Alternatives To Private Student Loans
While private student loans can bridge the gap for some students and their families to be able to afford college, this route may not be for everyone. If a private student loan isnt a good fit for your financial situation, consider some of these alternative options.
- Apply for grants and scholarships:Grants and scholarships are types of financial aid that will not only help to make school more affordable, but you wont have to pay them back. Some grants and scholarships are based on identity while others are more focused on merit, such as grade point average.
- Fill out a FAFSA: When anticipating attending college, after youve applied, youll want to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid as soon as possible. This form can show you how much federal aid whether that be grants or loans you may be eligible for so you can take out smaller private student loans .
- Consider cheaper alternatives: With college tuition on the rise, it may be wise to consider schools with cheaper tuition or explore taking general education courses at your local community college first. If youre determined to attend a more expensive institution, however, get creative on how to make it more affordable such as living rent-free with family members, working part time or taking a gap year to save up money before you attend.
Am I Eligible For Student Loan Refinancing
You can refinance one or more federal and/or private student loans, but you must meet a lenders requirements for credit and income. Most lenders look for a of 650 or higher, along with a steady source of income or an offer of employment. If you cant meet these criteria on your own, you could qualify by applying with a creditworthy cosigner, such as a parent.
Along with your credit score and annual income, some lenders also look at your savings and debt-to-income ratio. Finally, some lenders require proof of graduation, as theyll only approve borrowers who have obtained their degree. If you left school before graduating, there are relatively few student loan refinance providers that will work with you.
Student Loan Interest Rates
Applicants may have the choice of a fixed or variable interest rate loan.
- A fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan unless you are no longer eligible for one or more discounts.
- A variable interest rate may change quarterly during the life of the loan, if the interest rate index changes. This may cause the monthly payment to increase, the number of payments to increase, or both.
Interest rates for private student loans are credit based. Therefore, the interest rate is not the same for every borrower. Our lowest rates are only available to applicants with the best credit. The APR will be determined after an application is submitted. It will be based on credit history, the selected repayment option and other factors, including a cosigners credit history . If a student does not have an established credit history, the student may find it difficult to qualify for a private student loan on their own or receive the lowest advertised rate.
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What Is A Decent Student Loan Interest Rate
Average student loan interest rates vary depending on the type of student loan you borrow.
- Federal student loan interest rates are fixed rates set by Congress. Your federal student loan interest rate is determined by the type of federal loan you borrow, your dependency status, and your year in school.
- Private student loan interest rates can be either fixed or variable, depending on your selection, and will depend on your credit score and the repayment term you choose. Youre more likely to get a lower interest rate with a higher credit score.
Heres how 2022-23 federal student loan interest rates compare to private student loan interest rates for borrowers who took out a private loan through Credible in July 2022:
|Variable rate: 5.60% average|
|*Federal student loan rates for the 2022-23 academic school year.|
You can use our loan score tool below to see how competitive your student loan is. Just enter your APR, credit score, monthly payment, and remaining balance to see how your loan compares.
Site For Comparing Student Loan Offers: Credible
- Loan Amounts: $1,000 to total cost of attendance
- Loan Terms: 5-15 years
Compare several offers at once
Multiple loan types available
Repayment options and policies vary
Does not partner with all major lenders
Eligibility requirements vary by partner lender
When it comes to private student loans, eligibility requirements, repayment options, and rates can vary between lenders, so it pays to shop around. But reviewing offers from several lenders can be time-consuming thats where Credible comes in.
Credible isnt a lender its a marketplace that allows you to get quotes from several leading lenders at once with just a soft credit inquiry. It connects borrowers to several different types of loans, including loans for undergraduates, graduate students, and parent borrowers.
Repayment options vary by lender, but you may be able to choose from the following:
- Immediate repayment
Eligibility requirements vary by Credibles partner lender, but you generally need to be enrolled at a four-year school at least half-time. You typically need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a creditworthy co-signer that is.
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Federal Student Loans Vs Private Student Loans
Federal student loans are the more common form of student loans. The U.S. Department of Education offers and funds them, and they are not credit-based loans. On the other hand, private student loans are credit-based options offered by banks or other private lenders.
Federal student loans often offer students a more affordable and accessible way to borrow. Still, private student loans are an important tool that can be used to fill in student aid gaps for students who hit borrowing limits on federal student loans. They can also be a more cost-effective alternative to the terms offered on federal direct PLUS loans.
Private student loans may include options for international students, funding above the federal loan limits, no origination fees, and potentially better rates. However, because they are private loans, they are not eligible for the Public Student Loan Forgiveness program, there are fewer repayment options, and because they are credit-driven, you will need good credit to take advantage of the best rates and terms.
Whats The Difference Between A Fixed Rate And A Variable Rate
Many student loan refinance companies offer the option to borrow at fixed and variable rates. Its important to understand the differences between these rate types before you choose your ultimate loan.
- Fixed: Your rate might start out higher than a variable rate, but it will remain static or fixed throughout your repayment, giving you consistency in your monthly budget.
- Variable: Your rate might start out lower than a variable rate, but it could change or vary over time, according to market conditions, bringing some level of uncertainty to your budget.
For the best of both worlds, consider hybrid interest rates, though theyre not widely available.
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How Is Student Loan Interest Calculated
Federal student loans and most private student loans use a simple interest formula to calculate student loan interest. This formula consists of multiplying your outstanding principal balance by the interest rate factor and multiplying that result by the number of days since you made your last payment.
- Interest Amount= × Number of Days Since Last Payment
The interest rate factor is used to calculate the amount of interest that accrues on your loan. It is determined by dividing your loans interest rate by the number of days in the year.
Build Your Credit Before Applying
Before applying for a low-interest student loan, build or improve your credit. This looks different for everyone and is most important for students planning to take out a loan without a cosigner. If you already have credit, read our Top Seven Tips on How to Improve Credit Score in 30 Days. Try out a few of the techniques to give your credit score a boost before filling out any applications. If you dont have any credit, you can establish credit in about six months.
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Can You Negotiate A Lower Rate On Private Student Loans
The rate youre awarded on private student loans will depend on the creditworthiness of you or your cosigner, if you have one. To score the lowest advertised rates, you or your cosigner may need an excellent credit score , though a merely good score should at least help you qualify.
Lenders typically rely on their underwriting processes to determine each borrowers interest rate, so negotiation isnt usually possible. With that said, you could lower your awarded interest rate by opting for a variable rate over a fixed rate, or by scoring rate discounts for enrolling in autopay or making a certain number of consecutive payments. Rate reductions are also achievable through academic performance, or by graduating or opening a bank account with the same lender.
Choose A Shorter Repayment Term
If youre able to afford a higher monthly payment, a shorter repayment term saves you money in a couple of ways:
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The Bankrate Guide To Choosing The Best Student Loans
Why trust Bankrate?
Bankrate wants to empower readers to make smart financial decisions. Weve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.
When shopping for a student loan, look for a competitive interest rate, flexible repayment terms that meet your needs, generous hardship options and minimal fees. Loan details presented here are current as of Oct. 21, 2022. Check the lenders websites for more current information.
The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and broad availability. To learn more, read our methodology section at the bottom of the page. Below, you can also find information about when to choose federal or private loans, how to find a competitive interest rate and how to compare lenders to find the best deal for your circumstances. You can also prequalify with the private lenders recommended on this page.
Low Interest Student Loans For Parents
Parents looking to take on student loans to help finance their students education might consider Parent PLUS Loans first, but that isnt your only loan option. Parents with good credit scores might be able to find cheaper loans through private lenders than the PLUS program.
Parents might also be able to save on existing PLUS loans by refinancing to a new loan with a lower interest rate. Be sure to note the origination fee on Parent PLUS loans that can significantly increase the loans APR, often by about a full percentage point.
Learn More: Parent PLUS Loans vs. Private Student Loans
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If You Still Need A Private Loan Shop Around To Find The Best Deal
First, make sure you need a private student loan. We urge you to be cautious because private loans are generally more expensive than federal loans and offer little flexibility if you have trouble making payments later on. Your private loan interest rate and monthly payment could change with little warning, and you will have fewer options for when and how much you repay.
However, private loans may be a reasonable option for some borrowers, especially if you have strong credit history. Private lenders may allow you to borrow larger amounts, depending on your need and credit history. If you shop around and can show ability to repay, you may be able to find low interest rates relative to certain federal loans.
How To Get A Student Loan Without A Co
If you want to get student loans without a co-signer, consider federal student loans first. Many student borrowers can qualify for federal unsubsidized or subsidized student loans. These types of loans dont require a credit check and everyone who is eligible receives the same fixed interest rate.
Graduate students can qualify for grad PLUS loans, though these do require a check for adverse credit. Your credit score isnt a factor, but the check looks for other red flags. If youve had a defaulted debt, foreclosure, repossession, tax lien or other major marks in the last five years, you may be denied. However, its possible to appeal that decision to become eligible.
Federal student loans offer added protections that private debt does not. Federal loans are eligible for income-driven repayment plans, forgiveness and cancellation programs, and more flexible forbearance and deferment. During Covid-19, federal student loan payments were paused and interest rates were set at 0%private student loan borrowers did not receive these perks.
If youve maxed out the federal aid available to you or youre otherwise ineligible, you can borrow from private lenders without a co-signerbut youll generally need good credit and a stable income to do so. Most private lenders require a credit score in the mid- to high-600s to be eligible. Each lender sets its own requirements for applicants, so if you cant qualify with one lender, search for others with less stringent criteria.
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Q: What Are The Different Types Of Private Student Loans
There are a few different private student loan types: undergraduate loans, graduate school loans , parent loans, and technical school loans.
Each loan type has different interest rates, minimum loan amounts, maximum loan limits, and loan terms. Loans for graduate programs like law school and medical school usually have higher maximum loan limits while loans for shorter programs tend to offer the lowest minimum loan amounts.
Working While Youre In School
Instead of taking out a loan to cover the cost of your housing, food, and books during the semester, take up a part-time job. Some colleges offer work-study positions on campus or you can find a business near campus looking for part-time workers. There are a lot of good jobs for college students out there.
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Choose Between Fixed And Variable Rates
As their names suggest, fixed interest rates remain the same during the loan term, while variable rates fluctuate over time based on market conditions. While variable rates typically start off lower compared to fixed rates, you may end up paying more in interest over time if interest rates are on the rise. As a result, fixed rates are a better bet in most cases.
If you have good reason to expect interest rates to go down, however, and you have a relatively short repayment term, it may not be as risky to go with a variable-rate loan.
S To Getting A Private Student Loan:
- Talk to your school’s financial aid office. Most lenders require a form from the school certifying that you need additional aid to cover the cost of attendance.
- Line up a co-signer. Most private student loans require one unless the borrower has positive credit history. Co-signers are legally responsible for repaying the loan if the primary borrower doesnt. You may want to consider loans that offer “co-signer release” after a certain number of on-time payments.
- Shop around for lower interest rates and flexibility with repayment. Your credit score can take a hit from multiple credit applications, also known as hard inquiries. To reduce the impact, try to complete all applications within a 2-week period.
- Some private lenders advertise very low interest rates, which only borrowers with the best credit will qualify for. Your actual rate could be much higher.
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How To Get Private Student Loans For Bad Credit
Its possible to get private student loans with bad credit, but youll pay more for the privilege.
Some lenders offer student loans specifically for borrowers with bad credit or no credit. These loans have more relaxed eligibility requirements, and some dont require a credit check at all. Instead, lenders may review alternative factors such as your field of study, grade point average or estimated future earnings to determine your eligibility. However, these loans come with significantly higher interest rates than traditional private student loans.
If you have bad credit, consider federal student loans first. Most of these loan types dont check your credit, and the interest rates are standardized. That means everyone who qualifies for a federal loan receives the same interest rate, regardless of their financial history.
If you dont qualify for federal student loans or have maxed out the federal aid available to you, consider taking steps to improve your credit before applying for a private student loan. If thats not an option, you might add a co-signer to your loan application, which can help you qualify for better interest rates.