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Last Updated: February 24, 2024

Your best student loan options in 2024

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Our top pick

Citizens

Citizens

Disclosures

Variable APR

6.38% - 14.27%*

Fixed APR

4.48% - 13.29%*

Repayment Options
    Fees
      Discounts & Benefits
      Loan Details
      Term lengths: 5, 10, 15-year

      Citizens

      Citizens

      Disclosures

      Variable APR

      6.38% - 14.27%*

      Fixed APR

      4.48% - 13.29%*

      Repayment Options
        Fees
          Discounts & Benefits
          Loan Details
          Term lengths: 5, 10, 15-year

          Citizens

          Citizens

          Disclosures

          Variable APR

          6.38% - 14.27%*

          Fixed APR

          4.48% - 13.29%*

          Repayment Options
            Fees
              Discounts & Benefits
              Loan Details
              Term lengths: 5, 10, 15-year

              College Ave

              College Ave

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.59% - 16.65%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.11% - 15.44%¹

              College Ave

              College Ave

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.59% - 16.65%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.11% - 15.44%¹

              College Ave

              College Ave

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.59% - 16.65%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.11% - 15.44%¹

              Discover

              Discover

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.62%*

              Fixed APR

              4.49% – 14.99%*

              Discover

              Discover

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.62%*

              Fixed APR

              4.49% – 14.99%*

              Discover

              Discover

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.62%*

              Fixed APR

              4.49% – 14.99%*

              Earnest

              Earnest

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.62% - 16.20%

              Fixed APR

              4.42% - 15.90%

              Earnest

              Earnest

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.62% - 16.20%

              Fixed APR

              4.42% - 15.90%

              Earnest

              Earnest

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.62% - 16.20%

              Fixed APR

              4.42% - 15.90%

              EDLY

              EDLY

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              9.4-23%

              Fixed APR

              N/A

              EDLY

              EDLY

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              9.4-23%

              Fixed APR

              N/A

              EDLY

              EDLY

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              9.4-23%

              Fixed APR

              N/A

              ELFI

              ELFI

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              4.98% - 12.79%

              Fixed APR

              8.42% - 13.01%

              ELFI

              ELFI

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              4.98% - 12.79%

              Fixed APR

              8.42% - 13.01%

              ELFI

              ELFI

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              4.98% - 12.79%

              Fixed APR

              8.42% - 13.01%

              FundingU

              FundingU

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              FundingU

              FundingU

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              FundingU

              FundingU

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              MPOWER Financing

              MPOWER Financing

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.17% - 16.11%

              Fixed APR

              4.13% - 15.46%

              MPOWER Financing

              MPOWER Financing

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.17% - 16.11%

              Fixed APR

              4.13% - 15.46%

              MPOWER Financing

              MPOWER Financing

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.17% - 16.11%

              Fixed APR

              4.13% - 15.46%

              NelNet Bank

              NelNet Bank

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.99% - 14.70%

              Fixed APR

              4.44% - 14.70%

              NelNet Bank

              NelNet Bank

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.99% - 14.70%

              Fixed APR

              4.44% - 14.70%

              NelNet Bank

              NelNet Bank

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              5.99% - 14.70%

              Fixed APR

              4.44% - 14.70%

              qa

              qa

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              qa

              qa

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              qa

              qa

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              Sallie Mae

              Sallie Mae

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.70%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.50% - 15.49%¹

              Sallie Mae

              Sallie Mae

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.70%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.50% - 15.49%¹

              Sallie Mae

              Sallie Mae

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.37% - 16.70%¹

              Fixed APR

              4.50% - 15.49%¹

              test2

              test2

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              test2

              test2

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              test2

              test2

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              TESTQA

              TESTQA

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              TESTQA

              TESTQA

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              TESTQA

              TESTQA

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              Fixed APR

              Today’s most popular

              Citizens

              Citizens

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.38% - 14.27%*

              Fixed APR

              4.48% - 13.29%*

              Citizens

              Citizens

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.38% - 14.27%*

              Fixed APR

              4.48% - 13.29%*

              Citizens

              Citizens

              Disclosures

              Variable APR

              6.38% - 14.27%*

              Fixed APR

              4.48% - 13.29%*

              Students love us

              We are honored to have helped hundreds of students find the best loans for their needs. Check out some of our reviews below.

              I recently used TuitionHero and it was really helpful. It made it easy for me to compare different loans and find the best one for me. Their site was easy to use and had lots of useful information.

              Stefanie Tenorio

              San Jose State University

              TuitionHero is a game changer! I was able to easily see all my options in one place and just pick the one that worked best. Their site is user-friendly and has a lot of helpful info.

              Lissette Rodriguez

              San Diego State University

              I had a great experience using TuitionHero to help me get a low rate on a private student loan. I could compare lots of lenders all on the same site, which was super convenient.

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              Arizona State University

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                TuitionHero helps your wallet

                With so many private student loan options out there, it can be overwhelming! TuitionHero shows you rates and terms from a variety of lenders, so you can compare them side-by-side and easily spot the savings.

                TuitionHero saves you time

                TuitionHero took care of all of that time-consuming, rigorous research so that you don’t have to!

                Our editors then condensed and organized that research into the simple lender table you see above to match you with the companies that are best suited to your specific situation.


                What are private student loans?

                A loan is an agreement where a lender will give a borrower money if they promise to pay them back over a certain time period. To make it worthwhile to the lender, the borrower must pay interest on top of what they owe, which is calculated as a percentage of the total loan amount.

                Private student loans are used to pay for college-related expenses while enrolled in school and can be a great option to cover whatever's leftover after taking out federal student loans. Rather than being funded by the government, private student loans are offered by a credit union, bank, or online lender.

                What’s the difference between federal and private student loans?

                Both federal student loans and private student loans can be used to help you pay for school. Here are the differences between these two kinds of loans:

                Federal student loans

                A federal student loan is an education loan funded by the government, typically through the Department of Education.

                Great for students who:

                • Have limited income or credit history

                • Want an fixed interest rate that won’t go up or down

                • Need flexible repayment options

                Private student loans

                A private student loan is an education loan funded by a private lender, such as a bank, credit union, or online lender.

                Great for students who:

                • Have a cosigner or good credit score

                • Want the ability to apply at anytime

                • Need more funding than federal loans can provide

                What can private student loans be used for?

                Private student loans can be used to cover any education-related expenses. Some examples include:

                Do

                • Tuition and fees

                • Housing and utilities

                • Meals and groceries

                • A personal computer

                • Transportation to and from school

                • Study abroad program

                • School supplies

                • Textbooks

                • Childcare expenses

                Don'ts

                • Vacation travel

                • Clothes

                • Entertainment

                • Expensive meals

                • Alcohol

                • New car

                • Investing

                • Business expenses

                • A down payment on a home

                Your private student loan questions answered

                An interest rate is a percentage of your loan value that's added onto your total monthly repayments — this is the cost that comes with borrowing money.

                The total amount of interest you owe is determined by the amount of time you take to pay off the loan and your interest rate.

                Since more interest is owed with each payment, having less payments by repaying your loan sooner can lead to big savings.

                Additionally, getting a low-interest rate means that you will owe less interest with each monthly repayment, helping you save money over the life of the loan and pay off your debt faster.

                Most private student loans will offer you the choice between a fixed- or variable-rate loan. The difference between them is:

                • A fixed-rate loan has an interest rate that remains the same over the entirety of the loan. This means that your monthly payments won’t change either, leading to predictable payments.

                • A variable-rate loan has an interest rate that can go up or down with the market. As a result, your monthly payments could increase, but they also have the potential to decrease.

                Historically, over 90% of private student loans taken out by undergraduate students are borrowed with a cosigner — a creditworthy individual who agrees to repay the debt if you, as the primary borrower, fall behind. The reason behind this is that students usually haven’t had the time to build up their credit yet to meet lenders’ loan approval requirements.

                Even if the lender doesn’t require a cosigner or you don’t need one, applying with a cosigner could improve your chances of qualifying for a private student loan at a lower rate.

                You can still get a private student loan with bad credit, but maybe not on your own. If you have bad credit or no credit at all, you will most likely need to add a cosigner to qualify.

                Even if you can get approved for a loan by yourself, your interest rate will likely be high if your credit score is low. One potential way to avoid this and get approved for a student loan with a lower interest rate can be to apply with a creditworthy cosigner.

                While most lenders allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance for your school, how much you can actually borrow may vary based on the lender, your major, your credit score, and whether or not you have a cosigner.

                A school's total “cost of attendance” is defined by your school and usually includes costs like: tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, school supplies, and any other education-related expenses.

                Just because you might be able to borrow 100% of school-related expenses with a private student loan doesn’t mean you should. It’s always a good idea to explore other funding options like federal student loans first before turning to private student loans to cover whatever’s leftover.

                Generally, the private student loan money is first sent to your school and applied directly towards any tuition and fees you owe. After that, any unused student loan money is usually sent to you through a check or an online deposit.

                The exact details of how this process works can vary depending on your particular school and lender, so it’s a good idea to read up on the details or ask ahead of time. For example, your school’s financial aid office can have its own way of redirecting leftover student loan funds. Your lender could also potentially divide the total loan money it gives out across each semester or academic year or simply give out the money all at once.

                Each lender has their own requirements for taking out a loan. With that being said, lenders will usually require that you:

                • Plan to use the loan for education-related expenses

                • Have a qualifying credit score

                • Have a qualifying income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

                • Be enrolled in an eligible school

                • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident with a Social Security number

                If you don’t meet the minimum approval requirements, you'll want to apply with a creditworthy cosigner who does in order to qualify. A cosigner is someone who applies with you and agrees to take responsibility for paying back your loan if you don’t. A cosigner is usually the student's parent or guardian, but any creditworthy individual can fulfill the role. Even if a co-signer isn’t required by the lender, applying with one can increase your chances of approval and help you get a better rate.

                Student loans can seem stressful and confusing, but just know that you don’t have to tackle it alone. Fortunately, there are many ways to get help without paying for it. You can:

                • Speak with your high school guidance counselor

                • Make use of on-campus college resources, such as your financial aid office

                • Reach out to a federal student loan representative at StudentAid.gov about getting started and application assistance

                • Contact private student loan companies about their products and services

                Also, consult free online resources like TuitionHero, where you can get all your questions answered with simple and in-depth guides and articles. For now, these guides might be most useful to you:

                • What are Private Student Loans

                • The Ultimate Guide to Student Loans