Best Law School Loans in September 2020

As of

Law school loan interest rates currently range from around 4 percent to 13 percent. Your actual rate offered will depend on factors like your annual income, credit score and debt ratios.

Filters
Sallie MaeFixed APR
From
4.74%
Variable APR
From
1.25%
Term5-15yr5-15 yrNext
SoFiFixed APR
From
4.13%
Variable APR
From
1.8%
Term5-15yr5-15 yrNext
College AveFixed APR
From
3.49%
Variable APR
From
1.24%
Term5-15yr5-15 yrNext
CredibleFixed APR
From
3.53%
Variable APR
From
1.24%
Term5-20yr5-20 yrNext

Bankrate’s guide to choosing the best student loans for law school

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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 personal loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive 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 the publish date. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The personal loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and more.

Best law school student loans in July 2020

Lender
Current APR Range
Loan Term
Min. Loan Amount
Max. Loan Amount
Best for:
Federal grad PLUS loan
7.08% (fixed)
10 to 25 years
N/A
100% cost of attendance
Best overall
SoFi
Fixed: 4.41% to 11.67% (with autopay)
Variable: 1.25% to 10.46% (with autopay)
5 to 15 years
$5,000
100% cost of attendance
Best overall private law school loan lender
Earnest
Fixed: Starting at 4.39% (with autopay)
Variable: Starting at 1.78% (with autopay)
5 to 20 years
$1,000
100% cost of attendance
Best for flexible repayment options
Sallie Mae
Fixed: 5.50% to 9.99% (with autopay)
Variable: 2.50% to 8.02% (with autopay)
Up to 15 years
$1,000
100% cost of attendance
Best for part-time students
College Ave
Fixed: 4.20% to 9.75% (with autopay)
Variable: 1.79% - 8.69% (with autopay)
5 to 20 years
$1,000
100% cost of attendance
Best for competitive rates
Citizens One
Fixed: 4.45% to 10.95% APR (with autopay)
Variable: 1.47% to 8.20% APR (with autopay)
5 to 15 years
$1,000
$225,000
Best for multi-year funding
Ascent
Fixed: 4% to 14.92% (with autopay)
Variable: 3.18% to 13.92% (with autopay)
5 to 15 years
$1,000
$200,000 for co-signed, $20,000 for non-co-signed
Best for loans without a co-signer
Discover
Fixed: 4.99% to 10.24% APR (with autopay)
Variable: 2.74% to 8.37% APR (with autopay)
20 years
$1,000
100% cost of attendance
Best for offering rewards

Details: best student loans for law school in July 2020

Federal grad PLUS loan: best overall

Overview: Federal student loans offer loans up to the entire cost of attendance (minus any aid you receive) and a variety of generous repayment options.

Perks: Federal loans offer unique benefits like loan forbearance, discharge and forgiveness when you meet certain criteria. You may also be able to qualify for a loan without a co-signer if you meet certain requirements, so it may be a viable option if you have a poor credit history.

What to watch out for: Grad PLUS loans have loan fees (currently at 4.236 percent), and borrowers need to complete entrance counseling before the loan is disbursed. The interest rate may also be higher than that of some private lenders.

Lender Federal Grad PLUS Loan
Minimum Credit Score N/A
APR Range 7.08% (fixed)
Loan amount Up to 100% cost of attendance
Loan terms 10 to 25 years
Fees 4.236% loan fee

Sofi: best overall private law school loan lender

Overview: SoFi offers competitive rates (both fixed and variable), no fees and myriad repayment options. The entire loan process happens online.

Perks: Borrowers can get a rate estimate without affecting their credit score and get an approval within minutes. SoFi also offers unique benefits, such as a 0.25 percent rate discount for those who make automatic payments and free access to financial advisors, career coaching and more.

What to watch out for: While SoFi doesn't disclose a minimum credit score requirement for its law school loans, its high credit score requirement for personal loans may indicate that the lender is best suited for borrowers with good to excellent credit.

Lender SoFi
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 4.41% to 11.67% (with autopay)
Variable: 1.25% to 10.46% (with autopay)
Loan amount $5,000 to 100% cost of attendance
Loan terms 5 to 15 years
Fees None

Earnest: best for flexible repayment options

Overview: Earnest is a private student loan lender offering flexible repayment options, no late fees and competitive rates .

Perks: Borrowers can skip one payment every 12 months, change repayment due date and enjoy a grace period of nine months. There is also a 0.25 percent rate discount for autopay customers.

What to watch out for: Earnest borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 650 and at least three years of credit history. Additionally, if using a co-signer, the co-signer must have a minimum income of $35,000 per year.

Lender Earnest
Minimum Credit Score 650
APR Range Fixed: Starting at 4.39% (with autopay)
Variable: Starting at 1.78% (with autopay)
Loan amount From $1,000 up to 100% of cost of attendance
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees $8 returned payment fee

Sallie Mae: best for part-time students

Overview: Sallie Mae is one of the more well-known private student loan lenders that offers flexible repayment terms and minimal fees.

Perks: Sallie Mae doesn't just cater to full-time students; it also offers loans for part-time students. Borrowers benefit from no origination fees, a nine-month grace period, a 0.25 percent autopay discount and a co-signer release if you meet certain credit requirements and make 12 consecutive on-time payments.

What to watch out for: You won’t be able to prequalify for a loan, meaning you’ll be subjected to a hard inquiry and your credit score could be affected.

Lender Sallie Mae
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 5.50% to 9.99% (with autopay)
Variable: 2.50% to 8.02% (with autopay)
Loan amount $1,000 up to 100% of cost of attendance
Loan terms Up to 15 years
Fees 5% late fee (maximum $25), up to $20 returned check fee

College Ave: best for competitive rates

Overview: College Ave offers loans for U.S. residents and international students. You can check your rate without impacting your credit, and a co-signer release is available to qualifying borrowers.

Perks: The lender offers four repayment options, and its rates are competitive with other big-name lenders like SoFi. There’s also a 0.25 percent autopay rate discount.

What to watch out for: International students must apply with a co-signer. The lender also does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements, so you must complete an application to learn if you qualify.

Lender College Ave
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 4.20% to 9.75% (with autopay)
Variable: 1.79% - 8.69% (with autopay)
Loan amount $1,000 up to 100% of cost of attendance
Loan terms 5 to 20 years
Fees None

Citizens One: best for multi-year funding

Overview: Citizens One is a division of Citizens Bank that offers student loans through a completely online application process. Existing Citizens Bank customers may be rewarded with a rate discount.

Perks: Borrowers are eligible for a 0.25 percent autopay discount, and customers who have a qualifying Citizens Bank account can get an additional 0.25 percent rate reduction. Citizens One also offers a unique multi-year approval option, which allows you to secure funding for additional years in school without needing to go through a hard credit check for each application.

What to watch out for: While the limit is high, Citizens One does specify a maximum lifetime loan limit of $225,000.

Lender Citizens One
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 4.45% to 10.95% APR (with autopay)
Variable: 1.47% to 8.20% APR (with autopay)
Loan amount $1,000 to $225,000
Loan terms 5 to 15 years
Fees 5% late fee, $15 returned payment fee

Ascent: best for loans without a co-signer

Overview: Ascent is an online lender that is unique in advertising loans for students without co-signers. It offers competitive rates and puts financial literacy at the forefront.

Perks: Many lenders require students to use co-signers, but Ascent has an option specifically for students without one: an "income-based loan" that takes into account the student's school, program, graduation date, major and more. Borrowers who go the traditional route can release their co-signer after 24 months of consecutive on-time payments and meeting other eligibility requirements. Plus, borrowers can receive up to 1 percent cash back graduation reward and up to a 2 percent rate reduction for qualifying loan payments.

What to watch out for: Loan limits are lower than those of other online lenders: credit-based loans have a $200,000 maximum per academic year, and non-co-signed loans have an annual maximum of $20,000.

Lender Ascent
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 4% to 14.92% (with autopay)
Variable: 3.18% to 13.92% (with autopay)
Loan amount $1,000 to $200,000 (aggregate) or up to $20,000 for non-co-signed loans
Loan terms 5 to 15 years
Fees None

Discover: best for offering rewards

Overview: Discover is known for its credit cards, banking products and personal loans, but it also offers student loans. The lender has generous discounts for setting up autopay, making interest-only payments and receiving good grades in school.

Perks: Borrowers can receive a 0.25 percent autopay discount, a 0.35 percent rate discount for making interest-only payments during school and one-time cash reward for receiving at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent).

What to watch out for: Discover doesn’t allow a co-signer release, and there's no prequalification option, meaning you'll have to go through a hard credit check to find out if you qualify.

Lender Discover
Minimum Credit Score Not specified
APR Range Fixed: 4.99% to 10.24% APR (with autopay)
Variable: 2.74% to 8.37% APR (with autopay)
Loan amount $1,000 up to 100% of cost of attendance
Loan terms 20 years
Fees None

Frequently asked questions

How do law school loans work?

Law school loans are a type of graduate student loan, usually offering a higher loan amount than undergraduate loans — since law school typically costs more. There are both federal and private loan options, both offering varying APRs and terms. Loan proceeds are to be used for tuition or related law school expenses, and many loans can be taken out with or without a co-signer.

When you accept a law school loan, your lender will send the funds to your school and you'll begin payments. Typically you have the option to defer principal payments until after graduation (or after the agreed-upon grace period); in that case, you can choose to make interest-only payments each month. Once you have graduated and you reach the end of your grace period, you'll begin making payments on both the principal and interest.

Types of law school loans

Federal student loans include direct unsubsidized and grad PLUS loans. Unsubsidized loans tend to have lower fees and rates, although loan limits aren’t as high as those of grad PLUS loans.

Private student loan lenders also offer higher loan limits, and many companies brand their products specifically as law school loans. With these loans, you may be able to defer payments while you’re going through clerkship or fellowship in addition to while you're in school. However, private student loans lack some of the benefits of federal loans, such as loan forgiveness programs and postponement options.

Which student loan for law school is right for you?

Choosing a student loan provider is a big decision. The right student loan for one person may not be the right loan for another, so it's important to compare all of your options and check your rates when possible.

Federal student loans are a popular option, since they come with one fixed interest rates and benefits like loan forgiveness programs. Private lenders, on the other hand, offer fixed- and variable-rate APRs. Fixed rate loans will have the same monthly payment throughout the lifetime of the loan, whereas variable ones will fluctuate depending on the index rate. If you’re confident you can pay off your loan quickly, a variable rate loan could work if you feel you can do so before the rate goes up.

When looking at law school loans, you'll also want to compare repayment options. The best lenders offer many options, such as the ability to make payments while you’re still enrolled or the ability to defer them so you can choose the best fit for your financial situation.

Law school student loans with bad credit

Getting a law school student loan if you have bad credit is possible, but your options could be limited. Lenders tend to offer the best rates to borrowers who have good credit, which means that if you do get approved, your rates may be higher. In other words, you’ll be paying more in interest throughout the life of your loan.

If you're having trouble getting approved or if you're seeing high rates, it may be worthwhile to use a co-signer. Co-signers are common for student loans, since many students don't have enough credit history for a lender to determine their eligibility. On a co-signed loan, the lender takes into account the co-signer's credit profile, which can improve your chances of getting approved for a student loan with better rates and terms.