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The Best Student Loan Providers

Where Can You Find the Best Student Loans?

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.

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2021 Student Loan Provider Reviews

Ascent Review Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award 5 Star Rating

Ascent

5 Star Rating Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

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.

Discover Student Loans Review 4.5 Star Rating

Discover Student Loans

4.5 Star Rating

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 Review 4 Star Rating

SoFi

4 Star Rating

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.

Credible Review 4 Star Rating

Credible

4 Star Rating

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.

LendingTree Review 3.5 Star Rating

LendingTree

3.5 Star Rating

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 Review 3.5 Star Rating

Earnest

3.5 Star Rating

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.

College Ave Review 3 Star Rating

College Ave

3 Star Rating

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 Review 3 Star Rating

Funding U

3 Star Rating

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 Review 2.5 Star Rating

Sallie Mae

2.5 Star Rating

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 Review 2 Star Rating

ZuntaFi

2 Star Rating

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.

Compare the Best Reviews

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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:

  • Referral service or direct lender: Some sites serve as a comparison shopping platform, allowing you to get preliminary information about what loans might be available to you. These referral services may or may not use your information to complete some of the first steps of the application process. Other student loan sites directly connect you with the funding you need.
  • Interest rates. Don't be overly impressed by the super-low interest rates posted by any student loan provider: they almost always come with the caveat that only the "most qualified" candidates qualify for the best rates (and we've yet to find anyone that actually got a loan with rates that low). Just make sure that the rate you're offered is reasonable and competitive with other loans.
  • Repayment options. There are so many different ways to configure a student loan, like repayment terms ranging from 5-20 years, fixed and variable rates, and repayments either while still in school or deferred until after graduation. The more choices available to you, the more likely it is that you'll get loan terms you can afford.
  • Loan servicing. Getting a student loan is just the beginning. Take into account what other students have said about the experience after the application has been approved. Are funds disbursed quickly? Does the customer service team handle issues well? Can you expect any unpleasant surprises (like payments not being recorded accurately or not being able to reach support)?

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!

The Best Student Loan Providers Compare Student Loan Providers Compare Student Loan Provider Reviews What are the best Student Loan Providers Best Student Loan Provider Reviews

Student Loan Provider FAQ

Most students need a loan to fund the full cost of their college education. While the majority of student loans in the United States come through federal programs, there are also private loans available. You usually have to start making repayments on student loans six months after your last semester, though you can start sooner if you wish. Student loans often have repayment terms of at least 10 years.
Yes, very easily. If you're applying for federal student loans, you'll complete the FAFSA online. For private student loans, there are several ways to apply: either directly with a financial institution, like Discover or Wells Fargo, or using a platform that connects you with multiple lenders using a single quote request or application.
Unlike many other types of borrowing, student loans are designed to be affordable - it's rare to be charged an application or origination fee, and you should be able to pay off your loan early with no penalties. Interest rates are also much lower than credit cards and personal loans, and you'll usually have very long repayment terms: starting 6 months after your last semester and often stretching 10 years into the future. Expect interest rates between 1% and 6%, but watch out for fixed vs. variable APRs.
Your student loan will probably be disbursed directly to your school, not deposited to your personal bank account. That's a good thing if you want to ensure that your loan money actually gets used for your education! Because the process requires your school to certify the loan amount, the process can take a few days or more. It's a wise idea to start the loan application process early, to make sure there's plenty of time to meet your school's payment deadlines.
If you have a financial hardship or other eligible circumstance, you can request to defer your student loan repayments. Most lenders allow you to suspend your payments for up to three years if you qualify. Contact the servicer of your student loan to find out what requirements you need to meet to defer your loan.
Forbearance is similar to deferring your student loan payments. If you don't qualify for a deferral but still can't pay your student loan, you might be able to get your payments reduced or suspended temporarily, for up to 12 months. You'll need to get in touch with the servicer of your student loan to see if you're eligible for a forbearance arrangement.
In limited circumstances, yes. It usually depends on the type of student loan you have, the lender, and your situation. Student loans may be forgiven (or, essentially, written off) in the event of the disability or death of the borrower; issues with the school, like closure, error or fraud; income-driven repayment plans or employment-based forgiveness programs.
Yes, most of the time. Tax laws are changing constantly, but in the past students have been able to reduce taxable income by as much as $2,500 based on student loan interest paid, as long as they meet eligibility criteria (like having a qualified student loan that was used exclusively for educational expenses).
The Best Reviews of Student Loan Providers