With tuition rates climbing steadily in Idaho, pursuing a college degree is becoming increasingly expensive. As such, finding the best student loans in Idaho has become an essential part of the college planning process for many students and their families.

MoneyGeek’s research found that PNC provides the best overall student loans in the state. But depending on your specific profile, the best lender for you may differ. For instance, Earnest is the best option for students who want the lowest interest rates, whereas Funding U is ideal for those with bad credit. Ascent is preferable for international students, while students who need a co-signer should consider College Ave.

Understanding Student Loans

Student loans serve as a lifeline for many pursuing higher education, enabling access to college or university when personal or family funds fall short. They are specialized loans tailored to cover the myriad costs of higher education, including tuition, books, housing and other related expenses.

The basic mechanics of a student loan are woven into a process that begins with borrowing a specific amount to cover educational costs. This borrowed amount, known as the principal, accrues interest over time. The interest rate and how it's applied can vary widely between different loans. Repayment of both the principal and interest typically commences after the student graduates or falls below a certain enrollment status.

When it comes to student loans, there are two primary categories:

  • Federal student loans: Backed by the U.S. government, federal student loans often offer more favorable terms for students. They come with fixed interest rates, flexible repayment plans, deferment options and loan forgiveness programs.
  • Private student loans: Unlike federal loans, private student loans might have variable interest rates, meaning they can fluctuate over time. Qualifying for a private loan often requires a credit check, and the repayment terms are generally less flexible.

Student loans are a critical financial tool for higher education. By distinguishing between federal and private options, you can make an educated decision that aligns with your academic goals and financial realities.

Best Private Student Loans in Idaho

Private student loans are funds provided by banks, credit unions or other private lenders to assist students in covering the costs of higher education. These loans are often sought when other financial aid options are insufficient or unavailable.

In certain situations, private student loans can be a viable option. For instance, when federal aid, scholarships and grants have been maximized but still don't cover the total cost of education, private loans can bridge the gap. They may also be an alternative for students attending institutions that don't qualify for federal aid or for those pursuing non-traditional educational paths.

The decision to pursue a private student loan should be approached with a thorough understanding of the terms and conditions. While private loans have higher borrowing limits, they typically come with variable interest rates. The repayment terms may also be less forgiving.

Best Overall


  • PNC

    • 2.99%–9.89%Fixed APR Range
    • 1.09%–8.19%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000–$50,000Loan Amount Range
    • AllowedCo-Signer

    PNC

    PNC

Best With Lowest Interest Rates


  • Earnest

    • 4.43% - 14.90%Fixed APR Range
    • 5.32% - 16.20%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000 upLoan Amount Range
    • Allowed Co-Signer

    Earnest

    Earnest

Best for Those With Bad Credit


  • Funding U

    • 6.99% – 12.49%Fixed APR Range
    • 7.49% – 12.99%Variable APR Range
    • $3,001 up to $20,000Loan Amount Range
    • Not requiredCo-Signer

    Funding U

    Funding U

Best for Parents


  • Discover

    • 3.99%–11.59%Fixed APR Range
    • 1.79%–11.09%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000 up to 100% of college expensesLoan Amount Range
    • Optional Co-Signer

    Discover

    Discover

Best for International Students


  • Ascent

    • 4.36%–14.08%Fixed APR Range
    • 1.47%–11.31%Variable APR Range
    • $2,001–$200,000Loan Amount Range
    • Non-U.S. citizens and temporary residentsCo-Signer

    Ascent

    Ascent

Best for Those That Need a Co-Signer


  • College Ave

    • 4.44% - 15.99%Fixed APR Range
    • 5.09% - 15.99%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000 minimum, no maximumLoan Amount Range
    • Not requiredCo-Signer

    College Ave

    College Ave

Federal Student Loans in Idaho

Federal student loans are a cornerstone of educational financing in the United States, offering financial support to students who are pursuing post-secondary education. Backed by the federal government, these loans are crafted with terms that aim to make higher education more accessible and affordable. Here’s a look at some of their benefits:

  • Lower interest rates: The interest rates on federal student loans are often fixed, ensuring that the cost of borrowing remains stable throughout the life of the loan.
  • Income-driven repayment options: Federal student loans stand out for their variety of income-driven repayment plans, allowing borrowers to align their monthly payments with their earning potential.
  • Options for deferment or forbearance: Federal loans offer deferment and forbearance options to temporarily pause payments, allowing borrowers to navigate difficult periods without defaulting.
  • Accessibility without credit checks: Many federal student loans are available without the need for a credit check, ensuring that students without a credit history or with less-than-perfect credit can still access financial support.

How to Apply for Federal Student Loans in Idaho

Pursuing a federal student loan in Idaho involves taking the following steps, each designed to guide you to the right financial solution for your educational pursuits in the Gem State.

1

Identify eligible schools and programs in Idaho

Begin by researching colleges and universities in Idaho that participate in the federal student aid program. Selecting an institution that aligns with your educational goals and offers access to federal financial aid ensures a strong start to your academic journey.

2

Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your entry point to federal student loans in Idaho. It assesses your financial situation, considering factors like family income and size to determine your eligibility for loans, grants and other aid.

3

Review your Student Aid Report

After submitting the FAFSA, you'll receive a SAR summarizing your information. Carefully review this report for accuracy, as Idaho's academic institutions will use it to craft your financial aid package. Any errors can be corrected by accessing your FAFSA account online.

4

Evaluate and accept a financial aid offer

Upon admission to an Idaho school, you'll receive a financial aid offer that may include federal student loans. Carefully evaluate the loan types and amounts, considering your specific needs and future repayment ability.

5

Complete entrance counseling

If you're a first-time borrower, federal student loans require entrance counseling. This step educates you about the responsibilities associated with taking out a federal student loan in Idaho, ensuring that you fully understand the terms and conditions of your loan.

6

Sign the Master Promissory Note

The Master Promissory Note (MPN) is a binding legal document where you agree to repay the loan along with any interest and fees. In signing the MPN in Idaho, you're committing to the terms laid out in the document, so reading and understanding them is essential.

The Types of Federal Student Loans Available in Idaho

For students in Idaho pursuing higher education, federal student loans offer a range of options to support their academic journey. These include:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans: Tailored for undergraduate students in Idaho with demonstrated financial need, Direct Subsidized Loans have the advantage of the government covering the interest during in-school and deferment periods. This feature helps Idaho students minimize the overall borrowing cost.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Open to both undergraduate and graduate students in Idaho, Direct Unsubsidized Loans do not require proof of financial need. However, interest accrues during all periods, and the student is responsible for paying it at all times.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: Designed for graduate students and parents of dependent undergraduates in Idaho, Direct PLUS Loans can cover education costs beyond what other financial aid provides. However, they require a credit check and may have higher interest rates.
  • Direct Consolidation Loans: For those in Idaho juggling multiple federal loans, Direct Consolidation Loans allow borrowers to combine them into a single loan with one monthly payment. This consolidation can simplify the repayment process and may provide access to different repayment plans.

Student Loan Forgiveness in Idaho

Student loan forgiveness is a financial provision where part or all of a borrower's student loan debt is canceled, eliminating the requirement to repay the remaining balance. This often serves as a reward or incentive for individuals who commit to working in specific fields or areas of significant importance to their communities.

In Idaho, there are specialized programs that offer student loan forgiveness, mainly targeting teachers, healthcare professionals and public service workers.

1

Idaho State Loan Repayment Program

Aimed at healthcare professionals, the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program encourages qualified individuals to serve in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) within Idaho. By working in these underserved communities, healthcare providers can receive assistance in repaying their student loans.

You must be licensed and work full-time at an eligible HPSA site in Idaho to qualify. You must also have qualifying educational loans and commit to a specified service obligation in an underserved area. To apply, you must complete the Idaho SLRP application, provide evidence of your educational loans and submit proof of employment at an eligible HPSA site in Idaho.

2

Idaho Rural Physician Incentive Program

Aimed at healthcare professionals, the Idaho State Loan Repayment Program encourages qualified individuals to serve in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) within Idaho. By working in these underserved communities, healthcare providers can receive assistance in repaying their student loans.

You must be licensed and work full-time at an eligible HPSA site in Idaho to qualify. You must also have qualifying educational loans and commit to a specified service obligation in an underserved area. To apply, you must complete the Idaho SLRP application, provide evidence of your educational loans and submit proof of employment at an eligible HPSA site in Idaho.

3

Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program is designed to forgive the remaining balance on Direct Loans for borrowers who work in qualifying public service roles. This program can provide significant financial relief for Idaho residents working in government or non-profit sectors within the state.

To be eligible for PSLF in Idaho, borrowers must be employed full-time by a government or non-profit organization in the state. They must have Direct Loans and make 120 qualifying monthly payments under an income-driven repayment plan, all while working in a qualifying public service position. The application process involves submitting the Employment Certification Form each year or when changing employers.

Tips for Managing Student Loans

Navigating the world of student loans requires careful planning and thoughtful decision-making, especially when it comes to borrowing, repayment and overall loan management. Here are some essential tips to help you embark on this journey smoothly:

  • cashCard icon

    Borrow only what’s necessary

    Assessing your actual needs, considering tuition, living expenses and additional resources like scholarships or family support, helps you borrow only what you need. Mindful borrowing can ease the repayment process and reduce financial stress in the future.

  • calendar icon

    Understand the grace period

    Many student loans provide a grace period after graduation, a window of time where payments are paused. This period, often lasting six months, is designed to help you transition into your career. Being aware of the specific terms of your grace period allows you to plan effectively for repayment.

  • loans icon

    Make proactive payment strategies

    Paying your loan during school or the grace period can have long-term financial benefits. These early payments directly reduce the principal, limiting the interest that can build over time. This proactive approach can lead to substantial savings and a shorter repayment timeline.

  • financialPlanning icon

    Keep track of loan documents and payment schedules

    Creating a system through physical folders or digital tools ensures you have all the necessary information about your student loan. Use scheduling tools to track your financial obligations and progress toward repayment.

Scholarships and Grants as Alternatives

Scholarships and grants offer students the opportunity to receive financial support for their education without the obligation of repayment, setting them apart from loans. While loans must be repaid with interest, scholarships are often merit-based awards recognizing achievements in academics, sports or other areas. Grants are typically awarded based on financial need.

To find and apply for scholarships and grants in Idaho, consider following this strategic approach that takes into consideration the unique opportunities and resources within the Gem State:

1

Identify your eligibility criteria

Begin by identifying your specific qualifications, such as academic achievements, community involvement or financial need. Knowing what makes you a strong candidate will guide your search for scholarships and grants tailored to Idaho residents or students.

2

Explore Idaho-specific opportunities

Research scholarships and grants are offered by Idaho-based organizations, educational institutions and local businesses. These awards often reflect the values and needs of the Idaho community and may align closely with your qualifications.

3

Prepare necessary documents

Gather essential documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation or proof of residency in Idaho. Having these documents on hand will facilitate the application process and ensure you meet the state's specific requirements for scholarships and grants.

4

Write a personal statement or essay

If required, craft an essay or statement highlighting your connection to Idaho, your goals and why you're an ideal candidate for the award. Emphasizing how the scholarship or grant aligns with your aspirations can make your application more compelling.

5

Apply to various opportunities

Increase your chances by applying to multiple scholarships and grants in Idaho. Carefully tailor each application to the specific award, reflecting how you meet the criteria and resonate with the values and goals of the scholarship or grant.

6

Monitor your applications and respond promptly

Keep track of your applications and be prepared to respond promptly to any follow-up requests or interviews. Timely responses reflect your dedication and professionalism — qualities valued by many scholarship and grant providers.

The Impact of Student Loans on Credit

Student loans, like other forms of credit, are reported to credit bureaus, and how you manage your loan payments becomes a critical part of your credit history. For instance, consistent and on-time payments reflect positively on your credit report, improving your credit score.

On the other hand, the potential consequences of student loan default are dire and far-reaching. It can significantly drop your credit score and remain on your report for years. This can make future borrowing more difficult and costly, with higher interest rates and more restrictive terms. In some situations, legal actions may also be taken against you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding student loans is essential for students seeking to finance their education. To help demystify this critical aspect of higher education, we gathered a list of frequently asked questions about student loans in Idaho.

About Christopher Boston


Christopher Boston headshot

Christopher Boston is a Senior Manager of Content Strategy and SEO at MoneyGeek. For over half a decade, they have crafted hundreds of articles spanning the higher education, mortgage and personal loan industries. Christopher is passionate about using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend their earnings efficiently.


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