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The 4 Best Private Student Loans Available in 2022

If you’ve exhausted your federal aid, our top picks can help get the money you need for college.

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Purefy’s experts have decades of experience in student loans and have identified the best private student loan companies. In addition to competitive interest rates, we’ve evaluated them on the following attributes: reputation/trust, security, transparency, fees (or lack thereof), flexible repayment terms, perks, and forbearance options.

Our Top Private Student Loan Picks for 2022

Fixed Rate

3.22% – 12.78% APR 1

Variable Rate

1.34% – 11.44% APR 1

Purefy Rating

Long 9-Month grace period after graduation

Option to skip a payment once a year

Rate matching program ensures you receive the best deal available

Purefy Rating
  • Long 9-Month grace period after graduation
  • Option to skip a payment once a year
  • In-house loan servicing means only one company to deal with, start to finish

Fixed Rate

3.20% – 11.99% APR 4

Variable Rate

1.88% – 11.80% APR 4

Purefy Rating

Every applicant is assigned a dedicated Student Loan Advisor
Easy, 100% online loan application
Academic deferment available if you pursue a graduate degree
Purefy Rating
  • Every applicant is assigned a dedicated Student Loan Advisor

  • Easy, 100% online loan application

  • Academic deferment available if you pursue a graduate degree

Fixed Rate

3.79% – 14.75% APR​ 3

Variable Rate

2.47% – 12.87% APR 3

Purefy Rating

Non-cosigned loans considered based on school, program, major, and other non-credit criteria

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward program

Cosigner release available after 12 months of on-time, consecutive monthly payments

Purefy Rating
  • Non-cosigned loans considered based on school, program, major, and other non-credit criteria
  • 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward program
  • Cosigner release available after 12 months of on-time, consecutive monthly payments

Fixed Rate

3.22% – 13.95% APR 2

Variable Rate

2.49% – 13.85% 2

Purefy Rating

Allows biweekly payments via autopay for faster payoff

Fast decisioning process (3 minute credit decision)

$150 cash back for completing your course of study

college ave student loans
Purefy Rating
Variable Rate
  • Allows biweekly payments via autopay for faster payoff
  • Fast decisioning process (3 minute credit decision)
  • $150 cash back for completing your course of study

Are you considering applying for private student loans?

Need extra money for school, but not sure where to start? Private student loans may be your best option if you’ve maxed out your federal student loan options and explored all other avenues for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.

Purefy helps you compare private student loans to find the best option for you. We’ve identified the top lenders offering low interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and unique perks for their customers.


Private student loans vs. federal student loans

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans are issued by the U.S. Department of Education, and in most cases, offer lower rates (that are set by Congress) than rates offered by private lenders.

Federal loans also have great protections and benefits, such as forbearance, Income-Driven Repayment plans, and access to loan forgiveness programs. As such, they are the first choice when seeking the best loans for college.

You can apply for federal student loans using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). After grants, scholarships, and other aid is awarded, the federal government will determine how much you can receive in federal loans. There are a few different types of federal student loans you may qualify for including Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Direct Consolidation Loans.

Private Student Loans

Private student loans, on the other hand, are offered by banks, credit unions, and other private institutions like online lenders. These lenders will run a credit check to determine your eligibility.

Private student loan interest rates vary and are determined primarily by your creditworthiness, as well as other factors like income or even the type of degree you are pursuing.

Because credit plays such a large role, most students will need a cosigner with an established credit history and a good credit score in order to qualify for a loan and obtain a manageable interest rate.

Although private loans don’t come with the same protections as federal student loans, many lenders offer attractive benefits and repayment options to borrowers. All in all, private loans can be another good solution for filling in necessary funding gaps so that you can afford college.


How to apply for a private student loan

Once you have used our rate comparison tool and decided on a lender, you will be taken to their application.

You can apply at any time, but keep in mind it can take up to 30-60 days for the funds to be disbursed to your school — so make sure you leave enough time to meet your tuition due dates.

The student loan application process itself will typically take less than 15 minutes to complete, and will consist mostly of personal information about yourself and your cosigner (if applicable). After you apply, you also will be asked for a few documents to certify the information listed on your application.


How to choose the best private student loan for your needs

In most cases, finding the best interest rate with the term and repayment plan you want is the number one selection criteria when comparing private student loan options.

That said, you should also pay attention to the other benefits that the lenders provide. For instance, if you plan on pursuing a graduate or professional degree full time after graduating from a bachelor’s program, you will want to choose a lender that offers deferment while you continue your studies.


You’ll also want to think about the different repayment options that each lender offers. If you can afford to make interest payments while you are still in school, you can save a lot in interest costs.


Fixed vs. Variable Rate Loans

With private student loans, you may be able to choose between a fixed and variable rate, depending on the provider. Here’s how fixed rate and variable rate loans work so you can decide which would work better for you.

Fixed Rate

As the term suggests, a fixed interest rate will stay the same (or be “fixed”) for the entire length of the loan. This means that your monthly payment will also stay the same unless you’re on an alternative repayment plan such as a graduated repayment plan, which increases your payment over time.

Keep in mind that because the lender takes on more long-term risk with a fixed rate, it will usually be higher than the initial rate on a variable rate loan.

Variable Rate

Unlike fixed interest rates, variable rates fluctuate over the life of your loan. The interest rate will typically change on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Variable rates are usually calculated based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate or SOFR — a global market benchmark for many different types of loans and credit cards. If the SOFR falls, so will the rate on your loan. But if the SOFR increases, your interest rate — and monthly payment — will go up with it.

Since the lender is shifting some of the interest rate risk to you, variable interest rates typically start out lower than fixed interest rates. If the rate goes up, you’re the one who will end up paying for it with higher monthly payments.

For a further deep dive into the differences and benefits of fixed and variable rate loans, read more into their pros and cons before choosing .


Private student loans with bad credit

Your credit score has a significant impact on the private student loan interest rates you can qualify for. But what is a credit score?

A credit score is a three-digit number that represents the overall strength of your credit history. It helps private student loan companies decide if you are creditworthy enough to lend money to.

The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for a loan and get the lowest interest rate available. The lower your credit score, the less likely you are to qualify for a loan. And if you do qualify, you may face a higher interest rate because of it. That means you’ll have higher monthly payments and end up paying more over the life of the loan compared to someone with a higher credit score.

What makes up your credit score is often the same set of criteria, including:

• Payment history
• Amounts owed (or credit utilization)
• Length of credit history
• Credit mix
• New credit

One of the most difficult credit score factors for private student loan applicants is often the length of credit history — because most students (especially undergrad students) do not have much of a credit history. That is why most private student loan borrowers will need a cosigner.

A cosigner (frequently a parent or relative) is someone who agrees to sign onto your loan with you and has a strong enough credit score to help you qualify for a loan. Typically, the better your cosigner’s credit score, the lower your interest rate.

Your consigner would ultimately be responsible for making payments should you be unable to do so. Having a cosigner with excellent credit is a great way to ensure you get the best rate on your private loans for college.

On the other hand, if you have a negative record in your credit history, such as delinquency, default, bankruptcy, or collections, you may want to give the lender you are considering a call before you apply to see if you are likely to be denied a private loan because of it.


Private student loans without a cosigner

Other than just qualifying you for a loan, a cosigner can also be very useful in getting you the lowest interest rate possible.

However, if you have established a little bit of a credit history and made your payments on time, you may find that you have a high enough credit score to qualify for a loan on your own.

With a decent credit score, many providers will offer loans to you without a cosigner, but you might not qualify for the lowest interest rates available. To get a better rate, make sure your credit score is in top-notch shape by taking all the necessary steps to boost your score as much as possible before applying:
• If you already have loans or credit cards, continue making on-time payments every month.
• Lower your credit usage by keeping the amounts you owe as low as possible.

• You could even try to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card, preferably someone with a solid credit score who makes on-time payments. You don’t have to use the card to take advantage of any benefits this provides to your credit score.

But keep in mind — many lenders offering private loans for college have other criteria for qualifying than just credit score such as a minimum income or debt-to-income ratio. If you aren’t working while in school or are working part-time, it may be hard to get approved.

In other circumstances, you may just not have easy access to a cosigner. If a cosigner isn’t possible and you’re struggling to improve your own credit score to qualify for a private student loan, take a look at other alternatives including:

Federal student loans


How much to borrow

After you’ve completed the FAFSA for federal student loans, and secured your grants, scholarships, and other financial aid, your school’s financial aid office will provide you with a summary. You may find that there is a gap left in funding your education. Two common options to fill this gap are family college savings (if available), or private student loans.

Remember, if you do borrow, only borrow what you absolutely need. It’s easy to forget while you are busy with classwork and college social life, but every dollar you borrow for your education (and supporting yourself during your education) will be accumulating interest on a daily basis the entire time you are in school. So have fun while you’re in school — but don’t spend your private student loan money on it.

Earnest Rate Disclosure

Rates displayed include the 0.25% Auto Pay discount. You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment from a checking or savings account. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.47% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.59% APR to 11.69% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

Loan Eligibility criteria: Eligible students must: 1) For college Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school full-time. For college Seniors and Graduate students, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school at least half-time; and 2) be pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree. Earnest private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information, self-certification of loan amount, and school certification.

Responsible borrowing tip: Explore all scholarship, grant and federal options before applying for a private loan.

Earnest Private Student Loans are made by One American Bank, Member FDIC. One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC, 535 Mission St., Suite 1663 San Francisco, CA 94105, NMLS #1204917, with support From Navient Solutions, LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by agencies of the United States of America.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan provider offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist students financially with receiving their education. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 09-01-2022. Variable interest rates may increase after closing but will never exceed 18.00%. Interest rates may also differ from the rates shown above. The term of your loan, financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history can affect the interest rate. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 7% would have 120 payments of $11.61 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

Ascent Rate Disclosure

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, 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: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 9/1/2022 and include a 0.25% on the lowest rate offered and a 2.00% discount on the highest offered rate. 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 back account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

College Ave Rate Disclosure

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.
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. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Minimum loan amount $1,000, as certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive.
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 disbursement 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 09/15/2022. 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.