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.
Best for undergraduate students
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
Best for graduate students
- Low APR ranges, zero fees and autopay discount
- Rate-match guarantee
- Nine-month grace period for graduate students
See our picks for student loan lenders
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Best for parents
Federal student loans
- 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
Best for boot camps/vocational programs
- 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
Best for refinancing
- 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