Best of

MBA Student Loans for 2019

Ryan LaneSeptember 5, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

After exhausting free aid, evaluate your finances and employment situation to decide between federal and private MBA loans.

Summary of MBA Student Loans for 2019

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-6.08%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

7.08-7.08%

N/A

None

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

5.45-9.74%

3.66-9.64%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

4.40-12.19%

3.29-11.62%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

4.72-12.94%

3.70-11.98%

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

4.74-11.35%

3.25-10.65%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Prodigy's website

N/A

7.52-12.00%

N/A

Check Rate

on Prodigy's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

4.69-12.78%

3.35-11.44%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-6.08%

N/A

N/A

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

7.08-7.08%

N/A

None

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

5.45-9.74%

3.66-9.64%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

4.40-12.19%

3.29-11.62%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

4.72-12.94%

3.70-11.98%

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

4.74-11.35%

3.25-10.65%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Prodigy's website

N/A

7.52-12.00%

N/A

Check Rate

on Prodigy's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

4.69-12.78%

3.35-11.44%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Our pick for

All borrowers as a first option

Federal unsubsidized direct loans have fixed interest rates and minimal fees, but graduate students can only take out up to $20,500 annually — which may not cover all your MBA costs.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Fixed APR 
4.53-6.08% 

Variable APR 
 

Min. Credit Score 
 

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website


Key facts

Graduate students are ineligible for subsidized loans.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

  • Subsidized loans do not collect interest while in school or during deferment.

  • Lower interest rates compared with private lenders.

Cons

  • You pay an origination fee.

Qualifications

  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.

  • Loan amounts for undergraduates: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000

  • Independent students and graduate students have higher loan limits.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Borrowers who want to minimize risk

Federal loans have options private loans don’t, like income-driven repayment and Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which offer unique flexibility and protections if you’re entering an uncertain job market.

Federal Grad PLUS Loan
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan
Fixed APR 
7.08-7.08% 

Variable APR 
 

Min. Credit Score 
None 

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website


Key facts

Graduate students can take out up to their cost of attendance, minus other aid received, in PLUS loans.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers compared with private lenders.

  • All borrowers who attend a school authorized to receive federal aid qualify.

Cons

  • May have higher interest rates compared with private lenders.

  • You pay an origination fee.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Grad PLUS loan borrowers must not have adverse credit history.

  • Borrowers with adverse credit history can still receive a grad PLUS loan by enlisting a co-signer without adverse credit history or documenting extenuating circumstances for their credit history.

  • Loan amounts: Total cost of attendance minus other financial aid.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Borrowers with excellent credit

These lenders offer private loans specifically for MBA students that may come with lower rates than federal PLUS loans or other graduate student loans, if you meet their underwriting standards.

CommonBond Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
5.45-9.74% 

Variable APR 
3.66-9.64% 

Min. Credit Score 
660 

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website


Key facts

This product not rated. Rating and details displayed are for CommonBond's private student loan. CommonBond MBA loans are only available at fewer than 30 schools and charge an origination fee of 2%, subject to state regulations.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • You are assigned a dedicated Money Mentor.

Cons

  • Loans aren't available in Nevada and Mississippi.

  • Co-signer required.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: No set minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to the total cost of attendance. Maximum $500,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restriction. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The Annual Percentage Rates (APR) shown reflect the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.14% effective August 25, 2019.

Read Full Review
Citizens One Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
4.40-12.19% 

Variable APR 
3.29-11.62% 

Min. Credit Score 
Does not disclose 

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Key facts

This product not rated. Rating and details displayed are for Citizen One's private student loan. Citizens One provides MBA students with higher aggregate loan limits than students in general graduate school programs — $225,000 vs. $150,000.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.

  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.

Cons

  • You must be pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher.

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $100,000

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate ("LIBOR") published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.26%. Variable interest rates range from 3.29%-11.62% (3.29%-11.47% APR)  and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.40%-12.19% (4.40% - 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens One is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Students getting an MBA part-time

Federal student loans, as well as many private lenders, require you to be enrolled at least half-time to take out loans. If you’re attending business school part-time and your employer or savings won’t cover the full bill, explore these options.

College Ave Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
4.72-12.94% 

Variable APR 
3.70-11.98% 

Min. Credit Score 
Mid-600s 

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Key facts

This product not rated. Rating and details displayed are for College Ave's private student loan. College Ave MBA loans offer immediate, interest-only and flat payment plans, so you can minimize repayment costs while getting your degree.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • International students can qualify with a co-signer.

  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.

Cons

  • No formal forbearance options.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Mid-700s.

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $80,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 8, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply. As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Flat Repayment Option with an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.78% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 54 monthly payments of $25 while in school, followed by 96 monthly payments of $176.21 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $18,266.38. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. Information advertised valid as of 9/3/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

Read Full Review
Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
4.74-11.35% 

Variable APR 
3.25-10.65% 

Min. Credit Score 
Does not disclose 

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Key facts

This product not rated. Rating and details displayed are for Sallie Mae’s private student loan. Sallie Mae MBA loans let you defer payments during an eligible internship for up to 48 months.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.

  • Borrowers can access online tutoring and free credit score tracking.

  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a co-signer.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Information not available on minimum qualifying credit scores or income.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

5 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit discount: Fixed 4.74% - 11.35% APR and Variable 3.25% - 10.65% APR. Interest rates for Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options are higher than interest rates for the Interest Repayment Option. You're charged interest starting at disbursement, while in school, during your separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. The repayment option that is selected will apply during the in-school and separation/grace periods. When you enter principal and interest repayment, Unpaid Interest will be added to your loan's Current Principal. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs are valid as of 08/26/2019 and assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Additional information regarding the auto debit discount: Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The rate reduction benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. This benefit may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan Loan amounts: $1000 up to 100% of the school certified expenses: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Repayment term of 5 to 15 years: This repayment example is based on a typical Smart Option Student Loan made to a freshman borrower who chooses a fixed rate and the Fixed Repayment Option for a $10,000 loan, with two disbursements, and a 8.44% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $156.04 and one payment of $118.97, for a Total Loan Cost of $19,962.73.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

International MBA students

Many lenders — including College Ave, Sallie Mae and Citizens One — offer MBA student loans to international students who have an eligible co-signer. Without a co-signer, choices for international MBA students are limited.

Prodigy Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Prodigy's website

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Prodigy Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
 

Variable APR 
7.52-12.00% 

Min. Credit Score 
 

Check Rate

on Prodigy's website


Key facts

Prodigy lends to international MBA students, but only if you live in specific countries, regions and states. You must also attend certain schools. Visit their website for eligibility details.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international students.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • No late fees.

Cons

  • No fixed interest rates.

  • No formal deferment/forbearance options.

  • Not available to borrowers in all 50 states including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

Qualifications

  • Prodigy Finance considers future income, rather than current income or credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 to $220,000.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Graduate program loans

Earnest Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan
Fixed APR 
4.69-12.78% 

Variable APR 
3.35-11.44% 

Min. Credit Score 
650 

Check Rate

on Earnest's website


Key facts

An option for borrowers who want flexible repayment.

Rating and Review

Pros

  • Option to skip one payment every 12 months.

  • No late fees.

  • Nine-month grace period is longer than most lenders offer.

Cons

  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Loans aren't available in Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Hampshire, Texas and Virginia.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $35,000.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to your total cost of attendance.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Which MBA student loan is right for you?

MBA students graduate owing more than $66,000 in student loans on average. The right MBA student loan for you will depend on your finances and repayment goals.

  • Generally, max out federal direct unsubsidized loans first. These loans have small fees — roughly 1% — and offer fixed interest rates of 6.08%. Those terms may be close enough to what a private lender would offer you that the additional cost is worth the protections that come with federal loans.
  • Then, look at your career trajectory. If unsubsidized loans won’t cover all your MBA costs, federal grad PLUS loans make sense if you want to work for a nonprofit, are getting an MBA to change careers or simply aren’t sure about your job prospects. Options like Public Service Loan Forgiveness and income-driven plans can help in these instances.
  • Or evaluate your current situation. Shop around for a private MBA loan if you have strong credit and a good sense of your future income. For example, say your employer is sponsoring part of your MBA and you’ll earn a higher salary — and stay with the company for a set number of years — after you get your degree. You may feel OK taking on the risk of private loans to save on interest or overall costs.

Not sure which situation describes you? Stick with federal loans. You can always refinance MBA loans with a private lender at a lower rate if your plans come into focus later.

What to look for in a private MBA loan

If a private MBA loan makes sense for you, look for the following features to ensure it meets your education and repayment goals:

  • You can qualify. Some private lenders provide MBA loans only to some schools or programs. Make sure yours is eligible before applying with a lender.
  • Low interest rates and fees. Graduate PLUS loans have an interest rate of 7.08% and an origination fee of 4.248%. Don’t take out a private loan that doesn’t beat those numbers. Use a student loan calculator to ensure you're saving money.
  • Flexible repayment options. If you want to pay your loans off fast, choose a lender that enables that with features like a five- or seven-year repayment term. Also, look at the options for borrowers struggling to make payments. You may not be expecting trouble now but should know your options if issues arise.

Last updated on September 5, 2019

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's MBA Student Loans for 2019