Need College Loans? These Are Companies the Experts Recommend

paying for college tips

All of the excitement of college acceptance letters have faded away, and the realization of actually paying for college is probably sinking in. After reviewing and re-reviewing your chosen school’s financial aid offer, and taking a hard look at your finances, you might be in need of college loans to make the ends meet.

RELATED: Understanding Your Financial Aid Letters

We’re really good at helping students work through finding the best college fit, and we can explain, in depth, what types of loans are out there (unsubsidized vs subsidized, for example), but when it comes to choosing a private student loan company, there are too many individual factors to consider. Additionally, we aren’t financial advisers, and we don’t know your specific needs.

What we can do, however, is recommend three great sources for more information. When shopping for a loan, though, remember this: Borrow only what you need. Not a little extra… that’s a want.


NerdWallet (we just like saying that name) has great list that’s worth reviewing:

Ascent: One Ascent option is best for independent students; the other is best for borrowers who want to pay off loans fast.
Citizens Bank: Best for international students and existing Citizens Bank customers.
College Ave: Best for students who want to make payments while they’re still in school.
SunTrust: Best for borrowers looking for an interest-only payment option after graduation.
Sallie Mae: Best for part-time students and those who want flexibility with repayment.
Discover: Best for students who may need wiggle room on payments.

NerdWallet: Private Student Loans: 6 Best Lenders for May 2019

Check out this link for each of these private lending companies’ rates and terms.

The Balance

The Balance breaks it down a little differently:

Credible: Best Overall

Sallie Mae: Best for Flexible Options

College Ave: Best for Flexible Repayment Plans

Citizens Bank: Best from a Major Bank

Commonbond: Best Repayment Choices

Discover: Best for Good Grades

Ascent: Best for Undergrads Without Co-Signers

LendKey: Best for Backed By Community Lenders

The Balance: The 8 Best Private Student Loans of 2019

Follow this link for more detailed information and breakdowns.

U.S. News

Lastly, U.S. News ranks their choices for best private student loan companies (and by this point, some of these names are starting to look familiar):

Citizens Bank: Best Lender With Multiyear Approval

Discover: Best Lender With No Loan Fees

LendKey: Best Lender With a Completely Online Loan Experience

Laurel Road: Best Lender With a Co-Signer Option

MPower Financing: Best Lender for International Students

PNC: Best Lender for Student Loans With a Major Bank

SoFi: Best Lender With an Instant Decision Available

Earnest: Best Lender for Fair Credit

U.S. News and World Report; Private Student Loans

U.S. News also discusses in-depth eligibility requirements and more.

Finally, we know the process of taking out loans can be difficult. It’s stressful and a little bit scary. The more you research and know your options beforehand, the less emotional it will be. Be smart, be aware, and be organized!

Disclosure: Smart College Visit is partners with Sallie Mae.

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