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9 Best MBA Student Loans of July 2020

Ryan LaneJune 26, 2020

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

Free aid like fellowships and employer sponsorships are the best ways to pay for business school. But 51% of MBA students end up taking out student loans, according to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

If you need to finance part or all of your MBA, federal loans are the safer choice because of their flexible repayment terms. But a private MBA loan may make sense if you have excellent credit and a firm grasp on your career trajectory and future income — for example, if you’re in an executive MBA program.

Here are our picks for the best MBA student loans and additional information on how to decide which is right for you.

Summary of Best MBA Student Loans of July 2020

LenderNerdWallet Rating Fixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Best for All borrowers as a first option

2.75 - 4.30%

N/A

None

Read review
Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Best for Borrowers who want to minimize risk

5.30 - 5.30%

N/A

None

Read review
SoFi Private Student Loan

SoFi Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Best for Borrowers with excellent credit

4.73 - 11.46%

1.30 - 10.00%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on SoFi's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Best for Borrowers with excellent credit

4.00 - 12.78%

1.24 - 11.44%

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Best for Borrowers with excellent credit

5.45 - 9.74%

3.31 - 9.29%

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Citizens One Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

Best for Borrowers with excellent credit

4.25 - 11.95%

1.25 - 11.40%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website

College Ave MBA Student Loan

College Ave MBA Student Loan

Check Rate

on College Ave's website

Best for Students getting an MBA part-time

4.39 - 11.68%

1.79 - 10.97%

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

Best for Students getting an MBA part-time

4.25 - 12.35%

1.25 - 11.15%

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Best for International MBA students

N/A

7.52 - 12.00%

N/A

Read review

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

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Fixed APR

2.75 - 4.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Graduate students are ineligible for subsidized loans.

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.

  • Undergraduate interest rate fixed at 4.53%, while grad students get higher 6.08% rate.

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

Federal Grad PLUS Loan

Fixed APR

5.30 - 5.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

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

Pros

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

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

SoFi Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi Private Student Loan

SoFi Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.73 - 11.46%

Variable APR

1.30 - 10.00%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on SoFi's website


Variable APR

1.30 - 10.00%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for SoFi's private student loan.

Pros

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

  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.

  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • Must be a U.S. citizen.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.73% to 11.46% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 1.30% to 10.00% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.51% to 11.76% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.08% to 10.30% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.41% to 11.67% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 0.98% to 10.21% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.73% to 11.46% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.30% to 9.88% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 6/29/20. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).
Read Full Review
Earnest Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Earnest's website

Earnest Private Student Loan

Earnest Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.00 - 12.78%

Variable APR

1.24 - 11.44%

Min. Credit Score

650

Check Rate

on Earnest's website


Variable APR

1.24 - 11.44%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Earnest's private student loan.

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: 758.

  • 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
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

3.31 - 9.29%

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website


Variable APR

3.31 - 9.29%

Key facts

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.

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

4.25 - 11.95%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.40%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.40%

Key facts

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.

Pros

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

  • 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

Student Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.25%-11.40% (1.25%-11.01% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.25%-11.95% (4.25% - 11.53% APR)
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 MBA Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave MBA Student Loan

College Ave MBA Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.39 - 11.68%

Variable APR

1.79 - 10.97%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Variable APR

1.79 - 10.97%

Key facts

College Ave MBA loans offer immediate, interest-only and flat payment plans, so you can minimize repayment costs while getting your degree.

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.

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

Cons

  • You must be at least halfway through your repayment term before you can request a co-signer release.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: $35,000 per year.

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

Available Term Lengths

5, 8, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

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

4.25 - 12.35%

Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

1.25 - 11.15%

Key facts

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.

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 U.S. 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 4.25% - 12.35% APR and Variable 1.25% - 11.15% 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 06/25/2020. 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 to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This 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 and 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 8.51% fixed APR. It works out to 51 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $124.69 and one payment of $66.91, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,661.42.
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

Prodigy Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

7.52 - 12.00%

Min. Credit Score

N/A


Variable APR

7.52 - 12.00%

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.

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.

Cons

  • No fixed interest rates.

  • 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

Which MBA student loan is right for you?

Business school graduates owe more than $66,000 in MBA student debt on average. The right student loan to pay for your MBA 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 June 26, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best MBA Student Loans of July 2020

Frequently asked questions