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Best student loan rates in November 2022

As of November 28, 2022
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Bankrate's ranking of the best student loan lenders analyzes interest rates, terms and features to help you start your search. It's also a resource for how to decide which student loan is best for you and what to know before applying.

A student loan is a type of borrowed money designed to cover the costs of college tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing and more. There is currently more than $1.7 trillion in outstanding student loan debt in the United States, held by 42 million borrowers. Even though it's a common form of debt, choosing the right loan for your needs is a big decision.

Students can choose either federal or private student loans to help pay for school. It's usually best to start with federal student loans, which have an interest rate of 4.99 percent for undergraduate students for the 2022-23 school year. However, while private student loans have fewer borrower protections, they can fill in any funding gaps and typically have a wider range of repayment terms. Private student loan rates typically range anywhere from 3 percent to 15 percent.

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4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 8.24%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$25k- $500k

Term: 5-25 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

2.94- 11.87%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.7

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.49- 8.99%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

650

Apply on partner site

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 8.99%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site
Fixed APR From

3.99- 8.99%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

5.39- 11.87%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$10k- $750k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 10.68%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $300k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.2

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.48- 7.29%

Loan Amount

$10k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

680

Apply on partner site

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best student loans

Why trust Bankrate?

Bankrate wants to empower readers to make smart financial decisions. We’ve 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.

What are current student loan interest rates?

Current interest rates on student loans vary based on where the loan originates, the type of interest rate and the creditworthiness of the borrower.

LOAN TYPE FIXED APR VARIABLE APR
Refinance student loans 2.99% to 11.28% 2.25% to 11.07%
Private student loans 2.99% to 14.96% 2.99% to 14.86%
Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (undergraduate borrowers) 4.99% N/A
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (graduate and professional borrowers) 6.54% N/A
Direct PLUS Loans (parents and graduate and professional borrowers) 7.54% N/A

What are interest rates for federal student loans?

Federal student loan rates change each year. Your rate depends on when you took out your loan.

LOAN FIRST DISBURSED UNDERGRADUATE DIRECT SUBSIDIZED LOANS UNDERGRADUATE DIRECT UNSUBSIDIZED LOANS GRADUATE OR PROFESSIONAL DIRECT UNSUBSIDIZED LOANS DIRECT PLUS LOANS
July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023 4.99% 4.99% 6.54% 7.54%
July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2022 3.73% 3.73% 5.28% 6.28%
July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021 2.75% 2.75% 4.30% 5.30%
July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020 4.53% 4.53% 6.08% 7.08%
July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019 5.05% 5.05% 6.60% 7.60%
July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018 4.45% 4.45% 6.00% 7.00%
July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017 3.76% 3.76% 5.31% 6.31%
July 1, 2015 – June 30, 2016 4.29% 4.29% 5.84% 6.84%

Compare student loan interest rates in November 2022

LENDER BEST FOR FIXED APR VARIABLE APR LOAN TERM LOAN AMOUNT MIN. CREDIT SCORE
Ascent Loans without a co-signer 4.62% - 16.75% (with autopay) 4.14% –14.40% (with autopay) 5–15 years $2,001–$200,000 Not specified
Citizens Bank Multiyear approval 5.99% - 12.90% (with autopay) 5.49% - 12.64% (with autopay) 5–15 years $1,000–$350,000 depending on program Not specified
College Ave Quick application process 3.99%–14.96% (with autopay) 3.24%–14.86% (with autopay) 5–20 years $1,000–100% total cost of attendance (maximum $150,000 for some degrees) Not specified
Earnest Flexible repayment terms 3.99% - 12.78% (with autopay) 3.58% - 12.28% (with autopay) 5–20 years $1,000–100% total cost of attendance 650
Sallie Mae Part-time students 4.50% – 14.83% (with autopay) 4.00% - 14.34% (with autopay) 10–15 years $1,000–100% total cost of attendance Not specified
SoFi Loans without fees 4.99%–14.75% (with autopay) 4.49% - 13.82% (with autopay) 5–15 years $5,000–100% total cost of attendance Not specified
For more information on private student loan rates, check out our page on private student loans.

Best student loan without a co-signer

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.62% –16.75%
Loan amount:
$2,001– $200,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Ascent offers undergraduate and graduate private student loans in all 50 states. Borrowers without a co-signer have their own loan option, which is a rarity in the private student loan space. If you don’t have a co-signer, you may be able to qualify for a loan based on your school, graduation date, major and cost of attendance. The lender also offers a longer-than-average period of forbearance, which is a hardship program that allows you to temporarily stop making payments.

Why Ascent is best for students without a co-signer: Ascent is one of the only lenders to give undergraduates the chance to qualify for a student loan based on future income rather than credit score, removing the need for a co-signer.

Best student loan for multiyear approval

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
5.99% –12.9%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$12,000
Overview: Citizens Bank offers private student loans to undergraduate students, graduate students and parents. Citizens Bank will run a hard credit inquiry when you apply and will let you know if you qualify for the multiyear loan program. If approved, you can request funds in subsequent years without supplying additional income documentation or going through hard credit checks, so the process is faster.

Why Citizens Bank is best for multiyear approval: Borrowers can get approved for multiple years of student loans without needing to go through a hard credit check every time, which is convenient if you know that you'll need funding every year.

Best student loan for quick application process

Min. credit score:
650
Fixed APR From:
3.99% –14.96%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave is an online lender that offers private student loans to undergraduate students, graduate students, parents and students attending community college and career programs.

Why College Ave is best for a quick application process: College Ave has a simple online application that only takes a few minutes to complete, and borrowers can accept terms and e-sign documents immediately after approval.

Best student loan for flexible repayment terms

Min. credit score:
650
Fixed APR From:
3.99% –12.78%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: Earnest is an online lender that funds private student loans to undergraduate and graduate students and offers unique repayment options. Earnest's grace period is nine months long, which is three months longer than what most lenders offer. Borrowers are also allowed to skip one payment every 12 months.

Why Earnest is best for flexible repayment terms: Borrowers can pick their loan term, which ranges between five and 20 years. Plus, once every 12 months, borrowers can choose to postpone a payment.

Best student loan for part-time students

Min. credit score:
639
Fixed APR From:
4.5% –14.83%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Sallie Mae offers private student loans to undergraduate students, graduate students, parents and students enrolled in career-training programs.

Why Sallie Mae is best for part-time students: Sallie Mae is one of the only private student loan lenders that doesn’t require borrowers to attend school full- or half time, which makes it a standout option if you’re studying abroad, taking just one or two classes at a time or taking a professional certification course.

Best student loan for no fees

Min. credit score:
640
Fixed APR From:
4.99% –14.75%
Loan amount:
$5,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: SoFi is an online lender that offers private student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students and parents. Among its perks, SoFi says that it doesn’t charge any fees, which cuts down on the overall cost of borrowing.

Why SoFi is best for no fees: It's standard for lenders to charge late fees or nonsufficient funds fees, but SoFi does away with even these fees. Of course, it's still not a good idea to miss payments, but SoFi's no-fee policy provides a nice buffer.

Types of student loans

Students have several options when it comes to student loans depending on their degree program:

  • Federal undergraduate loans: U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens can qualify for federal student loans, regardless of credit score or whether they have a co-signer. Undergraduates may have the option of Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct Subsidized Loans, the latter of which is offered only to students with financial need.

  • Federal graduate loans: Graduate students can qualify for federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans or Direct PLUS Loans. Unsubsidized loans are cheaper, but PLUS Loans have higher loan amounts.

  • Private undergraduate loans: Borrowers who have taken out the maximum in federal student loans may choose to look for private student loans. In many cases, these loans may also be the only viable option for international students looking to study in the U.S., since these students don't qualify for federal aid.

  • Private graduate loans: Many private lenders offer loans for graduate study, including loans tailored to students attending law school, business school, medical school and more.

  • Student loan refinancing: If you took out student loan in the past but want to change your repayment term or interest rate, you may choose to refinance. Refinancing pays off your old loans in exchange for a new loan.

Federal vs. private student loans

Federal student loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education, while private student loans are offered by banks, credit unions and private lenders. It's almost always best to start your search with federal student loans, though private student loans also offer some unique perks.

The biggest difference between federal and private loans is in the rates and eligibility requirements. Private lenders base your rates on your credit score, with a poor credit score leading to higher rates. Federal student loans, on the other hand, offer every borrower the same rate for each type of loan. The average interest rate on a private student loan can range from around 2 percent to 15 percent, while federal loans charge 4.99 percent, 6.54 percent or 7.54 percent, depending on the loan type.

Some federal loans do have borrowing limits, so borrowers will often turn to private lenders to finance their remaining academic costs. However, while private loans can often finance up to the total cost of attendance, they don't offer as many ways to customize your repayment plan. 

Private student loans also don't offer any opportunities for loan forgiveness. The Biden administration's recent announcement of up to $20,000 in student loan cancelation applies only to federal student loans.

FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS
Interest rates 4.99% to 7.54% for 2022-23 2.99% to 14.96% fixed, 2.99% to 14.86% variable
Fees 1.057% to 4.228% origination fee Varies by lender
Borrowing limits $31,000 total for dependent undergraduates, $57,500 total for independent undergraduates, 100% total cost of attendance for graduates 100% total cost of attendance with many lenders
Qualification requirements Must be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen and be enrolled at least half time Varies by lender; often must have good credit and consistent income
Benefits Income-driven repayment plans, robust deferment and forbearance, no minimum credit score Low interest rates for good-credit borrowers, often zero fees, lender-specific perks
Drawbacks Potentially higher interest rates than private loans offer for borrowers with good credit, loan amount caps for undergraduate borrowers Credit check required, high rate caps, fewer borrower protections

Student loan interest information

The amount you borrow with a student loan is not the only amount you'll have to pay back; interest charges can add significantly to the overall cost of your loan.

How student loan interest works

When you apply for a student loan, you'll be offered an interest rate. This interest rate is an extra percentage of your loan amount that you'll have to pay each month.

With federal loans, this rate is the same for all borrowers and is determined by the federal government each year. With private loans, this rate is determined by your credit score, income and more. The most affordable private student loans go to students in good financial health with high credit scores.

Learn more: How Fed rate changes impact student loans

Prospective borrowers can usually choose between a fixed and a variable interest rate. Fixed interest rates remain the same over the life of the loan, while variable rates change based on market trends. Federal student loans are always fixed, while private student loans can be either fixed or variable.

Learn more: Fixed vs. variable student loan rates

How student loan interest is calculated

While browsing interest rates, you can calculate your student loan interest to estimate how much you will pay each month. Here's how to do it:

    1. Find your daily interest rate: Divide your annual interest rate by the number of days in a year (365).
    2. Determine your daily interest accrual charge: Multiply your daily interest rate by your principal balance.
    3. Calculate your monthly payment: Multiply your daily interest by the number of days in your billing cycle.

If you have $10,000 in student loans and a 6 percent interest rate, with a 30-day billing cycle, a little over $49 of your first month's payment would go toward interest.

You can also calculate how much interest you'll pay over the life of your student loan by using a student loan calculator.

Learn more: How to calculate student loan interest

Student loan news updates

On Nov. 22, 2022, President Joe Biden announced that the federal student loan payment pause would be extended a final time through June 30, 2023 or until the ongoing student forgiveness litigation is resolved. Payments and interest charges on federal loans will resume 60 days following the end of the pause.

In the a previous announcement, Biden revealed a sweeping student loan forgiveness plan that will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers making less than $125,000 (or $250,000 if married and filing jointly) and $20,000 in federal student loan debt for borrowers who are below that income threshold and also received a Pell Grant for college.

The plan is currently on hold due to ongoing litigation.

The administration is also proposing several changes to federal student loan programs:

  • A new income-driven repayment plan that will charge 5 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income. After 10 years, borrowers who originally took out less than $12,000 will have the remaining balance forgiven.
  • Permanent revisions to Public Service Loan Forgiveness that will broaden the definition of an eligible payment within the program.

How the 2022 Fed rate hikes impact student loans

The Federal Reserve has been gradually raising the federal funds rate, with the Federal Open Market Committee's most recent meeting in November raising rates by three-quarters of a percentage point for the fourth time in 2022. 

The federal funds target range is now 3.75 to 4 percent, which is the highest target since 2008. In their statement on the November hike, the FOMC wrote that further rate increases "may be appropriate" to combat inflation. However, they plan to account for the cumulative effects of their changes to date alongside financial and economic developments.

While the Fed decisions won’t impact federal student loans for the 2022-23 school year – those are already set in stone – they could impact new private student loans and refinancing. As the year goes on, interest rates on these products will likely creep upward.

This is especially critical for borrowers who have a private student loan with a variable interest rate, whose loans could start to become more expensive. If you have an existing loan, now might be the time to refinance into a fixed rate. If you’re taking out a new private student loan, it may be wise to choose a fixed rate from the start.

What to know about the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the only way to get federal student loans, which is why all eligible students should fill out the form if they anticipate needing to borrow money for college.

  • When does the FAFSA open? The FAFSA opens on Oct. 1 every year. For the 2023-24 school year, the FAFSA opened on Oct. 1, 2022.
  • When is the FAFSA due? The federal deadline for the FAFSA is June 30 for the award year you need funding. For the 2023-24 school year, the FAFSA is due on June 30, 2024. However, some states and colleges have earlier deadlines.
  • Who is eligible to apply for the FAFSA? U.S. citizens, eligible noncitizens and DACA recipients can fill out the FAFSA. However, only U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens can receive federal financial aid.

What happens if you make a mistake on your FAFSA? If you've experienced a serious financial event since submitting the FAFSA or your personal details have changed, you are able to update your FAFSA after the fact.

FAQ about student loans

Methodology

To find the best student loans, Bankrate first looked at lenders that have a national reputation and serve borrowers across the U.S. We then narrowed down the field based on APR ranges, loan options and loan amounts to ensure that the lenders offered competitive loans for a variety of borrowers. Lenders that offered loans for undergraduates, MBA students, medical students and more, for example, scored higher than those offering just one type of loan.

To determine the final rankings, we then evaluated eligibility requirements and any standout features that make a loan uniquely suited to a variety of needs — for instance, the ability to apply for multiple years of school or receive cash rewards upon graduation.