The 7 Best Student Loans for 2022

The 7 Best Student Loans for 2022

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.

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Best for Flexibility
Best Career Training Loans Best Student Loans with No Cosigner Best for Student Loan Refinancing Best Student Loans for Great Rates
College Ave Sallie Mae Ascent Splash Financial Student Loans Discover
Our Partner Our Partner Our Partner
Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Parent loans

Career loans

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Career training loans

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Parent loans

Student loan refinancing

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.19% to 11.98%

Fixed APR of 3.49% to 12.99%

Variable APR of 1.87% to 11.97%

Fixed APR of 3.75% to 12.85%

Variable APR of 1.64% to 9.23%

Fixed APR of 4.78% to 12.76%

Variable APR of 1.99% to 8.63%

Fixed APR of 1.74% to 8.70%

Variable APR of 1.79% to 11.24%

Fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.34%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.99% to 10.97%

Fixed APR of 3.99% to 11.98%

Rates vary by loan type

Variable APR of 1.66% to 10.98%

Fixed APR of 4.90% to 14.52%

Variable APR of 1.99% to 8.63%

Fixed APR of 1.74% to 8.70%

Variable APR of 2.49% to 12.49%

Fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.99%

Minimum Credit Score

660

660

660

650

700

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Best for Flexibility

College Ave
Our Partner
Apply Today

Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Parent loans

Career loans

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.19% to 11.98%

Fixed APR of 3.49% to 12.99%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.99% to 10.97%

Fixed APR of 3.99% to 11.98%

Minimum Credit Score

660

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Best Career Training Loans

Sallie Mae
Our Partner
Apply Today

Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Career training loans

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.87% to 11.97%

Fixed APR of 3.75% to 12.85%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Rates vary by loan type

Minimum Credit Score

660

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Best Student Loans with No Cosigner

Ascent
Our Partner
Apply Today

Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.64% to 9.23%

Fixed APR of 4.78% to 12.76%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.66% to 10.98%

Fixed APR of 4.90% to 14.52%

Minimum Credit Score

660

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Best for Student Loan Refinancing

Splash Financial Student Loans
Apply Today

Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.99% to 8.63%

Fixed APR of 1.74% to 8.70%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.99% to 8.63%

Fixed APR of 1.74% to 8.70%

Minimum Credit Score

650

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Best Student Loans for Great Rates

Discover
Apply Today

Loan Types

Undergraduate and graduate loans

Parent loans

Student loan refinancing

Interest Rates for Undergraduate Loans

Variable APR of 1.79% to 11.24%

Fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.34%

Interest Rates for Graduate Loans

Variable APR of 2.49% to 12.49%

Fixed APR of 4.49% to 13.99%

Minimum Credit Score

700

Cosigner Release?

Yes

Our Picks for Best Student Loans

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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.

Pros
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Variety of loan types available
  • Cosigner release available for eligible borrowers
  • Flexible repayment plans
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • No origination fees or hidden fees
  • Check your rate with no impact on your credit
Cons
  • Repayment plans last 15 years at most
  • Long cosigner release period
  • No forbearance policy

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.

Pros
  • Auto-pay discounts available
  • Competitive interest rates and terms
  • Great rates for student loan refinancing
  • Check your rate with no impact on your credit
  • Cosigner release offered
  • No refinancing fees or prepayment penalties
Cons
  • Not a direct lender
  • Loan features can vary by your lender

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 rate online without any impact to 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 refinance 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.

Pros
  • Variety of loan types offered
  • Competitive rates and terms
  • No origination fees or hidden fees
  • Get four months of free Chegg Study access
  • Cosigner release offered
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • Less-than-half-time enrollment eligibility
Cons
  • Cannot check your rate without a hard inquiry

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. Borrowers can also get four months of free Chegg Study access as a customer, and there are in-school and deferred payment options to choose from. 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.

Pros
  • Highly competitive interest rates and loan terms
  • No origination fees, late fees, or hidden fees
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • Get rewarded for good grades
Cons
  • No cosigner release option
  • High minimum credit score requirement
  • Cannot check your rate without a hard inquiry

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 home.

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.

Pros
  • No origination fees or hidden fees
  • Unemployment protection program offered
  • Graduation reward of 1% cash back
  • Cosigner release offered
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • Variety of loan options offered
  • Flexible repayment plans
  • Check your rate with no impact on your credit
Cons
  • Fairly strict requirements for student loan refinancing
  • Longest repayment period is 15 years
  • Higher interest rates than other private lenders

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 a permanent resident) aren’t eligible to apply for a cosigner.

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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 arming 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 steps you should take before you decide which student loan option makes 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.

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Pros and Cons of Student Loans: Federal vs. Private

Federal Student Loans Private Student Loans
Advantages
  • Comes with federal protections like deferment and forbearance
  • Fixed interest rates that never change
  • Eligible for income-driven repayment plans and other loan forgiveness programs
  • No credit check or cosigner required for most loans
  • Some federal student loans come with subsidized interest while you’re in college
  • Private student loan lenders may offer better rates and terms than federal loans
  • Choose from flexible repayment plans
    Student loan interest rates can be fixed or variable
  • Disadvantages
  • Loan limits cap how much you can borrow
  • Not all students qualify for subsidized federal student loans
  • Only available for U.S. citizens
  • Credit check required
  • If they have a short credit history or bad credit, borrowers often need a cosigner to qualify
  • Providers may require payments while you’re still in school
  • Won’t qualify for forgiveness programs
    No subsidized loan options available
  • 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 to 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. Currently, the emergency deferment period is scheduled to expire 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 rate 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 rate without a hard inquiry. We also looked for companies that have reasonable qualification requirements many consumers can meet.

    Best Student Loans FAQs

    How do I apply for a student loan?

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    Before you apply for private student loans, you should check your credit score and read over your credit reports with all three credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. From there, you should spend time fixing errors on your credit reports if you find any, and do some more research to find out what it takes to get a good credit score.

    Once you feel confident you can qualify for private student loans, you can check your rate online before you apply. If you find your credit and income are good enough to qualify on your own, you can fill out a student loan application online. If your credit isn’t great, on the other hand, you may need to find someone in your family or network of friends to cosign.

    Either way, applying for a student loan requires you to share personal information, your contact details, and relevant information regarding the school you plan to attend. Generally speaking, you’ll find out if you qualify for a private student loan within a few days after applying. However, some student loan approvals can take several weeks.

    How do student loans work?

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    Private student loans make it possible for students to borrow the money they need to finish college. Rates can be fixed or variable, and students can usually pick their own payment plan.

    In the meantime, federal student loans are backed by the federal government, and they come with fixed interest rates that do not change over the life of the loan. Payment plans with federal loans are also flexible, although the standard repayment schedule lasts for ten years.

    When do student loan payments resume?

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    Currently, payments on federal student loans are scheduled to resume after September 1, 2022.

    How to pay off student loans?

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    Pay off your student loans by making the required monthly payments for the entire timeline of your repayment schedule. Most student loans also let you pay your loans off early without any penalty, which you can do by making more than minimum payment on your loans when you can afford to.

    Should I refinance my student loans?

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    Refinancing your student loans can make sense if you are able to secure a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, or both. That said, it’s worth noting that you’ll give up some benefits if you refinance federal student loans with a private lender.

    Specifically, you’ll give up your chances at federal deferment or forbearance, as well as your opportunity to participate in income-driven repayment plans and other forgiveness programs.

    What happens to your credit score because of student loans?

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    Applying for student loans can help your credit score in more than one way. First, they add another type of credit to your profile, which can improve your credit mix. Second, making on-time payments on your loans can help boost your credit score in that category.

    That said, having a large amount of student loan debt can dramatically impact your debt-to-income ratio, and this could have a negative impact on your credit score.

    Summary of the Best Student Loans for 2022

    The post The 7 Best Student Loans for 2022 appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

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