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Private Student Loans: 6 Best Lenders for 2018

Loans, Student Loans
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Private student loans can be a good option if:

  • You have already completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to see if you’re eligible for federal grants, work-study and federal loans
  • You have already borrowed the maximum in both subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans
  • You have good credit or a co-signer who does. Most private student loan borrowers have a co-signer.
  • You borrow only what you need

» MORE: Is a private student loan right for you?

Private student loan interest rates

Get personalized rates from the well-established lenders below.

LenderAPR ranges*Visit
Citizens One Student Loans
Visit Citizens One
Fixed: 5.25% - 12.09%1
Variable: 4.19% - 12.06%1

Includes rates for undergraduate loans.
Lowest rates shown include a loyalty discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction for automatic payment.
collegeave-logo
Visit College Ave
Fixed: 5.29% - 12.07%2
Variable: 3.69% - 10.94%2

Includes rates for undergraduate and graduate loans.
Includes autopay discount of 0.25%.


Visit SunTrust

Fixed: 5.35% - 14.05%3
Variable: 4% - 13%3

Includes rates for undergraduate and graduate loans.
Sallie logo
Visit Sallie Mae
Fixed: 5.74% - 11.85%4
Variable: 4.12% - 10.98%4

Includes rates for undergraduate loans.

Discover logo
Visit Discover Student Loans
Fixed: 5.99% - 13.99%5
Variable: 3.99% - 12.99%5

Includes rates for undergraduate and graduate loans.
Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction for Auto Debit Reward.
Ascent logo

Visit Ascent
Fixed: 5.7% - 14.75%6
Variable: 3.97% - 12.97%6

Includes rates for Ascent's Tuition and Independent loans.
Includes autopay discount of 0.25%.

Visit cheatgame.info’s student loan refinancing marketplace to consolidate your existing loans at a lower rate.

You apply for a federal student loan by submitting a FAFSA. Taking on a federal loan means you’re borrowing a loan funded by the government. You apply for a private student loan through a bank, credit union or online lender.

Federal student loans offer borrowers protections and alternative repayment options that private loans may not, such as income-based repayment and forgiveness programs. Federal student loans also have flat interest rates set by Congress, while the interest rate on a private student loan depends on your or your co-signer’s credit. Without a credit score of at least 690, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate for a private loan than you would for a federal loan.

Learn more: How to get a student loan

Compare offers from multiple lenders including banks, credit unions and online lenders to find the lowest interest rate. Depending on the lender, you may be able to choose a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate stays the same throughout the life of a loan. A variable rate may start out lower than a fixed rate, but could increase or decrease over time depending on economic conditions.

Consider any borrower protections your private lender offers, including deferment and forbearance, as well as repayment options. You may also have the option to choose your loan term, which means you could pay off your loan faster and with less interest by making higher payments or pay lower amounts with more interest over a longer period of time.

Each lender will have its own requirements for taking out a loan. With most loans, credit score and income are taken into account. Higher scores and incomes tend to get the best rates or higher borrowing amounts. However, since undergraduate borrowers are less likely to have established credit or an income, lenders will usually require students to apply with a co-signer. Some lenders who have loans for borrowers without a co-signer will consider career and income potential.

Lenders will often require you to attend a Title IV school, which means your school processes federal student aid. Some lenders don’t offer loans in certain states.

You’ll have a hard time finding a private student loan from a bank, credit union or online lender if you have bad credit. Federal student loans don’t require borrowers to demonstrate creditworthiness, so they’ll be your best option. If you’ve already hit your limit on federal loans, you may be able to get a private student loan if you apply with a co-signer who has solid credit, typically scores in the high 600s or better.

Learn more: Student loans for borrowers with bad or no credit

If you have no income and either no credit or bad credit, you’ll need a co-signer to get a private student loan. Without bills in your name, such as a credit card, car loan or utility, you have no way to demonstrate that you can pay bills on time. Your co-signer will need to have a steady income as well as good to excellent credit scores, typically at least in the high 600s. Signing with a co-signer means they’re on the hook for your loan bill if you can’t pay.

Some lenders offer loans exclusively for student borrowers that don’t take credit into consideration. Instead, these lenders look at the school you’re attending as well as your income and career potential to determine the amount you can borrow and at what rate.

Learn more: How to get a student loan with co-signer

Each lender will have its own application requirements. You’ll usually need to provide documents that prove citizenship, identity and income along with school attendance and cost information or a financial aid award letter from your college.

As part of underwriting, you or your co-signer will need to show you have a credit score in the high 600s or higher, as well as cash flow to make loan payments. They’ll also look at your or your co-signer’s debt-to-income ratio to make sure you have the funds to pay a student loan bill in addition to any other bills in your name.



You apply for a federal student loan by submitting a FAFSA. Taking on a federal loan means you’re borrowing a loan funded by the government. You apply for a private student loan through a bank, credit union or online lender.

Federal student loans offer borrowers protections and alternative repayment options that private loans may not, such as income-based repayment and forgiveness programs. Federal student loans also have flat interest rates set by Congress, while the interest rate on a private student loan depends on your or your co-signer’s credit. Without a credit score of at least 690, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate for a private loan than you would for a federal loan.

Learn more: How to get a student loan

Compare offers from multiple lenders including banks, credit unions and online lenders to find the lowest interest rate. Depending on the lender, you may be able to choose a fixed or a variable interest rate. A fixed rate stays the same throughout the life of a loan. A variable rate may start out lower than a fixed rate, but could increase or decrease over time depending on economic conditions.

Consider any borrower protections your private lender offers, including deferment and forbearance, as well as repayment options. You may also have the option to choose your loan term, which means you could pay off your loan faster and with less interest by making higher payments or pay lower amounts with more interest over a longer period of time.

Each lender will have its own requirements for taking out a loan. With most loans, credit score and income are taken into account. Higher scores and incomes tend to get the best rates or higher borrowing amounts. However, since undergraduate borrowers are less likely to have established credit or an income, lenders will usually require students to apply with a co-signer. Some lenders who have loans for borrowers without a co-signer will consider career and income potential.

Lenders will often require you to attend a Title IV school, which means your school processes federal student aid. Some lenders don’t offer loans in certain states.

You’ll have a hard time finding a private student loan from a bank, credit union or online lender if you have bad credit. Federal student loans don’t require borrowers to demonstrate creditworthiness, so they’ll be your best option. If you’ve already hit your limit on federal loans, you may be able to get a private student loan if you apply with a co-signer who has solid credit, typically scores in the high 600s or better.

Learn more: Student loans for borrowers with bad or no credit

If you have no income and either no credit or bad credit, you’ll need a co-signer to get a private student loan. Without bills in your name, such as a credit card, car loan or utility, you have no way to demonstrate that you can pay bills on time. Your co-signer will need to have a steady income as well as good to excellent credit scores, typically at least in the high 600s. Signing with a co-signer means they’re on the hook for your loan bill if you can’t pay.

Some lenders offer loans exclusively for student borrowers that don’t take credit into consideration. Instead, these lenders look at the school you’re attending as well as your income and career potential to determine the amount you can borrow and at what rate.

Learn more: How to get a student loan with co-signer

Each lender will have its own application requirements. You’ll usually need to provide documents that prove citizenship, identity and income along with school attendance and cost information or a financial aid award letter from your college.

As part of underwriting, you or your co-signer will need to show you have a credit score in the high 600s or higher, as well as cash flow to make loan payments. They’ll also look at your or your co-signer’s debt-to-income ratio to make sure you have the funds to pay a student loan bill in addition to any other bills in your name.

How can I compare these private student loan lenders?

cheatgame.info experts have taken an in-depth look at the history, loan requirements and borrower-friendly features of major lenders. You’ll find ratings and links to their reviews below.

Lendercheatgame.info ReviewExpert Rating
Citizens Bank
Citizens One is the student loan arm of well-established Citizens Bank. It offers undergraduate and graduate student loans, refinancing of existing student loans. Here's how to qualify.

Citizens One review
4.0 cheatgame.info rating
College Ave logo
College Ave Student Loans is an online lender that offers student loans for undergraduates, graduate students and parents, student loan refinancing. Here's how to qualify.

College Ave review
4.5 cheatgame.info rating
SunTrust offers private student loan options for undergraduate and graduate student borrowers with good credit — or a co-signer with good credit — and stands out for a wide variety of repayment choices.


SunTrust review
3.5 cheatgame.info rating
Sallie logo
Sallie Mae offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, and parents. See what it takes to qualify, how to apply, repayment options, FAQs and more.

Sallie Mae review
4.5 cheatgame.info rating
Discover logo
Discover offers private student loans and student loan refinancing to undergraduates and graduate students. Discover’s flexible payment options for borrowers experiencing financial hardship are noteworthy.

Discover review
4.5 cheatgame.info rating
Ascent logo
Online lender Ascent offers two private student loan products, one for borrowers who have a co-signer and one for independent students who don't have a co-signer or established credit.

Ascent review
5.0 cheatgame.info rating

 


Lender disclosures

1. Citizens One Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 4.04%-12.01% (4.04%-11.91% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 5.25%-12.19% (5.25% – 12.09% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown requires application with a cosigner, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens One is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.


2. College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust 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. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

3. SunTrust Bank – Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the requested loan amount and (4) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective for applications received on or after 10/1/2018. The low APR assumes a 7-year $10,000 loan, with two disbursements and no deferment. The high APR assumes a 15-year $10,000 loan with two disbursements. 

The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding the current One-month LIBOR index to your margin. LIBOR stands for London Interbank Offered Rate. The One-month LIBOR is published in the “Money Rates” section of the Wall Street Journal (Eastern Edition). The One-month LIBOR index is captured on the 25th day of the immediately preceding calendar month (or if the 25th is not a business day, the next business day thereafter), and is rounded up to the nearest 1/8th of one percent. The current One-month LIBOR index is 2.250% on 10/01/2018. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the One-month LIBOR index changes. 

The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.

4. Sallie Mae – Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You’re charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school and during your six-month separation or grace period. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan’s Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 6/25/18 and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans.

5. The interest rate range represents the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.25% as of April 1, 2018. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit https://www.discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates.html for more information about interest rates.

6. For Ascent terms and conditions, please visit: Ascent. Ascent rates are effective as of 09/01/2018 and include a 0.25% discount applied when a borrower in repayment elects automatic debit payments via their personal checking account. Competitive rates calculated monthly at the time of loan approval.

Ascent Tuition: Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 2.00% and 11.00%  the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.067%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 3.82% – 12.82%.  Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 5.49% – 14.53%. Click here for Ascent Tuition cosigned loan current rates and repayment examples.

Ascent Independent:  Variable rate loans are based on a margin between 4.00% and 12.50%  the 1-Month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), rounded to the nearest 1/100th of a percent. The current LIBOR is 2.067%, which may adjust monthly. Your interest rate may increase or decrease, based on LIBOR monthly changes, resulting in an APR range between 5.49% – 12.77%. Fixed rate loans have an APR range between 7.00% – 13.47%. Click here for Ascent Independent non-cosigned loan current rates and repayment examples.