Best Personal Loans for Students | Find the Best Loan for You

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College students who have taken out student loans to cover tuition might need another type of financing to help cover miscellaneous expenses – or any emergencies that might come up. Instead of maxing out their credit cards, students might consider personal loans for non-college-related costs.

Personal loans usually have lower interest rates than credit cards, and that’s not the only positive they offer. Read on to learn more.

Best Personal Loans for Students

SoFi

5.24% to 19.88% APR
$100,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Payoff

5.99% to 24.99% APR
$40,000 Max. Loan Amount
600 Min. Credit Score

Upstart

6.76% to 35.99% APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
650 Min. Credit Score

Best Egg

5.99% to 35.99% APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
640 Min. Credit Score

Earnest

As low as 2.49% APR
$250,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

TD Bank

6.99% to 21.99% APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

U.S. Bank

5.99% to 18.49% APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
660 Min. Credit Score

Rocket Loans

5.97% to 29.99% APR
$45,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Discover

6.99 to 24.99% APR
$35,000 Max. Loan Amount
660 Min. Credit Score

Lender

Learn More

APR

Max. Loan Amount

Min. Credit Score

5.24% to 19.88% $100,000 Not disclosed

5.99% to 17.99% $50,000 650

5.99% to 24.99% $40,000 600

6.76% to 35.99% $50,000 650

5.99% to 35.99% $50,000 640

As low as 2.49% $250,000 Not disclosed

6.99% to 21.99% $50,000 Not disclosed

5.99% to 18.49% $50,000 660

5.97% to 29.99% $45,000 Not disclosed

6.99 to 24.99% $35,000 660

Best for loans of up to $100,000 with no fees

SoFi, short for Social Finance, offers personal loans of up to $100,000. The lender operates nationwide and is known for offering loans with no fees. In addition to personal loans, SoFi offers student loans, student loan refinancing, home loans and small business financing.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 84 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • The lender does not charge origination, prepayment or late fees.

  • Loans of up to $100,000 are available.

  • Co-borrowers are accepted.

  • Borrowers become members and get special benefits.

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Best for low minimum loan amounts

PenFed Credit Union serves members of all branches of the U.S. military, employees of the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, eligible veterans and retirees, and their families. However, military association is not required for membership. The credit union offers personal loans for eligible members and eligible co-borrowers in all 50 states.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 650
  • Loan amounts: $600 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Terms extend up to 60 months.

  • There are no origination fees.

  • Borrowers can get as early as next day access to funds upon approval.

See full profile

Best for debt consolidation

Payoff offers personal loans designed to consolidate credit card and other high-interest debt. It operates in all but three states and provides loans of up to $40,000.

Payoff is not a bank; instead, it works with lending partners that originate the loans. The company, which considers itself a financial wellness firm, is based in California.

In 2017, Payoff launched a sister company called Happy Money, which takes a psychological approach to money matters. Today, Payoff is a service under the Happy Money umbrella.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 600
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 to $40,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Borrowers don’t face prepayment or late fees.

  • Borrowers can get preapproved with no hard credit check.

  • Some borrowers with fair credit may be eligible.

See full profile

Best for borrowers with no credit or poor credit

Upstart is a lending platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve access to affordable credit. Based in California and founded by former Google employees in 2012, Upstart also applies AI to reduce lending risks and costs for its bank partners. The lending intermediary provides unsecured personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to borrowers anywhere in the U.S. except West Virginia or Iowa.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 650
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A

Best Features

  • Next-day funding: Upstart says 99% of applicants who accept their loans by 5 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday will get their money in one business day. The exception is loans for education expenses, which are subject to a waiting period of three business days, according to federal law.

  • No credit history required: Upstart offers loans to borrowers with no credit scores, which traditional lenders may not do. If you have little or poor credit history, your loan will likely be more expensive, however.

  • No prepayment penalty: You can repay all or part of your loan anytime without being charged a fee.

See full profile

Best for fair credit

Best Egg is a national online lender founded in 2014 with backing from Marlette Funding, a financial services company with banking and technology experience. Best Egg offers personal loans starting at $2,000 that can be used to cover medical bills, home remodeling and a variety of other expenses. Cross River Bank in New Jersey issues Best Egg loans, which can be funded in as little as one business day.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 640
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Loan funding typically takes one to three business days.

  • The minimum loan amount is $2,000 in most states.

  • Borrowers incur no prepayment penalty.

See full profile

Best for large loan amounts

Earnest partners with personal loans marketplace Fiona to match borrowers with loans that have terms up to 144 months. There’s no fee to use Fiona to search for loans, but some of the lenders that users will see on Fiona might.

Before You Apply:

Minimum FICO credit score: Not disclosed
Loan amounts: $1,000 to $250,0000
Repayment terms: up to 144 months
BBB rating: A

Best Features

  • Prospective borrowers can match with loan options within 60 seconds.

  • Loans available up to $250,000.

  • Searching loan options on Fiona doesn’t impact your credit score.

See full profile

Best for fast funding

TD Bank is an American subsidiary of Canada’s Toronto-Dominion Bank and is one of the 10 largest banks in the United States. The full-service bank has more than 1,100 retail store locations across the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Washington, D.C., metro area, the Carolinas and Florida. TD Bank offers unsecured personal loans to cover large and small expenses with amounts ranging from $2,000 to $50,000.

Lender Highlights:

  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: B+

Best Features

  • Personal loans are issued by one of the 10 largest banks in the United States.

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Best for short-term loans

U.S. Bank offers both short- and longer-term personal loans with fixed interest rates.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 660
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Pays out loan funds relatively quickly.

  • Offers a 0.50% rate discount if you use a U.S. Bank personal checking or savings account to make automatic payments.

  • Does not charge an origination fee.

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Best for digital customer care

Rocket Loans offers personal loans to qualified borrowers in 47 states. These loans may be useful for people who need to borrow up to $45,000 for debt consolidation, home improvements, medical expenses or other expenses.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: Not disclosed
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $45,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Same-day loan funding may be available.

  • No prepayment penalties apply.

  • An online application process is available.

See full profile

Best for low costs

Discover is a digital bank and payment services company known for its credit cards. But Discover also offers other products, including fixed-rate personal loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers nationwide. The lender charges no fees as long as you pay on time.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 660
  • Loan amounts: $2,500 to $35,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 84 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Discover has no closing costs or origination fees.

  • The lender offers loan terms from 36 to 84 months.

  • Borrowers get free access to a credit scorecard that includes their FICO credit score.

See full profile

What Is the Best Interest Rate on a Personal Loan?

When you shop around for the best personal loan interest rate, you can save. Compare your personal loan offers with national average trends for personal loans to know whether you’ve found a good deal.

The average personal loan rate is 9.33%. Last week’s average rate was 9.33%.*

*Rate as of October. 7, 2021

Personal Loan Finder

Select your desired loan amount and loan purpose, your credit score range, and your state to see estimated annual percentage rates and loan terms.

How Do Personal Loans for Students Work?

When you obtain a personal loan – whether from a bank, credit union or online lender – you usually get the money upfront and pay in monthly installments for as long as seven years. Personal loans can total as much as $100,000, but the amount allowed depends on your debt-to-income ratio and overall creditworthiness.

Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons, ranging from home repairs to a vacation trip. A college student might use it to cover an emergency expense, like a car repair. A personal loan might be ideal because approval happens quickly and you’ll receive the money within a day or two.

Since the loan payments will need to start right away and the payment period is likely to last a few years, “be diligent about paying that off as scheduled,” says Justin Nichols, co-founder and managing principal for advisor services of Garrett Investment Advisors in Manhattan, Kansas. “Ideally, if you have to get a personal loan, next semester try to position your schedule so you can get a part-time job and aggressively pay off the personal loan ahead of schedule.”

Personal loans are not usually used to pay for direct college expenses like tuition because many lenders will not allow them to go toward postsecondary education. Most students also realize that student loans – whether federal or private – are likely to have more advantageous terms than a personal loan.

What Are the Different Types of Personal Loans for Students?

There are two primary types of personal loans – secured and unsecured. To get approved for a personal loan, you’ll need to rely on your creditworthiness to get an unsecured loan, or collateral – such as a vehicle or securities – to obtain a secured loan. Secured loans usually have a lower interest rate because the collateral decreases the risk for the lender in case you can’t pay off the loan. Personal loans typically have fixed interest rates for the life of the loan.

Unsecured Personal Loans

As a full-time student, it might be difficult to get approved for an unsecured personal loan on your own because you likely don’t have enough income or a strong credit score. Fortunately, there are loans designed for people with bad credit.

If you apply for a loan, a lender will want to know how you will pay it back. “Where is this magical money going to come from if you don’t have a job and you’re in school?” says Tiffany Aliche, founder of The Budgetnista and author of “Get Good With Money.”

When you apply for a personal loan, pay attention to the interest rate you’re offered. It could be in the single digits if you have a strong credit score, or be as high as 35%, which would likely be significantly higher than your credit card’s rate.

Secured Personal Loans

You might not have a lot of assets that would be valuable enough to serve as collateral on a personal loan, but a vehicle – especially if it’s fairly new – could be one.

“The bank naturally should be more comfortable because there is a tangible asset that is acting as security for that loan,” Nichols says.

But if you can’t pay back the loan, you could lose your car.

That’s why an unsecured loan is “a more desirable loan for a borrower because if you can’t pay, the assets you have aren’t at risk of being taken right away,” Aliche says.

Who Qualifies for Personal Loans for Students?

The minimum credit score necessary to get a loan varies by lender – it can be anywhere between 550 and 720. You’ll also need proof of consistent income. Remember that the higher your credit score, the better the interest rate you’ll get. To improve your chances of getting approved on your own, you could look for ways to quickly improve your credit score.

You could also apply with a co-signer, such as a family member or friend, who could make your application more appealing to the lender. If the co-signer has a consistent income, low debt-to-income ratio and a strong credit record, it should dramatically increase your chances for approval.

You’ll need to let the prospective co-signer know that you’re “putting them in a position that if you don’t pay, they are equally as responsible,” Aliche says. Your co-signer’s credit report will also reflect this new debt and possibly affect the person’s ability to buy a home or car.

Just bringing up the idea of a loan co-signer with a friend or family member could start a conversation that leads to that person lending you the money directly, Nichols says.

Should You Get a Personal Loan for College?

Personal Loan Benefits

  • Better interest rate than credit cards: There’s no guarantee your interest rate will be in the single digits or low double digits – which would likely be lower than your credit card rates – but if it is, you could save hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan. “The interest rate on a personal loan should be more reasonable than racking up any credit card debt,” Nichols says.
  • Immediate solution to a crisis: If you need money right away to deal with an expense that could dramatically affect your daily life and safety – such as urgent home or auto repairs or a medical emergency – a personal loan can quickly provide the funds you need.
  • Expected payoff with future earnings: If you expect to start a full-time position within several months that will provide you with adequate income, the personal loan might come at the right time for your financial situation.
  • Head start to financial responsibility: If you get approved with a co-signer, it could improve your credit history and score and be a first step toward learning to pay for your expenses as you get the income to pay for them.

Personal Loan Drawbacks

  • Immediate payments: Unlike student loans, which let you defer your payments until after you graduate, payments for personal loans start within a month of loan approval.
  • Higher interest rates: If you’re used to the low interest rates on student loans – especially federal loans – the rates for personal loans will likely be a shock. If your creditworthiness is not strong, you could end up paying rates that are similar to ones for credit cards.
  • Losing assets: If you obtain a secured personal loan and can’t pay back the loan, you could lose the item – such as a vehicle – you used to secure the loan.
  • Building debt: Student loans are already a huge debt burden for many people. If you add a personal loan, it will make starting out on your own even harder. “You literally start your adult life in a hole,” Aliche says. “The closer you can start your adult life at the start line, the better.” Instead, try to find other ways to address your debt, such as grants or scholarships through your school. “Go to the financial aid office regularly and make yourself known,” Aliche says. You could also decide to take fewer classes and find a job that offers more hours to pay down your debts.

What Other Types of Loans Are Best for College Students?

  • Federal student loans: The best loan options for most students are federal student loans, which have fixed interest rates that are usually lower than private student loans. They also might be subsidized, which means the student does not pay interest while in school, and offer forbearance and deferment options.
  • Private student loans: Although terms for these loans aren’t usually as advantageous as federal loans and you’ll likely need a co-signer, private student loans are a good second-choice option. The opportunity for payment deferment during school is an advantage over personal loans.
  • Family loans: If you can reach an arrangement that works for both you and your relative, a family loan might save money in interest rates and provide a safety net if you run into trouble making payments.

View More Best Personal Loans for Students

Best for loan amounts of up to $50,000

Upgrade is headquartered in San Francisco and the fintech firm has tech engineering and operations offices in Phoenix and Montreal, Canada.

Lender Highlights

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 600
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 84 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A

Best Features

  • Loans and lines of credit are available up to $50,000 and $25,000, respectively.

  • Borrowers can complete the entire loan process online.

See full profile

Best for FICO scores between 580 and 669

LendingPoint is an online lender specializing in unsecured personal loans from $2,000 to $36,500 for borrowers with fair credit. The Georgia-based lender issues loans with annual percentage rates of 9.99% to 35.99% and repayment terms of two to five years to people in Washington, D.C., and every state but Nevada and West Virginia. Borrowers with weaker credit profiles can pay high rates.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 580
  • Loan amounts: From $2,000 to $36,500
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Receive loan funds as soon as the next business day after approval.

  • Qualify for a personal loan with fair credit.

  • Prequalify with a soft pull that won’t harm credit.

  • Prepay your loan with no penalties and change your payment due date.

See full profile

Best for low fees and discounts

PNC Bank can trace its history back to 1852 and the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Co. Today, PNC Bank is the seventh-largest bank in the U.S., and it features a wide range of consumer and business banking services. Among its suite of products, PNC offers personal, unsecured installment loans up to $35,000. Applicants are considered based on satisfactory credit history, ability to repay and income.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $35,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 36 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • A range of loan amounts and repayment terms.

  • No prepayment penalty and no origination or application fee.

  • Get a 0.25-percentage-point discount if you set up autopay using a PNC checking account.

  • Applicants can secure a loan with a co-signer.

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Best for fair credit

LendingClub is an online marketplace bank that connects borrowers and investors through its network of lending partners. LendingClub initially launched on Facebook and has since evolved from an extensive peer-to-peer lender to a bank holding company.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: Not disclosed
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $40,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: not rated

Best Features

  • Loans of $1,000 or more are available.

  • Joint applications are accepted.

  • Borrowers can qualify with fair to excellent credit.

See full profile

Best for small loan amounts

Founded in 1912, OneMain Financial is the largest lending-exclusive financial company in the U.S., offering secured and unsecured personal loans. The company has about 1,400 branches in 44 states.

Before You Apply

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 580
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $20,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Secured and unsecured options are available.

  • Borrowers can get prequalified with a soft credit check.

  • OneMain approves loans for borrowers with lower credit scores.

See full profile

Best for peer-to-peer loans of up to $40,000

Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace that allows borrowers to apply online for fixed-rate, fixed-term loans. Prosper matches borrowers with partner investors including Sequoia Capital, Francisco Partners, Institutional Venture Partners and Credit Suisse NEXT Fund. Since its founding in 2005, Prosper has facilitated more than $19 billion in loans. Prosper lends to borrowers with fair to excellent credit with a minimum 640 FICO score.

Lender Highlights

  • Minimum FICO credit score: 640
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $40,000
  • Repayment terms: up to 60 months
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Prosper offers preapproval with a soft credit check.

  • Small-dollar loans of $2,000 or more are available.

  • Joint personal loans are available.

See full profile

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