Ranks the Best Private Student Loans
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July 22, 2020

Inspired by the highly regarded 5-cap rating of college savings plans, has expanded their objective rating system to private student loans, including a list of the Best Private Student Loans for College and the Best Private Student Loans for Graduate School

Scoring is based on the cost (including interest rates, loan fees, discounts, interest capitalization frequency, in-school payment options, rewards, and more); availability/eligibility (based on minimum credit score thresholds, income thresholds, cosigner requirements, cosigner release options, and more); flexibility/repayment options (based repayment plans, repayment terms, grace periods, deferments, and more); and customer service (based on self-service options, call center characteristics, popularity and complaint rates). 

“College savings is the antidote to student loan debt. But, some people must nevertheless borrow to pay for college because their savings fall short of the cost. So, we are trying to help people make an informed decision with clear and concise information about the various loan programs,” says Mark Kantrowitz, Publisher and VP of Research at 

Kantrowitz recommends reducing or eliminating the need for student loans, and if loans are necessary, opting for federal loans first since they come with many benefits. These benefits include income-driven repayment plans, generous deferment options, and the potential for loan forgiveness. However, if you decide that private loans are right for you, the 5-cap ratings and reviews can help you navigate all of the available lenders. 

Here are the current top 10 private student loan lenders for undergraduate loans:

Here are the current top 10 private student loan lenders for graduate school: 

“Private student loans are complicated, with different interest rates, fees, discounts and repayment terms. We created a comparison tool that synthesizes the dozens of different variables into a simpler set of clear criteria,” Kantrowitz says. 

Each lender also has an objective review listing pros and cons and highlighting important information, such as available repayment terms and any cosigner requirements. 

“Students should borrow no more for their entire education than their expected starting salary. If total debt is less than annual income, they should be able to repay their student loans in ten years or less,” Kantrowitz says. “Otherwise, you’ll struggle to repay your student loans and may still be in debt when your own children go to college,” he says, adding that every dollar you borrow will cost about two dollars by the time you repay the debt. 

View the full list of best private student loans and the full list of the best graduate student loans.

Best Private Student Loans for Parents and Best Private Student Loans for Refinancing will be released soon.

View a full explanation of the methodology here

New Calculators

The new private student loan ratings and reviews come on the heel of’s recently launched calculators. These calculators, as with the ratings and reviews, are designed to help students and parents make smarter, more informed decisions about paying for college and repaying student loan debt. 

New calculators include:

  • Loan Calculator helps borrowers determine the monthly loan payment and total payments on your student loans (or any loans). 
  • Loan Prepayment Calculator shows how making extra payments can save and how much quicker debt can be paid off. It includes a detailed payment schedule. 
  • Student Loan Prepayment Calculator evaluates the impact of making extra payments, showing you how much you save on interest. 
  • Loan Refinancing Calculator shows how much a borrower can lower your monthly loan payments or total payments by refinancing. 
  • Loan Comparison Calculator helps compare two or more different loans, seeing which loan will have a lower monthly payment and which a lower total cost.
  • Cost of Deferment Calculator shows how much a deferment can cost, with interest capitalization at the end of a deferment.

Income-Driven Repayment Calculators

Our Income-Driven Repayment calculators help borrowers estimate what their totally monthly payments will be under each plan. The calculators also evaluate the cost of the income-driven repayment plans under public service loan forgiveness.

Other College Calculators

  • Scholarship Tax Calculator helps to figure out the taxable amount of your scholarships and calculate how much you’ll have to pay in taxes.
  • Financial Aid Calculator estimates the expected family contribution (EFC) and financial need.
  • Trust Fund Calculator determines the net present value (NPV) of a trust fund to help you value the trust fund for reporting it as an asset on the FAFSA.

Disclaimer: may receive a sales commission from some private student lenders and other advertisers, but this does not influence our ratings or reviews. Our opinions are our own. While strives to keep the information up to date, the lender rates, terms and other information are subject to change at any time.

Exhaust all other resources, such as scholarships and grants, before borrowing student loans. If you need to borrow loans, federal student loans offer many benefits that private student loans do not. Read the fine print and disclaimer from any potential lender and understand how student loans work before borrowing. does not provide legal, financial, accounting or tax advice. The information and tools published on this website are general in nature and may not apply to your specific circumstances. You should seek specific guidance from a qualified legal, financial, accounting or tax professional.

A good place to start:

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