Best Student Loans

Contributor, Benzinga

A college education can be expensive no matter how you spin it. You may need to take out a loan to fund part or all of your education. 

While federal loans are usually the go-to option for students, you might need to take out private loans as well. Check out Benzinga’s list of the best student loans to review preferred lenders and loan comparison services.

Federal Student Loans vs. Private Loans

Federal student loans and private loans differ in several ways. Federal loans originate with the federal government while private loans come from private institutions like banks. Federal student loans usually have low fixed rates, while private loans generally have higher fixed or variable rates. 

Federal student loans usually offer income-based repayment plans and deferment periods. Private student lenders usually set monthly payments based on the amount of the loan. Plus, you must repay them soon after graduation.

Another major difference is that you don’t need a credit check for most federal student loans. With private loans, you’ll need decent credit or a cosigner. You can find a comprehensive list of all the similarities and differences at StudentAid.gov.

Best Student Loan Lenders

Lenders and loan comparison services make it easy to find a private student loan online. Benzinga did the heavy lifting and compiled this list of the best places to start your search. 

Best For
Comparing Rates
Disclosure *Student Loan Rate and Terms Disclosure: Rates displayed include Automatic Payment and Loyalty Discounts, where applicable. Note that such discounts do not apply while loans are in deferment. The lenders on the Credible.com platform offer fixed rates ranging from 3.34% – 14.50% APR and Variable interest rates from 1.04% – 13.19% APR. Variable rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Your actual rate may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown above and will be based on factors such as the term of your loan, your financial history (including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history) and the degree you are in the process of achieving or have achieved. While not always the case, lower rates typically require creditworthy applicants with creditworthy co-signers, graduate degrees, and shorter repayment terms (terms vary by lender and can range from 5-20 years) and include Automatic Payment and Loyalty discounts, where applicable. Loyalty and Automatic Payment discount requirements as well as Lender terms and conditions will vary by lender and therefore, reading each lender’s disclosures is important. Additionally, lenders may have loan minimum and maximum requirements, degree requirements, educational institution requirements, citizenship and residency requirements as well as other lender-specific requirements.
Best For
No origination fees
Disclosure Fixed rates from 6.99% APR to 21.78% APR. APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 3/24/22 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Best for Member Benefits: SoFi

SoFi offers quite a lot in the way of modern digital finance. It considers its customers members and empowers them to achieve financial independence and security. 

It offers innovative financial products such as loans, investment accounts, insurance, financing and money-tracking along with analysis tools.

Your SoFi membership comes with major benefits. You’ll have access to career coaching, financial planning, referral bonuses, estate planning, merchant discounts, discounts on SAT and ACT prep courses and more. SoFi membership automatically signs you up for a complimentary subscription to Edmit Plus, a platform that assists you with all facets of college financial planning. 

There are a few types of private student loans from SoFi, and you can see all your options after entering your information. It offers undergraduate and parent loans along with MBA and law school loans. 

Applying for a loan once you’re prequalified is easy. Plus, SoFi’s private student loans are fee-free. Unlike some private lenders, SoFi offers multiple repayment options. You can also expect competitive rates and flexible terms. 

Best for Future-Income Based Loans: Lend-Grow

Lend-Grow lets you compare hundreds of rates and lenders designed to help you refinance, and Lend-Grow doesn’t just focus on the ones who pay for your attention. You can:

  • Research over 300 lenders on Lend-Grow, including firms large and small
  • See each company’s most competitive rates
  • Get information on lenders like size, locations, experience and more
  • Use personalized tools to see lender reviews, eligibility information and more

Compare hundreds of lenders and see prequalified offers from Lend-Grow.

How to Get a Federal Student Loan

Applying for a federal student loan is fairly easy, so don’t be intimidated. The process begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Your aid will be determined by the questions on this form along with your dependency status and financial needs. 

If you are eligible for aid, you’ll receive instructions on how to accept it. This includes attending an entrance counseling session along with signing off on the loan and reviewing master promissory notes agreeing to the loan terms.

Undergraduate students can receive up to $12,500 per year in federal student loans. Graduate students are eligible for up to $20,000 per year.

Qualifying for a Private Student Loan 

All lenders use different minimum standards for borrowers, but the following requirements are likely to be present:

  • Age 18 or over with a diploma or equivalent certificate
  • Acceptable credit or cosigner with acceptable credit
  • Proof that you have enough income to pay back the loan
  • Enrollment in a qualified higher education program

You’ll usually see lender-specific standards when you look for loans through a lender comparison service. Or, you can visit the lender’s website to review borrower requirements.

Get Stress-Free Funding With a Private Student Loan

If you max out federal aid or need extra money to make ends meet while taking classes, a private loan can provide a nice cushion. Use one of these trustworthy lenders or loan comparison services to uncover the funding you need.

Lend-Grow

Lend-Grow offers 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-year student loan refinance terms with fixed rates as low as 2.80% APR and variable rates as low as 1.89% APR. 

Lend-Grow pays down your loan, too — 0.10% APR every month for 3 years! Here’s what this means: Lend-Grow deposits 0.10% APR of your loan amount funded each month for up to 3 years (as long as your account is active) with payback rewards. 

Lend-Grow deposits the payback reward directly to the loan account you specify at the time of Payback Reward enrollment. Payback reward is not a rate discount and you must continue to meet your full payment obligations with the lender each month.

Apply at Lend-Grow today and pay down your loans faster.