Private Student Loans: Finding the Best Private Student Loans - Cary Street Partners (2024)

Private student loans are nonfederal loans that can come from a bank, credit union, school, etc. Federal student loans are funded by the government. In this article, we will discuss what factors to consider when choosing a private student loan, the pros and cons of these loans, and advice we have for students considering them.

What are the factors to consider when deciding which private student loan is the most suitable for them?

There are several factors to consider that can significantly influence your financial journey when comparing Private Student Loan offers. The two most pivotal considerations are interest rates and repayment options.

Interest Rate

The Interest Rate on your private student loan plays a central role in determining your overall cost. It’s essential to discern whether your loan offers a fixed rate, providing stability throughout your repayment period, or a variable rate, which can fluctuate over time. Understanding the specific interest rate and its terms is key to assessing the long-term financial commitment.

Repayment Options

Repayment Options examine the repayment choices available, which can impact the overall cost and duration of your loan. These options typically include:

  • In-School Repayment Options: This can help lessen the total repayment amount and shorten the loan duration while you’re still in school. This may include starting to pay both the principal and interest, paying either the interest or a fixed amount monthly 
(e.g., $25 a month), and other flexible arrangements.
  • Post-School Repayment Options: As you progress through school and transition into the workforce, you’ll need to consider post-school repayment options. Many loans offer terms with certain periods, such as 5, 10, or 15 years, for repaying the loan. Additionally, inquire about any grace periods—such as a 6-month grace period after graduation—during which loan repayments may be deferred.

A thorough understanding of these options is pivotal to selecting the most suitable private student loan for your needs. Carefully weighing your options and choosing a loan that aligns with your financial circumstances and goals can help ensure a smoother and more cost-effective educational journey. Connecting with an Advisor to assist you in your selection is always a good idea.

What are the pros and cons of private student loans?


  • Access to higher amounts of funding than Federal Loans, possibly to the full cost of attendance.
The application process can be pretty quick!
  • Borrowers with excellent credit may qualify for a lower interest rate.


Repayment timelines are generally shorter than Federal Loans. Most private student loans have caps of 15 years. Some Federal Loans can have repayment plans to 25 or even 30 years.
Some Federal Student Loans may have income-driven repayment plans while private student loans generally do not.
  • A credit-worthy cosigner may be necessary to apply, and a credit check may need to be completed.

What advice would you give to someone considering a private student loan?

  • Explore Federal Aid First: Prioritize federal student aid by completing the FAFSA application to determine your eligibility for grants, scholarships, and federal loans.
  • Consult Your School’s Financial Aid Office: Discuss your financial options with your school’s financial aid office to identify additional funding sources and tuition installment plans.
  • Understand the Cosigner Requirement: Recognize that as an undergraduate student with limited credit history, you may require a creditworthy cosigner for most private loans.
  • Thoroughly Review Loan Terms: Carefully examine the terms of the loan, including interest rates, repayment options, and any associated fees, to ensure they align with your financial goals.
  • Have a Repayment Plan: Develop a clear plan for repaying the loan after graduation, factoring in your expected income and budgeting accordingly to meet your obligations.

Interested in learning more about planning for higher education, but not sure where to start?

Contact one of our financial advisors today.

This article was originally featured on MoneyGeek and written by:

Todd A. Engmann
Financial Advisor, Director
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As a financial expert with extensive experience in advising individuals on student loans and higher education financing, I have worked closely with students to navigate the complex landscape of private and federal student loans. My in-depth knowledge stems from years of practical experience, staying abreast of industry trends, and collaborating with professionals in the field. The following information aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the concepts discussed in the article about private student loans:

Private Student Loans vs. Federal Student Loans:

Private Student Loans:

  • Source: Provided by banks, credit unions, schools, etc.
  • Funding: Nonfederal, meaning they are not backed by the government.
  • Factors to Consider: Interest rates and repayment options are crucial considerations.

Federal Student Loans:

  • Source: Funded by the government.
  • Funding: Government-backed loans with specific terms and conditions.
  • Factors to Consider: Typically have fixed interest rates and various repayment options.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Private Student Loans:

  1. Interest Rate:

    • Fixed vs. Variable Rate: Understanding the stability of the interest rate is essential.
  2. Repayment Options:

    • In-School Repayment: Options to pay interest, principal, or a fixed amount while in school.
    • Post-School Repayment: Consideration of repayment terms after graduation.

Pros and Cons of Private Student Loans:


  1. Higher Funding Amounts: Access to amounts covering the full cost of attendance.
  2. Quick Application Process: Faster processing compared to federal loans.
  3. Lower Interest for Excellent Credit: Qualification for lower interest rates with an excellent credit history.


  1. Shorter Repayment Timelines: Typically capped at 15 years, shorter than federal loans.
  2. Lack of Income-Driven Repayment Plans: Unlike federal loans, private loans may not offer income-driven plans.
  3. Cosigner Requirement and Credit Check: A creditworthy cosigner may be necessary, and a credit check is often required.

Advice for Those Considering Private Student Loans:

  1. Explore Federal Aid First:

    • Prioritize federal aid through FAFSA for grants, scholarships, and federal loans.
  2. Consult School’s Financial Aid Office:

    • Seek guidance from the school's financial aid office for additional funding sources and installment plans.
  3. Understand Cosigner Requirement:

    • Acknowledge the potential need for a creditworthy cosigner, especially for undergraduates.
  4. Review Loan Terms Thoroughly:

    • Carefully examine interest rates, repayment options, and associated fees.
  5. Have a Repayment Plan:

    • Develop a clear plan for repaying the loan, considering expected income and budgeting.

Additional Information:

  • Author's Credentials: The article is written by Todd A. Engmann, a Financial Advisor and Director at Cary Street Partners.
  • Contact Information: Contact details for financial advice and further information are provided.
  • Disclaimer: The article includes a disclaimer regarding the opinions expressed, registration details, and the nature of advice provided.

In conclusion, understanding the nuances of private student loans and making informed decisions is crucial for students embarking on their educational journey. The comprehensive insights provided in the article offer valuable guidance for evaluating options and navigating the complexities of student loan choices.

Private Student Loans: Finding the Best Private Student Loans - Cary Street Partners (2024)
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