Apply for a private college loan today. Whether studying online or on-campus, our private student loans are designed to help you get the money you need to make your education happen.
Private student loans are available to students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, certificate, dental, medical, and health professional programs.
Sallie Mae also provides private student loans to graduates preparing for the bar exam or relocating for medical or dental residencies.
Loans for private colleges are typically made available by a bank or other financial institution (as opposed to federal student loans, which are offered by the government).
Student Loans for Private Colleges
Student loans for private colleges can be obtained from a variety of institutions, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
You can apply for a private loan at any time and use the funds for any purpose you want, such as tuition, room and board, books, computers, transportation, and living expenses.
Private loans, unlike some federal loans, are not based on financial need. In fact, you may be required to pass a credit check to demonstrate your creditworthiness.
If you have no or poor credit history, you may need a cosigner on the loan. Borrower borrowing limits on private loans may be higher than on federal loans.
Best Loans for Private Colleges
The following are the top best loans for private colleges for students that you can apply to if you are in desperate need of funds for academic purposes:
Ascent Student Loans is a solid choice as a private lender – as they offer both cosigner and non-cosigner loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
They also offer a solid loan amount ranging from $2,001 – $200,000, competitive rates, and easy repayment terms.
What we love about Ascent is how clear they make their requirements to get the non-cosigned loan for juniors and seniors that considers more than just a credit score, which is rare in the private student loan industry.
The qualified students must:
- Be a college junior or senior enrolled full-time (or with an expected graduation date within 9 months of the date the loan application is submitted) in a degree program at an eligible institution.
- Be a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. permanent resident or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status.
- Have satisfactory academic performance of 2.9 GPA or greater.
They offer loans starting at just $2,001 minimum, and they offer loan deferment while in school up to 9 months after graduation.
2. Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank offers one of the most robust loans for private colleges. They let you borrow as little as $1,000, and all the way up to $350,000 depending on your degree.
I personally love that they base the amount you can borrow on your degree program because it does help you focus on your ROI (return on investment).
Citizens Bank offers both student and parent student loans, which can be a potential alternative to Parent PLUS Loans.
Given that we recommend most borrowers refinance Parent PLUS Loans, you can potentially take advantage of lower interest rates and fees upfront.
3. College Ave
College Ave offers some of the lowest rates on student loans on the market today. They are one of the largest private student loan lenders and have highly competitive rates on their loans.
College Ave offers a variety of repayment terms, which are more flexible than other private student loan lenders. You can get loans for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. You must borrow at least $1,000, but you can borrow up to the cost of attendance.
College Ave also offers the ability for students to defer payments until after graduation or make interest-only payments while they’re in school.
Discover has been a solid private student loan option for the last few years. They offer both undergraduate and graduate private student loans, with competitive interest rates.
Their loan terms range from 5 to 20 years (15 years for undergraduates) and they offer a variety of ways to reduce your interest rate or even your loan balance!
Students who get good grades can earn a 1% cash-back reward. Our favorite program is that they offer a 2% principal reduction after you graduate!
Earnest has traditionally been known for student loan refinancing, but they now offer fairly flexible private student loans as well.
They offer top-notch rates and terms, and one of the most generous grace periods after graduation – 9 months. They also don’t charge fees for origination, disbursement, prepayment, or late payment.
The flexible terms continue with the option to skip a payment once every 12 months. And you can even put your loans in forbearance during an unpaid parental leave.
ELFI is one of the largest student loan originators, and as a result, they typically offer some of the lowest student loan rates available.
They offer extremely competitive rates, with standard loan terms and conditions. You can borrow from 5 to 15 years, and they can lend across the entire United States, including Puerto Rico.
The only major drawback is you must be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree or more advanced education program.
7. Funding U
Funding U is a new lender that makes the list because they focus on offering no cosigner private student loans. This is very rare – and so we wanted to include it.
To make it happen, they use alternative criteria to make loans possible. However, they also have lower loan amounts and higher interest rates than other lenders. But if you’re really looking for a non-cosigned student loan, this may be a good option.
LendKey is another great lender that makes this list because they have great rates on their student loans and have a unique business model that allows them to do it.
LendKey’s loans are funded by credit unions and community banks – so you’re getting a great loan, but it’s handled by LendKey’s online service.
You never even realize that you have a private loan from a small bank. LendKey doesn’t have quite as much flexibility for borrowers during school.
You can make interest-only payments or fixed $25 per month payments while in school (which is still pretty low but not quite as painless as full deferment).
LendKey has no origination fees, or application fees, and doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty if you pay the loan off early.
9. Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae is probably one of the most well-known lenders on this list. And while they don’t have the best reputation, they’re the largest private student loan, the lender.
As a result, they also offer some of the most competitive private student loans and parent loans out there. You can take out Sallie Mae’s student loans starting at just $1,000 (which is one of the lowest) and can borrow up to the total cost of education.
Sallie Mae has over 8 different student loan options to choose from and a variety of repayment plans too. Plus, borrowers receive 4 free months of Chegg Study and quarterly FICO score updates.
10. Stride Funding
Stride isn’t a student loan, but rather an income-sharing agreement (ISA). This is an alternative to a student loan which has a lot of positives, as well as a few drawbacks.
Unlike a student loan, this loan has no interest rate. Instead, you agree to repay the amount you borrow based on your salary after graduation.
You can repay over 2 to 10 years and you only pay on your agreement if you earn over $40,000 per year. If you make less, you pay nothing during that period of time.
The drawback is that you can only borrow between $5,000 and $25,000 per year ($50,000 aggregate) and only at select schools for select programs.
Purefy is a student loan comparison site, and it also originates refinanced student loans and parent loans via a partnership with Pentagon Federal Credit Union.
Purefy was founded in 2014 and began working with PenFed in 2016. Since then, the company has originated more than $1 billion in loans.
As a rate comparison tool, Purefy shares interest rates, terms, and eligibility requirements from a few lending partners, including Ascent, Earnest, Iowa Student Loan, and College Ave. This lender review will focus on the loan refinancing options Purefy and PenFed offer together.
SoFi offers membership benefits to graduate students, including career coaching. It also has a few different rate discounts available.
SoFi takes the lead here for offering some of the best graduate student loans, including an MBA loan from a law school. SoFi’s lowest posted rates reflect discounts of 0.25% for autopay and 0.125% for SoFi membership.
You can learn more about what rates may be available to you with SoFi and compare offers from multiple lenders at Credible.
Specializing in refinancing student loans, CommonBond offers competitive rates for refinancing and multiple payment terms.
While CommonBond has some tough competition for student loan refinancing, it pulls ahead thanks to offering some of the best interest rates.
Refinancing rates start at 4.44% APR on variable-rate loans, 4.49% on fixed-rate loans, and 4.48% APR for a hybrid rate option. CommonBond also offers regular undergraduate student loans.
The unique hybrid-rate refinancing loan offers a fixed rate for the first five years and then switches to a variable rate. This can be a great option for borrowers who want to prepay this debt or get a head start on repayment with a lower rate.
14. Custom Choice
Custom Choice offers loans of up to $99,999 annually that come without fees, and you can check your rates within a few minutes.
Custom Choice also offers a 2% reduction on your loan principal after you provide the lender with proof of graduation, as well as a .25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for AutoPay. Cognition Financial offers a student loan program that is funded by Citizens Bank.