If you plan to go to college, you are likely to need student loans to pay for it. According to the College Board, at 2021-2022, the average cost of enrollment and tariffs at a public university for a student in the state was $ 10,740. The cost jumped at $ 38,070 for a private school.1
Federal aid may not be enough to cover the total cost of assistance. In this situation, eliminating private student loans can help fill the gap.
But what lenders offer the lowest rates and the most solid benefits? We have compiled a list of the best student loan lenders available today to help you find the best option for you.
Best Student Loans 2022
- Best Student Loan Marketplace: Credible
- Best Overall: Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
- Best Interest Rate: College Ave
- Best Student Loan Consolidation: Splash Financial
- Best Parent Student Loan: College Ave
- Best for International Students: MPOWER Financing
- Best for Students Without a Cosigner: Funding U
How Do Student Loans Work?
Student loans are money borrowed 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 tuition, room and board, books and other school related expenses. Student loans are different from scholarships and grants which don’t have to be paid back.
You can apply for a student loan online and fill out your (and your parent’s, 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.
What Are Some Alternatives to Student Loans?
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
What Are the Different Types of Student Loans?
Typically, student loans fall into two major categories: federal and private. Private loans are also called alternative loans.
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. Private student loans may cover continuing education without a degree, tuition for non U.S. citizens, and for education costs incurred after graduation.
How Much Do Student Loans Cost?
The main cost associated with student loans is the interest. 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%.2
Are Student Loans Worth the Cost?
Student loans can be expensive, with application fees and making monthly principal and interest payments. They can get especially expensive if you choose to go to grad, medical or law school in addition to a 4-year college. If you have an alternative way to pay for college, then it’s great to explore that first. Otherwise, student loans are generally worth the cost because you’re investing in yourself and your education, which should help you land a higher paying job or acquire the knowledge and skills to start your own business.
How We Chose the Best Student Loans
There are so many federal and private student loans to choose from. We reviewed dozens of student loans and chose the best student loans based on their interest rates, types of loans offered, cosigner requirements, loan consolidation options, and the overall application process.
Research for this article encompassed private student loan lenders of undergraduate private student loans (as well as companies that refinance student loans) narrowed down from national banks, credit unions, and lenders. The criteria for measuring each lender included all available APR ranges for these loans, fees charged, repayment plans and hardship options offered, and the inclusion of additional features such as cosigner release, parent loan availability, and a refinance option.
Ultimately, the “best of” awarded the highest status to the lenders that are available nationwide that offered the lowest fixed APRs, the most comprehensive hardship programs, and the least number of fees.