school loan companies

School loan companies have been an indispensable resource for prospective college students in search of tertiary education without the financial means to pay for a course outright. The first option most consider in this situation is the federal student loan. Its rates and terms are hard to beat, with some loans even subsidized by the government. There are approximately 43 million federal student loan borrowers, with over $1.4 trillion in loans. However, not every student will qualify for one of these, and government student loans often do not cover the entire cost of tuition.

This is where private student loans from dedicated companies come in. These usually feature considerably higher limits than federal student loans, which can ensure that all of the student’s tuition costs are covered. Private loans have two main types – school channel, and direct-to-consumer. With school channel loans, the funds are disbursed to the school, which then passes them on to the student as needed. Direct-to-consumer loans are loans provided directly to the student. While the latter can be obtained more quickly, the interest rates are often somewhat higher. Unless the borrower already has a strong credit history, a cosigner is usually required to obtain a private school loan.

Where Do I Get A Private Student Loan?

There are a large number of organizations that offer student loans. These include banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions; colleges and universities; state-based or state-affiliated organizations, and single-purpose lenders. With so many options, attempting to find the right lender for you can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve provided this top 10 list of student loan companies in 2019. You can also ask your school which lenders they work with. It’s important to remember that the fact that a lender is ‘certified’ does not mean the school endorses the terms of the loan – just that they have agreed to disburse the funds. You should still closely examine each lender’s terms and lists like this before making a choice.

How Can A Private Student Loan Help Me?

Federal loans generally have firmly set limits that cover only a portion of many students’ total tuition. School loan companies, meanwhile, tend to offer loan amounts right up to the student’s tuition, providing full coverage. As a result, a student loan is a good way to cover the remainder of your tuition after a federal loan shortfall, or your entire tuition if you are unable to secure a federal loan at all. In certain cases, it may be desirable to consolidate your federal and privates student loans. Some lenders will allow this.

In some unfortunate circumstances, however, you may find that your private student loan has now become a problem. When this occurs, Iron Fist Legal can help. We can reduce the student loan principal balance of eligible borrowers by as much as 70%. If you are in need of student loan debt relief, contact us today to find out if you qualify for the only attorney-based student loan modification service available.

For those just beginning their education and in need of financial assistance, let’s look at some of the highest-rated student loan options, as well as tools that will help you find the perfect candidate for you. After all, the only thing better than having your debt reduced through our services, is never needing our services in the first place!

Your 10 Best Student Loan Options

1. The Federal Government

When you need to acquire a student loan, you should always start by looking at federal student loans. These are loans provided by the government, and as such they must adhere to certain legal standards. Some of them are subsidized by the government, which helps to keep their costs down. There are loans available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students that are U.S. citizens or eligible non-citizens (usually permanent residents).

Low-income students should start by applying for a Pell Grant. As the name suggests, this is not a loan and does not need to be paid back. This grant can be used at one of 5,400 participating post-secondary institutions. This will likely have to be supplemented by other means, however, as the maximum annual grant is approximately $6,000.

Pros

  • Guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education
  • Lower fees and lower, fixed interest rates
  • Subsidized loans accrue no interest prior to graduation
  • Income-based repayment plans
  • No credit check (except for PLUS loans)

Cons

  • Maximum loan limits are relatively low
  • Students must apply each academic year, with no guarantee they will be accepted
  • Usage of funds is restricted
  • Must be attending at least half-time
  • You can find out more about federal student loans here.

2. Citizens Bank

While your particular situation may make another lender a better fit for you, we believe that Citizens Bank is the best all-round private lender on this list. This is largely due to their unparalleled flexibility when it comes to student loan options. This allows them to offer a single undergraduate loan type, the particulars of which can be adjusted to your needs.

Meanwhile, they offer a range of graduate loans specific to your field of study. They also offer discounts to borrowers that have an account with them. Citizens Bank’s loan consolidation options are also superior to many other lenders. There is even a “loan calculator” on their website which allows you to see how different combinations of their many options will affect your monthly and total payments.

Pros

  • Security of an established bank
  • Physical branches for in-person applications
  • Diverse range of loan options
  • Can choose repayment terms from 5 to 15 years
  • Can choose between fixed and variable rates
  • Rare ability to consolidate federal and private loans
  • Can make full or interest-only rates while in school, or begin payment after graduation
  • Multi-year application request allows existing application to be used for subsequent years
  • Discounts for banking customers

Cons

  • Long co-signer release period (36 on-time payments)
  • Only two months forbearance period (6 times for total of 12 months)
  • $100,000 limit is lower than many other lenders

3. Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is one of the nation’s largest school loan companies, and actually began as a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) in 1972. It was originally named the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA). It’s easy to see where the nickname “Sallie Mae” came from! In the 1990s, changes in federal laws resulted in restructuring, and by 2004 the company was completely privatized.

While a separate entity (Navient) was created to continue the organization’s loan servicing, management and collection operations, the now officially named Sallie Mae is well known as a provider of private student loans. They offer an extremely wide range of loan types. In addition to all types of post-secondary loans, they offer specialized types like medical residency and relocation loans. They even offer a financing option for children’s private school education. This is one of the reasons Sallie Mae is considered particularly good for parents.

Pros

  • Several repayment plans
  • No aggregate limits
  • Accept a wide range of borrowers
  • Some international students may qualify with a U.S. citizen co-signer
  • Forbearance/deferment options
  • Co-signer release is a possibility after 12 on-time payments

Cons

  • Cannot choose loan terms (one will be assigned to you)
  • Must agree to a hard check inquiry
  • Customer service is not highly rated

4. Wells Fargo

It’s comforting for many to know that their lender is not just a name they have heard, but rather one of America’s favorite banks. With this security, however, comes interest rates that are at the higher end of the field. They do, however, offer numerous discounts to borrowers who already have portfolios with or that have borrowed from them.

Their rates and loan fees vary from state to state and school to school. Your rate can be found easily on their website. Variable rates are commonly in the range of approximately 4% – 6%, while fixed APRs tend to be around 10% – 11%.

Pros

  • Security of an established bank
  • Physical branches for in-person applications
  • Many discounts for Wells Fargo customers
  • Dedicated student loan advisor
  • No minimum requirement for enrolment
  • Numerous payment-reduction options

Cons

  • Long term loan (at least 15 years) is mandatory
  • Hard credit check required to get specific rate and qualification confirmation
  • APR slightly higher than many lenders for non-existing customers

5. LendKey

LendKey is a lending platform and online marketplace that helps you find private student loan options. However, this one focuses on small community banks and credit unions. By working with local and less high profile lenders, LendKey can often find your surprisingly affordable rates.

Pros

  • Rates can be attractive, depending on lender
  • 18-month forbearance that can be divided up to suit the borrower
  • 5, 10 or 15-year term lengths

Cons

  • Cannot defer payment till after graduation
  • Cannot prequalify without a hard credit check

6. Discover Student Loans

Yes, this is the same Discover that is known worldwide as a credit card company. As a private student loan company, Discover offers a number of options for both undergraduate and graduate students. They are known for a particularly high limit, making them an attractive choice for those with expensive schooling. They also have quite good rates. However, restriction to a 15-year term and a lack of certain key options may not suit some borrowers.

Discover offers a unique academic performance-based cash-back plan. By maintaining a 3.0 GPA or better in the year you take out your loan, Discover will present you with a 1% cashback bonus. On graduation, they also present you with 2% cashback.

Pros

  • High loan limit
  • Academic performance-based cashback bonuses
  • Ability to consolidate federal and private loans

Cons

  • Restricted to a 15 year loan term
  • No co-signer release option
  • Lack of flexible repayment options

7. SoFi

SoFi, or “Social Finance,” began in 2011 by offering student loan refinance products to those struggling with their current terms. Today, SoFi is the largest student loan refinance lender in the world. If you qualify, SoFi will offer repayment plans with flexible length terms at much lower rates. However, eligibility rules are quite strict. As of 2019, SoFi also offer their own private undergraduate loans, with graduate and parent-student loans also planned in the future.

Pros

  • Refinancing products can greatly reduce interest rates
  • Known for great customer service
  • Look beyond credit score when judging eligibility
  • Pre-qualification can be done with a soft credit check
  • No fees (including no late fees)
  • Flexible repayment plans (Interest only, full, partial or deferred)
  • Flexible loan terms (5, 10 or 15 years)

Cons

  • Can be difficult to qualify for, especially refinancing products
  • Rigorous and sometimes lengthy application process
  • If accepted without a co-signer, rates are high

8. CommonBond

CommonBond is another company that specializes in refinancing student loans while also offering private loans. As with other refinancers, those who are eligible can qualify for lower rates than they are currently paying. Their rate choices are particularly flexible, including a unique “hybrid” option that gives a lower 5-year fixed rate followed by a 5-year variable rate.

Their private loans offer competitive rates and great customer support – however, eligibility rules are strict and loans are only available for post-graduate students. For the socially conscious, CommonBond partners with Pencils of Promise. For every loan funded, the company also funds the education of a child in need through this program.

Pros

  • Refinancing products can greatly reduce interest rates
  • Look beyond credit score when judging eligibility
  • Pre-qualification can be done with a soft credit check
  • Flexible options including “hybrid” rates
  • 24 months forbearance
  • Dedicated “Money Mentor” (loan advisor)
  • $200 cash referral bonus for every successful applicant you refer

Cons

  • Eligibility requirements are strict
  • Co-signer required for new loans
  • Only offers graduate options for new private loans
  • Must have graduated from an eligible undergraduate school

9. Simple Tuition

Simple Tuition is not a lender. Instead, it is a helpful online tool that allows you to compare the loans offered by different lenders. By filling out a form, you will be able to find the loans you qualify for and compare their terms, rates, etc. to see which best suit you. It gives information on federal and private loans as well as loan consolidation.

Simple Tuition is a subsidiary of LendingTree – America’s largest online lending marketplace. With over 20 years of loan comparison, financial tool and other related experience, LendingTree’s resources make Simple Tuition a powerful student loan tool.

Pros

  • Simplifies comparison of numerous school loan companies
  • Can peruse different types of loans (bachelor degree, technical programs, PhD etc)
  • You can find preliminary, estimated rates without a hard credit check
  • Uses proven technology and resources of LendingTree
  • “Tuition Coach” feature can help borrowers better understand the world of student loans

Cons

  • Does not offer its own loans
  • Your information may be shared with third parties per their privacy policy
  • There may be a delay in receiving funds due to non-direct applications

10. Nelnet

Nelnet is an often-misunderstood player in student loans. The company is not a lender, but rather services and collects student loans. Contracted by the United States Department of Education, many of these loans are federal loans. This means, when you take out a federal loan, there is a chance Nelnet will be the one servicing it and taking payments. Some private lenders also outsource to Nelnet for loan servicing and collection – making Nelnet the largest servicer of student loans in the country.

Nelnet’s rates are set by the government, and tend to be kind to borrowers (e.g. Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans – 4.53%). When a private student loan company contracts Nelnet, you will have to adhere to the rates and terms set by that lender.

Pros

  • Easy qualification without lengthy credit history
  • Flexible payment plans
  • Attractive rates
  • Loan forgiveness option
  • Loan consolidation option
  • Other loan features to be expected from federal loans

Cons

  • Nelnet is chosen for you, and you cannot switch servicers if dissatisfied
  • There have been complaints about customer service, inaccurate payments, and transparency

Find Help With The Best Student Loan Company Near You

These are some of the best options out there, but there are many others student loan companies and resources that are also worth considering. Before taking out a student loan, it’s important you do a lot of research, remembering that the company with the lowest rates may not be the best one for you due to term lengths and other features.

Whether due to the features of your loan or due to occurrences in your life, you may, unfortunately, find yourself unable to pay off your loan. This building debt can wreak havoc on your finances. Thankfully, Iron Fist Legal is here to help. Our attorney-based service can secure a balance reduction or complete cancellation of loans for eligible borrowers with more than $30,000 in loan debt. You may qualify due to:

  • Being stuck with a debt you cannot repay
  • Being misled about terms
  • The unexpected closing of your educational institution
  • Disability
  • Schools overstating the likelihood of job placement
  • A broad range of other potential situations

There is no upfront fee, and our simple online form will quickly tell you whether you qualify. To find out more about how we can help free you from student loan debt, contact us now!

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