Best Student Loans of 2023

Brenda Williams

Planning on going to college? Sometimes Government aid or other situations may not be enough to cover the total cost of attending school, and that’s where private student loans can fill the gap. We’ve evaluated the best student loans based on rates, terms, process, fees, and overall quality.

Fast approval process and flexible terms


Min. Credit Score

3.99% - 14.86%

Variable APR

3.99% - 14.96%

Fixed APR


College Ave has a fast approval process, provides flexible repayment options, and longer repayment terms for students who need more flexibility.

What we like

  • Part-time students are eligible
  • Fast approval process
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Borrow up to the total cost of attendance
  • Longer terms for medical, law and dental students

What we don't

  • Shorter forbearance period
  • Late payment penalty

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

All rates include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term. Information advertised valid as of 12/1/2022.

Considers criteria other than credit score and income


Min. Credit Score

4.14% - 13.15%

Variable APR

4.62% - 16.06%

Fixed APR


Ascent can be a promising option for borrowers with a limited credit history as they will offer a student loan based on future income potential.

What we like

  • Qualify for a loan without a cosigner
  • Limited credit history for outcome-based loans
  • Longer forbearance periods
  • Longer repayment terms

What we don't

  • Limited eligibility for outcome-based loans
  • Credit-based loans requires credit history

Temporary forbearance available


Min. Credit Score

4.49% - 13.88%

Variable APR

4.99% - 14.83%

Fixed APR


SoFi provides an easy online application process, so you can receive a rate estimate in minutes without a hard credit check.

What we like

  • No prepayment fees, no origination fees, no late fees
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Exclusive membership perks
  • Borrow up to the total cost of attendance
  • Unemployment protection

What we don't

  • No borrowing below $5,000
  • Application process can take 4 - 6 weeks

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 3.47% to 12.55% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 2.26% to 13.54 % APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.60% to 12.55% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 2.96% to 13.54% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.48% to 13.05% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 2.06% to 14.04% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 06/08/2022.

Who is eligible to apply for a student loan?

Since these loans are given to students who fail to meet their higher education costs, their academic excellence and achievements are the primary factors determining eligibility for them. In other words, applicants’ eligibility to participate is determined by the marks recorded in their previous examinations.

What documents are required for a student loan?

You and your lender will save time and effort by having all the documents you need for a student loan application. This will, in turn, result in your loan being approved faster.

Here are some of the essential documents required for a student loan application.

  • Authentic identification The valid identification is either a state-issued identification card or a driver’s license. A lender will typically ask for an existing valid ID that shows your current address and shows your photo.
  • An individualized social security card You only need your nine-digit Social Security number even if you don’t have your card. With your Social Security number (SSN), lenders will pull your authenticated credit history and will accordingly decide to offer you a loan.
  • Verification of employment and income You will need to submit your income and employer information after submitting your student loan documents. A bank, credit union, or online lender will usually require contact information and pay stubs for employment and income verification.
  • Documentation showing enrolment in school You may be restricted in how much you can borrow under most student loans. You usually need to supply banks with documentation from your school confirming that you are enrolled. Additionally, your documents should indicate your school’s tuition fees. Your lender will then be able to estimate the amount of your loan.
  • Documentation of tax return Typically, tax returns indicate how much an individual has earned and what taxes they have paid. If you have filed tax returns and are dependent on your parents, banks may ask for their returns as well. As a result, potential lenders might also ask to see your parents’ tax returns if they are helping you pay for school.

What are the costs of a student loan?

As opposed to federal loans, many private student loans do not have origination fees. Interest can be categorized into multiple types, and each affects the overall cost of your loan. Be aware of not missing payments, and any unwanted fees that can gradually add. You are likely to pay a higher interest rate if you have been in debt for a long time.

Here are the costs of a student loan:

  • Origination fees: At the beginning of a loan, an origination fee is charged. However, federal student loans typically charge origination costs.
  • Interest rates: There are interest rates on both federal and private student loans. When you get money, interest begins collecting, even if repayment doesn’t start until after graduation. You may thus borrow more than you initially intended.

Do you need a co-signer for a student loan?

A co-signer is a guarantor who pledges to repay a debt if you don’t. Co-signing a student loan may be problematic for co-signers since they are legally responsible for your debt if you default. A co-signer may not be required for federal student loans. If you need a private student loan but don’t fulfill the lender’s credit and income requirements, you’ll likely need a co-signer.

How to choose between fixed-rate and variable-rate?

A fixed-rate loan, as the name suggests, has a fixed interest rate throughout the borrowing term, while variable-rate loans have a changeable interest rate. Predictable payments are preferred by borrowers who choose fixed-rate loans. Variable-rate loans might cost more or less over time, so borrowers who expect lower interest rates prefer to pick them. These loans feature reduced interest rates and may be utilized for short-term funding.

Before taking out a loan, think about your financial status and the loan’s terms. Considering these aspects initially might help you decide between fixed and variable rates.

How are interest rates determined for student loans?

Lenders establish rates depending on each applicant’s creditworthiness. Here are the parameters used to determine student loan rates.

  • Credit history: Private student loan interest rates are calculated based on your credit score. A lender is more ready to finance a loan at a reduced rate if you have good credit. That’s because you’ve shown you can pay your bills and are less likely to default.
  • Loan terms: The terms of your student loans will also affect your interest rates. Student loans, for example, often have variable interest rates. Variable-rate loans frequently have lower initial rates than fixed-rate loans, but the variable rate may rise in the future. Shorter payback terms usually mean cheaper student loan interest rates.
  • Market trends: A broad benchmark rate is used for private student loans, similar to how 10-year Treasury bond rates are used for federal student loans. Most student loans base rates on LIBOR or the prime rate. These are indicators of broader economic and market dynamics.

How to choose the best student loan?

When applying for a student loan, examine factors such as fees, interest rates, payback period, and the ability to halt payments if you become financially unable to pay on time. If you’re interested in a private student loan and don’t have a good credit score, you’ll require a co-signer when making a loan application. Here are the factors to consider while selecting the best student loan.

  • Know your needs: How much money do you need to borrow? Consider your grant, scholarship, and family assistance. Then consider tuition, planned class and book prices, housing, and any additional expenses. Subtract the funds you have from the total expenses. The difference will be what you need to borrow.
  • Student loan form: Fill out the student loan form to acquire financial help and loan choices. The deadline for applying for a loan varies by state, so check with your government. Your information will be forwarded to your school, and you will be notified if and how much you qualify for.
  • Research the loan options: Do in-depth research to identify the best loan option. You may qualify for various types of federal loans, such as Subsidized Loans, Unsubsidized Loans, or PLUS Loans.
  • Compare options and costs: Review your federal student loan alternatives and compare them to your needs when you get your financial award letter. Is it all covered? If you require private student loans, compare rates and safeguards across different lenders.