In addition to student loans offered by the U.S. Department of Education, many private lenders offer loan programs designed for college students. It is usually best to exhaust your federal student aid, including federal student loans, before taking out private loans because the government offers more flexible repayment options and better interest rates than most private organizations do. If you do need more money for school, here are ten private student loan programs. Please keep in mind that these companies are organized by name only – the order of the list is no reflection of how “good” any one lender is.
- Acumen Student Loans are available to students who are enrolled at least half-time in a degree program. The repayment period does not begin until after you graduate, and you could be eligible for an interest rate reduction after you pay off 10% of the loan’s principal. You can choose to forebear payments if you experience financial difficulty, but remember that interest will still collect during this time. You will need a cosigner unless you make certain credit and income requirements.
- Chase Select Student Loans can be taken out by Chase customers. (If you are not a customer, your must have a cosigner with an applicable account.) You can choose to start repaying your loan or paying off interest immediately, or defer repayment until after you leave school. There are no prepayment penalties, so they encourage customers to take advantage of this. No cosigner is required, but they recommend one to qualify for better interest rates. If you make regular payments on your loan, your cosigner could be released from the agreement.
- Citizens Bank TruFit Student Loans offer three repayment plans, including options to make payments during school or defer payment entirely until you leave school. If you are already a Citizens Bank account holder, you could qualify for an interest rate reduction if you choose automated payments; borrowers who use other banks may still qualify for a lesser reduction for using automated payments. A cosigner is strongly recommended for applicants with little or no credit history, and there is a cosigner release option if you make regular, timely payments during the repayment period.
- cuScholar Private Student Loans offer interest rates based not only on credit scores, but also on your academic progress. Because credit history is a factor in determining loan terms, you may need a cosigner to qualify; if you do, your cosigner could be relieved after you make regular payments. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties for these loans. These loans do require that payments on interest be made while you are in school, but these payments could be tax deductible.
- Discover Student Loans automatically defer repayment until after you leave school or drop below full time enrollment; however, you can begin making payments as early as you want since there are no prepayment fees. Additionally, you may be able to defer payments if you are on active military duty, work with certain public service organizations, or participate in a medical residency program. Borrowers are eligible for a reward upon graduation and a lower interest rate when they sign up for automatic payments. Fixed and variable interest rates are available, although actual rates are determined by your (or a cosigner’s) credit history.
- PNC Private Student Loans have several options depending on your intended degree. Your interest rate will depend on your credit score, which is why applying with a cosigner is recommended. A cosigner release is available if you keep up with your payments. Borrowers can choose between variable and fixed interest rates, and if you sign up for automated payments, you could be eligible for a discounted interest rate. The repayment period can last up to fifteen years, and you defer repayment or make payments while you’re still in school.
- Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans are one of the few private student loan providers that offer a graduated repayment plan. You can defer repayment until after you leave school, or you can begin making payments while you’re still taking classes. This program offers rewards such as reduced interest rates for borrowers who make regular, on-time payments. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties. They offer variable and fixed interest rates, although the rate you qualify for will depend on your or your cosigner’s credit history. If you have a cosigner, they can be released from their obligation if you make regular payments on your loan.
- SunTrust Education Loans are available to students with at least half-time enrollment at a Title IV-eligible program. Although a cosigner is not required, applicants with limited credit histories will need one to qualify. Your cosigner can be released of their obligation if you meet certain requirements. These loans have four options for repayment, including deferring repayment until after you graduate or leave school, and plans that let you begin making payments while you’re in school. These loans are available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, except those whose permanent address is in Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin; cosigners cannot be permanent residents of Illinois.
- Union Federal Private Student Loans have repayment periods ranging between five and fifteen years, and plans that let you defer repayment until after school or start making payments while you’re still enrolled. There are no prepayment or origination fees, and you can qualify for interest rate reductions for automatic payments and making payments on time. Most applicants need a cosigner to qualify, but your cosigner can be relieved from the loan contract after you make regular, on-time payments.
Wells Fargo Student Loans offer opportunities to reduce your interest rate, including rewards for graduating from your program, setting up automated payments, and being a Wells Fargo banking customer. You will likely need a cosigner to be approved for your loan, but if you make good payments and meet certain credit requirements, you could qualify for a cosigner release. It is free to apply for these loans, and there are no origination or prepayment fees.