Personal Loans

Where to Find Personal Loans for Students

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College is expensive, and your student loans may do little to cover your personal loan expenses after paying tuition and fees. If you don’t have the cash to pay for living expenses or other needs, like a car repair or new laptop, you may consider taking out a personal loan.

Personal loans for students can be used for non-education expenses. However, before applying, do your homework and weigh all of your options to determine whether a personal loan is affordable and right for you.

Before you apply for a personal loan, consider these 5 points

  1. What you’re using the loan for: Personal loans for college students can be used for a variety of reasons, including debt consolidation, living and medical expenses, vacation costs, and unexpected needs not covered by your student loans.
  2. Whether you’d struggle to qualify: Lenders rely heavily on your credit and income to determine your loan eligibility. If you’re young and in college, you may not have the credit history or steady income to convince lenders you could repay the debt. Similarly, if you have a rough credit history, you’re liable to be denied for a personal loan.
  3. How a cosigner may help you to qualify: If you’d struggle to qualify for a personal loan — or worry over high interest rates — you could piggyback off someone with strong credit. By cosigning, potential lenders will take their financial history into account when determining your loan eligibility and costs. But beware: your cosigner will be equally on the hook for payments, and if you fall behind, their credit will take a hit along with yours.
  4. A personal loan can be expensive: Even if you do get approved for a personal loan, you’ll pay interest on the amount you borrowed. You may also pay an origination fee. Average best APRs offered to LendingTree users was 10.19% for those with 760+ scores and 24.98% for those with 640-679 scores in December 2019. Personal loans for students with bad credit or no job are especially expensive.
  5. Whether or not you can repay it: You might need some extra cash now, but if you’re not working, repaying it can be difficult or impossible. Make sure you have a plan for repayment before applying.

Our selection of the best personal loans for college students

Choosing the best personal loan as a college student can be tough: You have to understand your credit profile, what you want out of a lender and what reasonable loan payments look like for you. Then, you have to consider those factors as you shop lenders.

To help you in your search, we’ve handpicked four lenders from those we partner with that may be good options for readers in four credit score ranges: 850-720, 719-680, 640-679, and below 640. Whether they’re truly the “best” option for you will boil down to your needs, so take our selection with a grain of salt.

What it is Pros Cons
LightStream Online lender offering loans between $5,000 and $100,000 with terms up to 144 months.
  • No fees
  • Large loan amounts
  • Autopay discount of 0.50 points if you request it before loan funding
  • Hard to qualify
  • Cannot be used to fund or refinance college or post-secondary education expenses or loans
Payoff Online lender offering personal loans from $5,000 to $35,000 designed only to eliminate or lower your credit card balances
  • No late payment fees
  • Potentially no origination fee
  • Can check interest rates in as little as 3 minutes with a soft credit check
  • Origination fee up to 5.00%
  • Can only use funds to consolidate credit card debt
  • Must have a FICO score of at least 640
Best Egg Online lending platform who offers personal loans between $2,000 and $35,000.
  • APR as low as 5.99%
  • Can use your loan on a variety of expenses
  • Fast loan funding
  • Higher maximum APR on debt consolidation loans.
  • Residents of Massachusetts, New Mexico and Ohio require higher minimum loan amounts
Peerform Peer-to-peer lending marketplace with personal loans for $4,000 to $25,000.
  • No prepayment penalties
  • You can increase the size or frequency of payments without any fees
  • Only 36 or 60 month repayment term
  • May be slow to receive loan funds
  • Origination fee of 1.00% - 5.00%
Lenders were selected from MagnifyMoney’s personal loan marketplace. The top lender by APR was selected for each credit range: excellent (720-850), good (680-719), fair (640-679) and poor (below 640).

LightStream

LightStream personal loan details
APR
  • 3.99% – 19.99%
Loan amount
  • $5,000 to $100,000
Repayment terms
  • 24 to 144 months
Minimum credit score
  • Not specified

 

LightStream is an online lender that offers unsecured personal loans between $5,000 and $100,000. With no fees, this lender could be an affordable option for the right borrower. Although LightStream doesn’t outline credit requirements on their website, their advertised low APRs are typically reserved for borrowers with solid credit.

Payoff

Payoff personal loan details
APR
  • 5.99% to 24.99%
Loan amount
  • $5,000 to $35,000
Repayment terms
  • 24 and 60 months
Minimum credit score
  • 640

 

Payoff is an online lender that specifically offers a credit card debt consolidation loan. For qualified college students trying to repay credit card debt for less, Payoff may be a viable option whether you want lower interest charges or a lower monthly payment by choosing a longer repayment term. To qualify, you’ll need decent credit and a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less to qualify.

Best Egg

Best Egg personal loan details
APR
  • 5.99% to 29.99%
Loan amount
  • $2,000 to $35,000
Repayment terms
  • 36 or 60 months
Minimum credit score
  • 640

 

Best Egg offers a lower minimum borrowing limit, which is great for covering smaller expenses. But repayment terms are restrictive and your APR includes an origination fee of 0.99% - 6.99% of your loan amount, which will be deducted from the funds you receive.

Still, a Best Egg personal loan is flexible. You can cover travel expenses, school supplies and unexpected costs, for example. This online lending platform also offers fast loan funding, with some borrowers receiving their money the next day.

Peerform

Peerform personal loan details
APR
  • 5.99% to 29.99%
Loan amount
  • $4,000 to $25,000
Repayment terms
  • 36 or 60 months
Minimum credit score
  • 600

 

Peerform is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace. Approved borrowers will need their loan to be funded by investors. Time to funding can be slow, so this may not be your first pick if you need funds fast. However, loan proceeds can be used to pay for most expenses — consider it a cushion for planned expenses.

Peerform is not available to residents in Connecticut, North Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming or West Virginia.

Alternative loan options for students with bad credit or no income

If your credit score is low, you’ve been late on payments or you never took an after-school job, getting denied for a loan might seem like you’re all out of options — but you’re not. There are other options you could consider, even if you need a loan and have no job or credit.

  • Borrow from a friend or family member: Borrowing money from your parents, relatives or a good friend could be more affordable than a personal loan. That’s because you won’t need to worry over origination fees and, typically, interest charges. However, you should get the terms of the arrangement in writing — and stick to them. You don’t want to spoil a relationship over missed payments.
  • Student credit card: If you haven’t already built a credit history, consider applying for a student credit card and start building a stronger credit profile. Some student credit cards start with a smaller credit amount — say, under $1,000 — to help keep your debt more manageable.
  • Secured loan: The personal loans we discussed above are unsecured, which means if you default on the loan, you won’t lose your car or your home. However, if you’ve been rejected or have poor credit you might consider a secured loan. It’s giving the lender some collateral to reduce their risk in case you default.

Why it may be better to wait before you borrow money

Borrowing money might sound like a perfect solution to your cash issues right now, but perhaps you should wait before you incur additional debt. You might be able to find a part-time job on campus or talk to your professors about not having a budget for certain expenses.

A medical expense might even be covered under college medical insurance, or better handled by negotiating with your provider. If you just need money for some fun to get the most out of your college experience, it might be best to consider if it’s worth going into debt and paying high interest rates just to afford some extracurricular fun.

 

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