Your Earnest student loans and COVID-19

Your Earnest student loans and COVID-19 Learn more

Private Student Loans

Get student
loans on your
terms

Shop for a low interest rate on a student loan–whether
you’re a student or a cosigner.
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Your credit score won’t be impacted.
We currently do not provide student loans in this state.
    Earnest Benefits

    Apply today, share with a cosigner tomorrow

    Start your application for a low-rate loan with Earnest. Invite a cosigner to up your chances of approval. Learn more.

    • No Fees
    • Increase chances of approval by 6X with a cosigner
    • Pick your repayment option, pay monthly or every two weeks
    • Skip a payment once a year

    Cosign a Student Loan

    Fast-track your student's success

    Students are 6X more likely to get approved with a cosigner. Apply as a cosigner today and send the loan application to your student when you’re ready. Learn more.

    • Check if you qualify in 2 minutes
    • Apply online in less than 10 minutes
    • 50% longer 9-month grace period
    • Choose from flexible repayment plans

    Earnest Interest Rates

    Find a low interest rate

    A low interest rate could help a student pay off the loan faster. That’s why Earnest looks beyond the credit score to give the best rate possible.

    Starting at
    0.99%
    ( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
    variable rates
    Are rates that fluctuate over time with general market interest rates.
    Starting at
    2.99%
    ( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
    fixed rates
    Are rates that stay constant for the entire length of your loan.
    Starting at
    0.99%
    ( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
    variable rates
    Are rates that fluctuate over time with general market interest rates.
    Starting at
    2.99%
    ( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
    fixed rates
    Are rates that stay constant for the entire length of your loan.

    Earnest vs. other lenders

    Compare Lenders

    Compare the competition

    You know what you need. Take a look at how our private student loans measure up.

    SallieMae Discover Citizens One
    eligibility check
    eligibility check
    eligibility check
    eligibility check
    zero fees
    zero fees
    zero fees
    zero fees
    9-month grace period
    9-month grace period
    9-month grace period
    9-month grace period
    choice of loan terms
    choice of loan terms
    choice of loan terms
    choice of loan terms
    skip 1 payment a year
    skip 1 payment a year
    skip 1 payment a year
    skip 1 payment a year

    * Feature comparison current as of April 1, 2020

    Common questions about private student loans

    What federal loan alternatives should I consider before applying for a private student loan?

    Before applying for private student loans, it’s best to look at other sources of financial aid first. It’s recommended that you use a 4-step approach to get the funds you need:

    1) Look for educational funding you don’t have to pay back, like scholarships, grants, and work-study opportunities.

    2) Fill out a FAFSA® form to apply for federal student loans. Most federal student loans don’t require a credit check or a cosigner, and offer federal programs if you’re struggling with payments.

    3) Consider asking a parent to look at federal parent loans. The Parent PLUS loan is issued directly to parents or guardians of current students.

    4) Look at a private student loan to cover any differences between your total cost of attendance and the amount not included in steps 1-3.

    To learn more about federal student loan programs, visit the U.S. Department of Education. You can also fill out a free application for federal student aid or FAFSA® here.

    The best private student loans should give you a low interest rate that will complement your federal financial aid. Keep in mind that you will accumulate interest on both federal student loans and private student loans over time.

    What is the most I can borrow with student loans?

    Federal loans have different limits. They depend on the type of student loan, what year of school the student is applying for, as well as whether the student is considered a dependent (relying on their parents/guardian for financial support) or independent.

    A student is considered independent if he or she meets any one of the criteria below:

    • Is married
    • Is in grad school
    • Will be 24 years old before January 1 of the school year for which they’re applying
    • Has been legally emancipated from parents or guardians
    • Has a child or dependent
    • Is on active duty or a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
    • Was orphaned or in foster care after age 13
    • Was determined to be an unaccompanied/homeless youth

    Below are the borrowing limits for different students.

    Dependent undergraduate students

    First year: $5,500 total / $3,500 subsidized

    Second year: $6,500 total / $4,500 subsidized

    Third year and beyond: $7,500 total / $5,500 subsidized

    Total limit: $31,000 / $23,000 subsidized

    Independent undergraduate students

    First year: $9,500 total / $3,500 subsidized

    Second year: $10,500 total / $4,500 subsidized

    Third year and beyond: $12,500 total / $5,500 subsidized

    Total limit: $57,500 / $23,000 subsidized>

    Graduate students (unsubsidized only)

    Annual limit: $20,500

    Total limit: $138,500 (including undergraduate loans)

    Direct PLUS loans, which are another type of federal loan available to graduate students only, do not have the same restrictions—but they have higher rates than regular federal student loans.

    Private student loan limits can vary depending on the cost of attendance of the school. A private student loan may cover up to 100% of the cost of attendance. Before applying for a private student loan, remember to apply for federal aid. You can start the application process for a federal loan on the FAFSA® website or check your rate for a private student loan with Earnest.

    Who is eligible for Earnest private student loans?

    Eligible students must be:

    • Attending, or enrolled to attend, full-time at an eligible 4-year Title IV institutions
    • Residing in the District of Columbia or a state that Earnest lends in (all but NV)
    • The age of majority in their state of residence
    • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident or have a cosigner who is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

    View full eligibility details on our Eligibility page.

    If you meet all of Earnest’s eligibility criteria, you may be approved for a loan as a solo applicant—but applying with a cosigner who has good credit may increase your chances of approval. Many students see higher interest rates if they apply without a cosigner.

    If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you may only apply with a cosigner who is.

    If you apply with a cosigner and later would like to do a cosigner release, we regret to inform you that we do not offer this option at this time. However, you can refinance your student loans in your own name without a cosigner upon graduation. Refinancing is subject to the following eligibility requirements.

    Please keep in mind our eligibility criteria for student loan cosigners:

    • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
    • 3+ years of good credit history
    • A minimum credit score of 650
    • No history of bankruptcy
    • Minimum yearly income of $35,000 (in USD)
    • Both primary and cosigner must live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV), but they do not need to both live in the same state.
    Do I qualify for federal or private student loans?

    Federal student loans and private student loans have different borrower qualifications. You must fill out a FAFSA® to find out if you qualify for federal financial aid. You do not need to fill out a FAFSA® for a private student loan. Federal and private student loans may also have different loan terms, grace periods, repayment plans, and monthly payments.

    The table below compares eligibility requirements for federal loans vs. Earnest private student loans:

    Federal Student Loans

    Private Student Loans

    Must be a citizen or eligible permanent resident Must be a citizen or eligible permanent resident OR have a cosigner who is
    Can live in any state to qualify for financial aid You live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV)
    Must have a high school diploma or equivalent No diploma or GED requirement
    Must be enrolled at least half-time at an eligible institution Must be enrolled full-time at an eligible institution
    Must submit the FAFSA® for a federal loan Must apply directly with the private lender
    No specific age requirement Must be the age of majority (18 in all states except Alabama [19], Mississippi [21], and Nebraska [19])
    Must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress for a federal loan No Satisfactory Academic Progress necessary
    No credit requirements Must meet credit requirements or have a cosigner who does for a private lender, such as Earnest
    Do I need a cosigner?

    If you meet all of Earnest’s eligibility criteria, you may be approved for a loan as an independent applicant. However, applying with a cosigner who has good credit may increase the probability of getting approved and may lower the cost of your loan.

    If you are not a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you may only apply with a cosigner who is.

    Please keep in mind our eligibility criteria for cosigners:

    • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
    • 3+ years of good credit history
    • A minimum credit score of 650
    • No history of bankruptcy
    • Minimum yearly income of $35,000 (in USD)
    • Both primary and cosigner must live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV), but they do not need to both live in the same state
    What are the advantages of private student loans vs. federal student loans?

    Benefits

    Federal student loans offer borrowers certain protections that private student loans may not, such as income-based repayment or student loan forgiveness. Private student loans offer different loan terms and may offer a lower interest rate. Income-based repayment or loan forgiveness programs are benefits of federal student loans, but a private lender may also offer you other perks, such as flexible payment terms or a lower interest rate.

    Borrowing limits 

    Federal student loans have borrowing limits (similar to limits on credit cards). If the cost of attendance exceeds the federal loan amount, that means you will need to cover the leftover cost. Graduate students may apply for no-cap Direct PLUS loans from the government, but undergraduate students do not have this option.

    Cost of attendance

    Many students choose to apply for a loan with a private lender to cover their leftover costs. Earnest private student loans, in addition to covering the entire cost of attendance, also have rates that are based on the credit profile of you and/or any cosigner you have. This may mean higher or lower rates than those offered by federal loans, depending on the credit profile.

    Grace periods and origination fees

    A private student loan may offer a longer deferment period or grace period than a federal student loan. Some private lenders, such as Earnest, don’t charge an origination fee while some federal student loans do.

    Auto Pay benefits

    With a private lender like Earnest, you get a 0.25% APR reduction when you agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment.

    Before looking for loans with private financial institutions, such as online lenders, credit unions or banks, explore all of your student loan options with the federal government.

    Does Earnest offer flexible repayment options?

    First, Earnest offers a deferment period that’s 3 months longer than most lenders. That means you don’t have to make student loan payments up to 9 months after you graduate. However, if you choose to make interest or principal balance payments while still in school, you will not be able to defer your loan payment after graduation. To learn more about Earnest student loan repayment terms, visit the Help Center.

    With Earnest, you can choose from four repayment plans to pay off your student loan.

    To make in-school payments more manageable, Earnest allows students to make $25 automatic payments while they are in school. Other in-school repayment options include paying for the accrued interest, deferring payment for 9 months after graduation, or making the interest and principal payment on your loan.

    Also, Earnest does not have any prepayment penalties, late fees, or origination fees.

    What kind of interest rates does Earnest charge?

    There are two types of interest rates – fixed interest and variable interest. A fixed rate will not change and tends to be higher. A variable rate loan tends to offer lower interest rates, but that interest can fluctuate, making your payment less predictable. Before taking out a private student loan, make sure to compare interest rates and read the fine print on all of your loan applications.

    Earnest offers both fixed and variable interest rates. If the interest rate stays the same throughout your Earnest loan term, you have a fixed interest rate; it will not change. If you have a variable interest rate, it may change over time. After you graduate and begin working, you may want to consider refinancing your loan for lower interest rates. You can learn more about student loan refinancing with Earnest here and about loan products from Earnest partners.

    Don’t see your question here? Visit the Help Center.

    Ready to apply? Here’s how it works.

    1

    Apply online

    Fill out a quick online application on your own or with a cosigner.

    2

    Get a quick decision

    Hear back on your application in less than 72 hours.

    3

    Pick your payment

    Pick your repayment option, pay monthly or every two weeks.