Best low-interest student loans of 2023

Written by Dori Zinn / January 12, 2023
Reviewed by Jamie Young

When you take out a loan, you’re responsible for paying back the principal, or the amount you borrowed, with interest added on top of it. The higher your interest rate, the more you’re on the hook to repay after your loan term is up. But the lower your interest rate, the less you have to pay.

While federal student loans tend to offer the lowest interest rate on student loans, there are some private lenders that offer competitive rates as well. Here are the best low-interest student loans to help you cover college costs.

Inside this article

  1. Best low-interest student loans
  2. Best overall: SoFi
  3. Best for variety of repayment options: College Ave
  4. Best without a co-signer: Ascent
  5. Best for part-time students: Sallie Mae
  6. Best for borrowers with no credit: MEFA
  7. Compare the best low-interest student loans
  8. Why some lenders didn’t make the cut
  9. Methodology
  10. Frequently Asked Questions

Best low-interest student loans

  • Best overall: SoFi

  • Best for variety of repayment options: College Ave

  • Best without a co-signer: Ascent

  • Best for part-time students: Sallie Mae

  • Best for borrowers with no credit: MEFA

Best overall: SoFi

4.25 stars
Fixed APR: 4.49%-14.75%
Variable APR: 4.62%-13.82%

SoFi offers some of the lowest interest rates, borrower-friendly repayment terms, and the most perks out of all of the lenders we compared. They don’t charge any fees and have unemployment assistance in case you fall behind on payments after losing your job.  

Pros 

  • No fees

  • Hardship assistance, unemployment protection, and career services

  • Multiple repayment options to fit your budget

Cons

  • High maximum APR

More details

  • Rates available: Both fixed and variable interest rates available.

  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, and 15 years.

  • Perks: 0.25% autopay discount, unemployment assistance, hardship protection, personalized career advice, family discount, and more.

  • Fees: None.

  • Requirements: There’s no minimum income or credit score required, although both are reviewed as part of your eligibility when you complete your application. Your co-signer will need to complete a credit check as well.

Best for variety of repayment options: College Ave

3.75 stars
Fixed APR: 3.99%-14.96%
Variable APR: 3.99%-14.86%

College Ave offers loans up to the cost of attendance and if you have the means, you can start repayment while still in school (although deferred options exist as well). You can choose repayment terms between five and 15 years even if you start repayment once you graduate.

Pros

  • Multiple loan options to choose from

  • Offers a six-month grace period on undergraduate student loans

Cons

  • Co-signer release only available after half the repayment term is up

  • High maximum APR

More details

  • Rates available: Both fixed and variable interest rates available.

  • Loan terms: 5, 8, 10, and 15 years.

  • Perks: Lots of different repayment options and an autopay discount. Scholarships available to help boost loan repayment.

  • Fees: None.

  • Requirements: Some income and credit history requirements depending on the plan you choose. Must borrow at least $1,000 to take out a loan.

Best without a co-signer: Ascent

3.65 stars
Fixed APR: 4.62%-16.43%
Variable APR: 5.31%-15.32%

Ascent offers student loans for borrowers that have great credit (or have a co-signer that does) as well as loans for those that don’t have a co-signer. If you don’t have great credit on your own and you don’t have a co-signer, Ascent might be one of your best options for private student loans.

Pros

  • Loans available to DACA recipients and those without a co-signer

  • Lots of repayment options available depending on income and financial needs after graduation

  • Co-signer release available after 12 months

Cons

  • Not all repayment terms are available for every plan

More details

  • Rates available: Fixed and variable interest rates available.

  • Loan terms: 5, 7, 10, 12, and 15 years.

  • Perks: 0.25% autopay discount with a co-signer, 1% autopay discount without a co-signer, and a refer-a-friend discount up to $525 for each friend that signs up.

  • Fees: None.

  • Requirements: Some income and credit history requirements depending on the plan you choose. 

Best for part-time students: Sallie Mae

3.5 stars
Fixed APR: 4.5%-15.10%
Variable APR: 5%-15.55%

Many loan servicers require students to be enrolled at least part time, but Sallie Mae offers student loans to borrowers who are enrolled less than half time. You can borrow up to the full cost of attendance minus any other aid, even if you’re enrolled less than half time.

Pros

  • Available for students enrolled less than half time

  • Offers loans for trade schools and non-traditional universities

  • Available to international and DACA students with a qualified co-signer

  • Co-signer release available after 12 months

Cons

  • High maximum APR

  • No pre-qualification available

More details

  • Rates available: Fixed and variable interest rates available.

  • Loan terms: 10 and 15 years.

  • Perks: 0.25% autopay discount and co-signer release available after 12 months.

  • Fees: Late payment (5% of the amount, up to a maximum of $25) and returned check fee (up to $20).

  • Requirements: Decent credit score or a creditworthy co-signer.

Best for borrowers with no credit: MEFA

3.1 stars
Fixed APR: 4.89%-6.99%
Variable APR: N/A

The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority (MEFA) is a not-for-profit lender, which is different from most private lenders that are for-profit banking institutions. They focus more on borrowers who need money to pay for school and less on their creditworthiness.

Pros

  • Low interest rates even for those who don’t have excellent credit

  • Low income requirements

  • No fees

Cons

  • Only available to use at non-profit colleges and universities

  • No prequalification available

  • Co-signer release not available until after 48 months

More details

  • Rates available: Only fixed interest rates.

  • Loan terms: 10 to 15 years.

  • Perks: Lower interest rates and income requirements.

  • Fees: None.

  • Requirements: You or your co-signer will need at least good credit to qualify and you’ll need to be enrolled at least half-time at an accredited non-profit college or university. 

Compare the best low-interest student loans

Fixed APRVariable APRLoan terms (years)
SoFi4.49% to 14.75% 4.62% to 13.82%5, 7, 10, 15
College Ave3.99% to 14.96%3.99% to 14.86%5, 8, 10, 15
Ascent4.62% to 16.43%5.31% to 15.32%5, 7, 10, 12, 15
Sallie Mae 4.50% to 15.10%5% to 15.55%10 and 15
MEFA4.89% to 6.99%N/A10 to 15

Why some lenders didn’t make the cut

Of the 12 private student loan lenders that we reviewed, only a fraction made the cut. The lenders that didn’t have high enough scores to be included received lower ratings due to higher interest rates and fees.

Methodology

Our expert writers and editors have reviewed and researched 12 popular lenders to help you find the best lender for student loans. Out of all the lenders considered, the five that made our list excelled in areas across the following categories (with weightings): loan details (5%), loan cost (60%), eligibility and accessibility (15%), customer service experience (15%),  and ease of application (5%).

Within each major category, we considered several characteristics, including available loan repayment terms, APR ranges, and applicable fees. We also looked at minimum credit score requirements, whether each lender accepts co-signers and if they offer co-signer release. Finally, we evaluated each provider’s customer support options, borrower perks, and features that simplify the borrowing process like mobile apps.

All interest rates are accurate as of Jan. 11, 2023.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of student loan has the lowest interest rate?

Federal student loans tend to offer the lowest interest rates, and there’s no credit check for most federal student loans. All borrowers get the same rate regardless of credit score and history. 

Federal student loans not only offer the lowest interest rates without a credit check, but they also have the most protections and benefits for borrowers. For instance, the current student loan pause that’s been in effect for more than two years is only available to borrowers with federal student loans, not private ones. It’s a good idea to exhaust all your federal loan options before moving on to others.

How can I get the lowest interest rate on my student loans?
Can my Sallie Mae student loans be forgiven?

About the Authors

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori has covered personal finance for more than a decade. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Forbes, CNET, TIME, Yahoo, and others.

Full bio
Jamie Young

Jamie Young

Jamie Young is an authority on personal finance who has been writing and editing for online media for 10 years. Her work has appeared on some of the best-known media outlets including Forbes, Time, CBS News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, AOL, MSN, and more.

Jamie is passionate about finance, technology, and the Oxford comma. In her free time, Jamie takes care of her two crazy cats and ever-growing collection of plants. She’s also an avid gamer who watches way too many true crime documentaries. 

Full bio

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