Our Premium Selection of the Best Student Loan Companies

Discover top student loan companies and get the financial aid necessary to secure your future.

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College Ave is an online lender offering both private student loans and refinancing. It specializes in undergraduate, graduate, career, and parent loans and has a wide range of repayment terms to fit your budget. Founded in 2014, College Ave offers undergraduate, graduate, and parent loans for students enrolled at schools affiliated with College Ave in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

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Pros

  • Swift Online Application Process
  • Repayment Plans Ranging 5-15 Years
  • Six-month Grace Period Extension
  • $150 Credit Graduation Reward
  • No Application/Origination Fees
  • 98% of Borrowers Make On-Time Payments

Cons

  • Co-signer Release Not Possible Before Halfway Mark
  • Loaners Must Meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)
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Sallie Mae is a publicly traded consumer bank that offers private student loans to pay for undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees, among other educational needs. The company was originally founded in 1973 as a federally guaranteed student loan program. Today it makes private student loans, but it stopped servicing federal loans in 2014.

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Pros

  • Interest-Only Payments for 12 Months After Grace Period.
  • 4 Months of Free Chegg® Study Benefit.
  • Less-Than-Half-Time Enrollment Eligibility.
  • Offers Varied and Fixed Rates.
  • Access to Online Tutoring & Free Credit Score Tracking.
  • Co-signer Release Possible After 12 Months
  • Loans Available to Non-U.S. citizens & DACA students

Cons

  • Does Not Offer Refinancing
  • Late Fees & Returned Payment Fees Apply
  • Pre-Qualification Not Available
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Founded in 2013, Earnest is an online lender that offers student loan refinancing and private student loans, as well as personal loans. As a leading student loan refinancing company refinancing loan is best for borrowers who want to customize their repayment schedule to pay off debt fast.

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Pros

  • Flexible Payments and Loan Terms.
  • Option to Skip One Payment Every 12 Months
  • Rate Estimate Doesn’t Require Hard Credit Check
  • 9-Month Grace Period
  • Choice of Loan Term Length
  • No Early Prepayment Penalties

Cons

  • Not Available in Kentucky or Nevada.
  • No Co-Signer Release.
  • 650 FICO Credit Score Minimum Required
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Credible is an online marketplace that lets you compare student loan offers from multiple lenders. It was founded in 2013 in San Francisco as a tool to empower borrowers to shop rates and products. The platform allows students to see personalized rates from multiple lenders with one application (those that the borrower qualifies for).

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Pros

  • You Can Check Prequalified Rates for Free.
  • Does Not Sell Your Data to Other Lenders.
  • Credit Not Affected by Pre-Qualification.
  • Easy & Seamless Loan Process.
  • Covers up to 100% of School Expenses.
  • Offers Refinancing.

Cons

  • Shows Only Loaners You Qualify For.
  • Further Research Into Loaners Necessary.
  • No Rate Discount for Using Credible.
  • Not All Terms & Conditions Listed.

Consumer Opinion Guide has created a list of the best student loan companies to help you find a trustworthy lender that will allow you to finance your education or that of your child. With our tools and resources, we have combed through reviews and ratings to deliver a listing of the top student loan companies with the highest rating scores.

What are student loans and how do they work?

Student loans represent a certain amount of money that an individual borrows from the government or a private lender to pay for college. The loan has to be paid back after graduation, along with the interest that has been accrued. The loan can usually be used to cover the costs of:

  • tuition;
  • room and board;
  • books;
  • other school-related expenses.

*Unlike scholarships and grants, student loans need to be paid back.

You can apply for a student loan online and fill out your and your parents’ (if applicable) financial information. Student loan qualifications are different depending on the type of loan you receive but can include FICO score and income. Typically, you will need multiple student loans to cover your entire tuition and all related expenses. A financial aid counselor from your high school or your future college should be able to help you better navigate the process.

With federal student loans, payments aren’t due until the student graduates, leaves school, or changes enrollment status. Credit checks aren’t always required, and there are several repayment plan options.

You should borrow what you need for the whole school year once per year. You can apply for a student loan in the middle of the semester, but only if you haven’t already gone over your borrowing limit.

Getting a student loan without a co-signer

To get a student loan without a co-signer, consider federal student loans first — most of these don’t require one. If you need additional financing, some private lenders offer loans without co-signers.

Getting a student loan with a co-signer

Your spouse, relative, guardian, or friend can be a co-signer on your loan, but only one person can co-sign for a private student loan. For instance, if two parents are willing to be co-signers, only one can do it. Your co-signer is responsible for repaying the full amount of the loan if you default.

The different types of student loans

Typically, student loans fall into two major categories:

Federal Student Loans. There are multiple types of federal loans but, in general, they have lower interest rates and better repayment terms than private loans. They’re also more readily available and may be easier to obtain than a private loan. They have fixed interest rates and some options aren’t dependent on your credit history.

Private Student Loans. These should be looked into after federal student loans are exhausted. Also known as alternative loans, private student loans may cover continuing education without a degree, tuition for non-U.S. citizens, and for education costs incurred after graduation.

Federal vs. private student loans

Most students obtain a federal student loan first and then seek private loans if they need additional funding. Both types come with different options, terms, and conditions. It’s important to know the differences between these two kinds of student loans:

Federal student loans

  • Income-driven repayment plans for some borrowers
  • No credit check is required for consideration
  • Repayment plans and terms can be changed

Private student loans

  • Offer a choice of fixed or variable interest rates
  • Interest-only and fixed repayment plan options for when you’re in school
  • Provides flexibility for students and parents

What is the overall cost of getting a student loan?

Federal student loan interest rates are 3.73% to 6.28% on loans disbursed from July 1, 2021, to July 1, 2022.

The main cost associated with student loans is the interest rate. However, some loans may also charge origination fees, prepayment penalties, and late fees. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates so it’s best to apply for them first. Currently, the interest rate on federal student loans for undergraduates is 3.73%.

What are the pros and cons of student loans?

Student loans provide access to higher education to those who cannot afford tuition, but they are also a significant responsibility. About 43 million students and graduates have student loan debt, and that number continues to grow with the high cost of postsecondary education.

Pros

  • Receive a higher education
  • Potential for a successful career
  • High borrowing limits
  • Paying it off builds credit

Cons

  • Debt (even if you don’t graduate)
  • Penalties for defaulting
  • Interest can be burdensome
  • Co-signer may be required

Alternatives to student loan companies

If you decide that a student loan isn’t for you or want to know what other options you have, there are some alternatives:

  • Parents pay for college
  • Merit-based scholarship
  • Athletic scholarship
  • Work-study aid
  • Savings or an inheritance
  • Grants

 

(1). The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

Our Rating System

The research we do is based on reviews that come from verified users just like yourself. We may use our own reviews as well as third-party reviews to establish the star rating for all the companies on our website. Our team constantly works in monitoring new reviews and incorporating them into the overall rating of all the businesses listed on our website.

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