Frequently Asked


Tired of seeing rate ranges and not knowing where you fall in the range?  Sparrow allows you to compare real student loan rates through a single application.  Think of Sparrow as the Expedia of student loans.

With Sparrow, you can compare real repayment plans from multiple lenders side-by-side so you know exactly how each loan stacks up when it comes to APR, monthly repayment, total repayment amount, and repayment options.

A student loan is money borrowed from the government or a private lender, designed to help you pay for your college education. These loans help cover the cost of tuition, books and supplies, and room-and-board. 

The loan’s principal is the amount borrowed, while the interest is the cost over time for borrowing the money.

You may want to consider private student loans after you’ve exhausted all “free money,” including scholarships, grants and work-study. 

Following “free money,” if there’s still a financial gap, you may consider applying for federal student loans and then private student loans. 

Federal loans have more flexible repayment plans than private student loans. If you (and/or your cosigner) have a strong credit history and high income, you may be able to get a lower interest rate with private loans than with federal loans.

Receiving a college degree has historically correlated with higher earnings potential over an adult’s lifetime. For that reason, students borrow loans to pay for college because education is seen as a good investment. 

While it is generally best to avoid debt, student loans are often considered “good debt” because a college degree improves your long-term earnings potential. 

Student loans receive this classification because the value of a college education appreciates over time and, in the end, is worth more than the loan. On average, college graduates earn more money and find jobs faster than those who only have a high school diploma.

To determine your eligibility, complete our three minute form. If you are eligible, you’ll instantly receive personalized rates on your Sparrow Dashboard from all the lenders with whom you qualify.

About 90% of Sparrow’s private student loan borrowers apply with a cosigner. Cosigners can increase your chances of being approved by lenders. Including a cosigner may also help you receive lower interest rates.

Most lenders look at your credit history and income to determine your eligibility for a student loan. If you don’t have a strong credit history or income, you may want to consider applying with a cosigner to improve your chances of qualifying for loans with better terms and lower interest rates. 

If you don’t have a cosigner, you’re in luck! Sparrow has partnered with several lenders that don’t require a credit check or a cosigner. 

Note: Sparrow is completely free and doesn’t impact your credit score.

Yes, Sparrow is available to international students!  

Two lenders on Sparrow’s platform focus specifically on international students who don’t have a U.S. based cosigner or Social Security Number (SSN). Several other lenders allow international students to borrow if they have a U.S. citizen as a cosigner or a SSN.

Sparrow is not a lender. Instead, we partner with the top lenders across the country to make them compete for your business. When lenders compete, borrowers win! 

Sparrow’s network of lending partners offer undergraduate student loans, graduate student loans (MBA, Law, Dental, etc.), international student loans, parent loans, and student loan refinancing. May the best rate win!

After you’ve completed the FAFSA for federal student loans, secured grants, scholarships, and other financial aid, your school’s financial aid office will provide you with a summary. You may find that there’s a gap left in funding your education. Two common options to fill this gap are family savings (if available), or private student loans.

If you decide to go with private student loans, Sparrow is the right place to begin your search. The maximum amount you can borrow from Sparrow’s lending partners is based on your school’s certified costs minus the amount of financial assistance you’ve already received (i.e. federal assistance, scholarships, etc.). We encourage you to reach out to your financial aid office to get more information on your school’s certified costs.

There are three key differences between federal and private student loans. 

Who issues the loan? Federal student loans are offered by the U.S. Department of Education. Private student loans are offered by private lenders (banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions). To apply for federal student loans, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Assistance (FAFSA). To apply for private student loans, search on Sparrow and we’ll find you the best rates across a network of 17+ lenders. 

How much can I borrow? Federal student loans have borrowing limits. Undergraduates can borrow up to $12,500 annually and $57,500 total in federal student loans, while graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 annually and $138,500 total. If you’re attending an expensive school, you may not be able to cover the entire cost of college with federal student loans. If federal student loans don’t cover the entire cost, you can turn to private lenders, which allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance.

What are the benefits? Federal student loans come with borrower protections such as income-driven repayment, deferment, forbearance, and loan forgiveness that private student loans don’t provide.

No, you don’t need to complete the FAFSA to use Sparrow.

Interest is the cost you pay to borrow money. Interest is calculated as a percent that the lender applies to your principal loan amount. Interest adds to the total cost of your loan. Many private student lenders allow you to choose between a fixed and variable interest rate.

Fixed rate: Fixed rate loans have the same APR throughout the lifetime of the loan. This may be an attractive option if you want to know the exact amount you need to pay each month to budget accordingly. 

Variable rate: Variable rate loans have an APR which may change throughout the lifetime of the loan. The interest rate may change on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. Variable rates are calculated based on the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or SOFR — a global market benchmark for many different types of loans and credit cards. If the SOFR falls, so will the rate on your loan. But if the SOFR increases, your interest rate — and monthly payment — will go up with it.

The main factors to consider when borrowing a private student loan are the: annual percentage rate (APR), principal, loan term, monthly payment, and total cost.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR): APR is the amount you’ll pay to borrow the money, including interest and fees, given as a yearly percentage. The higher the APR, the more you’ll owe in return for the loan. In general, your APR is determined by your creditworthiness. If you or your cosigner have a high credit score, you’re more likely to receive a lower APR. On the other hand, if you or your cosigner have a low credit score, you’re more likely to a higher APR.

Principal: Principal is the amount that you are borrowing minus fees, penalties, interest and other costs.

Loan Term: Loan term, also called loan duration, is the length of time you’ll have to pay off your loan.

In general, the shorter the loan term, the higher the monthly payments, but the faster the loan will be paid off. The longer the loan term, the lower the monthly payments, but the slower the loan will be paid off, meaning you’ll have to pay more interest over time.

Monthly Payment: The monthly payment is the amount you owe each month. It’s made up of principal, interest and other fees.

Total Cost: Total cost refers to the total loan amount, or overall principal and interest, you’ll pay over the life of your car loan.

Your private student loan funds are sent directly to your school’s financial aid office. Your school automatically deducts your outstanding balance (if applicable). Following deductions, the remaining amount of your loan funds are sent directly to you, the borrower.

Your school sets the loan disbursement date (when you actually receive the money), which is usually a week or two prior to the beginning of the semester or quarter.

Repayment will vary depending on your lender and repayment plan. Interest begins accruing immediately after the funds are disbursed. Depending on your repayment plan, you may not begin making monthly payments until after graduation.

Nothing! Using Sparrow is free — no membership fees or annual dues.

Application process

Finding your pre-qualified rates is simple and easy. If you don’t have an account, sign up. If you do have an account, log in. Once you’re in your Dashboard, complete the three minute form to instantly compare your rates across all of our lending partners.

You will need the following information to find personalized rates on Sparrow:

  • First name, last name, date of birth, and citizenship status
  • Physical address
  • Email address
  • Loan size
  • Income and housing expenses
  • Name of school, degree, concentration, and expected graduation date

Yes! We automatically save your progress along the way. To gain access at a later date, log in.

Yes, Sparrow conducts a soft credit pull when you apply for personalized rates. 

The soft credit pull allows us to instantly show you the rates you qualify for at each of our lenders, and it doesn’t impact your credit score.

Sparrow: You don’t need to upload any documents to find personalized rates through Sparrow.

Lenders: The documents you submit will vary depending on the lender. Most lenders require you to upload a pay stub (W-2’s or 1099’s) to verify your income and an ID (driver’s license or passport) to verify your identity. If your rate is through one of our non credit-based lending partners, you may have to submit a copy of your transcript to verify your GPA.

The information that you provide (including your income and housing expenses) should only pertain to you (the borrower), even if you live with your parents. 

If you include a parent or guardian as a cosigner, they will have an opportunity to include their income and housing expenses separately in their cosigner profile.

The information that you provide (including your income and housing expenses) should only pertain to you (the borrower), even if you have a spouse or partner. 

For example, if you pay for half of your monthly housing bill, only include your portion of payment, not the total amount paid by you and your spouse/partner. 

If you include your spouse or partner as a cosigner, they will have an opportunity to include their income and housing expenses separately in their cosigner profile.

Permanent Address: Your permanent address is the location where you reside. This is usually an apartment, house, or any address that describes where you live.

Mailing Address: Your mailing address is the place where you would like to receive your mail. This can be a post office, any other location, or even the same place as your permanent address.

You can check the status of your application by logging into your Sparrow account and visiting your Dashboard. If you’ve any questions, send us an email at

Once you’ve signed for a loan with one of our lenders, they will be the primary point of contact for any questions you may have about your repayment.

Some Sparrow lending partners offer an autopay discount. The APR you see on your Dashboard will include any autopay discount that is available. You can choose to view your rates without the discount. 

Typically, the automatic payment discount lowers your rate by 0.25%. If your rate has an autopay discount available, you will have the opportunity to sign up for autopay after your loan is finalized.

Deferments or forbearance may be offered depending on the lender. The lender’s policy will be stated on the credit agreement for your loan.

Most of our lending partners offer private student loan products to students enrolled at least part-time in most Title IV-eligible schools. If you cannot find your school, but believe it is a Title IV-eligible institution, please select “Other – school not listed.”

You can view a list of Title IV-eligible schools here.

If any of our lending partners have loan options for you, you’ll see a notification on your Sparrow Dashboard within 20 seconds of submission. 

We may also notify you about your options by email, phone, or text. We’ll only reach out once we have received responses from all potential lenders.

Receiving and selecting personalized rates

You’re not guaranteed to receive personalized rates. Each of our lending partners uses its own criteria to determine whether you’re eligible for a loan. Each lender’s filtering criteria is based on the information you provide and a soft credit inquiry (which doesn’t affect your credit score). You’ll receive pre-qualified rates from lenders if you meet their pre-qualification criteria.

We also have lending partners who don’t provide pre-qualified rates on our platform. You’ll see a link for these other lending partners on your Dashboard.

The likelihood of eligibility, or receiving better rates, might increase if you add a creditworthy cosigner.

Your personalized rates may update at any point during the pre-qualification process. Your rates are not finalized until you’ve officially submitted a loan request directly with one of our lending partners.

We’ve hand-selected our lending partners to offer maximum coverage and ensure that every student has an opportunity to find affordable financing on Sparrow. Unfortunately, some students slip through the cracks because they don’t meet the criteria of our lending partners. 

If you don’t receive personalized rates, you’ll see a message about your other available options on your Dashboard. For example, if you’re potentially eligible to receive pre-qualified rates by adding a cosigner, you’ll be presented with the option to add a cosigner. 

If you don’t have a cosigner, don’t worry! Sparrow has partnered with several lenders that don’t require a credit check or a cosigner. 

If you’re still ineligible, try coming back to Sparrow in a few weeks. Our lending partners frequently update their eligibility criteria.

You’ll see all of your personalized rates at the same time. Borrowers will often only pre-qualify for one or two personalized rates from one or two lenders. 

On your Dashboard, you can compare personalized rates side-by-side. 

Once you decide which repayment plan is right for you, click the “Apply” button. If you’ve any questions along the way, email us at

No, the personalized rates on Sparrow are not offers of credit. By submitting your form, you’re evaluating potential rates from our lending partners. Once you choose the option you’d like to move forward with on Sparrow, we’ll bring you to the lenders website to apply for a real application for credit.

At that point, the lender will conduct a credit inquiry to confirm your eligibility for their loan.

We partner with four types of lenders: (i) banks (ii) financial technology companies (iii) credit unions and (iv) state agencies. The broader the network of lenders, the more competitive the rates.

Our lending partners offer private student loans for undergraduate and graduate degrees with repayment terms from 5 to 20 years. You can find out more about our lending partners by reading the lender reviews on Sparrow Articles.

The lenders we partner with offer loans with several different repayment plans:

  • Immediate Payment: Full payments begin shortly after the loan is disbursed.
  • Interest Only: Only make interest payments while you’re in-school.
  • Fixed Payment: Make a flat payment (e.g. $25 per month) while you’re in school. Full payments of both interest and principal begin after graduation.
  • Full Deferral: Payment is completely deferred until after you graduate, typically for a period of six months. But interest starts accruing as soon as funds are disbursed.

Note: not all lenders offer all four repayment plans.

Response times vary per lender. Assuming you have provided accurate and complete information on your loan application, lenders typically respond within three to four business days.

For in-school private student loans, the funds are disbursed directly to your financial aid office. After deducting any outstanding balance, your school will provide you, the borrower, with access to your loan funds.

Your school sets the disbursement date (when you actually receive the money), which is before the beginning of a new semester. Regardless of when you applied for the loan, your school’s disbursement date will be the same. However, it’s best to apply early so that you can avoid any unexpected confusion or delays.

The most common reasons for delays are as follows:

  • Delays by the borrower or cosigner in responding to the lender’s request for documentation;
  • Incomplete information on borrower or cosigner’s application;
  • Incomplete documentation provided by the borrower or cosigner in response to the lender’s request for documentation; or
  • Delays in the lender receiving the certification from the borrower’s school’s financial aid office, certifying school costs.

Sparrow doesn’t set the disbursement rules. Lenders usually won’t disburse funds directly to borrowers. Instead, the funds are disbursed directly to the school you’re attending. The school will then disburse the funds to you.

Cosigner inclusion and benefits

A cosigner is a person who agrees to be legally responsible to pay a debt if the borrower doesn’t pay back a loan as agreed. 

Having a cosigner with excellent credit is a great way to maximize your chances of receiving the best rate on your private loans for school.

When lenders assess your eligibility, two factors they consider are credit score and income. Since most students (especially undergraduate students) don’t have lengthy credit history or robust income, it can be helpful to include an eligible cosigner.

Your spouse, relative, guardian, or friend can be a cosigner. Only one person can cosign for a private student loan. For instance, if two parents are willing to be cosigners, only one will be able to do it. Your cosigner is equally responsible for repayment of the full amount of the loan, not just part of it.

Select lenders allow a cosigner to be released from their loan obligation after you, the borrower, have met certain requirements.

You’re not required to have a cosigner to use Sparrow. However, if you’ve a limited or poor credit history and minimal income, adding a creditworthy cosigner can improve your chances of qualifying for a loan.

Just like for borrowers, it takes just three minutes for a cosigner to include themselves on a pre-qualification request.

Many of Sparrow’s lending partners offer the benefit of cosigner release. To confirm whether a specific lender offers cosigner release, we recommend you visit the lender’s website to read their official policy.

After receiving your personalized rates, you’ll have the option to add a cosigner.

If your cosigner is available, they can fill out the form at the same time as you. Otherwise, we can email them instructions on how to complete their profile at their convenience.

Adding a cosigner to your Sparrow application won’t impact their credit score.

If a cosigner isn’t available and you can’t pre-qualify for a private student loan by yourself, consider exploring Sparrow’s lending partners that specialize in non-cosigned loans.

Yes, Sparrow’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy apply to cosigners. To create a cosigner account, a user must consent to Sparrow’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

No, by completing a cosigner profile you, along with the primary borrower, are inquiring about potential options available from our lending partners. You’re not submitting a real application for credit through Sparrow.

About Sparrow

Sparrow is the fastest way to search and compare private student loans.

Sparrow allows you to compare real student loan rates through a single three minute form. Think of Sparrow as the Expedia of student loans. 

With Sparrow, you can compare personalized rates from multiple lenders side-by-side so you know exactly how each offer stacks up when it comes to APR, monthly payments, total repayment amount, & repayment plans. 

And best of all, Sparrow is completely free!

Sparrow shows you the best pre-qualified student loan rates from 17+ different lenders. Unlike other marketplaces, Sparrow integrates directly with lenders, providing you with real, personalized repayment options. With Sparrow, you conduct an exhaustive search across many of the top lenders through a single form, rather than going to each lender individually. Checking your pre-qualified rates with Sparrow won’t affect your credit score.

Other marketplaces will only show you generic rate ranges. This is effectively the same thing as Expedia showing flight offers between $100 and $1,000 — it’s only helpful if you know where you fall in that range.

Sparrow is entirely free for our users. How? 

If you use Sparrow to find a loan, our lending partners pay us a fee when the loan is disbursed. The fees that we’re paid don’t impact the options you see or how those options are displayed on our site.

We make safety and security our top priority. Sparrow’s marketplace has SSL verification, which is the highest standard of identity assurance. This verification establishes a secure connection between your browser and our website. More importantly, SSL encryption protects any sensitive data you provide.

Credit considerations

In order to display personalized rates, Sparrow conducts a soft credit pull. Soft credit pulls don’t impact your credit score.

One of the perks of using Sparrow is that you can apply for pre-qualified rates from multiple lenders through a single application, without affecting your credit score. This is because we perform a soft credit inquiry (which doesn’t impact your credit), not a hard credit inquiry (which does impact your credit).

Soft credit inquiry: A soft inquiry – also called a “soft pull” – allows lenders to review your credit report and credit score without impacting your credit.

Hard credit inquiry: Hard credit inquiries are performed by lenders when you submit formal applications for credit. 

FICO, the provider of the most commonly used credit scores, considers credit inquiries for the same type of financial product over a typical shopping period (less than 30 days) as “rate shopping”, and counts these inquiries as a single inquiry against your credit score. For example, if you’re shopping for a loan with multiple lenders at once over a 30 day period or less, the credit bureaus will likely count this as a single inquiry.

FICO has provided a detailed note on the topic entitled “How do FICO scores consider student loan shopping”, and explains the concept and impact of “rate shopping” under Credit Basics – Credit Checks & Inquiries.

The fastest way to see if you qualify is to fill out Sparrow’s three-minute form. It’s quick, simple and free! You’ll find out almost instantly whether you pre-qualify with any of our lending partners. Checking these pre-qualified rates won’t affect your credit score.

If you’ve a limited or poor credit history, adding a creditworthy cosigner can improve your chances of pre-qualifying for a loan.

My account

You can edit your email address and password from your Dashboard. 

You can delete your Sparrow account by sending us a message at Your Sparrow profile data will be removed within three business days. We may keep your identifiable information to the extent required by law.

Contact Us

Most questions that aren’t answered here can be answered by reviewing our Help Center

We’d love to hear from you! You can email us at, call us at (646) 980-4056, or chat with a member of our Borrower Success Team through the Messenger on our website.