Skip to Main Content
Published January 10, 2023

You deserve the best in student lending

A college education is still the best path to securing good-paying jobs. But paying for it can be a tall order. Scholarship, grants, work-study programs and federal student loans can all help foot the bill. However, they can also fall short. If that happens, private student loans can be a great option to bridge the financial gap.

With dozens of lenders to choose from, deciding on one can be overwhelming. That’s why our team of experts spent numerous hours evaluating some of the nation’s most well-known lenders to take the guesswork out of choosing the right one. Our top picks represent the best in class when it comes to affordability, repayment options and customer experience. Here are the winners for the best student loans.

How we rated these lenders

  • Bankrate scored a total of 23 student loan lenders using a 14-point scale, which focuses on three main aspects: affordability, repayment options and customer experience.
  • Some of the factors we looked into include APR ranges, number of repayment terms, fees, discounts, grace period lengths and customer support options.
  • For the categories below, we selected lenders that scored highly across the board but also had something extra to offer for each type of borrower.
Awards

Best for undergraduate students

SoFi

SoFi

Learn more in our Bankrate review
Highlights No fees Multiple in-school repayment options Exclusive member perks and discounts

SoFi’s three-minute application, competitive APRs, “zero-fee” policy and flexible repayment options made it our top pick for undergraduate students. The company also has a member benefits program, which offers perks like personalized career coaching, loyalty rate discounts and unemployment protection to help borrowers beyond graduation. Lastly, SoFi allows you to earn points for things like logging into your account and checking your credit score, which you can use to pay down your student loans.

  • Loan amounts from $1,000 to full cost of attendance
  • Four repayment options to fit every budget
  • Competitive APRs, discounts and exclusive member benefits
Awards

Best for graduate students

Earnest

Earnest

Learn more in our Bankrate review
Highlights Zero fees Rate-match guarantee Longer-than-average grace period
Earnest offers a variety of graduate student loans, including loans for general graduate degrees, MBAs, law school and medical school. Loan limits are also generous, ranging from $1,000 to the full cost of attendance. However, Earnest’s standout features are its low APR ranges, rate-match guarantee and nine-month grace period. Besides that, borrowers can skip a payment once a year without any penalties – something that’s rare in this space.
  • Low APR ranges, zero fees and autopay discount
  • Rate-match guarantee
  • Nine-month grace period for graduate students
Awards

See our picks for student loan lenders

Skip the extra searching and compare student loan rates in one place.

Compare today’s rates
Awards

Best for parents

Federal student loans

Federal student loans

Learn more in our Bankrate review
Highlights Flexible credit requirements Low fixed rate Multiple repayment options
Federal parent PLUS loans are an excellent choice for parents who need additional funding to pay for their child’s college costs. There’s no minimum amount required and you can borrow up to your child’s certified cost of attendance. Interest rates are fixed and aren’t based on creditworthiness. Any biological or adoptive parent can qualify as long as they don’t have an adverse credit history. Payments can be deferred until six months after your child graduates and they feature flexible repayment options — some even based on income and family size.
  • No minimum credit score requirement
  • You can defer payments while your child is in school
  • Three repayment plans with terms of up to 30 years
Awards

Best for boot camps/vocational programs

Ascent

Ascent

Learn more in our Bankrate review
Highlights Multiple programs covered Outcomes-based loans available Covers 100% of the costs of attendance
Ascent offers loans specifically for those looking to complete a career or vocational training, as well as those looking to complete a certificate program or a coding boot camp. Both the Career and Professional Training and the Bootcamps loans feature multiple repayment options and interest rate discounts for enrolling in autopay. Ascent also offers a cutting-edge outcomes-based loan specifically for boot camps, in which students can defer payments for a whole year until they find a job with a competitive salary.
  • Transparent terms and simple application process
  • Multiple repayment options, including an outcomes-based repayment
  • Covers up to 100 percent of the programs’ costs, including living expenses
Awards

Best for refinancing

Laurel Road

Laurel Road

Learn more in our Bankrate review
Highlights Repayment terms up to 20 years Generous discounts Week-long customer support
Laurel Road's relatively low APR ranges and wide range of repayment terms made it our top pick for best refinancing loan. The application process takes only five minutes to complete, and you can refinance both traditional student loans, as well as parent loans. If you have a checking account with the company, you could gain access to lower interest rates than those advertised as well as additional rate discounts of up to 0.3 percent.
  • Borrowers can refinance any amount between $5,000 to their outstanding balance
  • Both students and parents who took out loans to pay for their child’s education are eligible
  • Low APR ranges, generous discounts and no application or origination fees