A postgraduate degree can help you further your career — but for many students, it can be an investment that requires the help of graduate student loans.
Thanks to their range of benefits, federal student loans are the primary option, but they may not cover the total cost of graduate school. After federal options are exhausted, a private student loan for graduate school can help make up the difference. You can use a private loan to help pay for graduate studies, whether a master’s degree or a Ph.D.
MoneyGeek analyzed the best student loans for graduate school by looking at more than 35 data points in six categories: affordability, accessibility, user-friendliness, customer service, flexibility and transparency.
Best for students who want flexible repayment terms and quick co-signer release terms.
- 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
on Ascent Website
Best for students who need to fund the total cost of their education through private loans.
- 3.22%–11.16%Fixed APR Range
- 1.10%–11.68%Variable APR Range
- $5,000 minimum, no maximumLoan Amount Range
on SoFi Website
Best for those who want to maximize loan discounts.
- 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
on Discover Website
Sallie Mae Review
- Sallie Mae
Best for students enrolled less than half time.
- 3.50%–13.83% Fixed APR Range
- 1.37%–11.76%Variable APR Range
- $1,000 minimum, no maximumLoan Amount Range
- Allowed but not requiredCo-signer
on Sallie Mae Website
How to Find the Right Graduate Student Loan
Since graduate school is a significant investment, finding the right graduate student loan provider is essential. Exploring your options and comparing lenders will help you find the most favorable loan terms.
- Determine the amount you need: Calculate the amount of money you need to cover the costs of your program. Understanding how much you need to cover graduate school, particularly after you exhaust federal student loans, can help you evaluate lenders’ limits.
- See eligibility requirements: Before pre-qualifying with providers or looking at other details, it’s important to narrow down your choices based on eligibility requirements. See if you or your co-signer meets your desired providers’ qualifications.
- Compare providers: Once you’ve identified the providers you qualify for, compare them by prequalifying to see their interest rates and terms. Note that these offers are not official and terms may change once you apply, but they can give a good idea of what you might get.
- Choose a provider and send in your application: After choosing a provider, find out its application process. You can often find this on its website or you can call the lender to talk to an agent.
- Receive funds and start making payments: If your graduate student loan gets approved, wait to receive your funds. The money is usually sent directly to your school, with any leftovers sent to you after all tuition and fees are paid. Make a plan for payment depending on your repayment terms.
Frequently Asked Questions About Graduate Student Loans
Getting a private student loan for graduate school can help fill any gaps that a federal loan can’t meet — but understanding the ins and outs is essential before you apply. Discover more about graduate student loans through MoneyGeek’s frequently asked questions.
We reviewed more than 30 private student loan lenders using 35+ individual data points across six key categories: loan affordability, accessibility, consumer friendliness, customer service, flexibility and lender transparency.
Within each ranking criteria category, we considered several individual data points that we feel carry the most weight when choosing a private student loan lender. These factors include APR ranges, available loan amount, minimum credit score, minimum income amount, application fees and disbursement time.
With the consumer in mind, we also factor in each lender’s customer support, business ratings and additional features that could make your experience easier and more accessible — like pre-qualification, payment options and mobile apps.
- Ascent. "Graduate Student Loans." Accessed February 14, 2023.
- SoFi. "Graduate Loans." Accessed February 14, 2023.
- Discover. "Graduate Student Loans." Accessed February 14, 2023.
- Sallie Mae. "Sallie Mae® Graduate School Loan." Accessed February 14, 2023.
- Federal Student Aid. "Direct PLUS Loans are federal loans that graduate or professional students can use to help pay for college or career school.." Accessed February 14, 2023.
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