Sometimes you need a little more money to pay for college. Finding the best private student loan can help fill the gap when savings or financial aid isn’t enough. Although private loans don’t offer the same benefits as federal student loans, it can be a necessary tool to help you achieve your college goals.
How to use private student loans
Private student loans can help pay for school after you hit federal limits.
When choosing private student loans, the most important first step is to shop around to find the best rates and terms. Unlike federal student loans, lenders underwrite private student loans using credit reports, scores, and other factors for approval. Many lenders require a cosigner, usually a parent or another person, who would be responsible for the loan in the event you default.
You have options when it comes to private student loans. And therefore, it’s important to review the specific terms and benefits associated with each loan. Additionally, consider the following:
- What’s the interest rate? Is it variable or fixed?
- Are there any origination fees?
- When is the first payment due?
- Is there a prepayment penalty?
- Are there any other hidden costs?
- Is there forbearance and deferment benefits?
- Who will service my loan?
Now, let’s review the best private student loan options for you.
How to use private student loan marketplaces
Using a marketplace, helps you find the best rates and terms without having to spend more time searching the internet for private lenders. Similar to student loan refinancing marketplaces, you’ll complete one application to get offers from multiple private lenders.
You can check your rates without impacting your credit score. After completing the simple form, you’ll get offers from lenders. Choose the best offer then finalize the application directly with the lender.
Best Private Student Loan Marketplaces
Compare private student loans, eligibility rules, rates, and terms before borrowing for college or grad school. Here are the best marketplaces:
Compare student loan rates from 2.65% variable and 3.95% fixed APR without affecting your credit score. Available for undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Credible marketplace works with multiple lenders offering private loans for over 2,200+ eligible schools.
See if you prequalify for private loans without impacting your credit score, click here.
Benefits of using Credible
- Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
- No filling duplicate forms
- Get actual rates, not estimates
- Finance almost any degree
- Flexible repayment plans: 5 – 20 years
Credible is exceptional by offering a San Francisco based customer support 7 days a week and 3-way phone support connecting you with lenders
Fees: Credible does not charge any service fee and works with lenders with no origination fees and no prepayment fees.
Compare student loan rates from 3.12% variable and 4.86% fixed APR.
LendKey is unique in offering private loans from credit unions and community banks. The best part of using LendKey is how seamless the application process truly is from start to finish. In fact, all loans funded through its marketplace is serviced by LendKey.
Apply for private student loans and see your offers, click here.
Benefits of using LendKey
- Loans with credit unions and community banks
- Serviced by LendKey
- A grace period of 6 months
- Loan terms: 5, 10 or 15 years
- Forbearance benefits
- Cosigner release
Basically, you’ll feel at ease knowing your servicer is LendKey no matter if your loans were funded by a credit union or a community bank.
Fees: With LendKey, there are no application fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment fees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are private student loans?
Private student loans are provided through private lenders, such as an online lender, bank or credit union. You can use private loans to pay for education-related expenses that are not covered by your financial aid. This includes tuition, fees, textbooks, housing, and food. With private loans, interest rates and terms vary by lender and often require a co-signer.
What’s the difference between private student loans and federal student loans?
Federal student loans are offered by the US Department of Education which does not factor your credit history or ability to repay. To get federal student loans, you must complete the FAFSA. These rates and terms of federal loans are set by Congress each year. They have unique federal benefits such as income-driven repayment, deferment, and loan forgiveness.
Learn more about the difference between federal student loans and private student loans.
A growing number of private student lenders offer a choice of fixed or variable-rate loans, and many more are offering different repayment plans, including the option to defer payments until after leaving school.
How much money can I borrow with a private student loan?
With private student loans, you are eligible to borrow up to 100% of what your school considers the cost of attendance minus any financial aid your receive. In the event, you’ve hit your federal student loan limit, private loans can offer you a competitive option to pay for school.
The amount of money you can borrow is also dependent on the private lender’s underwriting rules that includes meeting its credit criteria.
Do I need a co-signer for a private student loan?
With most private student loans, you’ll need a cosigner unless you can meet the approval requirements yourself. Most undergrads will require a cosigner. However, employed undergrad students or graduate students may not need a cosigner.
If you have poor credit, having a cosigner will increase your likelihood of being approved and getting a better rate.