Finimpact

Best Private Student Loans

Most students rely on federal aid to cover the cost of college. But when federal student loans, grants, and scholarships aren’t enough, a private student loan might help you get the extra cash you need to pay for your educational expenses.

Best Student Loans of 2022
Credit Expert, Freelance Writer, Credit Expert Witness, Speaker

In the United States borrowers owe around $1.5 billion in private student loan debt. Although this type of financing typically isn’t the first choice for student borrowers, there are several situations where private student loans can be helpful.

Private student loans can fill funding gaps when the other financial resources fall short. And if you’re a graduate student or parent with good credit, a private student loan might even be more affordable in the long run.

Our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you get funded. Here’s a look at the private student loan lenders who earned a spot on our top ten list.

How to Choose the Best Private Student Loan?

It’s smart to research your options before you take out a private student loan or any other type of financing. Below are some of the details you’ll want to consider as you make comparisons.

Our experts used the following parameters to rank the best private student loan lenders.

  • Qualification Criteria: Before you apply for a loan, confirm whether you can satisfy a lender’s qualification requirements such as minimum credit score, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio limits, and more.
  • Interest Rates and Fees: You can calculate the interest rates and fees a lender charges to figure out if a loan is a good deal.
  • Loan Features: Details like repayment terms, maximum loan amount, funding speed, and loan use flexibility can help you decide if a loan is right for your situation.
  • Application Process: Many lenders offer user-friendly applications that you can complete online. Some lenders may even let you see if you prequalify for financing with a soft credit inquiry that won’t hurt your credit score.
  • Customer Support: If a lender offers several convenient customer support channels (i.e., phone, chat, email, etc.), it could make the repayment process easier to navigate in the years to come.
  • Online User Reviews: Many lenders have at least some complaints online. But you’ll want to check for an excessive number of complaints and other possible red flags.
  • Perks and Bonuses: Some private lenders may offer extra loan benefits like user-friendly apps, payment flexibility, and unemployment protection.

Our Top Picks for The Best Private Student Loans

earnest_logo_sl
  • Long 9-month deferment period
  • Opportunity to skip one payment per year
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650+
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Fixed APR 5-20 years
 salliemae_logo_sl
  • Loans for a wide variety of educational programs
  • Fund supplemental educational costs, such as books, housing, meals
  • Fewer fees than some of its competitors
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 10-15 years
penfed_logo
  • Low interest rates
  • No origination fees
  • You can apply with a co-borrower
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $600-$50K
Est. APR
Loan Repayment 1-5 years
college_ave_logo_sl
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • Flexible repayment terms (up to 15 years)
  • Prequalify without a credit check
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
 sofi_logo_sl
  • No maximum loan limit
  • Prequalify without a credit check
  • Unemployment protection
  • Flexible repayment terms
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $5K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
credible_logo_sl
  • Compare multiple lenders loan offers
  • Refinance student loans you already have
  • Prequalify without a hard inquiry
  • Choose from flexible repayment terms
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 700+
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount Up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5 to 20 years
education_loan_sl
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Interest rate cap of 9.95% on refinance loans
  • Compare rates with no credit score impact
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 680+
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
 mpowerfinancing_logo_sl
  • No credit-check required
  • Opportunities for interest rate reduction
  • Resources for students, including assistance with visas
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $2K-$100K
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment Up to 10 years
 discover_logo_sl
  • Favorable terms for borrowers with strong credit scores
  • Potential to cover up to 100% of educational expenses
  • Zero Fees
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not Disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment Up to 15 years

Best Private Student Loans for 2022 - Full Overview

Below is our list of the top 10 private student loan lenders for 2022.

1.Earnest - Best Overall

Earnest earns the distinction of having the best overall private student loan among all the lenders we reviewed. Some of the factors that contributed to this decision were the lender’s combination of affordable interest rates, no fees, and longer-than-average grace period before repayment begins.

Pros
Competitive interest rates
No fees
9-month grace period
Skip one payment per year
Approvals typically happen within 72 hours
Cons
Minimum annual income of $35,000
Must attend eligible Title IV school (full time)
Residents of Nevada not eligible

The annual percentage rate on private student loans with Earnest starts at 3.24% (including a 0.25% auto pay discount). Variable APR loans start at 0.94% when you factor in the lender’s auto pay discount.

Features

You’ll need a credit score of at least 650 to qualify for a private student loan with Earnest—a requirement that’s more lenient that some other lenders. Borrowers have four repayment options, including total payment deferment or a fixed $25 per month payment while in school. You can also request to skip one payment every 12 months and keep your loan in good standing.

Bottom Line

Eligible undergraduate and graduate students, along with parents, can use private student loans from Earnest to pay for educational expenses. If you (or your cosigner) has good credit, there’s also a chance you could qualify for a low APR that’s hard to beat elsewhere.

Try Earnest

2.Sallie Mae - Best for Student Loans with a Cosigner

Sallie Mae snags the title of best student loans with a cosigner. The lender earns this distinction because after graduation you can apply to release your cosigner once you make just 12 on-time payments (principal and interest), provided you’ve built good enough credit to take over the debt on your own.

Pros
Early cosigner release
Affordable rates available
No origination fees
No prepayment penalty
Lower interest with in-school repayment
Loans options for part time attendance or less
Cons
No refinance option
Cosigner with good credit strongly encouraged

The APRs that Sallie Mae offers range from 3.75% to 12.85% for fixed loans. Variable APR loans run from 1.62% to 11.73%. Both types of loans feature no extra fees for origination or prepayment.

Features

Sallie Mae doesn’t share its minimum credit score requirement. Repayment terms range between 10 to 15 years, and the lender offers three different payment options. The initial funding process usually takes 10 business days from your loan application to funds disbursement.

Bottom Line

If you plan to use a cosigner for a private student loan, Sallie Mae could be a solid choice. Cosigning for a student loan can be risky, but Sallie Mae gives borrowers the opportunity to apply for a cosigner release as soon as 12 months after you start making loan payments.

Try Sallie Mae

Read more in the full Sallie Mae Review

3. PenFed - Best Student Loans for Parents

PenFed is our selection for the best private student loans for parents. APRs with the lender range from 5.49% to 7.68%—a lower maximum interest rate than you might find with federal Parent PLUS Loans and other lenders. Potential borrowers (parents or otherwise) can check rates online with a soft credit inquiry that won’t impact credit scores.

Pros
Check rate with soft credit inquiry
No origination fees
No prepayment penalty
Lower than average maximum APR
Cons
Lower rates available elsewhere with good credit
Stricter credit requirements without cosigner
Cosigner required with less than $42,000 annual income
Must refinance to release cosigner
Higher than average minimum loan amount

The federal credit union partners with Ascent and Purify to offer student loans (parent, undergraduate, graduate, and refinance) with no origination or application fees. And if you want to pay off your debt early, you won’t have to worry about prepayment penalties either.

Finally, PenFed has a feature that’s not widely available elsewhere. The lender allows eligible married couples to refinance their student loans together into a new single loan.

Features

PenFed offers private student loans of $7,500 to $500,000 to borrowers with at least a 670 credit score and an eligible cosigner. Borrowers may receive one of four different repayment terms—5, 8, 12, or 15 years. If financial problems arise, the lender will work with borrowers on a case by case basis to consider forbearance or deferment options.

The Bottom Line

PenFed could be a good choice for parents who are looking to refinance expensive Parent PLUS Loans (or perhaps bypass them in the first place). Married couples who want to combine their student loans into a single account might be interested in working with the lender as well.

Try PenFed

4.College Ave - Best for Medical School Loans

College Ave is the private lender that earns the title of best for medical school loans. Eligible medical students may qualify for a private student loan that comes with the option to defer payments for up to 36 months after graduation.

Pros
Prequalify with soft credit inquiry
Competitive interest rates
Four repayment options
36-month grace period
Flexible loan uses
Cons
Many borrowers need a cosigner
Doesn’t disclose minimum credit criteria

Annual percentage rates on medical school loans with College Ave range from 1.99%-10.45% (variable) or 3.99%-11.46% (fixed). Additionally, borrowers don’t have to worry about origination fees. You can also use loan funds from College Ave for a variety of educational expenses—from tuition and fees to room and board.

Features

College Ave doesn’t disclose minimum credit score requirements on its website. But the lender does share that borrowers may be able to set up their repayment terms with College Ave. to last between five and 20 years. If you can afford to repay principal and interest as soon as you take out the loan, you could lower your cost significantly. However, the lender also offers deferred payment options during school and medical residency.

Bottom Line

College Ave may be a good choice for medical students who need to supplement federal student loans. The lender’s competitive rates and flexible repayment terms might also make it a good fit for other borrowers—both undergraduate and graduate students.

5.SoFi - Best for Part Time Student Loans

Some lenders won’t approve loan applications from part time students. SoFi, however, offers student loans to both full time and half time students, and it gets the nod for being the best lender in this category.

Pros
Competitive interest rates
Check rate with soft credit inquiry
Zero fees
Member rewards offer extra benefits
Available in all 50 states
Unemployment protection
cons
Funding time may take 4-6 weeks
Maximum APR may be high
Minimum credit score not disclosed

Eligible borrowers can get no-fee private student loans from SoFi with rates ranging from 1.89% to 11.92% (variable APR with auto pay discount). Fixed-rate loans feature APRs that fall between 3.47% to 11.16%.

Features

SoFi doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirements online. But borrowers can take out loans starting at $1,000 and there’s no maximum loan limit. Repayment terms with SoFi can vary from 5, 7, 10, or 15 years.

Bottom Line

SoFi could be a good private student loan solution for borrowers who need financing for part time education costs. Other student borrowers might also benefit from a SoFi student loan, including full time graduate or undergraduate students and parents.

Try SoFi

6.Credible - Best for Community College

Attending a university could be five times more expensive than a community college. Even so, you might need to borrow money to cover community college costs, and Credible could be a great resource to help you achieve that goal.

Pros
Compare multiple lenders
Affordable interest rates available
No origination or prepayment fees
Cosigner options available
Multiple repayment plans
Cons
Borrowers should still research lenders
Higher minimum credit score requirements

Credible is an online student loan marketplace. Its platform makes it easier to compare loan options for undergraduate studies at community college, universities, and more. When you get a loan through the platform, Credible earns a commission from the lender.

Annual percentage rates with Credible’s lending partners range from 1.13%-11.98% for variable loans. Fixed-rate private student loans through the platform start at 3.20% and climb to 14.52%.

Features

If you have a 670 credit score and can otherwise qualify for a loan through the Credible platform, you may be able to borrow up to 100% of your educational costs. You can use loan proceeds for community college expenses and more. Because Credible aggregates loans from multiple lenders, repayment terms may vary.

Bottom Line

Credible could work well for community college students, university students, parents, and others. However, it’s important to do your own research into a lender before you move forward with a loan offer through the online platform.

Try Credible

7.Education Loan Finance (ELFI) - Best for MBA Student Loans

Education Loan Finance, better known as ELFI, provides several attractive graduate loan options including MBA student loans. Students enrolled in an MBA degree program (at least half time) can borrow between $10,000 up to the amount approved by their school for qualifying education expenses.

Pros
Competitive interest rates
Personal loan advisor
Prequalify with soft credit inquiry
Refinance Parent PLUS loans in your name
cons
$10,000 minimum loan amount for MBA loans
No cosigner release available
Higher credit score requirements

Interest rates with ELFI start as low as 1.30% (variable) or 3.20% (fixed). There are also no application, origination, or prepayment fees for MBA students to worry about when they borrow money.

Features

Repayment terms with ELFI range from 5-15 years for MBA loans. Borrowers or cosigners need a minimum credit score of 680 to qualify.

The Bottom Line

A private student loan from ELFI could provide much-needed funds for MBA students looking to cover the cost of graduate studies. ELFI might also be worth considering for undergraduate students, graduate students pursuing different degrees, parents, and those who need to refinance existing high-interest student debt

8. MPower Financing - Best for International Student Loans

Securing student loans can be challenging for international students who wish to attend college in the United States. But some lenders do offer international student loans, and MPower Financing stands out in this area. International students may be able to qualify for a private student loan from MPower with no collateral, no cosigner, and no credit history.

Pros
No cosigner required
No credit history required
No prepayment penalties
Build U.S. credit history
Cons
APRs higher without discounts
5% origination fee
Must be within 2 years from graduation
Funding can take 2-10 weeks

If you’re an international or DACA student in the U.S. and you qualify for all discounts, your APR on an MPower loan may be as low as 12.49% (undergraduate) or 10.49% (graduate). Domestic students may be eligible for discounted interest rates as low as 6.49% (graduate) or 8.49% (undergraduate). MPower also charges a 5% origination fee.

Features

You don’t need any established U.S. credit history or a credit score to qualify for a private student loan with MPower. The lender does requires borrowers to make interest-only payments while still attending school. Regular payments of interest and principal begin six months after graduation, and last for a 10-year repayment period.

The Bottom Line

MPower private student loans may be a suitable borrowing option for international or DACA students—especially those without a cosigner or U.S. credit history. Domestic students with good credit, however, may find more affordable loan options elsewhere.

9.Discover - Best for Good Grades Discount

Many private student loan lenders offer discounts to borrowers, but Discover stands out as a lender that rewards student borrowers who earn good grades. Eligible borrowers may earn a 1% cash reward (based on their loan disbursement amount) for each new loan when they earn a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Pros
Cash rewards for good grades
Zero fees
24/7 U.S.-based customer support
Cons
Lower APRs available elsewhere
No prequalification
No cosigner release

Discover charges annual percentage rates between 1.79% and 11.24% (with discounts) on its variable-rate loans. Fixed-rate loans feature APRs from 4.49%-13.34% (with discounts). Borrowers don’t have to pay any fees with their loans either—including late fees, application fees, and origination fees.

Features

Eligible undergraduate students, graduate students, and parent borrowers may be able to access loans for up to 100% of school costs. However, Discover doesn’t share its minimum credit requirements online. Repayment terms span 10 years for undergraduate loans and 20 years for graduate loans.

The Bottom Line

Students who feel confident in their ability to earn good grades might be interested in a private student loan from Discover. However, it’s important to compare interest rates and fees from other lenders first to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Try Discover

10.Navient - Best for Student Loan Refinance

Navient is our choice for the best student loan refinance option. With good credit, you might qualify for a lower interest rate from Navient than you’re paying on your current student loans. The lender also charges no fees when you refinance.

Pros
Competitive interest rates
Flexible repayment solutions
No fees (including origination or late fees)
Permanent disability discharge available
May qualify without a degree
Cons
No prequalification option with soft inquiry
Recent lawsuits claim Navient harmed borrowers
Few payment methods (no credit cards, limited debit cards)
Not available to Nevada residents

Navient, a student loan servicer that was once part of Sallie Mae, offers refinancing for student loans through its program NaviRefi. The refinance program works with the online lender Earnest, and offers borrowers variable APRs between 1.74%-7.99%. Fixed interest rates range from 2.44%-7.99%. The lowest rates include a 0.25% auto pay discount.

Features

Qualified applicants can refinance student loans between $5,001 and $500,000. You’ll need a credit score of 650 (perhaps 700 if you’re a non-graduate) to be eligible for refinancing. Your credit report also cannot show any bankruptcies or recent collections. Co-signers aren’t allowed at this time.

Your loan repayment terms may vary depending on the type and amount of student debt you’re refinancing. But the lender does have several repayment options that might help you pause, reduce, or receive forgiveness or discharge if you’re eligible.

The Bottom Line

A student loan refinance from Navient might be a good choice if you have good credit and can qualify for a lower interest rate. The lender’s promise of no fees and multiple repayment options are solid perks that make this refinance option worth considering as well.

Try Navient

Best Private Student Loans - Feature Comparison


Company Name

Min. credit score

Loan Amount

Fixed APR

Variable APR

Earnest

650

Up to 100% of college costs

3.24%-13.03% (with auto pay)

0.94%-11.69% (with auto pay)

Sallie Mae

Not disclosed

$1,000 and up

3.75%-12.85%

1.62%-11.73%

PenFed

670 (with eligible co-signer)

$7,500 to $500,000

5.49%-7.68%

Not available

College Ave.

Not disclosed

Up to 100% of college costs

3.49%-12.99%

1.19%-11.98%

SoFi

Not disclosed

$1,000 and up

3.47%-11.16% (with auto pay)

1.89%-11.92% (with auto pay)

Credible

670

Up to 100% of college costs

3.20%-14.52%

1.13%-11.98%

ELFI

680

$1,000 and up

Starting at 3.20%

Starting at 1.30%

MPower Financing

Options available for no credit

$2,001 to $100,000

6.49% and up (after discounts)

Not available

Discover

Not disclosed

Up to 100% of college costs

4.49%-13.34%

1.79%-11.24%

Navient

650

$5,001 to $500,000

2.44%-7.99%

1.74%-7.99% (with auto pay)

What is a Private Student Loan?

A private student loan is a student loan that comes from a lender like a bank, credit union, or other financial company. Because these loans are not issued by the government, they are often called non-federal student loans.

You can use a private student loan to pay for educational costs like tuition and fees. The more flexible private lenders may let you borrow funds for other college expenses like textbooks, room and board, and even childcare.

How Do Private Student Loans Work?

Private student loans are a tool that undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents can use to help cover the cost of educational expenses. To qualify for this type of financing, a private lender will likely review your credit report, credit score, income details, and more. You’ll need to satisfy a lender’s minimum approval requirements in each category to qualify.

Students are often unable to qualify for private student loans on their own due to lack of credit or income limitations. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that 90% of new private student loans require a cosigner, and parents or grandparents are often the ones who often fill this need.

Private Student Loan vs. Federal Student Loan: What’s The Difference?

Most people rely on federal student loans first to finance college-related costs. The differences below between federal and private student loans provide insight into why private student loans are often a secondary source of funding for college.

  • Federal Benefits: Many federal student loans come with rich perks such as income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness opportunities, etc. Private student loans may not share these same benefits.
  • Credit Requirements: Good credit is typically essential if you want to borrow money at an affordable price. But while your credit report and score can certainly influence your ability to qualify for a private student loan, credit checks aren’t required with most federal student loans.
  • Borrowing Limits: Federal student loans come with annual and overall loan limits that might not cover the full cost of your educational expenses. Some private lenders, however, offer loans that cover up to 100% of college-related expenses.

Reasons to Get a Private Student Loan

Although most student loan borrowers start with federal student loans, there are several reasons you might want to consider a private student loan too.

  • You’re ineligible for federal student aid. More than 43 million borrowers have federal student loan debt. But that doesn’t mean everyone who applies for a federal student loan will qualify. International students, for example, aren’t usually eligible for federal student loans. And if your GPA falls below your school’s cutoff point (often around 2.0), you might not be eligible for new federal student loans the following semester. A private student loan could help you finance college costs in situations where federal student aid isn’t available.
  • Fill funding gaps. Even if you are eligible for federal student loans, those funds might not be enough to take care of all your educational expenses due to loan limits. A private student loan can help you fill gaps in funding, and may be used to pay for expenses such as tuition and fees, books, supplies, childcare, transportation, study abroad costs, room and board, and more.
  • You might get a lower interest rate. Another reason to consider a private student loan is the potential to save money. With federal student loans, you have to accept whatever interest rate the federal government offers. Private lenders compete with each other for business, and you might be able to qualify for more affordable financing as a result—especially if you have good credit.

Types of Private Student Loans


Student Loan Type

Recommended Lender

Best Overall

Earnest

Co-Signer

Sallie Mae

Parents

PenFed

Medical School

College Ave

Part Time

SoFi

Community College

Credible

MBA Loans

ELFI

International Students

MPower

Good Grades Discount

Discover

Refinance

Navient

How To Get a Private Student Loan?

The process of taking out a private student loan looks a bit different from lender to lender. Below are some general steps you may need to take to apply for, qualify for, and receive this type of financing.

  1. Prequalify. Some lenders may let you see if you prequalify for a private student loan and check your interest rate with a soft credit inquiry. (Note: Soft credit inquiries do not damage your credit score.)
  2. Apply. After you prequalify, you’ll likely need to fill out an official student loan application to borrow money from a private lender. Some of the details you may need to share on your loan application include personal identifying information (i.e., name, Social Security number, date of birth, etc.), school information, and your requested loan amount. You’ll need to include your cosigner’s details too, if applicable.
  3. Wait. Many lenders will respond to your application right away to let you know whether you’re approved or denied. If you qualify for a private student loan, you’ll need to review the loan terms and accept the offer (assuming you’re satisfied with it). From there, it may take a few days to a few weeks for your school to receive the funding, depending on the lender’s process.

How Do Student Loan Interest Rates Work?

Private student loan interest rates come in two varieties—fixed and variable. Here’s an basic overview of each type of interest rate.

  • Variable interest rate student loans often feature lower starting APRs than fixed-rate loans. For example, variable-rate loans might start at 1.30% APR and fixed-rate loans might begin at 3.20%. But with variable loans there’s a risk that your interest rate could go up over time. If interest rates increase (as they have been recently), you might wind up paying more over the life of a variable-rate loan than you would with a fixed interest rate.
  • Fixed interest rate student loans feature APRs that remain constant throughout the loan term. This type of loan offers predictable payments and interest. But starting APRs do tend to be higher and you might miss out on a potential savings opportunity if interest rates hold steady or decline throughout your repayment term.

Pros and Cons of Private Student Loans

Before you apply for any type of financing—private student loans included—it’s important to examine its benefits and drawbacks. Here are some pros and cons of private student loans you’ll want to consider.

Pros

Interest rates may be lower on private student loans compared to federal loans.
Private student loans often have higher loan limits (or no limits at all).
You may qualify for private loans even if you’re ineligible for federal student aid.
You can choose between different loan options and different types of interest rates.

Cons

Private student loans may not feature federal benefits like income-based repayment plans, deferment, or forbearance options.
The vast majority of new private student loans (more than 90%) require cosigners.
You may need good credit to qualify for a private student loan—especially if you hope to lock in a lower interest rate.
Ninety percent of people who apply for a cosigner release from a private student loan receive a rejection.

Conclusion

Private student loans aren’t the first funding choice for many students. Yet these types of loans could still play an important role in your college journey, depending on your situation.

If you need supplemental funding for graduate or undergraduate school, or if you’re a parent that wants to borrow money to pay for your child’s educational expenses, a private student loan might benefit you. And the loans might benefit those who want to refinance existing loans to a lower interest rate too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I get private student loans cheaper?

There are a few potential strategies you can use to try to save money on private student loans. First, make sure your credit is in the best shape possible. Excellent credit scores tend to unlock the lowest interest rates.

Some borrowers work with a cosigner to qualify for a better deal. This approach might help you get a lower interest rate, but it’s important to understand that you’re asking a loved one to take a significant risk in exchange.

Finally, be sure to shop around. You should compare loan offers from several lenders to ensure you’re getting the best private student loan for your situation.

What is a good APR for student loans?

According to the Education Data Initiative, the average student loan interest rate (federal and private) is 5.8%. Until September 1, 2022, the interest rates on federal student loans have been set to 0%.

For private student loans, the average interest rate ranges between 6% and 7% (according to the latest estimates). So if you can lock in a fixed interest rate that’s lower than average, you may consider your APR to be “good.” Again, it’s smart to comparison shop before you accept any loan offer.

Is Sallie Mae federal or private?

Sallie Mae is a private student loan lender. The company does not service nor issue federal student loans.

Who qualifies for a private student loan?

A lender will need to be comfortable with the risk of loaning you money before you can qualify for a private student loan. A lender needs to feel confident that you’re likely to repay the money you borrow (plus interest) according to the terms of the loan agreement.

You’ll need to satisfy a lender’s borrowing requirements such as:

  • Minimum Credit Score
  • Acceptable Credit History
  • Verifiable Minimum Income
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio
  • Verifiable Employment
  • Etc.

A lender may also have rules regarding a borrower’s age (i.e., over 18 years old) and citizenship status.

Do you need a cosigner for a private student loan?

When you’re unable to meet a lender’s qualification criteria on your own, you might still qualify for a private student loan with a creditworthy cosigner. If your credit score or income is too low, or your DTI ratio is too high, a cosigner could help you qualify for some private student loans (or perhaps qualify for better borrowing terms).

Do private student loans allow deferment or forbearance?

Deferment and forbearance options come standard with most federal student loans. But borrowers who take out private student loans may not enjoy the same benefits. Payment postponement programs like deferment or forbearance can differ from one lender to another, and some might not offer these options at all.