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Best graduate school loan rates in October 2022

As of October 05, 2022
Graduate school loans are a great option for people who don't have the money to pay for college out of pocket and who have exhausted scholarship and grant opportunities. If you're searching for a loan, it's generally best to start with federal loans, but private student loans can offer lower rates to borrowers with good credit.
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INCOME BASED REPAYMENT

INCOME SHARE AGREEMENT

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.75- 13.72%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

Cost of attendance minus aid

Term: 10-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.7

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.75- 13.35%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.15- 14.75%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $400k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.22- 13.95%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

Income Based Repayment - No Cosigner Required

Get approved in minutes. Pre-qualify without affecting your credit score.

Apply on partner site

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.22- 12.78%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 9.74%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

BEST WITH CO-SIGNER

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.24- 9.93%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

4.2

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.20- 11.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

Apply on partner site

Income Share Agreement

Income shares range start as low as 1% of income over a 5 year period.

Apply on partner site

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The Bankrate guide to choosing the best graduate student loans

Why trust Bankrate?

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for a graduate student loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive interest rate. Also look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs. Loan details presented here are current as of Aug. 18, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The graduate student loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees and repayment options. To learn more about how we selected lenders, see our methodology section at the bottom of the page.

The best graduate student loan rates in October 2022

LENDER APR LOAN TERMS MIN. LOAN AMOUNT MAX. LOAN AMOUNT
U.S. Department of Education: Direct Unsubsidized Loan 6.54% fixed Standard repayment term is 10 years Not specified $20,500 per year (lifetime limit $138,500)
Ascent Fixed: 3.97% – 14.75% (with autopay); Variable: 2.55% – 12.87% (with autopay) 7 – 20 years $2,001 $200,000 per year ($400,000 aggregage)
Citizens Bank Fixed: 5.22% – 9.91%; Variable: 3.90% - 9.83% 5 – 15 years $1,000 $350,000
College Ave Fixed: 3.99% – 11.98% (with autopay); Variable: 1.76% – 10.97% (with autopay) 5 – 20 years $1,000 100% total cost of attendance ($150,000 maximum for some programs)
U.S. Department of Education: Grad PLUS loan 7.54% fixed Standard repayment term is 10 years Not specified 100% total cost of attendance
Sallie Mae Fixed: 4.25%–12.92% (with autopay); Variable: 3.87% - 13.50% (with autopay) 15 – 20 years $1,000 100% total cost of attendance
SoFi Fixed: 4.50% – 13.35% (with autopay); Variable: 3.69% – 12.13% (with autopay) 5 – 15 years $1,000 100% total cost of attendance

Best overall

Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans

See offers Arrow Right

Check with studentaid.gov

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.73% –6.28%
Loan amount:
$5,500–$57,500
Term lengths:
20 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Direct Unsubsidized Loans are originated by the U.S. Department of Education and are available to students seeking graduate degrees. Although loan amounts are lower and interest rates higher than those of some private lenders, the federal program offers the strongest borrower protections and most flexible repayment options available.
Why federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans are best overall: Federal student loans are often a better choice than private student loans because of their suite of repayment options, including some repayment plans that end in loan forgiveness. Direct Unsubsidized Loans are a particularly good choice, since they have lower interest rates than grad PLUS loans.

Best if you don’t have a co-signer

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.89% –14.75%
Loan amount:
$3,000–$20,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Ascent is an online lender that offers student loans for borrowers with or without a co-signer. Ascent doesn't just look at your creditworthiness; it also considers your school, program, GPA and cost of attendance when approving you for a loan.
Why Ascent is best if you don't have a co-signer: Ascent claims that it considers factors like your school, program and GPA in addition to your credit score, so you may have a better chance of getting a lower rate without a co-signer than you would with other lenders.

Best for multiyear approval

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.24% –9.93%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$12,000
Overview: Citizens Bank is a traditional bank that offers private student loans for graduate students seeking master's, business, medical, law and health care degrees. Its unique multiyear approval process allows you to secure funding for each year of school with just one application.
Why Citizens Bank is best for multiyear approval: With Citizens Bank, you can get approved for several years of student loan funds, saving you a hard credit check each year of school.

Best for quick application process

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.22% –13.95%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave is an online lender that offers private student loans to graduate students earning postgraduate, master's, doctoral and professional degrees. The lender specializes in a simple application process with an instant decision.
Why College Ave is best for quick application process: While you'll need to go through a full application down the line, you can get prequalified with College Ave in three minutes.

Best high-limit federal loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

See offers Arrow Right

Check with studentaid.gov

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.73% –6.28%
Loan amount:
$0–$500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 10 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Borrowers who have maxed out their Direct Unsubsidized Loans may wish to apply for a grad PLUS loan, which lets you take out up to 100 percent of the cost of your education. These loans require an additional application, but they come with the same federal benefits as Direct Unsubsidized Loans — income-driven repayment plans, hardship options and potential loan forgiveness.
Why federal grad PLUS loans are the best high-limit federal loan: Grad PLUS loans have the same benefits as other federal student loans, such as income-driven repayment plans and many deferment and forbearance opportunities. They have a higher interest rate than Direct Unsubsidized Loans (7.54 percent for the 2022-23 academic year), but they also let you borrow up to the full cost of attendance.

Best for part-time students

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.75% –13.72%
Loan amount:
$1,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: Sallie Mae offers private student loans to graduate students seeking master's or doctoral degrees, and they're available even if you're enrolled less than half time. It's a standout option if you want to take just a few classes at a time or you work on the side.
Why Sallie Mae is best for part-time students: Most student loan lenders require borrowers to be enrolled at least half time. Sallie Mae extends loans to students who are attending less than half time.

Best low APR

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
3.75% –13.35%
Loan amount:
$5,000–$500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$0
Overview: SoFi is an online lender that offers private student loans for graduate degree programs, law school and business school.
Why SoFi is best for a low APR: In addition to offering some of the lowest starting APRs on this list, SoFi also has ways to lower your interest rate further through autopay and member discounts.

What is a graduate student loan?

A graduate school loan is a type of student loan that can help pay for graduate school tuition, fees, books, housing and more. These loans often have higher borrowing limits than undergraduate student loans, since graduate school costs more, and they may have perks specific to your degree — for instance, extended deferment during a clerkship or fellowship.

Types of graduate student loans

When you need to borrow money to pay for graduate school, you have three main options: federal Direct Unsubsidized student loans, federal grad PLUS student loans and private student loans. There are pros and cons of each option, though in some cases you may need to borrow from both federal and private sources.

Federal graduate student loans

Federal student loans are originated by the U.S. Department of Education and are loaded with borrower protections and flexibility. Within this program, graduate students can choose between a Direct Unsubsidized student loan and a grad PLUS loan.

You can borrow up to $20,500 each school year with a Direct Unsubsidized student loan, with a $138,500 aggregate limit for most degrees. A grad PLUS loan allows you to borrow more — up to 100 percent of the cost of attendance. In general, it's best to maximize your unsubsidized loan options first, as interest rates are lower than those of grad PLUS loans. Additionally, you must go through a credit check for grad PLUS loans, which is not the case for Direct Unsubsidized Loans.

To apply for either of these loans, you'll have to complete the FAFSA, which opens on Oct. 1 each year. If you're applying for a grad PLUS loan, you'll also have to fill out a separate application once the FAFSA is complete. If this is your first time receiving a Direct Loan, you'll be required to complete entrance counseling.

Pros:

  • Flexible repayment options, including income-driven repayment plans.
  • The same fixed rates for all borrowers, regardless of credit score.
  • Borrower protections, including deferment and forbearance options and potential loan forgiveness.

Cons:

  • Relatively low loan limits for Direct Unsubsidized Loans.
  • Origination fees.
  • Potential for garnishment of wages or tax refunds if you default.
  • Potentially higher interest rates than private lenders offer if you have excellent credit.

Private graduate student loans

Private student loans are originated by private financial institutions, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. You have dozens of options to choose from, but each lender sets its own rates, terms and eligibility requirements. Rates are commonly anywhere from 3 percent to 15 percent and can be fixed or variable. The exact rate you're quoted depends on your credit score and financial profile. As such, you'll have to go through a hard credit check in order to be approved for a loan.

Unlike with federal student loans, you'll generally have a range of repayment terms to choose from with private lenders, usually between five and 20 years. Private student loan lenders also often offer degree-specific loans that are tailored to the needs of law school, medical school, business school and more.

Pros:

  • Zero fees with many lenders.
  • Lower interest rates if you have an excellent credit score.
  • Choice between fixed and variable interest rates.
  • High loan limits.

Cons:

  • No defined hardship plans.
  • No income-driven repayment or forgiveness plans.
  • Harder to qualify with poor credit.
FEDERAL GRADUATE STUDENT LOANS PRIVATE GRADUATE STUDENT LOANS
APR 6.54% – 7.54% fixed 3.15% – 14.75% fixed; 1.73% – 12.8% variable
Fees Origination fees of 1.057% – 4.228% Varies by lender; often only late fees
Borrowing limits Direct Unsubsidized Loan: Up to $20,500 per year; Grad PLUS loan: Up to 100% total cost of attendance Up to 100% total cost of attendance
Repayment terms Standard term is 10 years 5 to 20 years

FAQ about graduate student loans