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6 Part-Time Student Loan Options for 2024

Students with less than half time enrollment have fewer options for student loans. And federal loans aren't on the list.

Cecilia Clark
By
Last updated on May 15, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Karen Gaudette Brewer
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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NerdWallet's student loans content, including articles, reviews and recommendations, is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in consumer lending. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nasdaq, MSN, ABC News, MarketWatch and many other national and regional media outlets. They also have appeared on NerdWallet's “Smart Money” podcast, as well as local TV and radio.

Part-Time Student Loan Options

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Best for Students who want flexibility with repayment

Mid-600's

4.50-15.49%

6.37-16.70%

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
5.0
/5
Best for Making payments while still in school

Mid-600s

4.07-16.49%

5.59-16.85%

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Custom Choice Loan

Custom Choice Loan

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
5.0
/5
Best for Students who want to pay off the loan fast

600

4.43-14.04%

5.39-15.57%

COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Earnest Graduate Loan

Earnest Graduate Loan

Read review
4.5
/5
Best for Graduate students

650

4.11-14.30%

5.89-15.97%

Advantage Education Private Student Loan

Advantage Education Private Student Loan

4.5
/5
Best for Students in non-degree-granting programs

Does not disclose

2.84-7.74%

N/A

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan

4.5
Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.50-15.49%

Variable APR

6.37-16.70%

Key facts

Sallie Mae offers flexible repayment options including its interest-only repayment option in school and during the grace period and a rate that is 1% lower than the traditional deferred repayment option. Borrowers can defer payments while enrolled in school, even while attending less than half time.

Pros
  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, who live in the U.S. and attend school in the U.S. can apply with a qualified co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Cons
  • 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 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 Lengths10 to 15 years
DisclaimerLowest rates shown include the auto debit. Advertised APRs for undergraduate students assume a $10,000 loan to a student who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae-serviced loans. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount 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. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. Advertised APRs are valid as of 2/26/2024. Loan amounts: For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website may be subjected to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.28% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $182.67 and one payment of $121.71, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,134.44. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.78% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $132.53 and one payment of $40.35 for a total loan cost of $24,438.22. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years.
Read Full Review
College Ave Private Student Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
College Ave Private Student Loan

College Ave Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

4.07-16.49%

Variable APR

5.59-16.85%

Key factsBest for students who want to make payments while they're still in school.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • More flexible repayment options than other lenders.
  • Six-month grace period extension is available.
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 cost of attendance.
Available Term Lengths5, 8, 10 or 15 years
DisclaimerCollege Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community 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. Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. If a payment is returned, you will lose this benefit. 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 5/1/2024. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.
Custom Choice Loan
COMPARE RATES
on Credible’s website
on Credible’s website
Custom Choice Loan

Custom Choice Loan

Min. credit score

600

Fixed APR

4.43-14.04%

Variable APR

5.39-15.57%

Key factsCustom Choice student loans are best for upperclassmen who are confident they can take advantage of the 2% Grad Reward and returning borrowers who want to take advantage of a pre-filled application and income verification waiver.
Pros
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • No late fees.
  • Principal reduction of 2% if you graduate.
  • Stands out for features that enable faster loan repayment.
Cons
  • Doesn't apply extra payments to the principal balance by default.
  • Forbearance program is less generous than others.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 700 for a non-cosigned loan and 733 for co-signed loans.
  • Minimum income: No minimum, but borrowers must demonstrate positive income.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to $99,999.
Available Term Lengths7, 10 or 15 years
Earnest Graduate Loan

Earnest Graduate Loan

Min. credit score

650

Fixed APR

4.11-14.30%

Variable APR

5.89-15.97%

Key facts

Undergraduate borrowers must be enrolled at least half-time to qualify for an Earnest loan, but graduate borrowers can be enrolled part-time.

Pros
  • Option to skip one payment every 12 months.
  • No late fees.
  • Nine-month grace period is longer than most lenders offer.
Cons
  • Loans aren't available in Nevada.
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 Lengths5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
DisclaimerActual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.36% APR to 16.15% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.87% APR to 16.45% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan origination loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.
Advantage Education Private Student Loan

Advantage Education Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

2.84-7.74%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Advantage Education Loans are fixed-rate loans from the nonprofit Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corp. They're available outside Kentucky, but not in every state. You can use an Advantage Education Loan if you’re enrolled less than half-time, provided you immediately enter repayment, and for non-degree programs like certification courses.

Pros
  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.
  • Loans are available if you’re enrolled less than half time.
Cons
  • Fewer repayment terms than other lenders offer.
  • Borrowers are not able to defer loans if they return to school after their grace period ends.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.
  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $1,000. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.
Available Term Lengths10 years
RISLA Private Student Loan

RISLA Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

4.99-6.94%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

RISLA is one of the only private lenders that offers income-based repayment, allowing borrowers to pay a maximum of 15% of income per month and earn forgiveness after 25 years. Undergraduate borrowers must be enrolled for at least one credit per semester to qualify for deferment, while graduate borrowers must be enrolled at least half time.

Pros
  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.
Cons
  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.
  • Minimum income: $40,000.
  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.
Available Term Lengths10 or 15 years

A caveat for part-time students

Each school determines its own full-time or part-time status. Typically, full-time status means you’re enrolled in at least 12 credit hours per semester. Half-time status means enrolling in six credit hours per semester. Taking fewer than six credit hours would be considered less than half time.

One big challenge part-time students face is that they may need to make payments while still in school. It will depend on your enrollment status and your lender.

  • Federal student loans: Repayment will begin if you fall below half-time status.

  • Private student loans: Check with your lender. Many will require repayment to begin if you fall below half-time status, but a few will allow you to defer payments even if you take just one class per semester.

If you have existing student loans you took out as a full-time or half-time student and transition to less than half-time enrollment, you may need to begin repaying those loans while you’re in school. Check with your lender or servicer.

How to shop for part-time student loans

  1. Build credit or find a co-signer before you apply for a private student loan. While undergrads generally don’t have the credit history required to get a loan without a co-signer, students over the age of 21 might. You’ll have the best shot at a private loan with competitive interest rates if your credit score is 690 or above. Strengthen it before applying for a loan by fixing errors on your credit report, paying all bills on time and using as little of your credit limit as possible. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a co-signer who can qualify to take out the loan with you.

  2. Compare private lending options. Attending college less than half time will limit your private student loan options, but there are a few lenders who offer loans for less than half-time enrollment. Compare private loan offers to get the lowest interest rate you qualify for. Note whether the lender will postpone payments in case you have difficulty affording them, and for how long. Find out if there are origination, prepayment or late fees, and how easily you can reach the lender by phone, email or live chat if you encounter a billing or customer service issue.

  3. Opt for a fixed interest rate. Given the choice, a fixed interest rate is a safer bet than a variable interest rate. It won’t increase over time.

Keep an eye on the bottom line. Use a student loan calculator to see what kind of payment you’ll face after borrowing for multiple years.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Last updated on May 15, 2024

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Part-Time Student Loan Options for 2024

  • Sallie Mae Undergraduate Student Loan: Best for Students who want flexibility with repayment
  • College Ave Private Student Loan: Best for Making payments while still in school
  • Custom Choice Loan: Best for Students who want to pay off the loan fast
  • Earnest Graduate Loan: Best for Graduate students
  • Advantage Education Private Student Loan: Best for Students in non-degree-granting programs
  • RISLA Private Student Loan: Best for Students who intend to pursue medical careers
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