– Loans for Private Colleges –
Apply for a private colleges loan today. Whether studying online or on-campus, our private student loans are designed to help you get the money you need to make your education happen.
Private student loans are available to students enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, certificate, dental, medical, and health profession programs.
Loans for private colleges are typically made available by a bank or other financial institution (as opposed to federal student loans, which are offered by the government).
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Student Loans for Private Colleges
Student loans for private colleges can be obtained from a variety of institutions, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
You can apply for a private loan at any time and use the funds for any purpose you want, such as tuition, room and board, books, computers, transportation, and living expenses.
Private loans, unlike some federal loans, are not based on financial need. In fact, you may be required to pass a credit check to demonstrate your creditworthiness.
If you have no or a poor credit history, you may need a cosigner on the loan. Borrower borrowing limits on private loans may be higher than on federal loans.
20 Best Loans for Private Colleges
The following are the top 20 best loans for private colleges for students that you can apply to if you are in desperate need of funds for academic purposes:
Ascent Student Loans is a solid choice as a private lender – as they offer both cosigner and non-cosigner loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
They also offer a solid loan amount range from $2,001 – $200,000, competitive rates, and easy repayment terms.
What we love about Ascent is how clear they make their requirements to get the non-cosigned loan for juniors and seniors that considers more than just a credit score, which is rare in the private student loan industry.
The qualify students must:
‣ Be a college junior or senior enrolled full-time (or with an expected graduation date within 9-months of the date the loan application is submitted) in a degree program at an eligible institution.
‣ Be a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. permanent resident or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status.
‣ Have satisfactory academic performance of 2.9 GPA or greater.
They offer loans starting at just $2,001 minimum, and they offer loan deferment while in school up to 9 months after graduation.
2. Citizens Bank
Citizens Bank offers one of the most robust loans for private colleges.
They let you borrow as little as $1,000, and all the way up to $350,000 depending on your degree.
I personally love that they base the amount you can borrow on your degree program because it does help you focus on your ROI (return on investment).
Citizens Bank offers both student and parent student loans, which can be a potential alternative to Parent PLUS Loans.
Given that we recommend most borrowers refinance Parent PLUS Loans, you can potentially take advantage of lower interest rates and fees up front.
You may qualify for multi-year approval when you apply with Citizens Bank.
And you’ll also have the option to defer payments until after you graduate or make interest-only payments while you’re in school.
Parent borrowers must make at least interest-only payments while the student is in school.
Finally, Citizens Bank also doesn’t charge any origination fees, application fees, and has no prepayment penalties.
3. College Ave
College Ave offers some of the lowest rates on student loans on the market today. They are one of the largest private student loan lenders, and have highly competitive rates on their loans.
College Ave offers a variety of repayment terms, which are more flexible than other private student loan lenders.
You can get loans for 5, 10, 15, or 20 years. You must borrow at least $1,000, but you can borrow up to the cost of attendance.
College Ave also offers the ability for student to defer payments until after graduation or make interest-only payments while you’re in school.
Discover has been a solid private student loan option for the last few years. They offer both undergraduate and graduate private student loans, with competitive interest rates.
Their loan terms range from 5 to 20 years (15 years for undergraduates) and they offer a variety of ways to reduce your interest rate or even your loan balance!
Students who get good grades can earn a 1% cash back reward. Our favorite program is that they offer a 2% principal reduction after you graduate!
Earnest has traditionally been known for student loan refinancing, but they now offer fairly flexible private student loans as well.
They offer top notch rates and terms, and one of the most generous grace periods after graduation – at 9 months. They also don’t charge fees for origination, disbursement, prepayment, or late payment.
The flexible terms continue with the option to skip a payment once every 12 months. And you can even put your loans in forbearance during an unpaid parental leave.
ELFI is one of the largest student loan originators, and as a result, they typically offer some of the lowest student loan rates available.
They offer extremely competitive rates, with standard loan terms and conditions. You can borrow from 5 to 15 years, and they can lend across the entire United States, including Puerto Rico.
The only major drawback is you must be enrolled in a bachelor’s degree or more advanced education program.
7. Funding U
Funding U is a new lender that makes the list because they focus on offering no cosigner private student loans. This is very rare – and so we wanted to include it.
To make it happen, they use alternative criteria to make loans possible.
However, they also have lower loan amounts and higher interest rates than other lenders.
But if you’re really looking for a non-cosigned student loan, this may be a good option.
LendKey is another great lender that makes this list because they have great rates on their student loans and have a unique business model that allows them to do it.
LendKey’s loans are funded by credit unions and community banks – so you’re getting a great loan, but it’s handled by LendKey’s online service.
You never even realize that you have a private loan from a small bank. LendKey doesn’t have quite as much flexibility for borrowers during school.
You can make interest-only payments or fixes $25 per month payments while in school (which is still pretty low but not quite as painless as full deferment).
LendKey has no origination fees, application fees, and doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty if you pay the loan off early.
9. Sallie Mae
Sallie Mae is probably one of the most well-known lenders on this list. And while they don’t have the best reputation, they’re the largest private student loan lender.
As a result, they also offer some of the most competitive private student loans and parent loans out there.
You can take out Sallie Mae student loans starting at just $1,000 (which is one of the lowest) and can borrow up to the total cost of education.
Sallie Mae has over 8 different student loan options to choose from and a variety of repayment plans too. Plus, borrowers receive 4 free months of Chegg Study and quarterly FICO score updates.
10. Stride Funding
Stride isn’t a student loan, but rather an income-sharing agreement (ISA). This is an alternative to a student loan which has a lot of positives, as well as a few drawbacks.
Unlike a student loan, this loan has no interest rate. Instead, you agree to repay the amount you borrow based on your salary after graduation.
You can repay over 2 to 10 years and you only pay on your agreement if you earn over $40,000 per year. If you make less, you pay nothing during that period of time.
The drawback is that you can only borrow between $5,000 and $25,000 per year ($50,000 aggregate) and only at select schools for select programs.
Purefy is a student loan comparison site, and it also originates refinanced student loans and parent loans via a partnership with Pentagon Federal Credit Union.
Purefy was founded in 2014, and began working with PenFed in 2016. Since then, the company has originated more than $1 billion in loans.
As a rate comparison tool, Purefy shares interest rates, terms and eligibility requirements from a few lending partners, including Ascent, Earnest, Iowa Student Loan and College Ave.
This lender review will focus on the loan refinancing options Purefy and PenFed offer together.
Here’s how it works: You’ll create a Credible account and complete a short form sharing your details.
Credible uses this information to match you with student loan offers. This only requires a soft pull on your credit report, which means it won’t hurt your credit.
Lending partners on Credible offer student loan variable APRs of 0.94% to 11.98% and fixed APRs of 2.99% to 12.99%.
They also charge no student loan origination or processing fees.
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SoFi offers membership benefits to graduate students, including career coaching. It also has a few different rate discounts available.
SoFi takes the lead here for offering some of the best graduate student loans, including an MBA loan from a law school.
SoFi’s lowest posted rates reflect discounts of 0.25% for autopay and 0.125% for SoFi membership.
You can learn more about what rates may be available to you with SoFi and compare offers from multiple lenders at Credible.
On top of that, SoFi provides strong membership benefits that can offer a lot of value to graduate students, including free career coaching and financial planning.
Its Unemployment Protection program will also pause student loan payments for up to 12 months if you lose your job through no fault of your own. SoFi also offers student loan refinancing.
There are also four repayment options, including full in-school deferment and no fees ever. And if you have a co-signer, you can apply to release them after 24 on-time payments.
Borrowing options are available for undergraduates and parents, too, with autopay and membership discounts.
Specializing in refinancing student loans, CommonBond offers competitive rates for refinancing and multiple payment terms.
While CommonBond has some tough competition for student loan refinancing, it pulls ahead thanks to offering some of the best interest rates.
Refinancing rates start at 4.44% APR on variable-rate loans, 4.49% on fixed-rate loans, and 4.48% APR for a hybrid rate option. CommonBond also offers regular undergraduate student loans.
The unique hybrid-rate refinancing loan offers a fixed rate for the first five years and then switches to a variable rate.
This can be a great option for borrowers who want to prepay this debt or get a headstart on repayment with a lower rate.
CommonBond has a wide range of student loan refinancing terms, from five to 20 years, so you can balance time repaying the loan with affordable monthly payments.
CommonBond allows parent PLUS loans refinancing, making it possible to transfer this debt from your parents to you.
And if you’re in school, you can also check out CommonBond’s private student loan options for undergrads, graduate students, as well as specific loans for MBA, dental, and medical students.
Borrowers can apply to release their co-signer after 24 months of repayment.
Note: Beginning with the 2022-2023 academic year CommonBond will no longer offer private student loans to pay for current education costs.
14. Custom Choice
Custom Choice offers loans of up to $99,999 annually that come without fees, and you can check your rates within a few minutes.
Custom Choice also offers a 2% reduction on your loan principal after you provide the lender with proof of graduation, as well as a .25% interest rate reduction when you sign up for AutoPay.
Cognition Financial offers a student loan program that is funded by Citizens Bank.
To learn more about the Custom Choice Loan, powered by Cognition Financial, including loan details, pros and cons, as well as how to apply, click here.
15 MPower Financing
MPower Financing offers fixed loans designed for international students.
You can get a loan without a cosigner, collateral, or US credit history.
Most other lenders that offer loans to international students require a US citizen or permanent resident to cosign on the loan.
While the lender’s starting interest rates are higher than many of the other lenders on this list, we included it because of its accessibility for international students.
16. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
As a nonprofit organization, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) has been in operation since 1981.
Previously, RISLA only worked with borrowers who lived or attended school in Rhode Island.
Now, the lender issues student loans to borrowers nationwide. According to its annual report, RISLA issued $138 million in fixed-rate loans in 2020.
RISLA offers undergraduate loans, graduate loans, and parent student loans. You can also refinance any current federal or private student loans through RISLA.
RISLA offers some unique benefits, such as forbearance and income-based repayment options if you face a financial hardship.
However, the lender has only a couple of repayment options, and there are limitations on how much money you can borrow.
Before submitting your application, here’s what you need to know about RISLA student loans and answer the question: is RISLA a good lender for student loans?
17. A.M. Money
A.M. Money offers a unique selling point with its private student loan product: Approval is based on academic performance, rather than credit history. Students also don’t need a co-signer to qualify.
Everyone who is approved gets the same fixed interest rate, which is benchmarked each year to federal parent PLUS loans.
For 2020-21 the rate is 5.30%. When borrowers graduate and begin paying back their loans, A.M. Money also offers an income-based repayment option for up to 36 months.
To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who attends one of 22 schools that A.M. Money works with, which are located in Illinois and around the country. You must also have at least a 2.8 GPA.
18. PNC Bank
PNC Bank is a major U.S. bank with more than 2,000 branches throughout 19 states in the Northeast, Midwest and Southeast.
The bank provides a comprehensive list of financial services and products for consumers and business clients — with a focus on financial wellness and education.
PNC Bank has earned a spot as one of the nation’s biggest banks, with more than 2,300 branches and 9,000 ATMs located across 19 states.
Those locations stretch along the East Coast from Florida to New York, and into the Midwest, including Illinois, Ohio and Michigan.
PNC Bank specializes in four key areas: banking, lending, investing and wealth management.
Its clients include consumers, as well as business and institutions.
From a banking perspective, PNC Bank caters to a wide range of customers, including students and members of the military.
Edly is a platform that connects students looking to fund college tuition with investors looking to support social impact investments in education.
Edly focuses on a type of tuition funding known as income-based repayment loans (“IBR loans”), the only regulated student lending model of its kind in the private sector.
Students benefit from a repayment process that is tailored specifically to their starting salary and adjusts with their professional progress.
This unique model uses historical data about student outcomes from sources such as the Department of Education, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private databases, and Edly’s proprietary data to underwrite the likely success of student borrowers without relying on traditional credit scores or co-signers.
This has enabled Edly to facilitate more flexible, affordable and accessible education funding for students pursuing degrees in nursing, teaching, journalism, social work, STEM, accounting and more.
Edly has funded more than 4,000 students since its launch in 2019 and is available to provide education financing to students at more than 1,800 of the leading US colleges and universities.
All student IBR loans are unsecured personal student loans originated by FinWise Bank, a Utah chartered commercial bank, member FDIC.
With Credible, you can save time by comparing multiple student loan rates and terms in one place.
Comparing different student loan offers is key to getting the best loan for you. We evaluated the six biggest websites that aggregate information about student loan providers.
Our top criteria: a tool or table that lets you compare prequalified rates and terms and apply if you want to right from the site.
Credible is our choice because it gives you a personalized table with up to eight lenders’ offers to compare, and you can click through to a lender’s site to complete a student loan application.
Importance of College Loans
Private school loans, as well as federal student loans, for college and graduate school, can be used to pay for your education expenses, which for full-time and part-time students may include:
‣ Room and board
‣ Computer for school.
Summary of College Loans
As students, obtaining loans for private colleges loan can be perplexing.
That’s why we presented a list of the 20 best loans for private college students so you can quickly and easily compare your options.
It can take a month or more to complete the paperwork and get your loan funded.
Make sure you allow enough time to apply and get approved so that you don’t miss any deadlines at your school.
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FAQs about Loans for Private Colleges
Below are 10 frequently asked questions about loans for private colleges. There are answers provided for you, kindly study them carefully:
1. Can you use Private Loans for College?
You can’t use a personal loan to pay for college tuition. You can use one for living expenses, but it’s not cheap.
2. Is it Hard to get a Private Student Loan?
Each lender sets its own criteria for eligibility, including credit scores, income and repayment terms.
This makes private student loans a little harder to qualify for; you’ll generally need good or excellent credit to get a private student loan.
3. Do Private Student Loans go Straight to you?
Private student loans are typically sent straight to your school; they are not sent directly to you (the student).
In terms of how long it takes to get your student loan disbursed, your school sets that date, which is usually around the beginning of the semester.
4. Which Loan is Best for College?
A subsidized loan is your best option. With these loans, the federal government pays the interest charges for you while you’re in college.
5. Is a Sallie Mae Loan a Private Loan?
Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans.
6. Who is Eligible for Private Student Loans?
Usually, the student is the borrower and will need a creditworthy cosigner like a parent or grandparent.
Since federal student loans have many benefits, private student loans should be considered only after other federal financial aid has been exhausted.
7. Is Sallie Mae a Government Loan?
All new Sallie Mae loans are private.
But if you took out a Sallie Mae loan before 2014, it might have been a federal loan and is likely now serviced by Navient.
8. Are Private Student Loans Forgiven?
Unfortunately, private student loans don’t ever go away.
What you borrow is what you’ll have to pay back, along with interest and potential fees.
Only federal student loans are eligible for student loan forgiveness programs, such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness or income-driven repayment forgiveness.
9. Do you Apply for Sallie Mae Every Year?
You must apply for a new loan each school year.
This approval percentage is based on students with a Sallie Mae undergraduate or graduate school loan in the 2019/20 school year who were approved when they returned in 2020/21.
10. Do Private Loans Look at your Credit Score?
Private loans require that at least one borrower have good credit.
The lender will perform a credit check to determine whether you qualify for the loan.
The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you’ll likely receive.
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