Private Loans for your undergrad, graduate, & doctoral degree.

When federal loans and scolarships aren't enough, we'll help find the right private student loan lender at the right rate.

Compare your rates from leading lenders.

Quickly and easily compare the most competitive interest rates and payment plans, so you can focus on getting your degree.

Understanding Student Loans

To vocer this massive expense, students and families use student loans to help finance post-secondary eductaion costs including tution, room and board, books, and additional living expenses.

When shopping for private student loans, it's important to make sure you keep in mind each private student loan provider has its own set of terms, rates and eligibility requirements that vary, unlike a typical federal loan. Also know that applying with a co-signer can greatly improve your chanves of qualifying.

Current federal and private student loan interest rates

Table of interest rates
Refinance student loansPrivate student loans
Fixed2.95% to 9.15%1.90% to 8.95%
Variable2.95% to 9.15%1.04% to 12.94%
Federal student loans (fixed)Undergraduate 3.73%
Graduate 5.28%
PLUS (Parent, Grad) 6.28%

Frequently Asked Questions

Paying for college should always start with filling out the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid. We suggest filling this out as soon as possible as most colleges and universities will give out money on a first-come, first-serve basis depending on the completion of the FAFSA. Additionally, the only way to receive federal grants, work-study opportunities, most scholarships, and any other student loans is through filling out the FAFSA.

Once complete, apply to scholarships and grants related to your field of study, your local community, or anything else that might be applicable to you to receive as much free money as possible to pay for your tuition costs.

If you still need money for your tuition after federal student aid, grants, scholarships, and savings if you have any, then you should apply for private student loans to cover the remaining costs. Keep in mind you still need to account for textbooks, school supplies, housing, food, and any other cost of living items you may need, so you'll need to incorporate that into your budget.

Make sure you get rates from multiple private student loan lenders and use a co-signer with excellent credit to receive the best possible rates and terms available to you. Be sure to only take out what you need since you'll have to pay this back upon graduating.

You can apply for a private student loan either directly through a lender's website or by using a tool like College Life Today's that provides you with the top student loan interest rates and terms based on the school you're enrolled in and your financial credit history.

The following steps should be taken when applying for a private student loan:

  1. 1. Make sure you are applying for funds to the school you have decided to enroll in so you don't need to fill out additional loan applications later on down the line
  2. 2. Enter that school into a trusted school search tool to view what private student loan companies you are eligible to apply for.
  3. 3. Compare interest rates, payment terms, support options, auto-pay discounts, co-signer information, and anything else you deem important to decide which option fits your needs the best.
  4. 4. Since most private student loan companies require a co-signer to borrow money, make sure you find someone you trust with good credit to get the lowest rate possible.
  5. 5. Apply directly to the lender you've chosen. You and your co-signer will fill out basic personal information and financial information.
  6. 6. and repayment term options for your desired loan.
  7. 7. Ask questions and make sure you know how the money will be dispersed to pay for your tuition, if you are receiving a , make sure all your information is correct to receive the funds without any delays.

are funded by the federal government. Their interest rate is set by Congress depending on the type of loan for the year that the money is borrowed. To apply for a federal student loan, you must fill out the , Free Application for Federal Student Aid, every year that you wish to receive federal student aid. Most federal student loans are subsidized, meaning the Education Department pays interest on these loans while a student is enrolled at least half-time in college.

Private student loans are offered via private companies and decide their own competitive interest rates and repayment terms according to the market and economy at the time of application. Unlike federal student loans, private student loans can be borrowed on either

depending on your financial history and the option you choose when initially borrowing the money. Since credit history is a factor, a credit check is run when applying for private student loans, often times a creditworthy co-signer is also required.

A major difference between the different types of student loans are the protections that federal loans offer over private loans. Federal loans have built-in options for

as well as access to . In a financial emergency, more options exist with federals student loans vs private student loans. Private loan protections vary from lender to lender but there are no forgiveness programs available to these borrowers.

Whereas federal student loan interest rates are set by Congress, private student loan interest rates are determined by the lender themselves. When you're looking into private student loan interest rates, it's important to know the nuances between what lenders are offering. Some lenders offer fixed interest rates - where the interest rate you pay is locked in over the life of your loan, and some offer variable interest rates, where the interest you pay fluctuates with market conditions.

Before making any large credit decision, you should check in on where your credit is and see if there is anything you can do to improve your standing. Small changes can have a big impact on the rates and terms you're eligible for.

In order to find the best interest rate for you, it's important to look thoroughly through your options. See what different lenders are offering based on your financial situation. If your credit history isn't built up enough to qualify for a loan, you can use a cosigner with a more robust positive credit history to help you qualify for low interest rates.

Private student loans rely heavily on your credit history to determine your eligibility and interest rates. If you're an undergraduate with a thin credit history or have a poor credit score, securing a private student loan without the support of a cosigner will be hard to accomplish. However, if you don't have access to a cosigner, federal student loans offer many options and should always be considered before private student loans.

Both private and federal student loans are able to be refinanced. Refinancing your student loans involves consolidating your existing loans into one loan through a single lender, with a brand new interest rate for the entirety of the loan amount. This can help you pay off your student loans faster, save you money by lowering your overall interest rate, or help you by consolidating your payments into one.

Remember, make sure to consider the consequences of refinancing federal student loans. Unlike private student loans, federal student loans have government protections and programs to help borrowers in times of hardship. Refinancing federal loans disqualifies you from these programs, so it's important to make sure you understand the terms of refinancing federal loans before you do so.

When applying for and comparing private student loan lender options you want to give yourself as many options as you can. Since private loans are more personalized to your college decision as well as your financial history and less forgiving than federal loans, there are a few more factors you need to consider.

Compare interest rates: Getting the lowest interest rate possible is always the goal. If you don't have an adequate credit history, utilize a creditworthy co-signer to lower the interest rates. Pay attention to fixed vs variable rates and determine which one fits your financial plan better.

Compare repayment terms: Each lender might offer varying repayment terms, the length of time you are allotted to pay back your loan once you graduate. Terms can range from 5 to 20 years. The longer the term, the more money you ultimately pay in interest and the lower your monthly payment will be. A good rule of thumb is to choose the shortest amount of time at a payment that feels reasonable to afford. Keep in mind, shorter terms tend to come with lower interest rates.

Compare loan amounts: Loan maximums could be a make or break depending on how much money you need to borrow. Most private student loan companies are flexible within reason to the cost of tuition but make sure you choose a lender that allows you to borrow the amount of money you need.

Compare discount opportunities: Rate discounts exist amongst lenders to be more attractive to borrowers. A common discount is the autopay discount, if you sign up to make automatic payments on your loan payment there could be a small discount. Other discounts might be offered if you've been a consumer of other products that loan company has, or if you use their services for something else.

Compare fees: Always read the fine print when it comes to any financial product, as some of them charge origination fees and/or prepayment penalties. Double-check to ensure you're not being charged a fee, or make sure you include the cost of the fee/penalty into the overall cost of the loan when comparing lenders.

If you're really having a hard time making a decision when choosing a lender, read the reviews of the loan company to get a feel for what their customer support is like. Going with a company you know will provide you with the support you need should you be in a financial emergency or need any other guidance involving your loan.

College Life Today prides itself on offering a free and easy-to-use tool to compare lenders and see private student loan rates at no cost to the user! Simply plug in the school you are enrolled in, plan to enroll in, or wish to enroll in and see what lenders are accepted at that institution.

Compare rates right on our site with a simple glance. When you click out to a lender you will be directed to their secure and trusted website to enter your information and begin the loan application process.

Always make sure to read the fine print to make sure there are no origination fees or prepayment penalty fees when you are finalizing your decision.

Private student loans are most effectively used to afford the remaining balance of tuition and other college-related expenses after federal student aid and scholarships are accounted for. Tuition isn't the only expense for a college student, here are some other expenses that private student loans can help cover:

Tuition: AKA the largest expense of your college degree. For whatever federal loans, scholarships, and grants don't cover, private student loans can help with the rest.

Fees: Academic, technology, parking, program, or any other campus facility fees that might be charged on top of tuition.

Room and board: Housing on or off-campus such as dorms, apartments, or any other possible living accommodations should be accounted for. Don't forget your meal plan, utilities, or groceries when budgeting the cost of living.

Textbooks and school supplies: Textbooks are a sneaky hidden cost, so are laptops, notebooks, calculators, art supplies, and any other study-related items you may need to do well in classes.

Transportation: If you need to take the bus, the train, or commute to campus via car, you'll want to approximate the cost of this expense and add it into what you'll need to get through the semester. You can't use student loans to buy a car, but you can use them to pay for your gas if you're driving to and from class daily.

Dependent care: If you have a child or you're an adult caretaker, student loans can help you cover the cost of dependent care while you go to class or study.

options are also available to help cover the cost of college.

There are two types of federal student loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Undergrad students that have true financial need as per their

. Subsidized loans are especially helpful because the government pays interest on these loans while you're in school, during your six-month grace period when you graduate, or during periods of deferment (paused payments).

Unsubsidized loans don't require financial need and can be utilized by both undergrad and graduate students. As expected, these loans require you to pay interest the entire time the loan is held.

Perkins loans were once available to students with high financial need but have been since revoked. These loans are still

for people who work in public service careers.

loans are available to both graduate students and parents. These tend to come with higher interest rates and origination fees.

is also available for those who carry student loan debt. This type of loan is better suited for those with private student loans since they don't offer as many protections as federal student loans. These loans can be consolidated and refinanced at a lower interest rate and better terms.

Unlike federal student loan interest rates which are set by Congress, private student loan interest rates are determined by the lender themselves. Some lenders offer fixed interest rates over the life of the loan, while others offer variable interest rates that fluctuate with market conditions. Generally speaking, the better the credit of you or your cosigner, the better interest rate you'll be offered by the lender. If you do secure a private student loan at a higher than desired interest rate, you can refinance your loans to get a lower rate once you qualify.
Private student loans should be considered once you have exhausted all of your other resources for paying for college. You should always look into free money options first, such as scholarships and grants that may be available to you through your school or local programs. Once you've applied for scholarships and grants, federal student loans are the next best option, available by filling out the FAFSA. Federal student loans have government protections and programs to help you repay your loan, sometimes have better interest rates than what you may be able to find through private student loans, and are more accessible to those without a cosigner. Once you've worked through these options and have determined that you need more funds than what you have available, private student loans should be considered.
Though it varies from lender to lender, most people applying for a private student loan will need good credit history and a stable income, or a cosigner with such. Lenders may also require proof of US citizenship, a social security number, and some information around the amount you're requesting to borrow.
If you have a poor credit history or an unstable income, lenders may not approve you for a private student loan. However, a cosigner with a good credit history and a stable income will vastly help your approval odds. It's important to note that if you miss a payment or default on a loan taken out with a cosigner, it could hurt both your and your cosigner's credit. If you don't have a cosigner, finding a lender may prove difficult.
Private student loans are loans taken out from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders, to help cover the cost of college after you’ve hit your federal education loan limit. Private student loans can be used to cover additional college expenses that federal loans and scholarships might not cover. The loan terms and interest rates are determined by the lender you qualify for based on your financial status and credit score.
  • You’ve completed the FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and you know what funds you’re eligible for, as well as how you will receive those funds - through federal grants, work-study and federal loans.
  • You’ve borrowed the maximum amount of subsidized and unsubsidized federal student loans you are eligible for.
  • You’ve outlined your expenses for the semester and know how much money you need to borrow to cover the rest of your college costs, including supplies, textbooks, and the cost of living.
  • You can utilize your good credit history or include a co-signer who has good credit on your application. Most private student loan companies require borrowers to have a co-signer to apply.