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Best medical school loans for February 2023

Feb 02, 2023
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Bankrate chose the best medical school loan lenders based on their interest rates, terms and features. We’ve also rounded up advice on choosing, applying for and managing your student loans. 

Medical school loans are a type of borrowed money that can help you meet the high costs of a medical degree. As with other student loans, many lenders will allow you to borrow up to the full amount of your degree (minus any financial aid you receive). Some lenders cater to medical students with extended deferment periods during their residencies and fellowships.

 It's typically best to start your search with federal student loans, since they come with more extensive borrower protections. However, you may want to shop around with private lenders if you've reached the limits of your federal aid or if you have a good credit score that will qualify you for lower interest rates. Federal student loans offer fixed interest rates of 6.54 percent or 7.54 percent, while private lenders offer fixed or variable interest rates ranging between about 3.5 to 15 percent.

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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

4.1

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

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.49- 15.32%

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

4.79- 13.70%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $350k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

650

Apply on partner site

4.1

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

4.5

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

4.1

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- 16.16%

Loan Amount

$2k- $200k

Term: 5-20 yr
Min. Credit

Not disclosed

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best medical school 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 medical school loans, 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. 6, 2022. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The medical school loan lenders 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.

What to consider before getting a medical school loan

Before you apply for a medical school loan, there are plenty of details to think over. Here are some of the main factors to consider before you borrow money for medical school with a specific lender:

  • Repayment and forgiveness. Consider how long you'll be making payments on your loan. The federal government offers several income-driven repayment plans, and it's the best option if your goal is eventual loan forgiveness. On the other hand, some private lenders have shorter repayment periods, which will increase your monthly payment, but can help pay off your loan quickly.
  • Interest rates. Since you’re likely borrowing six-figure sums to pay for medical school, your interest rate can significantly affect the total amount you pay over the life of your loan. Compare a few lenders to find the lowest interest rates you qualify for.
  • Variable and fixed rates. Also, decide whether you want a variable interest rate or a fixed interest rate. A variable rate may work well in the short term if interest rates are low, but a fixed rate gives you the peace of mind that your rate will never go up.
  • Loan fees. Try to avoid paying student loan fees like origination fees or application fees. However, origination fees are inescapable with federal loans.
  • Lender-specific borrowing limits. Some medical student loans come with borrowing limits you must adhere to. These limits can include other loans you have, so you need to be aware of them before you apply with any private student loan company.
  • Discounts. Some medical school loans include interest rate discounts if you already have a relationship with the lender or if you sign up for autopay. These rate discounts may not seem like much, but they can help you save significant money over time.

Compare the best medical school loan rates of February 2023

LENDER CURRENT APR RANGE LOAN TERMS MIN. LOAN AMOUNT MAX LOAN AMOUNT
Federal student loans 6.54% – 7.54% fixed Standard repayment term is 10 years Not specified $20,500/year or 100% total cost of attendance
College Ave Fixed: 4.49% – 13.98% (with autopay); Variable: 4.49% – 13.98% (with autopay) 5 to 20 years $1,000 $150,000
Sallie Mae Fixed: 5.25% - 14.46% (with autopay); Variable: 5.87% - 15.45% (with autopay) 20 years $1,000 100% total cost of attendance
Citizens Bank Fixed: 5.99% – 9.63%; Variable: 5.49% – 9.63% 5 to 15 years $1,000 $350,000
PNC Fixed: 4.24% – 11.99% (with autopay); Variable: 5.39% – 13.14% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 $65,000/year

Best overall

Federal Student Loans

Federal Student Loans

See offers Arrow Right

Check rate with Bankrate

Min. credit score:
None
Fixed APR From:
3.73% –6.28%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
10 to 10 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed
Overview: Federal student loans are ideal for medical school since they come with fixed interest rates and federal protections like deferment and forbearance. With federal student loans, you can choose between federal Direct Unsubsidized graduate loans and federal grad PLUS loans. All graduate students pay the same interest: 6.54 percent for Direct Unsubsidized Loans and 7.54 percent for grad PLUS loans.
Why federal student loans are the best overall: With no credit requirements, low rates and a bevy of repayment options, federal student loans are usually the first choice for medical students in need of funding.

Best for many repayment terms

Min. credit score:
680
Fixed APR From:
4.49% –15.32%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000
Overview: College Ave's medical school loans offer some of the lowest rates among competitors for borrowers with good credit, and they also come with unusually flexible repayment options. You can choose to defer your payments for 36 months after school, and you can choose among five repayment terms.
Why College Ave is the best for many repayment terms: Most private medical school loans limit your repayment options to 15 or 20 years. With College Ave, there are five options to choose from.

Best for flexibility

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 Medical School Loan offers options for starting your payments. You can enjoy a 36-month grace period before you start making payments, as well as 48 months of deferment during your residency and fellowship. Loans are available to students in M.D., D.O., D.V.M., V.M.D. or D.P.M. programs.
Why Sallie Mae is the best for flexibility: Medical school students typically come away with a lot of debt. An extra-long grace period and the option to defer payments during a residency or fellowship makes the repayment process much more manageable.

Best for multiyear approval

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 $180,000 or $350,000 for your medical school education depending on your degree. M.D., D.M.D./D.D.S., O.D., D.O., D.P.M., Pharm.D. and D.V.M. degrees qualify for the higher amount. You can repay your loan over five to 15 years, and there are no origination fees to get started.
Why Citizens Bank is best for multiyear approval: Citizens Bank's multiyear approval program takes some of the stress out of student loans if you need funding for the entirety of your program. While most lenders require you to reapply every year, Citizens Bank will save you multiple hard credit checks.

Best for no origination fees

Min. credit score:
750
Fixed APR From:
4.49% –12.24%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $50,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed
Overview: The PNC Solution Loan is designed for future health professionals, including doctors. This loan lets you borrow up to $65,000 per year and $225,000 total, and there are no application fees or origination fees. It also offers competitive rates for creditworthy borrowers and their co-signers.
Why PNC is best for no origination fees: If you're looking for a truly fee-free lender, PNC could be a good option. Like most student lenders, PNC charges no origination or prepayment fees, and its site doesn’t mention any late or returned payment fees.

Federal vs. private student loans for medical school

When paying for medical school, you can choose between loans offered by the federal government and loans originated from banks, credit unions and online lenders. Both come with their own set of pros and cons.

Federal student loans for medical school

Federal student loans are originated by the U.S. Department of Education. The two most common options are:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These loans have a fixed interest rate of 6.54 percent for all graduate borrowers. They don't require a credit check, and medical school students can borrow up to $20,500 per year and $138,500 total.

  • Grad PLUS loan: These loans have a fixed interest rate of 7.54 percent for all borrowers, but they allow borrowers to borrow up to the total cost of education. Grad PLUS loans will check that you don't have an adverse credit history, but there is no minimum credit score requirement.

Because federal student loans come with benefits like deferment, forbearance and income-driven repayment plans, they are usually the best option to pay for medical school and all other higher education expenses. 

Federal loans also offer robust forgiveness options. For example, you may be able to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and other forgiveness programs for doctors if you choose to work in an underserved area or in a public service position and you meet the eligibility.

What to know about the FAFSA

The Free Application For Federal Student Aid opens on Oct. 1 every year. For the 2023-24 award year, the application remains open through June 30, 2024, at the federal level, with some states and colleges instituting earlier deadlines. Students should know that:

  • Only U.S. citizens and eligible noncitizens may receive federal student loans through the FAFSA.

  • Medical school students are considered independent; they'll need to provide their own financial details, not their parents'.

  • Students may update their FAFSA if they experience a major loss of income or another significant financial event.

  • Borrowers must submit a new FAFSA every year if they want to continue receiving aid.

  • Students interested in grad PLUS loans will have to submit a separate application after receiving results from the FAFSA.

Private student loans for medical school

Private student loans are offered by institutions like online lenders, banks and credit unions. Private student loans often advertise lower starting interest rates than federal student loans for borrowers with good credit, and you can typically choose between fixed and variable interest rates. Some private medical school loans have unique features that benefit medical students, such as extended grace periods or deferment during a residency program.

Most lenders require very good or excellent credit for private medical school student loans. Without a solid credit history or score, you’ll likely need a co-signer. Remember that some private student lenders have their own deferment and forbearance programs, but there are no standard requirements.

Managing medical student loans

Becoming a medical professional requires significant time, effort and money. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the average medical school debt for the 2021-22 academic year exceeded $200,000. That’s no surprise when the median cost for four years of medical school is $263,488 at public schools and $357,868 at private schools.

As you shop for loans, start thinking ahead to repayment strategies. Many private lenders offer the option to make payments toward your interest or principal while you’re still in school, which can help you get ahead. After you graduate, you may be able to refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate.

If you have federal student loans, you have even more options. An income-driven repayment plan might appeal to you if your initial salary is low. With an IDR plan, your payments are based on how much you earn and your household size. After 20 or 25 years of payments, your remaining balance is forgiven. Depending on your location and employer, you may be eligible for medical student loan forgiveness programs such as Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

Additionally, you can seek an employer that offers student loan repayment assistance.

FAQ about medical student loans

Methodology

To find the best medical school loan lenders, we first searched for lenders that were reputable and widely available to borrowers across the United States. We then narrowed down the field by ensuring that lenders had low starting interest rates.

To select our final rankings, we looked at repayment terms, number of fees and loan amount ranges to determine which lenders would make the loan process easy and affordable. We particularly liked lenders that offer special perks, like no origination fees or long grace periods.