Student Loans SimpleScore Methodology


The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

For every review, our editorial team:

  • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
  • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
  • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore™

Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best student loans of 2020.

Max Fixed Rate

Lenders who offered a lower maximum fixed rate were awarded higher scores.

Aspect Score12345
Max Fixed RateOver 15.01%13.01% – 15%11.01% – 13%9.01% – 11%Under 9%


We awarded higher scores for lenders that list more perks including services, discounts and special offers for their borrowers.

Aspect Score12345
PerksNo perks1 perk2 perks3 perks4 + perks


Lenders that laid it all bare by publishing important data about products — APR, offered loan amounts, applicable fees and customer support contact links — scored higher for transparency.

Aspect Score12345
Transparency0 data points1 data point2 data points3 data points4 data points

Loan Amount

Lenders that offered higher loan amounts compared to others received higher scores. 

Aspect Score12345
Loan AmountUnder 200KN/A$200K – $500KN/A100% of cost


We awarded higher scores to lenders that have fewer loan fees for borrowers. 

Aspect Score12345
Fees+4 fees3 fees2 fees1 fee0 fees