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9 Best Medical School Loans of October 2020

Ryan LaneJuly 2, 2020

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Benefits like student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment make federal student loans a better option than private student loans for medical school.

There are two main types of medical school loans: federal and private. In general, use federal student loans for medical school first because they have benefits private loans for medical school lack, including access to income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs.

The following lenders offer student loans specifically designed for medical students and other graduate-level health professionals. Compare specific lenders below — see which let you postpone payments in residency under Key Facts — and keep reading to learn more about the differences between federal and private student loans.

Summary of Best Medical School Loans of October 2020

Our pick for

All borrowers as a first option

Start with federal direct unsubsidized loans if low-cost federal health professions student loans aren’t available for medical school.

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

Best first option for all student loan borrowers.

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

Manageable payments post-graduation

Federal benefits like student loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment can make grad PLUS loans a better option than private student loans for medical school.

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

You can postpone payments in residency.

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

Private loans for medical school

These lenders offer specific private loan products for medical students. These may come with unique features, like letting you postpone or make minimal payments during residency. But you or a co-signer will need excellent credit to get the lowest possible rates.

Ascent Medical Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Medical Student Loan

Ascent Medical Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.57 - 13.44%

Variable APR

3.67 - 12.42%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

3.67 - 12.42%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Ascent's private student loan. Ascent's medical school loan lets you defer payments for up to 36 months after you finish school.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.

  • Grace period of 36 months is longer than many lenders offer.

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

Cons

  • Fixed rate loan only offers 10-year repayment term.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Not available.

  • Minimum income: Not available.

  • Loan amounts: up to $200,000.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10, 12, 15 or 20 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review
College Ave Medical Student Loan
Check Rate

on College Ave's website

College Ave Medical Student Loan

College Ave Medical Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.79 - 9.95%

Variable APR

1.39 - 8.99%

Min. Credit Score

Mid-600s

Check Rate

on College Ave's website


Variable APR

1.39 - 8.99%

Key facts

Best for med students who'll need extra time before starting repayment.

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.

  • You can defer payments up to an additional 48 months during fellowship after your grace period.

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, 15 or 20 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. You can postpone payments in residency for up to four years.

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
CommonBond Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on CommonBond's website

CommonBond Private Student Loan

CommonBond Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

6.98 - 10.74%

Variable APR

6.61 - 9.42%

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rate

on CommonBond's website


Variable APR

6.61 - 9.42%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Common Bond's private student loan. Make $100 payments during residency.

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 by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900), NMLS Consumer Access. If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 0.17% effective Sep 1, 2020 and may increase after consummation.
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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 - 11.53%

Variable APR

1.21 - 10.97%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose

Check Rate

on Citizens Bank's website


Variable APR

1.21 - 10.97%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Citizens One's private student loan. You can postpone payments in residency for up to four years.

Pros

  • Six-month grace period extension is available.

  • Loyalty discount for existing Citizens Bank customers.

  • Multiyear loan approval is available.

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 from1.21%-11.36% (1.21%-10.97% APR).Fixed interest rates range from 4.25%-11.95% (4.25% -11.53% APR).
Read Full Review

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Wells Fargo Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

4.53 - 10.72%

Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Min. Credit Score

Does not disclose


Variable APR

3.39 - 10.09%

Key facts

Rating and details displayed are for Wells Fargo's private student loan. You can postpone payments in residency for up to three years.

Pros

  • You are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.

  • One of the few lenders to offer loans to borrowers enrolled less than half-time.

  • More payment reduction options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.

Cons

  • Shorter length of hardship forbearance than most other lenders.

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

  • Only borrowers with existing Wells Fargo student loans are eligible.

Qualifications

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

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $120,000

Available Term Lengths

15 years

Disclaimer

Read Full Review

Our pick for

International medical students

International students without an eligible co-signer have fewer options to get a student loan for medical school.

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

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

Federal loans for medical school

There are multiple types of federal loans for medical school. Consider them in this order:

  • Federal health professions student loans. These loans have interest subsidies and lower interest rates than other federal loans. But they're only available to borrowers who demonstrate financial need and attend participating schools. Ask your school about its application process to see if you qualify.

  • Federal direct unsubsidized loans. These loans aren't based on financial need, and medical students should max out these loans before PLUS loans because they have lower interest rates and fees. You can borrow up to $20,500 per year and $138,500 total, including any undergraduate loans.

  • Federal PLUS loans. Consider PLUS loans after you've exhausted other federal loans for medical school. PLUS loan interest rates are 5.30% for the 2020-21 school year, which may be close to the rate you'd get with a private loan. But PLUS loans come with a 4.236% fee that most private lenders don't charge.

To get federal loans for medical school, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — this FAFSA guide can help. If your school participates in the health professions student loan program, you may need to fill out a different application.

There's no credit check for direct unsubsidized loans. There is a credit check for PLUS loans, but you don't necessarily need good credit to qualify — you just can't have adverse credit history or negative marks on your credit.

Private medical school loans

Private medical school loans can make sense if you have excellent credit and don't plan to pursue Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Unlike federal loans, which have the same fixed rates for all borrowers, private loans have lower rates for borrowers with good credit, and they typically don't have fees.

Before approving you, the lender will do a hard credit pull to check your credit history. The interest rate you get will depend on factors like your credit, the loan term and whether you choose a fixed or variable rate.

Many lenders — including Ascent, Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo — offer private medical school loans with specific benefits for aspiring health professionals, like the ability to postpone or make reduced payments during residency. Weigh such features vs. getting the lowest interest rate possible.

Medical school loans for international students

International students aren't eligible for federal student loans. But they may be able to qualify for a private medical school loan with an eligible co-signer.

If you're an international medical student without a credit history or co-signer, you'll have fewer options.

MPOWER lends to international students, but caps loan amounts at $50,000 annually, which may not be enough to cover med school. Prodigy Finance offers higher loan limits ($220,000) but isn't available in every state.

Managing medical school loans

Going to medical school means taking on a lot of medical school loans. The average medical school debt among the class of 2019 was $201,490.

Explore tactics for paying off medical school debt before you borrow. Depending on your career goals and the type of loans you have, the best strategy may be refinancing medical school loans during or after your residency, seeking loan forgiveness for doctors or riding out an an income-driven repayment plan.

Last updated on July 2, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Medical School Loans of October 2020

Frequently asked questions