New site helps students compare private loans

“You have instances where the same lender will provide radically different rates depending on the pipeline a student takes,” he said. “We have a market that operates like that … and we think you should be able to go to somewhere that’s transparent and get the rates that are appropriate for you.”

Private student loans accounted for about one-quarter of all student loans during the 2007-08 academic year, before dropping by about half the following year, according to statistics from the College Board, a national organization of colleges and universities.

The College Board’s 2007-08 student lending analysis also showed that students at nonprofit colleges were more likely to accrue debt when compared to students at public colleges and universities.

Connecting students to local lenders that have struggled to compete with the country’s largest private student loan providers can benefit students looking for options and small financial institutions seeking visibility among the college crowd, Bjarekul said.

“The lenders who participate in our site don’t have to have huge advertising budgets,” she said. “Everyone can compete on the same playing field.”

States included in The Marketplace are Ohio, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, New York, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, and California.