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Last update: February 15, 2024

7 minute read

Best Student Loan Lenders of 2024

After hours of in-depth research, here are our editor’s top picks to help make your student loan decision a little easier.

View private student loans for your school

By Yerain Abreu, M.S.

Edited by Derick Rodriguez, Associate Editor


Explore our list for the best student loans of the year! Whether you’re heading to college or continuing your education, these loans are designed to provide the financial support you need for your academic journey and a brighter future.

Why trust TuitionHero

Our editors and writers follow strict editorial guidelines to make sure that our content is fair and accurate, so you can choose the products that work best for you and make financial decisions with confidence.

    Best student loan companies for 2024

    Compare our top picks side-by-side so that you can quickly and easily how they stack up against each other and which one works best with you!

    Our top pick

    College Ave

    College Ave

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.59% - 16.65%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.11% - 15.44%¹

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Immediate repayment
    • Fixed repayment
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs
    Term lengths: 5 to 15-year

    College Ave

    College Ave

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.59% - 16.65%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.11% - 15.44%¹

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Immediate repayment
    • Fixed repayment
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs
    Term lengths: 5 to 15-year

    College Ave

    College Ave

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.59% - 16.65%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.11% - 15.44%¹

    Repayment Options
    • Grace period
    • Immediate repayment
    • Fixed repayment
    • In-school deferment
    Fees
    • No application fees
    • No prepayment penalties
    • No origination fees
    Discounts & Benefits
    Autopay discount: 0.25%
    Loan Details
    Loan amount: $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs
    Term lengths: 5 to 15-year

    Sallie Mae

    Sallie Mae

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    6.37% - 16.70%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.50% - 15.49%¹

    Sallie Mae

    Sallie Mae

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    6.37% - 16.70%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.50% - 15.49%¹

    Sallie Mae

    Sallie Mae

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    6.37% - 16.70%¹

    Fixed APR

    4.50% - 15.49%¹

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.62% - 16.20%

    Fixed APR

    4.42% - 15.90%

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.62% - 16.20%

    Fixed APR

    4.42% - 15.90%

    Earnest

    Earnest

    Disclosures

    Variable APR

    5.62% - 16.20%

    Fixed APR

    4.42% - 15.90%

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    How we picked the best student loan companies

    Our editors performed in-depth research to be able to compare all of the best available loan options. The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, repayment options, and credit requirements.

    Our goal is to help you make smart choices about your money and your future with honest and fair recommendations. To learn more, read our review methodology.

    Lender Breakdown

    College Ave

    Best for: First-time borrowers

    College Ave

    Check My Rate
    VARIABLE APR

    5.59% - 16.65%¹

    FIXED APR

    4.11% - 15.44%¹

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs

    TERMS LENGTH

    5 to 15-year

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    High-600s

    VARIABLE APR

    5.59% - 16.65%¹

    FIXED APR

    4.11% - 15.44%¹

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs


    TERMS LENGTH

    5 to 15-year

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    High-600s

    WHAT WE LIKE

    • Quick application and approval process

    • No application or origination fees

    • Soft credit check for prequalification without impacting

    • Multiple repayment options

    • Co-signer release available

    • Competitive rates

    • No payment required while in school (with the exception of parent loans)

    WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

    • Charges late payment fees

    • Cosigner release only offered after half the repayment term has passed

    • Autopay discount: The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments.

    Sallie Mae

    Best for: Part-time or half-time students

    Sallie Mae

    Check My Rate
    VARIABLE APR

    6.37% - 16.70%¹

    FIXED APR

    4.50% - 15.49%¹

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs

    TERMS LENGTH

    10 to 15-year (6)

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    Mid-600s

    VARIABLE APR

    6.37% - 16.70%¹

    FIXED APR

    4.50% - 15.49%¹

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs


    TERMS LENGTH

    10 to 15-year (6)

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    Mid-600s

    WHAT WE LIKE

    • Sallie Mae accommodates part-time, non-U.S., and DACA students

    • They cover all school-certified costs

    • They provide free study resources and cost calculators

    • Their loans are available for less than half-time, online, summer, abroad, and certification students

    • A 12-month path to cosigner release is offered

    • No early payment penalty

    • Offers a 0.25% discount for setting up autopay

    WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

    • A hard credit check is required to determine qualification and rate

    • You can't get a personalized interest rate estimate until you apply

    • Limited repayment options

    • Autopay discount: Get a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction when you pay by auto debit from your bank account.

    Earnest

    Best for: Students with promising earning potential

    Earnest

    Check My Rate
    VARIABLE APR

    5.62% - 16.20%

    FIXED APR

    4.42% - 15.90%

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs

    TERMS LENGTH

    Up to 15-years

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    650

    VARIABLE APR

    5.62% - 16.20%

    FIXED APR

    4.42% - 15.90%

    LOAN AMOUNT

    $1,000 - 100% of attendance costs


    TERMS LENGTH

    Up to 15-years

    MIN CREDIT SCORE

    650

    WHAT WE LIKE

    • Option to skip one payment every 12 months

    • Up to nine months of deferred payments after graduation, longer than most lenders offer

    • You won't be charged for making a late payment

    • No prepayment penalties, late fees, or origination fees

    • Offers a 0.25% discount for setting up autopay

    WHAT WE DON'T LIKE

    • No co-signer release option

    • Loans not available to residents of Nevada

    • Autopay discount: You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment.

    • Added benefit: Skip a payment once per year (once repayment period restarted)**

    What to consider before applying for a student loan?

    There are several factors you should consider when applying for a student loan. Let's break down a few of the most important elements so that you can make an informed decision about your financial future. To learn about even more factors, be sure to check out our complete guide to student loans.

    1. Interest rates

    Interest rates are the cost of borrowing money, expressed as a percentage of the principal loan amount. They come in two flavors: fixed and variable.

    2. Term lengths

    Some loans require immediate repayment, while others offer a “grace period” that allows you to wait until after graduating to start making payments. A grace period can be extremely helpful because it gives you time to find a steady job and figure out your finances before beginning repayment. If you can afford to have a shorter loan term (less time to pay back), you will have to make larger monthly payments, but you will owe less interest by paying off your loan quicker.

    3. Total costs

    It's essential to calculate the total cost of the loan before deciding to take it on. This includes not just the principal amount, but also the interest, origination fees, or any additional charges. Take a look at the annual percentage rate (APR) to get an idea of the total cost of the loan for a year, including interest and fees. Keep in mind that you may be able to reduce your loan costs by making extra payments or paying off the loan early.

    4. Repayment options

    You should consider all the repayment options available for your loan, such as income-driven repayment plans, graduated repayment plans, and extended repayment plans. It’s important to note that federal and private loans have different repayment options. Choose whatever repayment plan that best fits your financial situation and future goals.

    5. Lenders reputation

    Don’t forget to research the lender's reputation and track record for customer service and support. Read reviews, ask for recommendations, and check with the Better Business Bureau to ensure that the lender is trustworthy and reliable.

    TuitionHero Tip

    Our detailed lender reviews make it fast and easy to find private student loan lenders that you can trust.

    Final thoughts

    College Ave, Sallie Mae, and Earnest are all excellent choices for student loans in 2024 and you really can’t go wrong with any of them. Whichever lender you choose to go with may just depend on which one best fits your individual situation.

    If you found this article helpful, be sure to check out some more educational resources by TuitionHero. Our goal is to help you understand all your options so that you can make smart and confident financial decisions.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Confused about how things work? Check out our FAQ below for quick answers to all your burning questions.

    An interest rate is a percentage of your loan value that’s added onto your total monthly repayments — this is the cost that comes with borrowing money.

    The total amount of interest you owe is determined by the amount of time you take to pay off the loan and your interest rate.

    Since more interest is owed with each payment, having less payments by repaying your loan sooner can lead to big savings.

    Additionally, getting a low interest rate means that you will owe less interest with each monthly repayment, helping you save money over the life of the loan and pay off your debt faster.

    Most private student loans will offer you the choice between a fixed- or variable-rate loan. The difference between them is:

    • A fixed-rate loan has an interest rate that remains the same over the entirety of the loan. This means that your monthly payments won’t change either, leading to predictable payments.

    • A variable-rate loan has an interest rate that can go up or down with the market. As a result, your monthly payments could increase, but they also have the potential to decrease.

    Historically, over 90% of private student loans taken out by undergraduate students are borrowed with a cosigner — a creditworthy individual who agrees to repay the debt if you, as the primary borrower, fall behind. The reason behind this is that students usually haven’t had the time to build up their credit yet to meet lenders’ loan approval requirements.

    Even if the lender doesn’t require a cosigner or you don’t need one, applying with a cosigner could improve your chances of qualifying for a private student loan at a lower rate.

    You can still get a private student loan with bad credit, but maybe not on your own. If you have bad credit or no credit at all, you will most likely need to add a cosigner to qualify.

    Even if you can get approved for a loan by yourself, your interest rate will likely be high if your credit score is low. One potential way to avoid this and get approved for a student loan with a lower interest rate can be to apply with a creditworthy cosigner.

    While most lenders allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance for your school, how much you can actually borrow may vary based on the lender, your major, your credit score, and whether or not you have a cosigner.

    A school's total “cost of attendance” is defined by your school and usually includes costs like: tuition and fees, room and board, transportation, school supplies, and any other education-related expenses.

    Just because you might be able to borrow 100% of school-related expenses with a private student loan doesn’t mean you should. It’s always a good idea to explore other funding options like federal student loans first before turning to private student loans to cover whatever’s leftover.

    Each lender has their own requirements for taking out a loan. With that being said, lenders will usually require that you:

    • Plan to use the loan for education-related expenses

    • Have a qualifying credit score

    • Have a qualifying income and debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

    • Be enrolled in an eligible school

    • Be a U.S. citizen or legal resident with a Social Security number

    If you don't meet the minimum approval requirements, you'll want to apply with a creditworthy cosigner who does in order to qualify. A cosigner is someone who applies with you and agrees to take responsibility for paying back your loan if you don't. A cosigner is usually the student's parent or guardian, but any creditworthy individual can fulfill the role. Even if a co-signer isn't required by the lender, applying with one can increase your chances of approval and help you get a better rate.


    Author

    Yerain Abreu avatar

    Yerain Abreu is a Content Strategist with over 7 years of experience. He earned a Master's degree in digital marketing from Zicklin School of Business. He focuses on college finance, a niche carved out of his journey through the complexities of academic finance. These firsthand experiences provide him with a unique perspective, enabling him to create content that's informative and relatable to students and their families grappling with the intricacies of college financing.

    Editor

    Derick Rodriguez avatar

    Derick Rodriguez is a seasoned editor and digital marketing strategist specializing in demystifying college finance. With over half a decade of experience in the digital realm, Derick has honed a unique skill set that bridges the gap between complex financial concepts and accessible, user-friendly communication. His approach is deeply rooted in leveraging personal experiences and insights to illuminate the nuances of college finance, making it more approachable for students and families.

    At TuitionHero, we're not just passionate about our work - we take immense pride in it. Our dedicated team of writers diligently follows strict editorial standards, ensuring that every piece of content we publish is accurate, current, and highly valuable. We don't just strive for quality; we aim for excellence.


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