How I came up with this list
How I came up with this list
How I came up with this list

CommonBond offers the usual fixed rate and variable rate loans. But they also offer what they refer to as a hybrid loan . Under this program, your loan is fixed for a portion of the repayment term generally the first five years then becomes a variable rate loan based on the one-month LIBOR index. The loan is designed to reduce the uncertainty of a variable rate loan by maintaining constant payments for the first few years.

To come up with this list of the best student loans of 2020, I used the following criteria in evaluating each lender:

  • Loan terms. The longer the loan term available, the lower the monthly payment will be on any student loan. I emphasized lenders with maximum loan terms of at least 15 years, and preferably 20.
  • APR range. Interest rates are always a factor when borrowing money, especially on long-term financing like student loans. Both fixed-rate and variable rates ranges were included, and all lenders generally fell within the same ranges on both rate sets.
  • Fees. None of the lenders on this list charge application fees, origination fees, or any other fees. Any lenders determined to charge such fees have been excluded.
  • Minimum credit score. This criterion is difficult, only because private student loan lenders typically require average or better credit. With the exception of Ascent, which does offer financing for those with fair credit, you may need to get federal student loan financing which typically doesn't require good or excellent credit.
  • Prepayment penalty. Like loan Alabama quick cash locations fees, lenders that charge prepayment penalties are specifically excluded from this list.
  • How much you can borrow. Naturally, lenders that allow higher loan amounts at least up to $500,000 are preferred. But lenders that provided other advantages were included, even if their maximum loan amount was below that threshold.
  • Forbearance. This factor is commonly available with federal student loans but isn't automatic with private student loans. While each of the lenders on this list offers some type of forbearance, it's not as generous as that provided by federal loans. Still, forbearance of up to one year will likely be sufficient for the majority of borrowers dealing with a temporary hardship.

When to get a student loan

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You'll need to get a student loan when the cost to attend college exceeds the financial resources available for you or your family.

Those resources can include savings, including dedicated college savings plans, such as a 529 plan, but a Roth IRA could be another option. But they can also include scholarships, grants, and any income you expect to earn while you are in school.

Your first source for student loans should typically be federal loans since you will not be required to credit qualify for most programs. However, federal student loans are available in limited amounts, which may require getting additional funding from private sources, such as the providers listed above.

In applying for a private student loan, you'll need to qualify based on your income and credit history. If you can't, you can add a qualified cosigner. The major advantage of private student loans is that they are available for much higher loan amounts that can cover the entire cost of your education.

How to qualify for a student loan

With federal student loans, you don't need to qualify based on your income and credit. Nor will they typically require a cosigner. They're government financing programs specifically designed for those who lack the ability to afford higher education.

With private student loans, you'll need to qualify for both income and credit history. Income will need to be sufficient to cover the new loan payment, plus existing recurrent obligations, and your monthly house payment.


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