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Best Personal Loans for Students

June 2024

A personal loan can help you cover extra costs while at college, but make sure you compare all your options before you make a decision. Here is our list of the best personal loans for college students.
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As a college student, you don't have as many options when it comes to personal loans. Most of the top personal loans for college students require good credit and a steady income, which typically aren't a student's strong suit. However, there are still plenty of lenders willing to offer loans to students. Of course, that doesn't mean you should rush into an unsecured personal loan. Take the time to explore all of your options. Here is our list of the most recommended personal loans for students.
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We analyzed more than 90 lenders and looked for the most-recommended personal loans that accepted cosigners or co-borrowers and considered part-time or unemployed workers. Then we took into consideration other factors, such as flexible loan terms and low interest rates.

How applying for a personal loan as a student is different

Unless you're an authorized user on a parent's credit card or you've already taken out a student loan, it's likely that you have limited or no credit history. Even lenders that specialize in bad credit or no credit loans require that you have a steady income. This means that if you're working just a few hours a week or not at all, you'll have a tough time getting approved on your own.

Common Questions on Personal Loans for Students

Can students get personal loans?

Yes, students can qualify for a personal loan if they have some type of income, particularly if they have a cosigner or co-borrower willing to vouch for them. However, students will find it much harder to qualify for a personal loan than a private or federal student loan.

Is a personal loan better than a student loan?

Typically, private student loans have much lower interest rates and fees than personal loans. See for yourself by comparing different private student loans and personal loans in our marketplace. The lower rates on a private student loan mean that they'll generally be a cheaper way to borrow. The catch is that private student loans set restrictions on what you can use the money for.

Should you get a personal loan or student loan?

Before you start shopping around for a personal loan, it's essential to consider whether you need one at all. If, for instance, you're looking to cover school-related costs, a federal or private student loan is almost always the best solution. You can get federal loans regardless of your credit history or income. All that's required is that you fill out the FAFSA and are enrolled at an eligible college or university.
Student loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than personal loans. With federal loans, for instance, you can extend your repayment term to 20 years or more.
With a personal loan, on the other hand, you may need to pay off your balance within a few months to a few years. And unlike student loans, personal loans don't allow you to push off payments until you're done with school. On the flip side, federal student loans are typically designed for certain eligible expenses, including:
  • Tuition and fees.
  • Room and board.
  • Textbooks and supplies.
  • Transportation to and from school.
If you need money to cover other expenses, it may be worth considering a personal loan as long as the reason is sound. Before applying for a personal loan, a student should consider the return on investment of the loan.
Getting approved for a personal loan as a college student can be tough. If you don't have a large income or good credit, expect high rates and low loan amounts. But with the right lender, you could get the money you need. Don't rush into getting a loan. There may be alternatives, like federal student loans or private student loans, that offer better rates and terms.

Can I use a personal loan to pay off student loans?

Yes, you can. However, you probably shouldn't. Student loans often come with special protections and perks that personal loans don't offer. It is unlikely you will qualify for lower interest rates with a personal loan than with a private student loan. If you want to release a cosigner on your private student loan or apply for lower interest rates, you may want to consider refinancing your current student loan.
Take your time as you shop around for a loan. Find your best offer from competing lenders and compare it to the top personal loans listed above to ensure you get the best deal available.

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