Last Updated on August 12, 2023 by Oluwajuwon Alvina

If you’re looking to consolidate your student loans, the best place to start is with a bank. Banks are more likely than other lenders to offer flexible repayment plans for private student loans. Additionally, banks are more likely to work with borrowers on payment plans that fit their budgets. In this article we will discuss banks with private student loans, best private student loans, student loan companies, bank of america student loans and are private student loans bad.

Applying for a student loan? 3 things to know before borrowing for college  | Fox Business

It’s important to understand that private student loans are simply not as good as federal loans. The rates on federal loans are set by congress and remain stable over time, whereas private student loans can change at any time based on market conditions. This means that interest rates fluctuate with supply and demand—and those fluctuating rates can make your monthly payments much higher than you expected them to be when you took out the loan. Read on to know more on banks with private student loans, best private student loans, student loan companies, bank of america student loans and are private student loans bad.

banks with private student loans

We begin with banks with private student loans, then, best private student loans, student loan companies, bank of america student loans and are private student loans bad.

When it comes to getting money to pay for your college education, you can look to banks that offer student loans. The truth is that while there are several private loan programs, there aren’t as many traditional banks that offer private loan programs.

That being said, there are several top banks for student loans and may even offer you competitive interest rates — though it’s a smart idea to exhaust federal loan options first.

How Private Loans from Banks Work

Compared to federal student loans, private student loans from banks are based on you, the applicant’s credit history. How much you’ll be able to borrow and at what terms will depend on your credit as well as the amount you need for college-related expenses. This is different from federal student loans, which are typically based on financial need. 

Bank student loans will vary depending on the lender, so you’ll want to read the fine print to see what the terms and conditions are before signing on the dotted line. 

Top Banks That Offer Student Loans

Getting a student loan from a bank can yield some competitive rates and discounts depending on your relationship with the bank. Still, you may find it difficult to qualify for one if your credit isn’t that great (getting a co-signer is an option if you choose to go that route). 

You may be surprised that some major banks like Bank of America or Wells Fargo don’t offer student loans anymore. Despite that, here are a few banks that offer private student loans. We outlined some relevant information for you below, including loan terms, rates, and any relevant discounts.

Sallie Mae

Loan terms: five to 15 years 

Rates (fixed):3.50% APR

Rates (variable): 1.13% APR

Cosigner release: After making on time payments for 12 consecutive months  

Available discounts: 0.25% autopay discount; 0.50% interest-only discount for graduate and professional loans

Sallie Mae is one of the largest banks to offer student loans and offers loans anywhere from $1,000 up to the cost of your attendance. You need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply, though international students can apply with a creditworthy cosigner. 

Citizens Bank

Loan terms: five to 15 years 

Rates (fixed): from 3.23% APR 

Rates (variable): from 1.03% APR 

Cosigner release: After making on time payments for 36 consecutive months 

Available discounts: 0.25% loyalty discount; 0.25% autopay discount

Citizens bank typically offers student loans from $1,000 to $350,000 and is available in all 50 states. If you’re an international student, you can apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is creditworthy. Borrowers have several repayment options including interest only, deferment and fill monthly payments. Most borrowers have at least a 720 credit score. 


Loan terms: 15 to 20 years 

Rates (fixed): from 4.84% APR 

Rates (variable): from 1.59% APR

Cosigner release: none 

Available discounts: 0.25% interest-only repayment discount; 0.25% autopay discount

Discovers allows borrowers to take out the amount up to their cost of attendance and doesn’t offer a cosigner release option. Repayment options are similar with other private lenders — full monthly payment, deferment, forbearance, deferral and interest only payments. Additional discounts include a cash reward once borrower graduates. Discover doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score to qualify for a loan.


Loan terms: five to 15 years 

Rates (fixed): N/A

Rates (variable): N/A

Cosigner release: After making on time payments for 24 consecutive months  

Available discounts: 0.50% autopay discount

PNC applicants need to be a U.S. citizen and don’t disclose the minimum credit score required to qualify. Repayment options include interest only payments, deferral, forbearance and immediate repayment.

Private Student Loans From Banks Compared to Other Types of Lenders

Student loans from banks have a few differences compared to other private loan options such as online lenders:

  • You need excellent credit: applicants who are typically approved for bank loans are usually those who are extremely creditworthy. That means if you have fair or poor credit, you’re generally out of luck since banks have more strict credit qualifications. 
  • You need to wait longer: Though it may not always be the case, most banks tend to have a longer application process compared to online lenders. Even if you’re approved faster, the funding process could take a few business days. 
  • You might be subjected to hard credit inquiry: Many banks will conduct a hard credit inquiry before you can receive a quote for a student loan. What this means is that your credit score may be impacted. Online lenders usually use a soft credit inquiry to show you personalized rates, so your credit score won’t be affected. 

Before filling out any forms to get personalized rates, compare several lenders and understand that your score may be affected if you have to go through a hard credit inquiry.

How to Get a Bank Student Loan

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of banks you want to consider, you’ll want to ensure you’re following the right steps to increase your chances of getting approved.

Here are some best practices when getting a student loan from a bank:

  1. Check out federal student loans first: Looking at subsidized and unsubsidized loans is usually the better route because you could save money on interest rates. Plus, you may be able to qualify for student aid and for favorable repayment plans compared to private student loans. It’s free to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) so there’s not much to lose. 
  2. Check to see which loans you may qualify for: Many banks don’t readily disclose their credit and other financial requirements to be approved for a student loan. However, in most cases you’ll need at least a 670 credit score and steady income to prove you can afford to pay your financial obligations. It’s a good idea to check around each bank you’re interested in to see if they reveal any other requirements. 
  3. Fill out applications: You can usually fill out an application form on the bank’s website, though smaller banks may require you to manually submit paperwork
  4. Compare student loan offers: Once you receive quotes, take a look at which one offers you the best rate and terms before moving ahead with loan disbursement.

Taking out student loans is a huge financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. That’s why comparing offers and making sure you’re getting the lowest rates possible. Whether you’re looking to get an undergraduate loan or a financing for a graduate program, consider joining Juno. It’s free, and we help negotiate rates for private lenders on your behalf to get you the best rates and terms out there. 

best private student loans

Next, we review best private student loans, student loan companies, bank of america student loans and are private student loans bad.

5 Best Private Student Loans for June 2022

If you’ve exhausted all your scholarship, grant, work-study, and federal student loan options and still need money for school, private student loans can be a good option.

Since most private student loan lenders require good credit, we recommend adding a creditworthy cosigner to your application to improve your chances of approval. A cosigner can also help you receive a lower interest rate, which will reduce the overall cost of your loan.

In the table and reviews below, you’ll find the best private student loans amongst our partners, based on hours of research into rates, repayment terms, unique benefits, and more.

Compare the best private student loan lenders

LenderBest forRates (APR)Our Rating
College Ave Student LoansBest Overall0.94% – 13.95%5.0 
Sallie MaeBest for Cosigners1.13% – 12.59%4.8
EarnestBest for No Fees0.94% – 12.78%4.3
AscentBest for
Forebearance Flexibility
1.78% – 13.21%4.7
SoFiBest for Member Benefits1.20% – 11.23%4.1

Reviews of the five best private student loans

Check out the reviews below for an in-depth explanation as to why we selected each lender as one of the best private student loans. If you’re interested in learning more about a specific lender, you can jump to that review by clicking on its name in the list below.

  • Best overall: College Ave
  • Best for cosigners: Sallie Mae
  • Best for forebearance flexibility: Ascent
  • Best for member benefits: SoFi
  • Best for no fees: Earnest

College Ave

Our Pick: Best Overall

5.0    LendEDU Rating

Why It’s One of the Best

College Ave is our choice as the best overall lender for the second year in a row because it has competitive rates, lets you choose your repayment term, and can cover up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance.

Variable Rates
0.94% – 12.99% APR

Fixed Rates
3.22% – 13.95% APR

Loan Amounts
$1,000 – 100% of school-certified cost of attendance

College Ave is an online student loan lender based out of Wilmington, Delaware. The lender’s sole focus is to make a college degree more attainable by helping students and parents afford the rising cost of higher education.

When you borrow with College Ave, you’ll get to take advantage of its Multi-Year Peace of Mind™. Thanks to this benefit, 90% of undergraduate borrowers are approved for additional loans for future years when applying with a cosigner.

That’s not the only benefit of College Ave. It also allows you to select your repayment term and explains how the term and plan you choose impacts the long-term cost of your loan.

Sallie Mae

Our Pick: Best for Cosigners

4.8    LendEDU Rating

Why It’s One of the Best

Sallie Mae is our choice as the best for cosigners due to its short cosigner release period. Cosigners can be released from a Sallie Mae student loan after the borrower makes just 12 consecutive on-time monthly payments.

Variable Rates
1.13% – 11.23% APR

Fixed Rates
4.25% – 12.59% APR

Loan Amounts
$1,000 – 100% of school-certified cost of attendance

Sallie Mae, the most widely known student loan lender, is based out of Newark, Delaware. When it was founded, it was a government entity in charge of servicing federal education loans. Then, between 1997 and 2004, Sallie Mae transitioned into a fully privatized bank and began offering private student loans.

Today, Sallie Mae controls the largest share of the private student loan market. It’s also expanded its product offering to include credit cards, savings accounts, and more.

Sallie Mae borrowers can enjoy benefits including four months of free Chegg® study help, Multi-Year Advantage, and no origination or application fees. With Multi-Year Advantage, returning undergraduate students with a cosigner have a 95% approval rate for a future loan.


Why It’s One of the Best

When Earnest says it doesn’t charge any fees, it means it. There are no origination, application, prepayment, or late payment fees.

Variable Rates
0.94% – 11.44% APR

Fixed Rates
3.24% – 12.78% APR

Loan Amounts
$1,000 – 100% of school-certified cost of attendance

Earnest is an online lender based out of San Francisco, California. The lender was founded with the goal of making higher education accessible and affordable for everyone.

One of the main benefits of taking out a loan with Earnest is that there are no fees. Many lenders market their student loans as having no fees to apply, but this only refers to origination and application fees. With Earnest, you won’t be charged any fees to apply, plus you won’t be charged for paying off your loan early or for any late payments.

In addition to no fees, Earnest offers several other benefits, like a longer than average grace period and the ability to skip a payment once per year.


Our Pick: Best for Forbearance Flexibility

4.7    LendEDU Rating

Why It’s One of the Best

Ascent allows borrowers experiencing financial difficulty to enter temporary hardship forbearance for up to 24 months. Other options include administrative and natural disaster forbearance.

Variable Rates
1.78% – 9.37% APR

Fixed Rates
5.17% – 13.21% APR

Loan Amounts
$2,001 – $200,000

Ascent is an online student loan lender based out of San Diego, California. Its student loan offering is unique compared to other lenders in that it offers three different options. These options include its traditional cosigned loan, non-cosigned credit-based loan, and non-cosigned future income-based loan.

Borrowers looking for repayment protection will be happy to know that Ascent offers several deferment and forbearance options. Ascent’s college loans include active-duty military deferment, in-school deferment, and residency or internship deferment.

For those dealing with financial difficulty, loans include temporary hardship forbearance, administrative forbearance, and natural disaster or declared emergency forbearance. All three of these options will extend the repayment term on your loan.


Our Pick: Best for Member Benefits

4.1    LendEDU Rating

Why It’s One of the Best

SoFi members enjoy a wide range of benefits, including a 0.125% rate discount, career coaching, unemployment protection, and more.

Variable Rates
1.20% – 11.23% APR

Fixed Rates
4.23% – 10.66% APR

Loan Amounts
$5,000 – 100% of school-certified cost of attendance

SoFi is a mobile-first online personal finance company based out of San Francisco, California. It made a name for itself in 2012 as the first company to refinance both federal and private student loans. Since then, it has expanded into nearly all consumer lending markets with over $50 billion in loans funded.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest draws to borrowing from SoFi is the wide range of benefits available to its members. These benefits fall into three categories: money, community, and career.

Money benefits include financial planning advice from credentialed advisors, referral bonuses, and member rate discounts. Community benefits include attending networking events, dinners, and happy hours. Career benefits include tools to help you earn a raise, personalized career advice, and an unemployment protection program.

student loan companies

Now, we find out student loan companies, bank of america student loans and are private student loans bad.

What Loan Servicers Do

A loan servicer is a company that we assign to handle the billing who are the lenders for federal student loansnd other services on your federal student loan on our behalf, at no cost to you. Your loan servicer will work with you on repayment options (such as income-driven repayment plans and loan consolidation) and will assist you with other tasks related to your federal student loans.

Keep your contact information up to date so your loan servicer can help you stay on track with repaying your loans. If your circumstances change at any time during your repayment period, your loan servicer will be able to help.

Never pay an outside company for help with your federal student loans. Your loan servicer will help you for FREE. Contact your servicer to apply for income-driven repayment plans, student loan forgiveness, and more.

Loan Servicer Assignment

We will assign your loan to a loan servicer after your loan amount is first disbursed (paid out). Your loan servicer will contact you after that.

Identifying Your Servicer

The following are loan servicers for loans that the U.S Department of Education (ED) owns. To find out who your loan servicer is,

  • visit your account dashboard and scroll down to the “My Loan Servicers” section, or
  • call the Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) at 1-800-433-3243.
Loan ServicerContact
FedLoan Servicing (PHEAA)1-800-699-2908
Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.1-800-236-4300
OSLA Servicing1-866-264-9762
Default Resolution Group1-800-621-3115 (TTY: 1-877-825-9923 for the deaf or hard of hearing)

Whom to Contact for Loan Information

If your loan is for the current or upcoming school year, contact your school’s financial aid office directly for information about

  • loan status,
  • the timeframes for cancelling all or part of your loan or loan disbursement, and
  • loan disbursement amounts and timing.

Only your school’s financial aid office can provide this information.

If your loan was disbursed in a past school year and you’re still in school, keep your contact information up to date with your school and contact your loan servicer when you

  • withdraw,
  • graduate,
  • drop below half-time enrollment, or
  • stop going to school.

If you’re no longer in school, contact your loan servicer when you

  • change your name, address, or phone number;
  • need help making your loan payment;
  • have a question about your bill; or
  • have other questions about your student loan.

Contact Information for Loans Not Owned by ED

If you have Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program loans that are not owned by ED, contact your servicer for details about repayment options and tools. Not sure who your servicer is? Visit your account dashboard and scroll down to the “My Loan Servicers” section.

If you have Federal Perkins Loans that are not owned by ED, contact the school where you received your Federal Perkins Loan for details about repaying your loan. Your school may be the servicer for your loan.

If you have HEAL Program loans and you’re not in default, contact your loan servicer for help with account-related questions. Use the contact information your loan servicer provided to you. Not sure who your servicer is? Look for the most recent communication from the entity sending you bills for your loan payments.

If you have HEAL Program loans and you’re in default, contact the Debt Collection Center for help with account-related questions:

For mail sent via U.S. Postal Service:

Accounting Services, Debt Collection Center
Mailstop 10230B
7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 8-8110D
Bethesda, MD 20857

For mail sent via UPS or FedEx:

HHS Program Support Center
Accounting Services, Debt Collection Center
Mailstop Seventh Floor
7700 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 8-8110D
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone: 301-492-4664

bank of america student loans

Bank of America doesn’t offer student loans, but it does have an array of options to help you pay for college.

If you want to take out a private student loan from Bank of America, you can choose from a wide range of options. You can also apply for one directly from another bank, credit union or online lender.

Before you borrow any private student loan, exhaust your federal options first by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The government will then determine how much money you qualify for in federal grants and low-interest loans. Some schools also offer scholarships based on merit or need.

If you’re still short on funds after completing all these steps, consider taking out a private loan. Private loans typically come with higher interest rates and fees than federal loans do—but they’re typically easier to get approved for than federal loans are.

are private student loans bad

Private student loans are one of the riskiest ways to pay for college, but they can also be one of the most tempting.

Private lenders can offer you lower interest rates and better terms than federal loans, which means you may be able to borrow more money or pay less each month. But if you don’t have a good credit score or already owe a lot on other debts, it will be difficult to get approved for these loans. And if you do get approved, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to afford the monthly payments after graduation.

10 Steps to Minimize Student Loan Debt | Paying for College | US News

Even if you do get approved for a private loan and make your payments on time for years, there’s still no guarantee that things will work out well in the end: private student loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

So what should you do? The best thing is to avoid taking out any private student loans at all. If you need help paying for school, consider scholarships or grants instead of taking out a loan—they’re much more flexible than loans and won’t affect your credit score as much (if at all).

If you’re looking for the best private student loans, there are certainly plenty of options available that can help you pay for your education. Between Sallie Mae, banks with private student loans, and bank of america student loans, as well as many other options to choose from, it should be an easy task for any student to find a lender that suits their needs.