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Search, Compare, and Apply for Private Student Loans

By Will Geiger

Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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Updated: February 6th, 2024
Search, Compare, and Apply for Private Student Loans

After you exhaust federal student loans, including unsubsidized and subsidized Direct Loans, your next best financing option is private student loans. The best way to begin your private student loan search is through a private student loan marketplace. 

Private Student Loan Marketplaces allow students and parents to compare different student loan interest rates and terms. This is the most time effective way to find the best student loans for you.

Top student loan marketplaces

We’ve found some of the best options for student loan marketplaces, and in this article we will list each one of them and compare their features. Here are the marketplaces we will address in this article:

  1. Credible
  2. PrivateStudentLoans.com
  3. SimpleTuition

Below you will find out more information about these student loan marketplaces including the specific lenders that you can access through each marketplace.

Related: Scholarships360’s free scholarship search tool

Rundown of the top student loan marketplaces

Credible

Credible is a private student loan marketplace that allows students and parents to compare multiple lenders with a single form (this is important, because other marketplaces will require you to complete applications for each potential lender). Students can use Credible to compare both undergraduate and graduate student loans. Credible also works with a wide variety of specific lenders including: 

  • Ascent 
  • Citizens Bank
  • College Ave
  • Discover Student Loans
  • EdvestinU
  • InvestEd
  • MEFA
  • Sallie Mae
  • Sun Trust

PrivateStudentLoans.com

The PrivateStudentLoans.com marketplace begins the student loan search with the college or university in question. After students search for their institution, they are able to review the specific lenders available to them. PrivateStudentLoans.com works with the following lenders:

  • College Ave
  • Commonbond
  • Discover Student Loans
  • LendKey
  • Salley Mae
  • SixUp

SimpleTuition

SimpeTuition offers students the largest number of lenders to compare. Similar to PrivateStudentLoans.com, SimpleTuition asks students to begin their student loan search with the college or university that they will be attending. The 12 SimpleTuition lenders are: 

  • Ascent
  • Citizens Bank
  • College Ave
  • CommonBond
  • Discover
  • Earnest
  • LendKey
  • PNC
  • Sallie Mae
  • SoFi
  • SunTrust
  • Wells Fargo

After comparing various student loan rates and shopping around, students can pick the private student loans with the most favorable rate, repayment terms, and loan term. 

How to use private student loan marketplaces:

Student loan marketplaces will allow you to search, compare, and apply for student loans in a very efficient manner. However, before you finalize your student loans, you should make sure that you have borrowed all of the possible federal student loans available to you.

When you take out private loans, you should take out the minimum amount of loans that you will need to pay for school. In order to get the most competitive student loan rate, it is ideal to have a co-signer (such as a parent) who possesses a high credit rating. 

Related: How much student loan debt is too much?

Consider income-share agreements

In recent years, the income-share agreement (ISA) has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional student loans. While it is not available in every field, many students have begun taking advantage of these agreements, which take the pressure off of finding a job immediately after you graduate.

Under an ISA, your lender will provide funds under the agreement that you pay them back a certain percentage of your tuition for a specified number of years after graduation.

If students do not land a lucrative job after graduation, income-share agreements are much more accommodating than traditional loans. The lower your salary is, the less you’ll have to pay back, and if you are not earning above a certain threshold, you won’t have to pay anything back at all.

While ISAs are currently limited in their availability, many STEM students and medical students can take advantage of them. Check with your individual school to see if they offer any options, and also be sure to check with Stride ISA to see if you might qualify for their programs.

Checklist for using student loan marketplaces

  • Use student loan marketplaces to compare different loan opportunities side-by-side.
  • Credible allows you to fill out a one-size-fits-all form and see the offers you can receive from any of their providers.
  • You can use student loan marketplaces to compare interest rates, amounts, and which providers will accept you.
  • Before you make any decisions, you should make sure to educate yourself thoroughly on what each term and condition means.
  • You’ll want to decide between variable and fixed interest rates, and learn about all other terms that might apply.

Don’t miss: The ultimate guide to federal and private student loans

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