Compare Student Loan Rates, Lenders (2024)

NerdWallet's Guide to Private Student Loans

When you apply for private loans, the lender will want to see proof you can repay it, usually in the form of a good credit score. A co-signer can help you qualify; that person will be responsible for the loan if you can’t pay it back.

Private student loans can cover any costs related to attending college and are originated from a bank, credit union or an online lender. Since private student loans come with less flexibility for borrowers, look to these loans only after exhausting all of the federal student loans available to you.

Specific types of private student loans

Student loans for bad credit or no credit

Most federal student loans don’t require a credit check, so they’re your best option. If you need more money for school, a handful of private lenders offer loans specifically for borrowers with bad credit. They’ll decide whether to lend to you based on additional factors like earning potential.

Student loans without a co-signer

Undergraduates in particular often need a co-signer to get a private loan. But if you don’t have access to one, a few lenders will assess your ability to repay according to factors beyond credit history, making it more likely you’ll qualify on your own.

Graduate student loans

Graduate student loans are offered by both the federal government and private lenders. Take advantage of the unsubsidized federal student loans offered to you before taking on any federal grad PLUS loans or private student loans.

International student loans

Students who aren’t U.S. citizens generally won’t qualify for federal student loans (unless you’re an eligible noncitizen). Several private lenders offer loans for international students, and they often require a U.S. citizen co-signer.

State and nonprofit loans

Many states offer their own loan programs, but they generally behave more like private loans than federal loans.

Credit unions and community banks offer private loans, too. If you have an existing relationship with one of these institutions, you may have access to more favorable terms and discounts on your loan than larger financial institutions offer.

Income share agreements

An income share agreement, or ISA, offers funding for college that you repay based on your future salary. Consider an ISA instead of high-interest loans, such as federal PLUS loans or private student loans — especially if you plan to enter a high-paying profession. You'll likely get the most favorable repayment terms.

Medical school loans

Private student loans may offer lower interest rates than federal loans for medical students with good credit. But they don’t come with forgiveness options if you work for a nonprofit hospital after graduation, which would qualify you for federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Institutional loans

This is a type of loan offered directly by a college. An institutional loan doesn't come with standard features such as interest rates, terms and repayment options, so consider all attributes of the loan before accepting it.

Bootcamp loans

If you need to borrow money for your coding bootcamp, steer toward personal loans designed for bootcamp costs and away from credit cards or high-interest personal loans. Bootcamp loans may have lower interest rates and more favorable repayment terms for students.

Bar exam loans

These loans cover expenses traditional student loans won’t — like prep classes, living expenses and exam application fees — while law students or graduates study for the bar exam. Bar loans also typically have higher interest rates than private or federal student loans do.

Private student loan interest rates

The NerdWallet team of student loans experts analyzed reported rates from 24 lenders over a period of 38 months. We considered four variables — average maximum fixed rates, average minimum fixed rates, average maximum variable rates and average minimum variable rates — for each lender on a month-over-month basis.

The average rates as of Apr. 14, 2023, were:

  • Minimum fixed interest rate - 5.69%

  • Maximum fixed interest rate - 12.70%

  • Minimum variable interest rate - 6.46%

  • Maximum variable interest rate - 14.00%

Average rates in general have continued to trend upward over the last 12 months. All average rates — except maximum fixed rates — have increased since last month.

The reported rates represent lenders' advertised ranges. It's best to prequalify with multiple lenders to ensure you accept the best rate available to you.

Lenders typically offer the lowest rates to those with the strongest financial profiles. Based on our analysis, less than 30% of borrowers are offered the lowest rate. That percentage includes companies that offer all borrowers the same rate. Excluding those companies, less than 18% of borrowers are offered the lowest rate.

Use this chart and data to gauge how your student loan offers measure against typical interest rate ranges.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Read more about our ratings methodologies for student loans and our editorial guidelines.

Disclaimers

Annual Percentage Rates (APR), loan term and monthly payments are estimated based on analysis of information provided by you, data provided by lenders, and publicly available information. All loan information is presented without warranty, and the estimated APR and other terms are not binding in any way. Lenders provide loans with a range of APRs depending on borrowers' credit and other factors. Keep in mind that only borrowers with excellent credit will qualify for the lowest rate available. Your actual APR will depend on factors like credit score, requested loan amount, loan term, and credit history. All loans are subject to credit review and approval.

1Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit. Advertised APRs for undergraduate students assume a $10,000 loan to a student who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae-serviced loans. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. Advertised APRs are valid as of 5/31/2024. Loan amounts: For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website may be subjected to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursem*nts: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.28% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $182.67 and one payment of $121.71, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,134.44. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.78% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $132.53 and one payment of $40.35 for a total loan cost of $24,438.22. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years. A variable APR may increase over the life of the loan. A fixed APR will not.

2College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursem*nt and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursem*nt and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 5/31/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

3College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursem*nt and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursem*nt and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 5/31/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

4Ascent Private Student Loan

Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: Ascent Services Terms of Use - Ascent Funding . Rates are effective as of 5/1/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: Affordable Rates & Repayment Examples (APR) | Ascent Funding . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest rates require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.

Compare Student Loan Rates, Lenders (2024)
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