9 Best Student Loans and Current Rates [2024]

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If you are a student and looking for the best student loans to fulfill your career dreams, then we have brought you the exact list of student loans that are best. You may have heard about private and student loans, and also may have heard about FAFSA student loans, but what are the best loans for students in the market today that you must look for?

No matter what type of career you might be looking to excel in, or no matter which school or college you want to get your admission done; in this article we are going to guide you with the top student loans that are not only best, but also identify the one that suits you the best.

Based on our research, Earnest emerges as the top student loan lender overall, thanks to its low rates, customizable options, and rate-match guarantee. We thoroughly assessed 30 student loan lenders, investing countless hours in researching and verifying their various loan types, interest rates, fees, and repayment terms.


9 Best Student Loans and Current Rates [2024]

Here are the best student loans:

1.  Best Overall: Earnest

2.  Best for Negotiating Low Rates: Juno

3.  Best Student Loan Marketplace: Credible

4.  Best Parent Student Loan: SoFi

5.  Best for Graduate School: Iowa Student Loan (ISL) Education Lending

6.  Best for International/DACA Students: Ascent

7.  Best Average Interest Rate: Education Loan Finance (ELFI)

8.  Best for Student Loan Refinance: Splash Financial

9.  Best for Students Without a Cosigner: Funding U

Best student loans 2024:

It’s advisable to explore all your federal student loan options before thinking about private student loans. The interest rates for federal loans disbursed between July 1, 2023, and July 1, 2024, stand at 5.50% for undergraduate direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans.

1. Earnest [Best Overall Student Loan]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.9

With Earnest, you have the option to skip a payment once a year as a reward for consistently making on-time payments. However, it’s important to note that this comes with an additional monthly payment and a reduction in your available forbearance going forward.

Pros and Cons of Earnest:

Pros of Earnest:

     $100 rate-match guarantee

     Offers loans for part-time students

     Customizable loan and repayment terms

Cons of Earnest:

     Does not offer Cosigner release

     Not available to Nevada residents

     Parent student loan repayment options limited


Why is Earnest the best overall student loan?

Apart from being able to select your own loan amount, most private student loan lenders typically offer more standardized options.

However, Earnest stands out from the crowd. Alongside its attractive low rates, it provides the most flexible private student loans available in the market, which is why it’s our top choice. The challenge, if any, lies in fine-tuning the exact options for your loan.

Earnest takes a unique approach by asking you to determine the monthly payment you can afford, though this might be a tricky figure to nail down since predicting future earnings can be uncertain.

Still, give it your best estimate, and Earnest will present you with various loan term options to choose from. Alternatively, you can simply opt for a specific term length.

While you’re still in school, you have the flexibility to choose from four different repayment plans (parents will have two options). This flexibility can be beneficial in managing your student loan payments after graduation.

Founded in 2013, Earnest is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


Earnest repayment options:

     Deferment: While you’re in school and for a generous nine-month grace period afterward (as opposed to the standard six-month grace period offered by most other lenders), you have the flexibility of not making any payments. It’s important to note that interest will accrue during this period, and please be aware that this option is not applicable to parent student loans.

     Forbearance: In case an unexpected financial challenge arises, and you’ve made at least your last three payments on time, you can request up to a total of 12 months’ forbearance. This allows you to take a brief break from your payments.

     Fixed Repayment: If you aim to keep your loan balance from growing significantly, you can choose to make $25 monthly payments while you’re in school and for the nine-month grace period after graduating before transitioning to full payments. It’s worth mentioning that this option is not available for parent student loans.

     Interest-only Payments: Similar to the $25 in-school payment option, you also have the choice to make interest-only payments while you’re in school and for a nine-month grace period thereafter. This helps prevent your loan balance from increasing during this period.


Eligibility requirements:

     650 or higher credit score required

     You must have a minimum annual income of $35,000

     You must be the age of majority in your state

     You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

     You must have at least three years of credit history

     Available in all U.S. states, except Nevada, and Washington, D.C.

     You must have no prior bankruptcies, and no accounts currently in collections

     You must have at least two months’ worth of emergency fund savings

2. Juno [Best for Negotiating Low Interest Rates]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.9

Juno, formerly known as LeverEdge, is a student loan negotiation platform established in 2018. It utilizes the strength of collective borrowing to negotiate advantageous rates and terms for student loans. Through Juno’s partnerships, borrowers have the opportunity to obtain private student loans and refinance existing ones.

Juno functions as a collective bargaining group for student loans, assisting groups of borrowers in obtaining competitive rates for both undergraduate and graduate loans, as well as refinancing options.

However, it’s essential to note that Juno doesn’t offer spousal loans or specialty loans. Borrowers seeking these particular options will need to explore alternatives elsewhere.

Pros and Cons of Juno:

Pros of Juno:

     Rate-match guarantee

     Long nine-month grace period

     Potential for lowest student loan rates

Cons of Juno:

     Only one choice of lender

     Limited timeline for loan acceptance

     Negotiation process can be somewhat confusing


Why is Juno the best student loan negotiation?

Imagine if you could team up with fellow students to negotiate for lower rates on your private student loans, somewhat like a union. Well, that’s the concept behind Juno, formerly known as LeverEdge. While not a direct student loan lender, Juno stands out as a pioneering student loan negotiation company.

Here’s how Juno operates: Firstly, you join its free list by providing your estimated financial details (actual verification comes later). By doing so, you’re essentially expressing interest in a potential negotiated deal for a private student loan.

You can sign up at any time, but Juno kicks off negotiations in the spring, sending its list details to “dozens of lenders” who then compete to offer the most competitive rate.

Juno selects the winning offer and shares the negotiated details with you. From there, you have the option to decide whether you want to proceed with the application.

It may seem a bit intricate, but this process holds the potential to secure some of the lowest private student loan rates available. That’s precisely why we’ve included it in our list.

Originally established in 2018 as LeverEdge, Juno is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.


Juno repayment options:

The available repayment options depend on the lender providing the loan. You might have access to the following options:

     Fixed payments

     Interest-only payments

     Deferred payments

     Immediate repayment


Juno eligibility requirements:

     Lends in all U.S. states except Nevada; some lenders are not available in all states

     U.S. citizens, permanent residents, international students, and DACA students accepted

     You must be enrolled in a four-year, Title IV, nonprofit university or college

     You must be pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate degree

3. Credible [Best Student Loan Marketplace]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.8

Credible operates as an online marketplace where individuals can compare offers for private student loans and student loan refinancing from various lenders all at once. It’s particularly beneficial for borrowers who are expected to qualify for multiple options.

Before considering a private loan marketplace like Credible, it’s recommended that all borrowers maximize their eligibility for unsubsidized and subsidized federal student loans.

Established in 2012 in San Francisco, Credible is a loan comparison platform designed to empower borrowers by allowing them to explore rates and products that suit their needs.

Pros and Cons of Credible:

Pros of Credible:

     Very low rates

     Best rate guarantee

     Transparent lender network

Cons of Credible:

     Loan options may differ

     May not qualify with all lenders

     Only eight lenders in its partner network


Why is Credible the best student loan marketplace?

A great way to streamline your loan shopping process is by using a student loan marketplace, and Credible happens to be one of the top choices.

When you get pre-qualified through Credible, you can easily check your rates with up to eight lenders simultaneously. This helps you quickly identify which lenders you qualify with and the rates they can offer you.

What sets Credible apart from some other marketplaces is its transparency. It provides a clear list of lenders in its partner network, so you don’t have to worry about duplicating your efforts by checking with the same lender multiple times if you decide to shop around independently.

Additionally, Credible offers a best-rate guarantee. If you manage to find a lower rate with another lender, under certain terms, Credible will give you a $200 gift card.

It’s important to note that while Credible doesn’t cover the entire spectrum of lenders available (which no marketplace does), it’s still advisable to do some rate shopping on your own.

Originally established in 2012, Credible has headquarters in both San Francisco, California, and Durham, North Carolina.


Credible repayment options:

The repayment options differ depending on the lender, but you might have the choice of selecting from the following:

     Fixed payments

     Interest-only payments

     Deferred payments

     Immediate repayment


Credible eligibility requirements:

     You or your Cosigner must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

     Certain requirements vary by partner lender

4. SoFi [Best Parent Student Loan]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.8

SoFi stands out as a leader in the student loan refinancing sector, providing private student loans for both graduate students and undergraduates.

This legitimate online lender specializes in student loan refinancing and private student loans. For those seeking benefits along with their refinanced student loan, SoFi’s refinancing option is the way to go. On the other hand, its private loan caters to individuals looking for flexible repayment choices and zero fees.

Established in 2012, SoFi took the lead as the first company to refinance both federal and private student loans concurrently, marking a significant milestone in the industry.

To improve your chances of approval, it’s worth noting that the typical credit score of approved borrowers exceeds 750. Building your creditworthiness before applying can be beneficial.

SoFi accepts borrowers whose highest education level is an associate degree.

In a noteworthy update from June 2021, SoFi announced a unique feature. Borrowers with federal student loans can secure an interest rate now and still take advantage of the federal payment pause.

These borrowers will retain their federal student loans until September before officially refinancing with SoFi at the locked-in rate.

Pros and Cons of SoFi:

Pros of SoFi:

     Generous member benefits

     Lots of options for payment assistance

     Children can refinance parent student loans

Cons of SoFi:

     Requires good credit

     International students not eligible

     No deferment options for parent student loans


Why is SoFi the best parent student loan?

SoFi has earned a reputation as a top-tier student loan lender, and there are a few reasons behind it. One factor could be that you or your Cosigner will need a higher credit score compared to other lenders (minimum 650 to 700).

Another reason might be the plethora of benefits that SoFi offers to its student loan borrowers. This includes not only complimentary one-on-one access to financial planners and career coaches but also exclusive events and lounge access at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium.

For just about anyone looking for a private student loan (assuming you meet the qualifications), SoFi is a solid choice. However, it goes above and beyond for parents.

If you take out a loan for your child’s college education, SoFi stands out as one of the few lenders that will later allow your child to refinance the loan in their own name, provided they are willing and able to take over the repayment.

Additionally, SoFi provides a rare perk in the private loan realm: loan forgiveness in the unfortunate event of your passing. This can be crucial if you want to leave an estate behind for your heirs.

Founded in 2011, SoFi has its headquarters in San Francisco, California, and has offices in nine other states, as well as in Hong Kong and eight Latin American countries.


SoFi repayment options:

     Reduced Payment: If you’re going through a financial hardship but can manage to make some payments, SoFi is open to collaborating with you on a reduced payment schedule.

     Forbearance and Deferment: SoFi allows you to postpone payments while you’re in school and for specific situations, such as if you’re a soldier deployed to a war zone or if you’re completing a medical residency (not applicable for parent loans).

     Interest-Only Repayment: While your child is in school, you only need to make payments against the accrued interest.

     Immediate Repayment: You start making payments against both the interest and principal as soon as the loan is disbursed.


SoFi eligibility requirements:

     Recommended 650 or higher credit score

     Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

     You must be the age of majority in your state

     You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA recipient

     You must be employed or have sufficient income from other sources

     You must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree granting program at an eligible institution

5. Iowa Student Loan (ISL) Education Lending [Best for Graduate School]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.5

ISL Education Lending offers student loans and refinancing with competitive rates and zero fees. They provide refinancing options even before you graduate and offer low rates on their in-school products.

Formerly known as Iowa Student Loan, ISL Education Lending extends its student loans and refinancing services to borrowers in 48 states and Washington, D.C. With their competitive rates and flexible terms, an ISL student loan might be an ideal choice for students seeking the option of Cosigner release.

Being a nonprofit lender, ISL provides student loan refinancing and private student loans nationwide. Their refinancing loan is suitable for borrowers who are still in school or didn’t graduate initially. The private loan comes with consumer-friendly features such as no late fees and a generous forbearance policy.

Pros and Cons of IOWA:

Pros of IOWA:

     Very low rates for grads

     Options for non-co-signed loans

     Loan discharge for death or disability

Cons of IOWA:

     Benefits may vary by loan type

     Not available for Maine residents

     Some loans only available in Iowa and Illinois


Why is IOWA the best graduate school student loan?

Unlike most lenders who tend to impose higher rates on private student loans for graduate students, the nonprofit lender Iowa Student Loans, or ISL, takes a different approach.

ISL offers a total of five distinct loan options, catering to undergraduates and graduate students without a Cosigner, parents and families, and two versatile loans that don’t require a Cosigner, available for both undergraduate and graduate students.

For the specified non-Cosigner loans, there are certain academic requirements to meet, and their availability is somewhat restricted. These loans are only accessible to students studying in Iowa (for undergraduates and graduates) or Illinois (for undergraduates only).

However, the key highlight here is the remarkably favorable rates. Even if you qualify for the highest rates ISL has to offer, they are still half of what most other lenders charge.

Established in 1979, ISL is based in West Des Moines, Iowa.


IOWA repayment options:

     Deferment: You have the option to completely postpone your payments while you or your student is in school if you choose, but it’s important to note that interest will accumulate during this period.

     Forbearance: ISL provides forbearance, although specific details about how the program works are not disclosed. However, it’s customary for student loan lenders to offer up to 12 months of forbearance over the life of your loan if you encounter temporary financial challenges.

     Interest-Only Repayment: If you’re not ready for full payments but wish to prevent your loan balance from growing, you can choose to make interest-only payments while you or your student is still in school.

     Fixed Repayment: If you select a partnership loan for undergraduates without a Cosigner, you’ll be required to make $25 monthly payments while you’re in school until you transition to normal repayment.

     Full Repayment: You have the option to start repaying your loan right away, which can be a convenient choice if you’re a student with income or a parent.


IOWA eligibility requirements:

     660 or higher credit score required

     You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

     Available in all states, except for Maine, and Washington, D.C.; Illinois Partnership Loan only available for Illinois residents

     You must be the age of majority in your state or be an emancipated minor

     You must have no prior bankruptcies or student loan defaults, or late payments (two 30-day-late payments are OK)

     You must have a 40% or lower debt-to-income ratio (for non-partnership loans)

     Certain requirements vary by loan option

6. Ascent [Best for International/DACA Students]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.5

Ascent Funding stands out as one of the rare student loan companies that allows you to qualify for a loan without needing a Cosigner, even if your credit history is limited. This makes it a viable option for international and DACA students, as it doesn’t mandate applicants to be U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

However, it’s important to note that Ascent’s loans might be more expensive compared to some other alternatives. Therefore, it’s advisable to thoroughly research and assess your options before proceeding with a loan application.

Please be aware that the annual percentage rates (APRs) and account details mentioned are accurate as of March 4, 2024.

Ascent offers both undergraduate and graduate student loans, catering to those with and without a Cosigner.

As an online lender, Ascent provides three options for student loan borrowers: a traditional co-signed loan, a non-co-signed credit-based option, and a non-co-signed future income-based option. The co-signed loan is ideal for students seeking a Cosigner and aiming to pay off loans quickly.

The non-co-signed credit-based option suits borrowers with at least two years of credit history who can meet income requirements. Lastly, the non-co-signed future-income option is designed for upperclassmen with no credit, income, or Cosigner.

Pros and Cons of Ascent:

Pros of Ascent:

     1% graduation reward

     Long grace period and forbearance

     Lower rates and long deferment for med students

Cons of Ascent:

     Higher rates for marginal borrowers

     Cosigner release not available for all people

     Outcomes-based loan limited and expensive


Why is IOWA the best international/DACA student loan?

Securing funding for education in the U.S. can pose challenges, especially for international students or those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status. In such cases, we recommend considering Ascent.

For international students, having a Cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is necessary. However, DACA students don’t require a Cosigner unless they are unable to meet the requirements for a non-co-signed loan.

Ascent provides a range of loan options, both with and without a Cosigner. Non-co-signed loans have an undisclosed minimum credit score and are available in two variations: one for individuals with at least two years of credit history and another “outcomes-based” loan, considering factors like GPA, major, etc.

While some of Ascent’s loans may have higher costs, it offers a distinctive graduation reward. If you meet specific conditions (be sure to check these beforehand), you have the chance to receive 1% of your loan balance back in cash.

Established in 2018, Ascent is based in San Diego, California.


Ascent repayment options:

     Deferment: Deferment offers the flexibility to refrain from making any payments while you’re in school and in specific circumstances, such as during active-duty military service. It’s important to note that interest continues to accrue, and regular repayment begins after a nine-month grace period (extended to 12 months for dental students and 36 months for medical students).

     Forbearance: Similar to deferment, Ascent allows you to suspend payments for up to 24 months throughout the life of your loan if you encounter financial challenges—twice the duration provided by most other lenders.

     Fixed Repayment: If you aim to control the growth of your loan balance during your school years, this option enables you to make monthly $25 payments, limiting the accumulation of interest.

     Interest-Only Repayment: Similar to the aforementioned repayment plan, this allows you to make interest-only payments while you’re in school, preventing your loan balance from increasing during your studies.

     Progressive Repayment: Comparable to the graduated repayment plan for federal loans, this option lets you initiate loan repayment with smaller payments that gradually increase over time. It allows you to pay off the loan within the same timeframe as a normal repayment plan.


Ascent eligibility requirements:

     Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

     You must have a minimum annual income of $24,000, except for undergraduate student borrowers with less than two years of credit history or a graduate student borrower with a Cosigner.

     You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, international student, or DACA recipient.

7. Education Loan Finance (ELFI) [Best Average Interest Rate]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.2

Education Loan Finance, commonly known as ELFI, is a student loan program provided by SouthEast Bank, based in Tennessee, since 2015. The program offers private student loans and refinancing options for both private and federal student loans.

With a loan maximum of $250,000, ELFI, a division of SouthEast Bank, allows you to refinance larger loan balances. They specialize in providing dedicated customer support for student loan borrowers.

Education Loan Finance caters to a diverse range of borrowers, including undergraduates, graduate students, and parents, offering both student loan refinancing and private student loans.

If you prioritize excellent customer service, their refinancing loan is a suitable choice. For those facing a significant funding gap, their private student loan becomes an ideal option.

As a division of SouthEast Bank, ELFI extends its services to eligible borrowers, encompassing undergraduate and graduate students, degree holders, and parents seeking private loans for their children’s education.

While ELFI may not offer all the same perks as some other lenders, their rates present an opportunity to save money on student loans and refinancing.

It’s worth noting that ELFI’s student loans are serviced by American Education Services (AES), and their refinanced loans are serviced by either AES or the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). Therefore, if you’re approved for a loan, one of these companies would manage your loans.

Pros and Cons of ELFI:

Pros of ELFI:

     Very low rates

     Flexible in-school repayment options

     Dedicated customer support representative

Cons of ELFI:

     Doesn’t offer Cosigner release

     Not available to international or DACA students

     Not available to associate-degree-seeking students


Why is ELFI the best average interest rate student loan?

Education Loan Finance, commonly known as ELFI, stands out for offering some of the lowest rates on its student loans, making it an appealing option to consider if cost is a crucial factor for you during your rate-shopping process.

For those wary of potential customer service issues in the student loan industry, ELFI provides a positive alternative. It assigns you a dedicated customer support representative, fostering a more personalized experience. This means you won’t have to deal with a different person every time, enhancing the level of service.

However, a couple of things to bear in mind: If you require a Cosigner for loan approval (which is often the case for most students), ELFI doesn’t offer the option to remove them later, a feature available with many other lenders. The only way to eliminate a Cosigner from an ELFI loan is by refinancing it entirely. Additionally, ELFI is tailored for U.S. citizens or permanent residents pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Established in 2015, ELFI is headquartered in Farragut, Tennessee.


ELFI repayment options:

     Forbearance: ELFI provides forbearance options if you qualify, although specific details about the qualifying criteria and the forbearance terms are not disclosed.

     Deferment: You have the option to defer your loans while you’re in school. It’s important to note that during this period, your balance will continue to grow due to accruing interest. Upon graduation, a six-month grace period is granted.

     Immediate Repayment: If you have the capacity and choose to do so, you can initiate full payments on your loan as soon as you take it out, allowing you to start reducing the balance immediately.

     Interest-Only Repayment: If you have some income but it’s not sufficient for full payments, and you wish to save some money, you can choose to make interest-only payments while you’re in school. This prevents your loan balance from increasing.

     Fixed Repayment: If you still want to control the growth of your loan balance but can’t afford interest-only payments, ELFI provides the option to establish a $25 monthly payment plan while you’re in school.


ELFI eligibility requirements:

     Available in all 50 states and Puerto Rico

     680 or higher credit score and at least 36 months of credit history required

     You must have a $35,000 annual income or higher

     You must be the age of majority in your state

     You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

     You must be enrolled at least half-time in a program for a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree

     The student must be a dependent (for parent student loans)

8. Splash Financial [Best for Student Loan Refinance]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.0

Splash Financial, based in Cleveland and founded in 2013, operates as a loan marketplace. Initially focusing on refinancing student loans, the company expanded its services to include personal loans.

As an online marketplace, Splash Financial provides borrowers with offers from multiple lenders for the refinancing of their student loans. If you’re seeking quotes from more than one lender, Splash Financial is a suitable option.

Founded in 2013, Splash Financial is an online marketplace that facilitates student loan refinance loans through various partner lenders, including credit unions and banks.

It’s particularly beneficial for borrowers who prefer to receive refinancing offers from multiple lenders with a single application on the Splash Financial website, akin to other online loan marketplaces like Credible and NerdWallet.

It’s important to note that Splash Financial collaborates with different credit unions and banks, leading to variations in loan details. For specific benefits or inquiries, it’s recommended to contact the lender or Splash Financial directly.

Pros and Cons of Splash Financial:

Pros of Splash Financial:

     Offers competitive rates

     Spouses may be able to refinance together

     Medical professionals receive special benefits

Cons of Splash Financial:

     Loan options vary

     Must have completed your degree

     Refinance only; not for in-school loans


Why is Splash Financial the best student loan refinance?

After graduation, things often unfold differently than what you initially planned. Perhaps you managed to build an impressive credit score during your studies, or maybe your post-graduation income didn’t quite take off as anticipated.

Regardless of the circumstances, if you find yourself needing to reassess your private student loans once you’ve received your diploma, Splash Financial emerges as an excellent choice. It operates as a relatively small marketplace, checking your rates with a select group of lenders exclusive to Splash, specializing in student loan refinances.

Typically, refinance loans require immediate full interest and principal payments. However, if you opt to refinance medical or dental school loans with Splash during your residency, you have the option of making fixed monthly payments of $100.

While this can ease your monthly expenses, it’s important to note that you’ll end up paying more over the life of the loan compared to someone making full payments.

Splash Financial and its partner lenders don’t charge application, origination, or prepayment fees. However, it’s essential to be aware that other fees may be involved depending on your specific lender.

Founded in 2015, Splash is headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.


Splash Financial repayment options:

     Full Repayment: For the majority of refinanced student loans, complete principle-and-interest payments are mandatory.

     Medical and Dental School Repayment: If you choose to refinance your medical or dental school loans, you’ll be obligated to make fixed monthly payments of $100 while you’re in a residency or fellowship. Additionally, this payment arrangement extends for a six-month period after you complete those programs.


Splash Financial eligibility requirements:

     640 or higher credit score required

     Available in all 50 states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands

     You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

     You must have graduated or be in the final semester of your studies with a formal job offer

9. Funding U [Best for Students without a Cosigner]

Futuredecider’s Rating: 4.0

Funding U provides student loans specifically designed for undergraduate students attending eligible four-year colleges, and the unique aspect is that it doesn’t require a credit history or a co-signer. These loans are particularly beneficial for high-achieving students without a cosigner, but eligibility is limited to those attending qualifying schools.

Established in 2016, Funding U, also known as Funding University, operates with a distinctive approach. It extends its loan services to students without a cosigner, primarily in a limited number of states.

Unlike traditional lenders, Funding U doesn’t base its lending decisions on credit scores. Instead, it assesses borrowers considering factors like academic success, the likelihood of timely graduation, projected total student debt, and expected earnings after graduation. The lending is exclusive to students attending colleges that meet specific graduation rate requirements.

While freshmen and sophomores can potentially qualify for a Funding U loan, the approval requirements are more stringent for these early years. Juniors and seniors have a higher likelihood of approval.

Eligibility criteria include being a full-time student who is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA recipient with a work-eligible Social Security number. Additionally, applicants must attend an eligible school, be in a qualifying year for their school, reside in an applicable state, and meet the GPA minimum.

Funding U, despite offering only one private student loan option for undergraduate students, stands out due to its unique eligibility criteria. Rather than relying on conventional factors like credit scores and income, Funding U employs its proprietary scoring system based on academic progress and success.

Moreover, it enhances its service by providing relevant information through its blog, covering topics such as building credit, financing education, job hunting, and more.

Pros and Cons of Funding U:

Pros of Funding U:

     Available for DACA students

     Generous forbearance policies

     Loan decisions based on career, not just credit

Cons of Funding U:

     Does not allow co-signers

     Not available in many states

     Requires payments while you’re in school


Why is Funding U the best student loan without a cosigner?

Funding U stands out as a unique lender compared to most, primarily because it determines lending decisions based on your academic progress rather than relying solely on income and credit, which is the norm for many student loan companies.

Notably, you won’t even have the option to apply with a co-signer. While Funding U checks your credit reports for potential red flags like bankruptcy, its decision-making process revolves around your career plans and current academic performance.

This approach has both positive and challenging aspects. For individuals who struggle to find a co-signer, Funding U offers a great alternative. However, approval might be more challenging if you’re a newer college student, have lower grades, or pursue certain career paths that may not indicate high future incomes.

It’s important to note that Funding U caters exclusively to full-time undergraduates, and despite requiring payments during your time in school, you have the flexibility to choose a minimum payment of $20. Although this amount might seem modest, managing it can still be challenging for full-time students.

Established in 2015, Funding U is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.


Funding U repayment options:

     Fixed Repayment: Choose to make $20 monthly payments while you’re in school, and enjoy a six-month grace period post-graduation before entering into full repayment.

     Interest-Only Repayment: Opt for paying only the accruing interest during your time in school, and continue this for the six-month grace period following graduation.

     Forbearance: Access up to 24 months of forbearance without making payments while interest continues to accrue (extendable up to 51 months if you’re still in school). Certain forbearance options, such as those related to natural disasters, don’t have a specified maximum duration.

     Full Repayment: Make complete interest-and-principal payments on the loan.


Funding U eligibility requirements:

     You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA recipient

     You must be over the age of 18

     Only available for full-time students working toward a bachelor’s degree

     Only available in the following states: Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., Neb., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., and Wis.

Best Student Loan Comparison

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Best Student Loans List

Minimum Credit Score

Minimum Annual Income

State Availability

Distinguishing Feature



[Best Overall]



All U.S. states, except Nevada, and Washington, D.C.

Highly customizable private student loans.



[Best for Negotiating Low Rates]

Varies by lender; 650 for cosigners

Varies by lender; $35,000 for cosigners

All U.S. states except Nevada; some lenders not available in all states

First-of-its-kind student loan negotiation company that works with multiple private lenders



[Best Student Loan Marketplace]

Varies by lender

Varies by lender

Varies by lender; not available in all states

Student loan marketplace with a transparent partner network



[Best Parent Student Loan]

650 (or higher) recommended

Minimum not specified; must “be employed or have sufficient income from other sources (either borrower or cosigner)”

All U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

If a loan is taken out by a parent for their child, the loan can later be refinanced in the child’s name


ISL Lending

[Best for Graduate School]


Minimum not specified; borrowers must have “Continuous employment over the last two years”

All U.S. states, except Maine, and Washington, D.C.; Illinois Partnership Loan only available in Illinois

Exceptionally good interest rates for Iowa or Illinois students



[Best for International/DACA Students]

Minimum not specified

$24,000 for co-signers and borrowers with at least two years of credit history and no cosigner

All U.S. states and Washington, D.C.

Borrowers receive 1% of their loan balance back in cash upon graduation



[Best Average Interest Rate]



All U.S. states and Puerto Rico

Assigns each borrower a dedicated customer support representative


Splash Financial

[Best for Student Loan Refinance]


Varies by lender

All U.S. states; Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Refinancing medical or dental school loans while in residency gives borrowers the option of making fixed monthly payments of $100


Funding U

[Best for Students Without a CoSigner]

Minimum not specified

Minimum not specified

Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Fla., Ga., Hawaii, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kan., La., Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Mo., Neb., N.J., N.M., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Ore., Pa., S.C., Tenn., Texas, Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., and Wis.

Loan qualification is based on borrower’s career plans and academic performance

How to Choose the Best Student Loans?

Student loans serve as borrowed funds from either the government or a private lender to cover college expenses. After graduation, these loans need to be repaid, including the accrued interest.

Generally, the funds can be used to address various educational costs such as tuition, room and board, books, and other related expenses. It’s essential to note that student loans differ from scholarships and grants, as the latter do not require repayment.

Applying for a student loan involves an online application where you provide your financial information, including your parents’ details if applicable. The qualifications for student loans vary based on the type of loan, encompassing factors like FICO score and income.

Often, multiple student loans are necessary to cover the entirety of your tuition and associated expenses. For guidance through this process, a financial aid counselor from your high school or prospective college can offer valuable assistance.


Private vs Federal Student Loans:

Essentially, there are two main categories of student loans. The U.S. Department of Education manages federal student loans, which come with various advantages compared to their private counterparts.

Federal loan interest rates are fixed, as opposed to variable rates, and they generally tend to be lower than the interest rates on private loans and credit cards.

Depending on the specific federal loan you’re considering, there may be no need for a credit check, the loan might be subsidized while you’re in school, and payments may not commence until after graduation. Moreover, federal student loans offer a range of repayment plans to accommodate different circumstances.

These include:

     Fixed Payment Repayment Plans: These three plans determine your monthly student debt payment based on factors such as the amount you owe, your interest rate, and a fixed repayment time frame.

     Standard Repayment Plan: This plan establishes a fixed payment amount to ensure that your debt is paid off within 10 years, or up to 30 years for consolidated loans. Upon leaving school, you will be automatically enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan unless you choose an alternative.

     Graduated Repayment Plan: Payments for this plan start lower and increase over time, typically every two years. Similar to its Standard counterpart, the Graduated Repayment Plan calculates payment amounts to guarantee debt repayment within 10 years (up to 30 years for consolidated loans).

     Extended Repayment Plan: Payments under this plan can be fixed or start lower and then increase over time. In either case, these payments are structured to ensure your debt is paid off within 25 years.

     Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans: These four plans determine your monthly student debt payment based on a percentage of your discretionary income and family size. After a specific number of qualifying payments (varies by plan), any remaining student loan debt is forgiven.

     Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) Plan: Formerly known as the REPAYE Plan, payments on a SAVE Plan are 10% of your discretionary income. The repayment period is either 20 years (undergraduate loans only) or 25 years (any graduate/professional loans).

     Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Repayment Plan: Payments on the PAYE Plan are 10% of your discretionary income, capped at the amount you would have paid under the Standard Repayment Plan. This plan is exclusive to new borrowers, with a repayment period of 20 years.

     Income-Based Repayment (IBR) Plan: Depending on your borrowing date, the IBR plan is set at either 10% (first borrowed after July 1, 2014) or 15% (borrowed before July 1, 2014) of your discretionary income. Repayment periods are 20 or 25 years, respectively. Similar to the PAYE Plan, monthly payments are capped at what you would have paid under the Standard Repayment Plan.

     Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan: Payments on an ICR Plan are 20% of your discretionary income or the amount you would pay on a fixed repayment plan over 12 years (adjusted based on your income), whichever is lower. The ICR plan has a repayment period of 25 years.


Private student loans, on the other hand, aren’t limited to a single source. You can obtain a private student loan from various institutions, such as banks, credit unions, or other financial entities.

Private lenders typically don’t consider a borrower’s financial needs in their lending decisions. Therefore, an applicant for a private loan will likely undergo a credit check, which might pose a challenge for students with minimal credit history.

Private student loans lack several advantages available with federal counterparts. Interest rates on private student loans are generally higher, available as either fixed or variable, and they usually lack subsidies.

Although private loans offer some unique benefits, such as higher borrowing limits and quicker funding compared to federal loans, these features may not be essential for all borrowers. It’s advisable to explore all federal aid options before resorting to private student loans.

Additionally, borrowing should be limited to cover the necessary cost of attendance, as more loan funds translate to increased debt for repayment later on.

What Are Some Alternatives to Student Loans?

If you’ve determined that a student loan isn’t the right choice for you or if you’re exploring alternative options, here are some alternatives:

     Parents pay for college

     Merit-based scholarship

     Athletic scholarship

     Work-study aid

     Savings or an inheritance


Final Thoughts

Earnest stands out as our top choice for the overall best lender, thanks to its extensive range of loan options and competitive interest rates. However, if your primary focus is securing the absolute lowest rates and you’re open to various lenders, Juno presents a viable alternative.

For students who lack a co-signer, Funding U and Ascent provide distinctive student loan options based on your academic achievements and career prospects, without placing heavy emphasis on credit history—although they come with higher costs.

If you’re considering refinancing, companies like Splash Financial could be a suitable choice. Additionally, don’t overlook lender marketplaces such as Credible, which simplify the process of comparing multiple lenders simultaneously.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

What are the different types of student loans?

Student loans typically fall into two main categories: federal and private, the latter also referred to as alternative loans.

     Federal student loans: Federal student loans encompass various types, generally offering lower interest rates and more favorable repayment terms compared to private loans. They are often more accessible and easier to secure than private loans. Federal loans come with fixed interest rates, and certain options do not hinge on your credit history.

     Private student loans: On the other hand, private student loans should be considered once federal options have been explored. These loans might cover scenarios such as continuing education without pursuing a degree, tuition for non-U.S. citizens, and education costs incurred post-graduation.

How much do student loans cost?

The primary expense linked to student loans is the interest. Additionally, certain loans might impose charges such as origination fees, prepayment penalties, and late fees.

It is advisable to prioritize applying for federal loans, given their generally lower interest rates. As of now, the interest rate on federal undergraduate loans stands at 5.50%.

Do private student loans allow deferment or forbearance?

Private student loans may offer deferment or forbearance options, although the availability of these options can vary among lenders. Moreover, the specific procedures for deferment or forbearance may differ between lenders.

If you are contemplating a loan from a private lender or already have one, the most effective way to ascertain the available deferment or forbearance options is to directly contact the lender.

What is a good student loan interest rate?

The ideal student loan interest rate is the lowest one available to you. Federal student loans have fixed interest rates, with rates for direct unsubsidized loans (undergraduate), direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans (graduate or professional borrowers), and direct PLUS loans set at 5.50%, 7.05%, and 8.05%, respectively.

Private student loan rates can range from as low as 4% to as high as 17%, depending on factors like the lender and the type of loan.

Moreover, aside from the interest rate, other factors contribute to determining a good student loan.

Even if you manage to secure the lowest rate on a private student loan, factors such as benefits like income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness options (including Public Service Loan Forgiveness – PSLF), etc., can play a crucial role in reducing the overall costs of a federal loan in the long term.

Is Sallie Mae a good student loan company?

If you find yourself in need of additional funds to fill gaps in your financial aid, Sallie Mae, a private student loan provider, could be a viable choice.

Sallie Mae offers various loans for undergraduates, graduates, and professional students, including those in medical, law, and dental schools, with competitive interest rates. However, it’s important to note that the repayment terms are somewhat limited, and the lender imposes fees for late and returned payments.

Despite holding an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, it’s worth mentioning that Sallie Mae has received a 1 out of 5 average customer star rating on the same website. Additionally, on Trustpilot, it has a 1.5 (Bad) Trustscore. The company has faced controversy, as evidenced by a $60 million settlement in 2014 for violating Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) protections.

Which is Better: Federal or Private student loans?

As a general rule, it’s advisable to give priority to federal loans before considering private loans for any additional funding needs. Federal student loans usually come with lower interest rates, don’t necessitate credit checks (unless they’re PLUS loans or federal parent loans), and offer a host of other advantages and borrower protections that are often absent in private loans.

Moreover, private student loan interest rates can fluctuate, private lenders might impose prepayment penalties, and loan payments are frequently required even while borrowers are still in school.

What are the 4 types of federal student loans?

The U.S. Department of Education provides four types of federal student loans under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program:

1.  Direct Subsidized Loans: These loans are exclusively for eligible undergraduate students. Borrowers are not responsible for paying interest while in school or during grace or deferment periods. To qualify for a direct subsidized loan, borrowers must demonstrate clear financial need.

2.  Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Available for eligible undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Unlike subsidized loans, eligibility for unsubsidized loans is not based on the borrower’s financial need.

3.  Direct PLUS Loans: These loans are made to graduate or professional students, or parents of dependent undergraduate students (referred to as Parent PLUS Loans). They cover funding gaps not addressed by other financial aid. Eligibility for a direct PLUS loan is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required.

4.  Direct Consolidation Loans: This type of loan combines all existing eligible federal student loans into a single loan. The interest rate for the new loan is the weighted average of the interest rates of the consolidated loans (rounded to the nearest one-eighth percent).

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