First consider options for free money – scholarships, fellowships, grants, teaching and research assistantships, employer-paid tuition assistance, and more. If you need to borrow graduate student loans, first borrow federal loans. After borrowing the Federal Direct Stafford Loan and the Federal Grad PLUS Loan, if you still need funds for graduate school, consider private student loans. Keep costs as low as possible and borrow responsibly.
In this guide
- Best Private Student Loans for Graduate School
- Best Interest Rates
- Best Rewards
- Best for Borrowers without a Cosigner
- Best Cosigner Release Option
- Best Flexibility for Repayment
- Best Deferment Options
- Best Customer Service
- Best Bank Lender
- Best Private Student Loans for College
- Best Private Student Loans for Parents
Best Private Student Loans for Graduate School
Savingforcollege.com evaluates a full range of private student loans and has developed a methodology for ranking them based on a set of objective criteria. Below is our current list of the ten best private student loans available for graduate students. Be sure to pursue your other options, such as scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans, before turning to private student loans to fill any funding gaps you may face.
Best Student Loans by Category
Best Interest Rates
Best for Borrowers without a Cosigner
Best Cosigner Release Option
Best Flexibility for Repayment
Best Deferment Options
Best Customer Service
Best Bank Lender
Graduate student loans work similar to student loans for an undergraduate degree. Every dollar borrowed needs to be repaid, plus interest. All student loans, both federal and private, accrue interest. If you miss a student loan payment down the road, you will have negative consequences, including impacts on your credit.
A Grad PLUS loan is a federal student loan specifically for students pursuing a graduate or professional degree. Unlike federal student loans for undergraduate students, you will need to undergo a modest credit check to be approved.
You can apply for a Grad PLUS loan online. Before applying, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or the FAFSA.
Federal Grad PLUS loans offer several federal benefits that private loans do not. This includes potential loan forgiveness and the option to temporarily stop or lower payments on your loan. If you have excellent credit, however, you might be able to qualify for a lower interest rate on a private graduate loan.
Each lender has different requirements for approval for graduate student loans. In general, you will need a good credit score, a solid credit history, attend an accredited school, and have a steady income and low debt-to-income ratio. A creditworthy cosigner may be required.
You should keep your total student loan debt, including any outstanding undergraduate debt, in sync with your income after graduation. If your total student loan debt at graduation, including federal and private student loans, is no more than your annual starting salary, you should be able to afford to repay your student loans in ten years or less.
Fixed rates remain the same throughout the life of the loan. Variable interest rates can fluctuate. Borrowers may be persuaded to choose a variable interest rate because it is lower, but keep in mind, this interest rate may eventually grow beyond the current fixed rate option.
Most private student loan lenders give borrowers the option to postpone payments until six months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment. After the six-month grace period is over, you will be required to make full payments.
If you don’t qualify for graduate loan on your own, you can consider asking a friend or relative to cosign your loans. Cosigners should understand how it works and the potential risks. Cosigners are equally responsible for repaying the debt just like the student borrower. Being a cosigner affects your credit and will increase your debt-to-income ratio. This could make it more difficult to get approved for other loans, such as credit cards, auto loans and home mortgages.
Shop around to compare interest rates offered, the terms of the loan, the requirements for approval, repayment options and reviews. You may also want to consider, if there is a cosigner release option and what the deferment options are.
Savingforcollege.com may receive a sales commission from some private student lenders and other advertisers, but this does not influence our ratings or reviews. Our opinions are our own. While Savingforcollege.com strives to keep the information up to date, the lender rates, terms and other information are subject to change at any time.
Exhaust all other resources, such as scholarships and grants, before borrowing student loans. If you need to borrow loans, federal student loans offer many benefits that private student loans do not. Read the fine print and disclaimer from any potential lender and understand how student loans work before borrowing.
Savingforcollege.com does not provide legal, financial, accounting or tax advice. The information and tools published on this website are general in nature and may not apply to your specific circumstances. You should seek specific guidance from a qualified legal, financial, accounting or tax professional.