How to decide which private student loan is the best for you

While our evaluation of our private student loan partners was created as a starting point for students and their families to find the best private student loan, we recommend you do your own research as well. The most crucial thing you can do while looking for a private student loan is to weigh your possibilities. By doing this, you’ll be able to find an affordable loan that comes with borrower-friendly repayment terms. Here are the steps we recommend taking to find the best private student loan:

  1. Compile a list of student loan lenders that you're interested in. Ideally, you’ll want to choose between reputable companies that have demonstrated an ability to support borrowers during repayment.
  2. Review the eligibility requirements for each lender. Each private lender has different prerequisites for eligibility. Before applying, confirm your eligibility with a lender to avoid needless hard credit checks. Recall that having a cosigner will increase your loan's likelihood of acceptance, but that cosigner will be responsible for repaying the loan if you are unable to. You need to rule out that lender if you and your cosigner don't fulfill the qualifying conditions.
  3. Review the loan terms. Make sure you understand what happens if you were to die or become disabled during the loan term. Although not all lenders offer this provision, the lenders in our ratings all permit loan discharge in the event of death or disability. Students can think about buying modest life insurance to cover their cosigners if the lender they borrowed money from does not allow for forgiveness due to death or disability. Private student lenders may offer forbearance programs if you lose your job in the middle of the repayment cycle, despite the fact that they do not have the same income-driven repayment plans as federal student loans. Having a basic understanding of those programs can be useful.
  4. Get quotes from the lenders you're eligible with. Although the majority of lenders show a possible range of interest rates on their websites, the only way to know the actual rate you'll get is to prequalify or submit a complete application. Make sure to utilize soft credit checks when possible to reduce the total number of hard credit inquiries on your credit report.
  5. Compare your quotes. Once you’ve received a rate estimate from each lender, compare your offers to see which lender offers you the lowest rate. Make sure to consider other factors like the repayment term, borrower protections, and unique benefits as well.
  6. Choose a lender. With borrower safeguards that assist you in times of need during repayment, the lender from whom you borrow should provide you with the most cheap loan possible. Once you select a lender, you can submit your application and wait for the lender to inform you of your next steps.

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