Best Student Loans for MBA Programs in January 2024

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Edited byAmy Wilder

Updated: March 22, 2024

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Pursuing an MBA can help you improve your career — but it comes at a cost. Fortunately, if you need help funding a degree, there are various avenues to get an MBA student loan, whether federal or private.

While federal student loans should be maximized first, they may not always be enough. This is where private MBA student loans come in, as they can be used to help close the gaps in funding. For instance, they can help pay for any remaining tuition, living expenses, the cost of books and more.

To help you find student loans for MBA programs, MoneyGeek reviewed over 30 private lenders and assessed them based on six key categories: affordability, accessibility, consumer friendliness, customer service, flexibility and lender transparency.

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College Ave Review


  • College Ave

    Best for students who need flexible repayment terms.


    • 4.43% - 17.99%Fixed APR Range
    • 5.59% - 17.99%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000 minimum, no maximumLoan Amount Range
    • Not requiredCo-Signer

    A company founded in 2014, College Ave provides MBA student loans and loan refinancing across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Offering flexible repayment terms and an option between fixed or variable rates, College Ave allows students to bridge the gap in their funding.

    College Ave’s MBA student loans come with a variable APR that can range from 3.99% – 12.99% or a fixed APR from 4.24% – 12.99%. Borrowers have an option between four repayment options (full principal and interest payment, interest-only payment, flat payment or deferred payment) and four loan terms (5, 8, 10 or 15 years), giving students the option to choose what suits their situation best.

    Pros

    • Offers flexible repayment terms
    • Allows you to apply online
    • Does not have any origination fees
    • Gives you a choice between fixed and variable interest rates
    • Has no prepayment penalties

    Cons

    • May take up to 10 business days to fund
    • Charges a late payment fee
    • Requires students to make satisfactory academic progress (SAP)
    College Ave

Earnest Review


  • Earnest

    Best for those who need a long grace period.


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

    Earnest, founded in 2013, was originally a refinancing provider for federal loans. In 2019, it started offering private student loans to graduate and undergraduate borrowers. Today, Earnest offers various financial services, including student loans, personal loans, credit cards and refinancing options.

    At Earnest, MBA student loans boast several benefits. These include a nine-month grace period after graduation, which is three months longer than other lenders, and the option to skip a payment once a year. On top of this, Earnest borrowers can get a 0.25% discount on their APR if they set up autopay.

    However, Earnest does not offer student loans for MBA programs in Nevada. Additionally, the company has specific eligibility requirements: a borrower must have reached their state’s age of majority and be a full-time student.

    Pros

    • Offers a nine-month grace period
    • Does not charge fees
    • Allows you to skip a payment once a year
    • Gives a discount of 0.25% for autopay
    • Allows students to make a flat $25 payment while in school

    Cons

    • Does not offer MBA student loans in Nevada
    • Offers loans to full-time students only
    • Requires borrowers to meet state’s age-of-majority requirements
    Earnest

Sallie Mae Review


  • Sallie Mae

    Best for students enrolled 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

    Sallie Mae began as a public banking corporation providing federal education loans in 1972. Today, the company offers private student loans to graduate, undergraduate or career-training students who need financial assistance to pay for their education.

    At Sallie Mae, borrowers seeking an MBA student loan can choose between variable or fixed APRs, with a chance to get a 0.25% discount if they schedule automatic payments. Students can also choose from three repayment options: pay later, pay a little or pay interest. If students choose to pay later, they can get a grace period of up to six months. Additionally, Sallie Mae offers their student loans to those enrolled half-time, which isn’t common amongst other lenders.

    Borrowers getting an MBA student loan at Sallie Mae must be aware, however, that the company may take up to 10 days to release funds. Planning ahead is a must for students who need a loan from Sallie Mae.

    Pros

    • Requires no origination fee
    • Does not charge a prepayment penalty
    • Offers flexible repayment plans
    • Gives a 0.25% discount on interest rate with autopay
    • Offers up to 100% of the total cost of education

    Cons

    • Offers a high APR maximum at 14.48% for fixed and 15.10% for variable APR
    • May take 10 days to release funds
    • Has a late fee of 5% of the payment amount, maximum of $25
    Sallie Mae

Ascent Review


  • Ascent

    Best for MBA students who need additional financial literacy


    • 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 has been in the business of providing student loans since 2015 to revolutionize the way students finance education. Not only does the company try to achieve this by offering flexible repayment plans, but it allows borrowers to defer payments for up to nine months and get a 0.25% discount on their interest if they enable automatic payments. On top of this, referring a friend can get a borrower a reward of $525.

    The company’s MBA student loan borrowers can choose between a variable or fixed APR. However, its fixed APRs can go as high as 16.43% — with the autopay discount applied. This is a high maximum compared to other lenders, but remember that the rate you get will depend on your circumstances. Additionally, the company requires a minimum income requirement if you don’t have a co-signer, and its loan limit is $400,000 for MBA borrowers.

    Pros

    • Does not charge origination or prepayment penalty fees
    • Has flexible repayment plans
    • Offers a 0.25% discount on your APR if you qualify
    • Grants a referral reward of $525
    • Allows borrowers to defer payments up to nine months

    Cons

    • Has a minimum income requirement if you have no co-signer
    • Does not cover up to the total cost of education
    • Has a high maximum for fixed APR at 16.43%
    Ascent

Federal MBA Student Loan Options

Before applying for any private student loans, MBA students should first maximize their federal student loans, as they often come with low interest rates. A student can apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form online.

For federal student loans, borrowers have two options: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Grad PLUS Loans.

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: A Direct Unsubsidized Loan is available to graduate and undergraduate students. The maximum amount you can borrow is determined by your attendance cost and other financial aid. For graduate borrowers, the interest rate is 6.54%.
  • Grad PLUS Loans: A Grad PLUS Loan is meant for graduate and professional students. The interest rate for Grad PLUS Loans is 7.54%. The maximum amount you can borrow is up to the cost of attendance minus other financial assistance.

Borrowers must pay loan fees for both Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Grad PLUS Loans. It’s possible to have all or part of your loan forgiven if you meet certain requirements.

Factors to Consider in an MBA Student Loan

Before applying for an MBA student loan, it’s important to consider several factors, compare options and find the best loan offer available to fit your needs.

  • Program and school eligibility: Some lenders only provide loans to students attending the schools they support, which can vary. If your desired lender does not support your school, chances are you won’t be able to get an MBA student loan from it.
  • Basic eligibility requirements: Understanding the requirements are crucial as some lenders may have particular criteria, such as requiring you to maintain a specific grade point average or use the loan only for certain expenses.
  • Repayment terms and options: The repayment term is the length of the loan. Ideally, you should give yourself enough time to repay the loan at a rate that is comfortable for your situation.
  • Interest rates: A loan's cost is determined by its interest rate. The lower the interest rate, the less you will pay in total over the life of your loan. A low interest rate should come with a manageable loan term — after all, the longer the term, the more interest you will pay.
  • Maximum loan amounts: This is the maximum you can borrow, which is worth considering if you need to borrow more than a lender’s maximum. Ideally, it’s best to borrow from as few lenders as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions About MBA Student Loans

Getting an MBA student loan can help you further your career, but you may have questions about your best options. We’ve answered common questions about student loans for MBAs to help you navigate these loans.

For most MBA student loans, co-signers are optional. This is because MBA students will often have a more established financial history, and lenders view this type of borrower as less of a risk.

How much an MBA student needs to borrow will depend on various factors, such as the student’s school, their capacity to pay other expenses and whether they need to borrow only some or all of their education costs. Some borrowers may only need help with tuition, while others also need help with expenses such as books. Overall, how much is needed will vary from student to student.

If you can afford the cost of an MBA yourself, then a loan is not necessary. However, if your desired MBA program is costly or you need extra assistance, a loan can help you achieve your goal.

The length of time it takes to pay off an MBA student loan will depend on the loan terms, the borrowed amount and the borrower’s capacity to repay. Generally, MBA student loan lenders can have terms that last up to 15 years, or even longer for some. However, it’s possible to repay a loan even earlier if the borrower can do so.

The biggest advantage of getting a student loan for an MBA is the ability to further your education. However, taking out a loan may not be a good idea if you are unable to repay it or have outstanding debt you can’t manage.

Yes, it’s possible to get an MBA student loan while working. If you decide to take classes part time while working, you may require a smaller loan amount each year.

This depends on how the lender disburses the payments. Some lenders will want to give the funds directly to your school, while others will give them directly to you.

Methodology

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.

Here at MoneyGeek, we value you, the consumer, so we also factor in each lender’s customer support, business ratings and additional features that could make your experience easier and more accessible — like prequalification, payment options and mobile apps.

After careful consideration and calculation, our picks are decided and chosen with your best interest in mind. Our personal loan recommendations and expert tips are meant to help you make the best decision when choosing a lender that meets your needs.

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