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The average interest rate on 10-year fixed-rate private student loans fell last week. For borrowers looking for private loans to fill gaps to pay higher education expenses, rates remain relatively low for borrowers with strong credit.
The average fixed interest rate on a 10-year private student loan was 6.06% from April 25 to April 29. This is for borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher who have prequalified in Credible.com’s student loan marketplace. The average interest rate on a five-year variable rate loan was 4.57% among the same population, according to Credible.com.
Related: Best Private Student Loans
Fixed rate loans
Last week, the average 10-year fixed rate fell 0.19% to 6.06%. The previous week, the average was 6.25%.
Borrowers looking for a private student loan can now benefit from a lower rate than they would have at this time last year. At this time last year, the average fixed rate on a 10-year loan was 6.58%, or 0.52% higher than the current rate.
If you were to fund $20,000 in student loans at today’s average fixed rate, you’d pay about $223 per month and about $6,717 in total interest over 10 years, according to Forbes Advisor’s student loan calculator.
Variable rate loans
Average variable rates on five-year loans fell 0.17% last week to 4.57%.
Unlike fixed rates, variable interest rates fluctuate over the term of the loan. Variable rates can start lower than fixed rates, especially during times when rates are generally low, but they can increase over time.
Private lenders often offer borrowers the option of choosing between fixed and variable interest rates. Fixed rates may be the safest bet for the average student, but if your income is stable and you plan to pay off your loan quickly, it might be beneficial to choose a variable loan.
Financing a private loan of $20,000 over five years at 4.57% would yield a monthly payment of approximately $374. A borrower would pay $2,410 in total interest over the life of the loan. Keep in mind that since the interest rate is variable, it could change monthly.
Related: How to get a private student loan
How to get a private student loan
Private student loans can be a decent option if you reach the annual borrowing limits for federal student loans or are not eligible. You should consider a federal student loan as your first option, as interest rates are generally lower and you’ll have more liberal repayment and forgiveness options than with a private loan. For example, the federal student loan interest rate for undergraduates is 3.73% for the 2021-22 school year.
To obtain a private student loan, you will usually need to apply directly with a non-federal lender. You can find private student loans from banks, credit unions, and online entities. Nonprofit organizations, state agencies, and colleges also offer loans.
If you are an undergraduate student with a limited credit history, you will usually need to apply with a co-signer who can meet the borrowing requirements of the lender.
Here’s what to consider when applying for a private student loan:
- Make sure you qualify. Private student loans are credit-based, and lenders typically require a credit score over 600. That’s why having a co-signer can be especially beneficial.
- Apply directly through lenders. You can apply directly on the lender’s website, by mail or by phone.
- Compare your options. Look at what each lender offers and compare the interest rate, term, future monthly payment, origination fees and late fees. Also check to see if the lender offers a co-signer release so that the co-borrower can potentially opt out of the loan.
Shop for Private Student Loans
When comparing private student loan options, take a close look at the overall cost of the loan. This includes the interest rate and fees. It’s also important to consider the type of help the lender offers if you can’t afford your payments.
Remember that those with good or excellent credit usually get the best rates.
How much should you borrow? Experts generally recommend not borrowing more than you will earn in your first year out of college. How much can you borrow? Some lenders cap the amount you can borrow each year, while others don’t. When shopping for a loan, let lenders know how the loan is disbursed and what costs it will cover.
How your interest rate is determined
The rate you receive varies depending on whether you get a fixed or variable loan. Rates are partly based on your creditworthiness – those with higher credit scores often get the lowest rates. But your rate is also based on other factors. Credit history, income, and even the degree you’re working on and your career can all play a role.