3.24% to 12.99% APR and variable interest rates from 0.94% to 11.98%.
  • Loan terms are flexible and can be repaid over 5, 8, 10, or 15 years. Payments can be deferred, a minimum of $25 per month can be paid, interest-only payments can be made, or full payments can be made while in school. Parent loans have the same adaptable payback terms as student loans (minus in-school deferment).
  • Students from other countries who have a valid U.S. Social Security numbers can apply for a loan through College Ave. While the majority of private student loan providers limit eligibility to students enrolled at least half time, College Ave. offers loans to students enrolled at any level.
  • Optional Co-Signer Release: After 60 days of on-time payments, passing a credit check, and having annual income for the preceding two years that is greater than double the outstanding sum, you may petition to have your co-signer released from the loan.
  • College Ave does not charge any fees to apply for or originate a loan.
  • Rewards and reductions: College Ave’s Career Loan with Success Rewards offers $150 back to borrowers once they graduate from an approved 2-year, 4-year, or graduate program at participating community colleges and institutions.

When it comes to student loans and refinancing, College Ave is another excellent option. There are a variety of lending programs available to borrowers, and there is even a monthly scholarship drawing.

Community college students or those just taking a couple of classes per semester may find College Ave to be a suitable living situation. With low-interest loan alternatives for post-baccalaureate study and flexible deferral possibilities for things like medical residencies, fellowships, and legal clerkships, it may also be a good fit for graduate and professional students.

  1. Citizens Bank
  • Citizens Bank provides private student loans for undergraduates and graduate students. Parent loans allow parents to apply for loans in their own names to help pay for their children’s college expenses.
  • Citizens Bank provides student loans with a minimum loan amount of $1,000 and a maximum loan amount of $150,000 to cover all of your undergraduate school expenses. A parent, graduate, or professional student can borrow between $1,000 and $350,000. Loans are available with fixed interest rates between 3.47 and 9.35 percent. Students can’t get loans from Citizens with interest rates that might fluctuate.
  • You may select a payback period between 5 and 15 years. One can choose between a five- or ten-year repayment period on a loan from a parent. The loan repayment period can be extended for up to eight years, during which time the student and their parents can make either full or interest-only installments.
  • Degree-seeking undergraduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and enrolled at a qualifying institution at least half-time are eligible to apply.
  • Borrowing is possible for international students if they have a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
  • Once you have made 36 on-time payments in a row, you may submit an application to have your co-signer released.
  • Fees: There are zero out-of-pocket costs associated with applying for or receiving the loan.
  • Discounts and Benefits: Reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points simply by setting up automatic loan payments; reduce it by an additional 0.25 percentage points if you or your cosigner already have an account at Citizens Bank.
  • Multiyear Approval allows students to find out how much they may borrow throughout the course of their whole college career with a single application rather than having to reapply each year or term. Citizens Bank only does a “soft” credit check in later years, which does not affect your credit score and allows for a faster approval procedure. Your new loan rate will be determined at the beginning of each year due to the possibility of interest rate changes.

People all throughout the United States can open an account with Citizens Bank, a traditional bank with branches in New England and an accessible website. Besides traditional banking services like credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, and investments, it also provides private education loans and refinancing for existing student debt.

Although the company’s offerings are fairly basic in the student loan industry, it is an excellent fit for anybody who wants to work with a conventional financial institution, especially if they live in the Northeast and prefer to do business in a brick-and-mortar setting.

  1. Discover
  • Loans for medical residencies and legal education exams are available to recent college and university grads through Discover.
  • Available Loan Programs The annual percentage rates (APRs) for undergraduate students’ loans range from 1.79% to 11.24% with a variable rate loan, or from 4.49% to 13.34% with a fixed rate loan. Find 15-year loans from $1,000 to the full price of schooling.
  • If you are still in your grace period or the first three months of your repayment period, you may be able to delay your loan payments for an extra three months. Those suffering financial difficulties can take advantage of Discover’s flexible payment alternatives, including bringing a past-due loan current with three consecutive payments, lowering your monthly minimum payment for at least six months, and cutting your interest rate for at least six months.
  • Opportunities are open to students who are enrolled in degree-seeking programs at least half-time and who are making adequate academic progress (as defined by your school). Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or have a co-signer who is either, in order to be considered. The minimum age to apply is 16, which is younger than the requirement set by many other lenders (or the age of majority in their state).
  • To discharge a co-signer, you’ll need to go elsewhere; Discover doesn’t offer that.
  • There are no costs associated with applying for this loan, no fees for the loan’s origination, no fees for paying it off early, and no penalties for paying it off early.
  • In the event that a student’s cumulative grade point average for the period covered by the loan is 3.0 or above, the student is eligible to receive a 1% cash-back return on the disbursed loan sum. The incentive is available to first-year students who have earned a GPA of 3.0 or above in high school. You may save 0.25 percentage points on the interest rate of any Discover Student Loan if you set up automatic loan payments. When you graduate, you’ll get a bonus equal to 2% of your loan’s principal balance.
  • Choosing a Longer Term Commitment: Submitting an application with a cosigner may increase your chances of being approved for a larger loan amount over a longer period of time, giving you a clearer picture of your total borrowing capacity. You and your cosigner can then apply in coming years using the saved information and a light credit check.

Discover has been around for decades, and its credit cards have been widely accepted. In the past 15 years, it has made tremendous strides in the realms of consumer banking and lending.

Borrowers who seek guidance and inspiration to build solid financial foundations can choose Discover. It offers items that might help you establish or repair your credit. It’s adaptable enough to let you keep going even if you make a mistake or run into financial trouble when you acquire your first job out of school.

A student may get 5% cash back at locations like Amazon, grocery shops, and restaurants with the Discover it cash-back credit card, which is offered by the bank. Plus, it offers a cash-back online checking account that is free of fees and can move with students wherever they go, whether in school or after graduation.

  1. Sallie Mae
  • Sallie Mae provides loans for a wide variety of purposes, including post-secondary education. Alternatively, you might take out a loan to attend a vocational or other non-degree awarding institution, such as a school for culinary arts or a technical college, and pursue professional training and trade certificate courses. The cost of a child’s college education can be covered by a loan taken out in the parent’s name.
  • Alternatively, they can apply for a family education loan with a payback term of three years to cover the expense of private school tuition for their child’s kindergarten through twelfth-grade education.
  • Depending on your financial need, Sallie Mae can provide you with a loan of up to 100% of your annual tuition and fees. Rates for adjustable-rate loans range from 1.87% to 11.97% APR, while rates on fixed-rate loans range from 3.75% to 12.85% APR.
  • Alternative repayment periods of 5, 10, or 15 years are available.
  • Accepting applications from students enrolled in school either full- or part-time. All applicants must either be U.S. citizens or permanent residents themselves or have a cosigner who meets this requirement.
  • Assuming you have made 12 on-time payments in a row, you may submit an application to have your co-signer released.
  • You will not have to pay any fees to apply or get the ball rolling. When payments are late, Sallie Mae will assess a fee of 5% of the total due, with a maximum of $25.
  • Those who opt for automated loan installments will receive a 0.25% rate reduction as a perk. Borrowing students at the undergraduate level can take advantage of a free four-month trial of the online tutoring platform Chegg Study. Presents a credit card that may be used to repay educational debt and provide a cash incentive.

Since its founding in 1972, Sallie Mae has been the private student loan provider of choice for countless students. Some borrowers may be misled by the company’s history of name changes into thinking it is a government or government-affiliated lender.

Sallie Mae, in its current form, just provides access to private student loans. While it did once originate federally guaranteed loans and process federal student loan payments, those are no longer among its current operations.

If you need a loan for elementary through high school or vocational training that conventional lenders won’t provide, this is your best bet.

Bottom Line

Prior to taking out a loan, investigate all scholarship and grant opportunities that can help cover the cost of your college education.

Complete the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal grants and other forms of financial help. The application is not limited to federal student aid. Moreover, this method guarantees that you get any institutional or federal funds for which you are eligible.

Submitting your FAFSA as soon as possible will give you the best chance of receiving financial help. Early and on a first-come, first-served basis are common practices when doling out institutional funding. The application period for the Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA) begins on October 1 and ends on June 30 of the academic year for which financial aid is being sought.

In the event that you have already applied for and been denied any federal student loans or other low-cost college funding choices, private student loan lenders can fill in the gap.

Most private student loan providers will highlight their competitive financial advantages, such as low interest rates and no hidden costs, when comparing their services to the competition. In order to make the most informed choice for your (or your child’s) financial future, you need to dig a little further.

If your credit is strong, you may get a loan with a low interest rate from virtually any lender. To remain competitive, the vast majority have done away with service charges altogether. They are distinguished from competitors by offering exclusive services and benefits. 

Compare them carefully to identify the loan provider that will best prepare you for a prosperous future after graduation.

For instance, SoFi’s consolidated set of financial tools and user community makes it easy to get a handle on your finances and get help when you need it. Sincere takes into account the challenges of finding work and getting started in your chosen field after graduation.

Learn how Discover can help borrowers with low or inconsistent earnings by taking advantage of the rewards program and the repayment aid program. Check out several benefits and memberships to see if any of them meet your personal and budgetary requirements.

You should constantly shop around for the best interest rate and repayment arrangements once you graduate. Whenever feasible, you should refinance your student debts. The benefits and repayment alternatives of a refinancing loan are just as important as those of a new loan.

But keep in mind that you might be able to save money by refinancing your federal student loans with a private lender. However, there are several federal debt repayment and forgiveness alternatives that you will not have access to.

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