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Discover student loans: 2023 review

Updated on November 15, 2023
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At a glance

4.4
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
Bankrate Score
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Repayment Options
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4
Affordability
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8
Customer Experience
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
4.5

About Bankrate Score

Discover offers an assortment of private loans with competitive rates to meet the needs of almost any student. Borrowers can also enjoy cash rewards for good grades, interest rate discounts, flexible repayment options and access to an online scholarship search tool.

Moneybag
Loan amount $1,000 to total cost of attendance
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Term lengths 10 to 20 years
This lender is best for those who have maximized grants, scholarships and other free financial aid and want a lender that offers a number of loan types and a loan consolidation option.
See rates
On lender's site

Discover features 

Discover offers an assortment of private student loans for undergraduate or graduate students. They also provide specialized loans law and medical students. Parent student loans and consolidation loans are also available. 

Its offerings come with zero fees, flexible repayment options, cash rewards for good grades and 24/7 support from a U.S.-based student loan specialist.

Discover: In the details

Pros and cons of Discover student loans

Discover’s student loans can be a great option if you need more funding outside of your federal student loans. However, you can’t view potential loan offers without a hard credit check, and there are other drawbacks to consider before moving forward. 

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Pros

  • No fees: Discover doesn’t charge application, origination or late fees.
  • Offers discounts and rewards: Discover offers a 0.25 percent rate discount for enrolling in automatic payments. You could also qualify for a one-time cash reward of 1 percent on each new loan you take out if you earn at least a 3.0 GPA in college or graduate school. You may also qualify for an additional reward on your first loan if you’re an incoming freshman and your high school GPA is at least 3.0.
  • Multi-year option available: With Discover, you can get prequalified for future academic periods, meaning you can apply for future student loans without impacting your credit.
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Cons

  • No pre-qualification: Discover doesn’t offer prequalification, so make sure you check the loan requirements before applying; applying for a loan with the company will temporarily ding your credit score.
  • No co-signer release: Unlike many other student loan lenders, Discover doesn’t offer co-signer release. Your co-signer must remain partly responsible for the loan for its duration.
  • Limited loan terms: Each loan type, except refinance loans, has only one repayment period to choose from. Undergraduates must repay their loans in 15 years, while graduates must repay their loans in 20 years.

Discover student loan requirements 

To qualify for Discover’s student loans, you must be:

  • A U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner.
  • At least 16 years old at the time you apply. (The minimum age is 18 if you’re seeking a private parent loan.)
  • Enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an eligible school at least half-time.
  • In good academic standing.
  • Pass a credit check or have a creditworthy co-signer.

If you’re seeking a residency or bar exam loan, Discover requires you to be enrolled in your final year of student in a graduate health professions program or law degree program. You could also be eligible for funding if you graduated within the past six months for bar exam loans or 12 months for residency loans. 

To qualify for Discover’s consolidation loans, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
  • Be at least 18 years old at the time you apply.
  • Pass a credit check.
  • Have no more than $150,000 in student loans, although higher limits may apply to certain fields.
  • Be the primary borrower of the loans you want to consolidate.
  • Have a stable, verifiable source of income.
  • Have good credit and repayment history.

Who is this loan good for? 

Discover student loans are a solid option for creditworthy borrowers who’ve exhausted federal funding options and other free forms of financial aid, including grants and scholarships. It’s also ideal if you’re an international student with a creditworthy co-signer. The lack of fees and potential for cash-back rewards make its offerings stand out. 

Interest rates

Discover offers both variable- and fixed-rate options across its student loan products. Rates reflect a 0.25 percent automatic payment discount, with the minimum rates applying to the most creditworthy borrowers.

Loan products include:

  • Undergraduate loans
  • Graduate loans
  • MBA student loans
  • Law school loans
  • Health professions loans
  • Bar exam loans
  • Residency loans
  • Parent student loans
  • Consolidation loans

See rates at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Rates.

Fees and penalties 

Discover does not assess application fees, origination fees or late payment penalties. 

Repayment terms and grace period

Discover’s undergraduate loans have a repayment term of 15 years, while all graduate loans have a 20-year repayment term. Refinance loans can be repaid over 10 or 20 years. The repayment options are as follows: 

  • In-school interest-only payments: Make interest-only payments while in school and during your grace period to get a 0.35 percent discount on your interest rate. 
  • In-school fixed payments: Pay a fixed fee of $25 per month while enrolled and during your grace period.
  • Deferred payments: Defer repayment until after your post-graduation grace period expires. If you drop enrollment below half-time while enrolled, this also triggers the grace period countdown, after which you must begin making payments.

The grace period is six months for undergraduates and nine months for graduate students.

How to apply for a loan with Discover

Before getting started, students will need their Social Security number, school information (including field of study and period of enrollment), desired loan amount, any expected financial aid (scholarships, grants, etc.), financial information (income, debts and assets, if applicable) and your permanent address.

Co-signers will need to supply their Social Security number, requested loan amount, employment information, financial information and permanent address.

You can start the application process for a Discover student loan online, with a result in as little as 15 minutes.

Here are four main steps to apply for a loan through Discover:

  1. Start the online application process.
  2. Include a co-signer, if desired.
  3. Choose either a fixed or variable interest rate and a repayment option.
  4. If approved, sign and accept loan documents.

Customer service

Discover’s customer service department is available via phone, email, fax or mail. Student loan specialists are available by phone 24/7 at 800-788-3368, or you can log in to the website and send a secure message with questions about your account or application.

Discover Financial Services holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau

Discover frequently asked questions

How Bankrate rates Discover

Overall Score 4.2 Explanation
Repayment Options 4.4 While it has a wide range of loan amounts, Discover offers only two repayment term options for refinance loans and one for its private loans, which doesn’t give borrowers much flexibility.
Affordability 3.8 Borrowers don’t have to worry about any fees. However, Discover’s starting and maximum APRs exceed those offered by most competitors.
Customer Experience 4.5 Discover’s customer service department is available 24/7, and the company offers online loan management.

Methodology

The Bankrate team evaluated over a dozen lenders to select our top picks for the best student loans. To do this, Bankrate considers 14 factors, including loan amounts, fees, repayment terms and options, as well as fixed and variable APR ranges. Then, lenders are rated using our vetting system known as the Bankrate Score, which focuses on three main categories.

  • Availability: We looked at minimum and maximum loan amounts, as well as the lender’s eligibility requirements, co-signer option, degrees covered and state availability. Lenders that offered the most flexibility as well as nationwide servicing and that offered financing for a variety of programs ranked higher in this section.
  • Affordability: Fixed and variable interest rates, fees, penalties and discounts were measured in this category. Lenders with the lowest rates, fewer fees and multiple discounts got the higher scores.
  • Customer experience: Our team looked at the ease of the application process, as well as online account management tools, customer support hours, app availability, repayment options and grace periods offered by the lenders. This allowed us to determine the lenders’ ability to satisfactorily serve customers.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the lender’s website for the most current information.