Whether your college plans involve heading to campus or logging on for online learning, one thing is certain: You will need a way to pay. Although federal student loans are often the most affordable way to borrow, they may not be enough to cover all of your college costs. Private student loans, as well as grants and work-study programs, can cover the gap between what you need and how much you can afford to pay toward your college expenses.
But be cautious about borrowing too much. “With so much uncertainty regarding college campuses and … class schedules, planning for expenses is not an easy task,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of marketing for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and a U.S. News contributor.
This guide can help you navigate the school year. What you’ll learn here:
- How do private student loans work?
- What are the drawbacks of private student loans?
- How can you choose the best private student loans?
Because each student has unique financial aid needs, no single lender is a good choice for everyone. These lenders are a good starting point for your private student loan research.
U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.
To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. The scoring factors for private student loan providers are customer service ratings, fixed APR, variable APR, loan product availability, minimum and maximum loan terms, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, and online features.
The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.
To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.