Insider’s rating methodology for student loans

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Insider’s consultants select the very best services to assist make good choices together with your cash (here’s how). In some instances, we obtain a fee from our our partners, nonetheless, our opinions are our personal. Terms apply to presents listed on this web page.

If you have exhausted different monetary support choices and nonetheless want more money to cowl the price of your education, you might contemplate taking out a student loan. We critique the lenders out there and their mortgage choices in critiques and guides that assist you to make the very best borrowing determination doable. 

To guarantee we consider all of them equally, we use a rating system that considers a spread of things from rates of interest and costs to buyer assist and ethics. We contemplate the professionals and cons of every firm and product, evaluating them with others which can be out there so you may resolve which student mortgage matches your explicit wants. 

What we glance for when rating student loans

We charge all student mortgage merchandise in our critiques and guides on a 1-5 scale. The total rating is a weighted common that takes into consideration seven completely different classes, a few of that are judged extra closely than others. They are:

  • Interest charge (20% of rating)
  • Fees (20% of rating)
  • Term lengths (15% of rating)
  • Repayment choices whereas at school (15% of rating)
  • Borrower accessibility (15% of rating)
  • Customer assist (7.5% of rating)
  • Ethics (7.5% of rating)

Each class’s weighting is decided primarily based on its significance to your borrowing expertise. Rates and costs have essentially the most vital impression on the overall value of your mortgage, so we weigh these essentially the most closely. Customer assist and ethics are nonetheless essential elements of the borrowing expertise, however don’t instantly tie to a student mortgage’s phrases, so that they have much less of an impression on the general rating.

Interest charge (20%)

We look take a look at the minimal and most rating a lender presents on its student loans to find out its rating. A low minimal charge is nice for debtors with glorious credit score, whereas a low most caps the price for debtors with worse credit score. We take a look at if a lender presents each fastened and variable charges. With variable charges, we contemplate how usually the speed modifications and what metrics are used to find out the changes.


  • A lender will obtain 5 out of 5 if its minimal variable and stuck APRs are amongst of the bottom available on the market (about 2.99% for variable and three.25% for fastened) and most charges are low (12% for variable and 13% for fastened) and it retains its charges comparatively regular.
  • If a lender has a better minimal APR however nonetheless has low charges (about 3.5% for variable and stuck) and a better most APR (about 13.5% for variable and stuck) and modifications its charges somewhat extra regularly, it can earn 3 out of 5
  • Lenders with considerably excessive charge ranges and regularly fluctuating charges will get 1 out of 5

Fees (20%)

Lenders could hit you with quite a lot of charges, from origination charges to late cost penalties. We give excessive marks lenders that cost minimal or no charges. 


  • If a lender prices no charges, it can get a 5 out of 5.
  • Lenders with a small origination price and an inexpensive late price will obtain 2.5 out of 5
  • Lenders will get a 1 out of 5 in the event that they cost hefty origination charges that take a good portion out of your complete mortgage quantity and late charges that add up in the event you’re delayed on funds. 

Term lengths (15% of rating)

We decide if the corporate has quite a lot of compensation time period lengths, providing choices for debtors who wish to repay their loans shortly and save on curiosity, in addition to those that wish to unfold their prices over extra years. Longer phrases typically include a better rate of interest that you will have to pay for longer. 

We additionally see if the corporate units compensation phrases or if the borrower is ready to decide on.


  • A lender will earn a 5 out of 5 if it presents a number of compensation time period lengths and has many choices to select from. 
  • Companies with fewer choices for time period lengths or a set compensation time period size get a 3 out of 5.
  • Lenders will obtain a 1 out of 5 if they’ve extraordinarily tight mortgage quantity ranges or choose your time period size for you from a restricted variety of choices.

Repayment choices whereas at school (15%)

The greatest lenders provide a number of choices for compensation whereas at school, together with deferred, fastened, interest-only, and full cost. The greatest compensation plan relies on your scenario. 


  • Lenders which have all 4 choices will get 5 out of 5.
  • Lenders with three of the 4 choices will earn 3 out of 5.
  • Lenders will obtain a 1 out of 5 if they’ve just one choice for the loans they make. 

Borrower accessibility (15%)

Lenders could solely cater to debtors in sure states, or with sure credit score scores and revenue ranges. We take a look at how accessible the lender is for debtors with a spread of backgrounds. Some lenders additionally do not require credit score scores, making them much more accessible for college students. 


  • Lenders which can be out there in all states and have minimal or nonexistent credit score necessities will get 5 out of 5.
  • An organization that’s out there in nearly each state or has barely stricter eligibility necessities will obtain a 3 out of 5
  • Lenders will get a 1 out of 5 if they don’t seem to be out there in most states or if they’ve excessive boundaries to entry for most debtors. 

Customer assist (7.5% of rating)

We take inventory of the other ways you are in a position to contact buyer assist. For occasion, we take a look at in the event you can contact somebody over the cellphone, by reside chat, by electronic mail, or common mail. We additionally evaluate customer support hours and provides excessive marks for corporations that provide around-the-clock service.


  • A lender will obtain 5 out of 5 if it presents a number of technique of contact it and is open seven days every week for a good portion of the day. 
  • A lender with buyer assist out there six out of seven days and some ways for you to contact it can earn 3 out of 5
  • Lenders will get a 1 out of 5 if they’ve restricted methods for you to contact them and are solely out there throughout sure hours of the normal work week. 

Ethics (7.5% of rating)

We look into the corporate to see if there have been any scandals previously three years. We analysis if the corporate is thought for being racist, or sexist towards its clients or employees or has predatory lending practices. We additionally contemplate the corporate’s Better Business Bureau rating.


  • A lender will obtain 5 out of 5 if it has had no scandals within the final three years and has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. 
  • If an organization has no scandals and a BBB grade of about B, it can get a 3 out of 5.
  • Lenders will get a 1 out of 5 if they’ve been part of a major scandal inside the previous three years or if they’ve a BBB grade of D or decrease. 

Our rankings will help you establish which lender is greatest for you. Student mortgage mortgage lenders that earn excessive marks in every class will probably be our lenders with the very best total rankings. Still, you might take into consideration choices with decrease total rankings if they’re a greater match for your particular person scenario or in the event you prioritize a sure characteristic.

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