How To Get A Private Student Loan

Though private student loans are considered a last resort, since they are more expensive than federal student loans, it is good to know you have this option if your financial aid package not enough to cover all your college expenses. Here’s how to get a private student loan:

A pink piggy bank on a pink background.

Start By Doing Exhaustive Research On Private Lenders And Their Terms

Unlike federal student loans where the rates and other terms are the same for all borrowers, with private student loans, the interest rates and repayment terms may vary from one lender to another. You will need to spend some time shopping around to find the most cost-effective private student loan. Fortunately, College Raptor can help you out with our free Student Loan Finder tool.

Do The Hard Calculations To Determine Your Overall Debt

If you come across a private student loan a lower origination fee but a slightly higher rate of interest, calculate to see how much you will end up paying over the life of your loan. Then compare this with a loan that has no origination fee but a higher interest rate. Even a 1% difference in interest rates can increase or lower your overall debt considerably so do the hard calculation and don’t just presume anything.

Sallie Mae logo.

3 Repayment Options

Variable rates from 6.37% - 16.70% APR with auto-debit

Learn More

Check Whether You Need A Cosigner

As you most likely will not have had a chance to build your credit history when applying for a loan, most private lenders will require you to have a co-signer with good credit. Start by asking a family member or close friend who has a good history if they will co-sign your loan.

Before you ask anyone, make sure you understand how co-signing works and the risks that the cosigner will be taking. Having a co-signer does not release you of your obligation to pay back the debt. If you miss a payment you hurt not only your credit but your cosigner’s as well.

Fill Out The Online Application Form

Most private lenders have online loan application forms. Keep all your details ready before filling out the online application as you will need to provide your personal information (contact details, social security number), financial information (gross annual income, tax return), school information (name of the school, graduation date, loan amount) and cosigner’s personal and financial details.  Some lenders may also ask you to provide a reference along with their contact details.

After you submit the completed form and submit it, the lender will review it. If your application is approved, the lender will send you a document detailing all the terms and conditions. It is crucial that you go through this document in detail before you sign any contract with the lender. If there is something you do not understand, get it clarified by the lender. Make sure you understand the terms of payment, penalties for late or missed payments, and costs associated with the loan. Only sign the loan documents if you are fully satisfied with all aspects.

Don’t Wait For Last Minute To Apply For A Private Student Loan

If you think you may need to apply for a private student loan, start the process well in advance. Researching lenders can take time and the process itself can take up to two months or even more. You can apply for private loans at any time of the year so doing the homework in advance can help speed up the process if the need arises.


Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.97%-15.03%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.70% Variable
4.07% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.22% - 16.08% Variable
4.09% - 15.66% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 18.26% Variable
4.11% - 15.90% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.