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With 45% of high school graduates finding it necessary to take on student debt to finance their higher learning, that's an important question to answer. While most student loan debt comes from federal loans, some people discover that their government loans just aren't enough to cover the full costs of tuition, room and board, expensive textbooks, and everything else necessary for their college education.
If you find yourself in that situation - for your studies or your children's - you might get overwhelmed trying to figure out where the money will come from. And even once you've selected a lender, you still need to decide what repayment terms are best. Fixed- or variable-rate? Interest-only or small fixed repayments while still in school or fully deferred for 6-9 months after graduation? Repaying over five years or twenty? There are a lot of factors to consider that are unique to you.
Wednesday, March 22nd
Ascent is an excellent choice for every type of student loan: there are options for loans with or without cosigners for all levels of study, from undergraduate programs to medical school and more. Their rates and terms are the most flexible in the industry, and Ascent offers some borrower-friendly perks like rate discounts for automatic repayments and a cash-back graduation bonus. This award-winning provider of student loans should be the first one you consider.
Who knew a credit card company would be one of the best choices for student loans? Discover makes funding an education possible for more people than most lenders: associate's degree-seeking students are welcome here, the required enrollment is only half-time or more, and even 16-year-olds can apply. And, just like their credit cards, you've got opportunities for cash back rewards on your loan. Be aware that their interest rates tend to be higher, and only 15-year repayment terms are offered. In all other aspects, however, Discover's student loans are absolutely worth your consideration.
SoFi was the first provider of refinancing for federal and private student loans, and they've been offering their own lending platform for educational funding since 2019. You'll find more choices than usual here, with terms ranging from 5-15 years and four different repayment plans on both fixed- and variable-rate loans. On the downside, we found interest rates here to be higher than average, and not all borrowers are satisfied with the SoFi customer service experience.
LendingTree is a good place to start if you want to see what your possibilities are with different lenders offering student loans. Depending on your school, you could get anywhere from 6-12 providers to consider. While we appreciate being able to see several options at a glance, LendingTree doesn't go the extra step of letting students know if they actually prequalify: you'll still have to go through that process with each lender directly. This service isn't a bad resource, but it could be a little more helpful.
Earnest funds student loans with some novel benefits, like a 9-month grace period after graduation and a Skip-a-Payment option once a year. Borrowers have great things to say about their experience with this lender, from interest rates that are lower than most to helpful customer reps. Unfortunately, you'll have to complete a full application - including a hard pull on your credit report - to find out what your loan options are here. And, if you're a freshman, sophomore or junior, you're only eligible for an Earnest loan if you're enrolled full-time.
There's no need to fill out loan applications on multiple lender websites when you use a referral partner like Credible. They've partnered with eight of the most reputable student loan companies to get you the best rates - guaranteed. The prequalification process is short and straightforward, and you'll be able to see which lenders have tentative offers for you. While the rest of the process depends on the loan you choose, Credible gets you most of the way there.
College Ave specializes in student loans, from undergraduate studies to graduate programs. Undergrads only have to be enrolled at least half-time to be eligible, and 90% of College Ave borrowers are approved for subsequent loans when applying with a cosigner. However, you may have a hard time prequalifying here, since even candidates with exceptional credit are told that a cosigner would be necessary. And, interest rates with College Ave are reported to be higher than most. You may want to try a different lender before trying to be preapproved for a student loan from this provider.
Funding U focuses on one niche in student loans: undergraduate students enrolled in a full-time bachelor's degree program who want a no-cosigner loan. This lender is limited in other ways, with loans unavailable to residents of more than a dozen states and with a maximum annual amount of just $15,000. You'll find more student loan options elsewhere, but this isn't a terrible route to go if you can't get a no-cosigner loan from another provider.
Sallie Mae is one of the biggest funding sources for private student loans. You can get almost any type of loan here, from basic undergraduate studies to law school and more, all with competitive interest rates. Sallie Mae also has a bunch of perks that might catch your attention, like a shorter-than-average 12-month payment requirement for releasing cosigners and multiple repayment structures. But, this lender has shown no signs of improvement in their loan servicing, with too many complaints for comfort. Be sure to look at other options before accepting a loan from Sallie Mae.
ZuntaFi offers student loan origination and servicing for undergraduate, graduate and medical school programs in fewer than 10 states - and only in a small number of schools within those areas. The company has an "A+" with the Better Business Bureau and has some nice perks for borrowers, but most students will need to choose another lending partner for their educational loans.
Fortunately, there are quite a few providers of student loans that can help you not only figure out those answers but also connect you with the money you need to pay for school. Many of them can even prequalify you for a loan with just your name, address and birthdate, with no impact on your credit report. Rest assured that millions of students (and many of their parents) have successfully navigated this process - and you can too.
Here are several aspects of student loan providers to keep in mind as you decide which ones merit further consideration:
To help you get the funds you need for your education, TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for student loans today. We're confident that this information will make it possible to find the right way to cover the costs of your tuition, books and more!
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