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Best MBA student loans for January 2023

Jan 26, 2023
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Bankrate’s ranking of the best MBA student loans factors in the interest rates, terms and features each lender offers. You’ll also find information about how much an MBA costs, how to apply for loans, and how to choose between federal and private loans.

MBA loans are a type of student loan designed for students looking to earn a Master of Business Administration. MBA degrees are pricey, costing up to $120,000 per year at top-ranked programs. For many students, gift aid and savings aren’t enough to cover that cost. That’s when MBA loans can come in handy.

Borrowers should typically start their search with federal student loans, which come with one fixed interest rate for all borrowers, plus perks like income-driven repayment plans. However, borrowers can also find MBA loans with private lenders, which feature a wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms. Private lender rates range between about 4 percent and 15 percent, depending on your credit score and history.

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Sallie Mae

BANKRATE'S MOST VISITED PARTNER

Competitive rates, no origination fees, and flexible repayment options.

INCOME BASED REPAYMENT

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.50- 14.83%

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

4.49- 13.80%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

640

Apply on partner site

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.65- 16.43%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $400k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

640

Apply on partner site

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.99- 14.96%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

680

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

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.49- 13.95%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

650

Apply on partner site

4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.89- 10.39%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

660

Apply on partner site

BEST WITH CO-SIGNER

4.0

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

5.99- 14.25%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

640

Apply on partner site

4.2

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.21- 11.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $500k

Term: 5-15 yr
Min. Credit

680

Apply on partner site

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.62- 16.43%

Loan Amount

$2k- $200k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best MBA loan

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 an MBA 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 Dec. 8, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The MBA loan companies listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and more. To learn more about how we selected lenders, see our methodology section below.

Compare MBA student loan rates in January 2023

LENDER CURRENT APR RANGE LOAN TERMS LOAN AMOUNT RANGE MINIMUM CREDIT SCORE
Federal grad PLUS student loans 7.54% fixed Standard term is 10 years Up to 100% total cost of attendance None
College Ave Fixed: 4.24% – 12.99% (with autopay); Variable: 3.99% – 12.99% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 – $150,000 Not disclosed
SoFi Fixed: 5.25% – 13.15% (with autopay); Variable: 5.12% – 12.77% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 – 100% total cost of attendance Not disclosed
Sallie Mae Fixed: 5.25% – 14.48% (with autopay); Variable: 5.87%– 15.47% (with autopay) 15 years $1,000 – 100% total cost of attendance Not disclosed
Citizens Bank Fixed: 5.99% – 14.25%; Variable: 5.24% – 14.25% 5 to 15 years $1,000 – $225,000 Not disclosed
Earnest Fixed: 4.49% – 13.95% (with autopay); Variable: 4.49% – 11.99% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 – 100% total cost of attendance 650

Best overall

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

Federal Grad PLUS Loans

See offers Arrow Right

Check rate with Bankrate

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:
Not disclosed
Overview: Federal grad PLUS loans come with fixed interest rates, and you can borrow up to the amount of your college costs minus other aid you receive. You can also defer payment on these loans until six months after you leave school, graduate or drop below half-time enrollment.
Why federal grad PLUS loans are best overall: Grad students looking for student loans should turn first to federal student loans, since they offer more benefits and borrower protections than private student loans. Grad PLUS loans do not use your credit score to determine your interest rate and have several repayment options.

Best for low rates

Min. credit score:
680
Fixed APR From:
3.99% –14.96%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave lets you borrow from $1,000 to $150,000 to complete your MBA program, and you can choose to repay your loan over five, eight, 10 or 15 years. You can also choose among diverse repayment options that include full principal and interest payments, interest-only payments while you're in school, a flat payment while you're in school or deferred payments until you graduate.
Why College Ave is best for low rates: Borrowers with good credit can access some of the lowest rates in the business with College Ave's MBA loans. The starting rates are competitive, and borrowers can take another 0.25 percent off of their interest rate by signing up for autopay.

Best for high borrowing limits

Min. credit score:
640
Fixed APR From:
4.49% –13.80%
Loan amount:
$5,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed
Overview: SoFi's graduate school loans let you borrow up to the cost of attendance for your MBA program. You can also choose to defer your payments until six months after you leave school or make interest-only or partial payments while you’re in school. If you prefer, you may make full principal and interest payments during your program.
Why SoFi is best for high borrowing limits: Some lenders impose borrowing caps on graduate school loans, but SoFi lets borrowers take out a loan up to the full cost of attendance. SoFi also offers more repayment terms than their competitors, making it a more flexible option.

Best for part-time students

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.50% –14.83%
Loan amount:
Cost of attendance minus aid
Term lengths:
10 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed
Overview: The Sallie Mae MBA loan lets you borrow up to the cost of education, and you won’t have to pay an origination fee. Sallie Mae MBA loans come with a six-month grace period. Students attending an MBA program full-time, half-time or less than half-time are eligible.
Why Sallie Mae is best for part-time students: Sallie Mae is one of only a few lenders that offers loans to students who are enrolled less than half-time. This makes Sallie Mae an ideal lender for students who are working full-time and taking only a few classes at a time.

Best for multiyear loans

Min. credit score:
640
Fixed APR From:
5.99% –14.25%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$12,000
Overview: Citizens Bank lets you borrow up to $225,000 for your MBA. Repayment terms last for up to 15 years. You can choose to make interest-only payments while you’re still in school or defer payments until after you graduate.
Why Citizens Bank is best for multiyear loans: Borrowers can apply with Citizens Bank and get approved for multiple years of student loan funds. For each subsequent year of school, borrowers will go through only a soft credit check to get their loan funds, which protects their credit score from a hard inquiry.

Best for speedy online applications

Min. credit score:
650
Fixed APR From:
4.49% –13.95%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $350,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: Earnest promises a speedy loan process for its MBA loans, which let you borrow up to the total cost of attendance for school. The fixed and variable interest rates are competitive, and you can qualify for a 0.25 percent rate discount if you sign up for autopay.
Why Earnest is best for a speedy online application: Earnest's initial application takes only a few minutes, and the company claims that most approved borrowers hear back within 24 hours. The entire application can be completed online or over the phone.

Types of MBA student loans

When looking for a loan for your MBA degree, you have two options: federal or private. 

It’s typically best to opt for federal student loans before taking out private ones. Federal loans come with robust borrower protections, repayment programs such as income-driven repayment and forgiveness programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you have bad credit, federal loans will likely offer you better rates than private lenders.

There are some circumstances when private student loans might be a better choice. If you have excellent credit and reliable income, you may qualify for lower rates with private lenders. Private student loans may also be your only option if you’re an international student.

Federal student loans

Federal student loans are offered by the federal government and managed by private servicers. Interest rates and standard term lengths are the same for all borrowers, regardless of financial profile.

Graduate students can choose between Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct grad PLUS loans. Direct Unsubsidized Loans allow you to borrow up to $20,500 annually and $138,500 total with an interest rate of 6.54 percent, and they don't require a credit check. Students need to be enrolled at least half-time and be in good academic standing to qualify.

Grad PLUS loans allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance, as certified by the school, with an interest rate of 7.54 percent. Although these loans don’t have a minimum credit score requirement, if you have an adverse credit history you may need to add a co-signer or prove your poor credit report is due to circumstances beyond your control.

What to know about the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the only way to apply for federal student loans. Here's what to know:

  • All MBA students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents can receive federal student loans through the FAFSA. While DACA recipients may submit the FAFSA to qualify for state and other forms of aid, they aren’t eligible to receive federal student loans.
  • For the 2023-24 school year, the FAFSA opens on Oct. 1, 2022, and closes on June 30, 2024. Earlier deadlines may apply in some states or colleges.
  • MBA students are considered independent and do not have to submit financial details about their parents. The FAFSA will ask for details about the student's income,assets and family size.
  • Students must submit a new FAFSA every year for which they need funding.

Private student loans

Private student loans, on the other hand, are offered by private lenders that set their own interest rates, terms and eligibility requirements. Generally you'll find lower rates and more flexible repayment timelines with private lenders if you have good credit. Your interest rate will be determined by your credit history and debt-to-income ratio, among other things.However, you'll miss out on federal protections like forbearance, income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.

Things to consider before applying for an MBA student loan

Whether you opt to max out your federal loan options or go with a private lender, here are the most important factors you should consider:

  • Overall loan cost: In addition to interest rates, some lenders charge upfront application or origination fees, which you should try to avoid if you can. Ideally, you’ll wind up with an MBA loan with no fees and the lowest interest rate you can qualify for.
  • Repayment options: Your repayment period determines what your monthly payment might be; choose a repayment period that allows you to pay off your loan as quickly as you can afford. Additionally, make sure to ask if the lender offers some type of hardship program for borrowers experiencing financial difficulties. This could be a lifesaver in case of the unexpected.
  • Grace period: If you want the option to defer payments until after you graduate, researching lenders ahead of time is critical. Some offer short grace periods of three to six months, while others let you defer your payments for a year or longer after you graduate if you meet their requirements.

FAQ about MBA student loans

Methodology

To find the best MBA student loans, we first sought out lenders that are reputable and available to borrowers throughout the United States. We also ensured that any lenders we chose advertised low starting interest rates.

To determine our final rankings, we then compared lenders' APR ranges, repayment terms, loan amounts and fees. The best lenders offered perks beyond the standard loan, such as multiyear approval or rewards for good grades and timely payments.