What Is a Private Student Loan?

private student loan is a financing option for American Higher Education that can complement but not replace federal loans such as Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, and Loans. Much advertised private loans do not have the forbearance and deferral options that federal loans (which are never advertised) offer. In contrast to federally funded loans, students accrue interest while in college, although repayments may not begin until after graduation. While unsubsidized federal loans do incur interest charges while students are studying, private student loan interest rates are often higher, and sometimes even higher. Fees vary widely, with legal cases reporting collection fees up to 50% of the loan amount. Since 2011, most private student loans have had zero fees, effectively factoring the fees into the interest rate.

The interest rate and loan term are usually determined by the financial institution based on the perceived risk that the borrower may be in default or default repaying the loan. Most lenders assign interest rates based on a 4-6 grade credit score. This underwriting decision is complicated by the fact that students often do not have a credit history that would indicate creditworthiness. Therefore, interest rates can vary widely between lenders, and interest rates will vary for some loans. Over 90% of private student loans to undergraduates and over 75% of private student loans to graduate students require a signatory in good standing.

Unlike other consumer loans, Congress provides federal and private student loans to students, exempt from liquidation (cancellation) of personal bankruptcy, but will cause the borrower and the borrower’s dependents to repay the student loan. Unnecessarily difficult. This is a serious limitation that students rarely appreciate when taking out student loans.

Parallel to mortgage

 The use of private student loans emerged around 2001, once increases in the cost of education began to outpace increases in the amount of aid available to federal students. 

The history of student loans was recently compared to the history of the mortgage industry. Similar to the way mortgages are securitized and sold by lenders to investors, student loans are also sold to investors, thereby eliminating the risk of actual lender losses.

Another similarity between the student loan industry and the mortgage industry is the flood of subprime loans over the past few years. With very little documentation, you can take out a subprime mortgage loan, and it takes even less money to get a subprime or “non-traditional” student loan.


 After the passage of the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, even private student loans could not be paid off during bankruptcy. This provides lenders with credit risk-free loans at an average of 7% per annum. 

In 2007, then-New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo led an investigation into lending practices and anti-competitive relationships between student lenders and colleges. Specifically, many colleges direct student borrowers to “preferred lenders,” which results in higher interest rates for those borrowers. Some of these “preferred lenders” allegedly offered ” rebates,” which led to changes in lending policies at many major U.S. universities. Many colleges also returned millions of dollars in fees to affected borrowers. 

The biggest lenders Sallie Mae and Nelnet have been criticized by borrowers. They often find themselves embroiled in lawsuits, the most serious of which was filed in 2007. The false claims lawsuit was brought by former Department of Education researcher Jon Oberg on behalf of the federal government against Sallie Mae, Nelnet and others. lender. Oberg argued that lenders overcharged the U.S. government and defrauded taxpayers of millions of dollars. In August 2010, Nelnet settled the lawsuit and paid $55 million. 

Before 2009, most private student loans did not offer death and disability payments. After the Boston Globe published an article criticizing Sallie Mae’s inability to discharge the private student loans of Marines killed in action, Sallie Mae has launched a new ‘s student loan program with death and disability benefits similar to those in federal student loans. Since then, about half of private student loans have provided death and disability payments.

In 2011, the New York Times published an editorial in favor of restoring bankruptcy protection for private student loans in response to the economic downturn and general tuition increases at all colleges and graduate schools. 

A 2014 report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), suggests that such loans are a growing problem. When the co-signer dies or becomes bankrupt, the borrower faces an “automatic default.” The report shows that some lenders require full repayment immediately after the death or bankruptcy of their loan principal, even if the loan is current and repaid on time.


The largest student loan lender, Sallie Mae, formerly a government-funded entity, was privatized between 1997 and 2004. Some financial institutions offer private student loans, including companies like Wells Fargo and specialty firms. There are also state-owned nonprofit student loan lenders, which account for about 10 percent of the private student loan market. This segment includes the organizations VSAC and Mohalla, Student loan search and comparison sites allow visitors to evaluate loan terms from a variety of partner lenders, and financial aid offices in colleges often have preferred sellers list, but borrowers are free to get loans wherever they can find the best terms.

With the economic collapse of 2008-2011, many players exited the world of private student loan lending. The remaining lenders have tightened credit standards, making it more difficult to obtain loans. Most people now need a reputable issuer. After the 2008 economic collapse, peer-to-peer lending led to the emergence of alternative loan platforms to help students find private student loans. For example, LendKey, an American online marketplace lending platform, allows consumers to book loans directly from community lenders such as credit unions and community banks.

By Cary Grant

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