Best Student Loan Providers for 2024

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When it comes to financing your education, the right student loan can make all the difference. Discover the top picks for 2024, ranging from flexible options to favorable rates, as we break down the best student loans to help you achieve your academic goals without breaking the bank.

The best student loans can help you borrow money for college without going broke. They do this by offering competitive interest rates, fair repayment terms, and flexible monthly payments that can fit with your lifestyle and your budget.

While most borrowers should focus on federal student loans first, private student lenders can help you fill in funding gaps so you can get through school and graduate on time. If you’re in the market for a student loan from a private lender, read on to learn which seven companies we recommend, the type of student loans they offer, and details on who can qualify.

Our Picks for Best Student Loans

Best Student Loans – Lender Reviews

The following reviews explain how the best student loans work, which companies and online lenders offer them, and their main features and benefits.

College Ave offers private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students as well as parents who want to take out loans to help their kids get through college. Interest rates are highly competitive, and its student loans come with no origination fees, no prepayment penalties, and no hidden fees of any kind.

If the student attends a qualifying institution, they can apply for $1K or up to the total cost of attendance. Undergrads who need a larger amount can apply to the Multi-Year Peace of Mind loan program.

This student loan company also makes it possible for borrowers to complete their entire student loan application online, and it offers an array of helpful tools that can help you figure out how much you can afford to borrow, what your monthly payment will be, and more. Most College Ave student loans also come with multiple repayment options that can last for five years, eight years, 10 years, or 15 years.

Finally, students can decide when to begin making payments on their private student loans through College Ave. They can choose to make full interest and principal payments right away, but they can also opt to make interest payments, flat payments, or defer loan payments altogether during a grace period until after they graduate.

Splash Financial is a loan comparison site that makes it easy to shop around and compare rates for in-school student loans and the best student loan refinance products. Its interest rates and terms are highly competitive, and applicants can even check their rates online without any impact on their credit score.

If you have 100k in student debt or more, it’s worth noting that refinancing with a company like Splash Financial could help you save thousands of dollars on interest, get out of debt faster, or both.

This company focuses on student loan refinancing products specifically, including refinancing offers for medical school debt. Once you enter some basic information online, you’ll be shown an array of loan offers that have the potential to work for your needs.

Note that the lowest rates from Splash Financial include a .25% discount for auto-pay. Since it’s not a direct lender, you’ll need to research individual lenders offered through the platform before you move forward.

Sallie Mae offers student loans for undergraduate students, graduate students, and individuals participating in career training programs. Its career training student loans are especially unique because they work well for students taking professional training or certificate courses in fields such as culinary arts and aviation, yet it still offers highly competitive rates and terms.

Sallie Mae student loans don’t require any origination fees, and they don’t have hidden fees. Sallie Mae even extends its loan products to students who are enrolled in college for less than half-time, which is not the case with many other lenders in this niche.

Discover offers undergraduate student loans, graduate school loans, student loans for parents, and student loan refinancing to eligible borrowers. Its rates and terms are some of the best on the market today, and applicants can complete the full loan application online and from the comfort of their homes.

Student loans from Discover also come with an auto-pay discount, and you can qualify for a one-time cash reward of 1% of the loan amount when you can prove a minimum 3.0 GPA (or equivalent). Also, note that multiple loan repayment plans are offered and that students can choose to begin payments during school or defer them until they graduate.

SoFi is a financial technology company that offers banking and investing products, personal loans, and student loans. Its student loan offerings, in particular, are rather broad, considering borrowers can take out undergraduate loans, graduate school loans, parent loans, or student refinance loans.

SoFi members gain access to a number of benefits, including six months of Best of Evernote and a rewards program. To add up points, members must use the app to manage their bank accounts, credit cards, loan payments, or investments.

Note that SoFi offers its own unemployment protection program that makes it possible to skip payments temporarily when you are experiencing financial hardship. Auto-pay discounts are available, and borrowers can choose to repay their student loans over five, seven, 10, or 15 years.

SoFi also lets potential borrowers check their rates online without any impact on their credit scores. If they decide to apply, the entire application process takes place online. Be aware that international students (even if they’re permanent residents) aren’t eligible to apply for a cosigner.

Student Loan Guide

Direct subsidized, unsubsidized loans, parent plus loans, fixed or variable interest rates… the sheer variety of types of loans and related information can be overwhelming, and with the total cost of attendance to college so expensive, odds are you’ll need help. Whether you’re wondering how student loans work or you’re just trying to avoid student loan scams, your best bet is to arm yourself with as much information as you can.

Our student loan guide will help you figure out what you need to know about the best private student loans and federal student loans, how they’re different, and the steps you should take before you decide which student loan option makes the most sense for you.

Federal vs Private Student Loans

Federal student loans are backed by the federal government, whereas private student loans are offered independently through private student loan companies. Generally speaking, federal student loans should be used first since they come with federal protections like deferment and forbearance, as well as the chance to participate in income-driven repayment plans and other forgiveness programs.

Federal student loans limit the amount each student can borrow each year (and over their academic career) depending on the academic year, type of loan, whether it’s an undergraduate or graduate student loan, and whether the borrower is a dependent or independent student.

Private student loans are typically used by student loan borrowers who have tapped out all the available federal financial aid available to them, including federal student loans. Many borrowers also refinance federal student loans with private lenders or credit unions in order to secure lower interest rates, better loan terms in line with their financial needs, or even for debt consolidation. 

However, it’s important to note that refinancing federal loans with a private lender means giving up all the federal protections afforded to you.

How to Choose a Student Loan

Before you choose a student loan, there are an array of factors to consider. Keep the following details in mind as you compare lenders and offers.

  • Fill Out the FAFSA: Since students should take advantage of federal student loans first, the first best step is filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This form will let you know details of the federal student loans you’re eligible for, plus how much you can borrow.
  • Compare Interest Rates and Terms: Once you begin shopping for private student loans, make sure to compare lenders based on their interest rates and loan fees.

    If you have been wondering how to pay off student loans as quickly as possible, scoring a loan with a low rate and no fees can help. Check whether the lender has any disbursement or prepayment penalties as well. 

  • Check for Flexible Repayment Plans: Make sure you’re satisfied with the payment schedules being offered to you. If you need a lower monthly payment, look for student loan companies that let you repay your loans over 15 to 20 years.
  • Check for Eligibility Requirements: Check whether lenders you’re considering have a minimum credit score or minimum income requirement. If your credit score is in really poor shape and you don’t have a cosigner, the best credit repair companies may be able to help.
  • Use a Loan Calculator to See Your Monthly Payment: Use a student loan calculator to see how much your payment might be with different lenders. This metric will be impacted by the interest rates you’re offered as well as the payment plans you get to choose from.
  • Check Your Rate Without a Hard Inquiry: Finally, look for student loan companies that let you gauge your ability to qualify and check your rate without any impact on your credit score.

What Is Student Loan Deferment?

In March of 2020, the U.S. Department of Education announced the decision to pause payments on eligible federal student loans while fixing interest rates at 0%. The emergency measure, which was put into action to help deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, also brought all collections activity on federal student loans to a halt.

This emergency measure was originally intended to last several months, but the expiration date has been extended six times so far. The emergency deferment period expired on August 31, 2022. This is not to be confused with student loan forgiveness plans, which propose the federal government waive a fixed amount from federal education loans.

How We Found the Best Student Loans

To find the best student loans on the market today, we compared lenders based on factors including the interest rates and annual percentage rates they offer, their loan fees and rate discounts, and the ease of their application process. We focused on lenders that offer student loans with no origination fees and no hidden fees, and we gave preference to companies that let borrowers check their rates without a hard inquiry. 

We also looked for companies that have reasonable qualification requirements many consumers can meet.

Summary of the Best Student Loans for 2024

Final Thoughts – Best Student Loans

Selecting the right student loan for 2024 involves considering key factors such as competitive interest rates, repayment terms, and flexible payments. While federal student loans should be prioritized, private lenders like College Ave, Splash Financial, Sallie Mae, Discover, SoFi, Ascent, and Credible offer valuable options to bridge funding gaps. 

Each lender caters to specific needs, from flexibility and refinancing to career training and favorable rates. Careful assessment of eligibility requirements, repayment plans, and loan features will empower students to make informed choices in managing their education finances.

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