Top-Rated Private Graduate Student Loans in 2022

Expenses are a huge part of college. In this article, we’re taking a look at the best private graduate student loans you can apply for to fund your latest form of education. We’re digging deep into their features, benefits, and other factors that make them stand out and we’ll also be discussing the eligibility criteria and application process.

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1. College Ave Student Loans

College Ave offers the most convenient private graduate student loans for those who want fast processing times and flexible borrowing and repayment options. Refinancing is also available, letting students borrow as high as $150,000 to finance existing loans. Full Review

  • Fast application
  • Refinancing available
  • Prequalification available
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College Ave offers the most convenient private graduate student loans for those who want fast processing times and flexible borrowing and repayment options. Refinancing is also available, letting students borrow as high as $150,000 to finance existing loans. Full Review

Features

4.8/5

Fees

4/5

Ease of Sign Up

4.9/5

Ease of Funding/Deposit

4.9/5

2. Discover

Discover has great private loan offers for students that come with reasonable interest rates, long loan terms, and flexible repayment options. You can also defer payments up to six months after graduation. What’s also great is that it doesn’t charge any fees like origination, prepayment, or late fees. Full Review

  • Reasonable interest rates
  • Flexible payment options
  • Awards for good grades
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Discover has great private loan offers for students that come with reasonable interest rates, long loan terms, and flexible repayment options. You can also defer payments up to six months after graduation. What’s also great is that it doesn’t charge any fees like origination, prepayment, or late fees. Full Review

Features

4.7/5

Fees

4.8/5

Ease of Sign-up

4/5

Ease of Funding/Deposit

4.5/5

3. CommonBond

CommonBonds offers unsurpassed private loans for graduate students who might need refinancing options of up to $500,000. You can enjoy three different loan terms at a reasonable interest rate, as well as various repayment options. Full Review

  • Three loan terms
  • $500,000 refinancing option
  • 24-month forbearance period
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CommonBonds offers unsurpassed private loans for graduate students who might need refinancing options of up to $500,000. You can enjoy three different loan terms at a reasonable interest rate, as well as various repayment options. Full Review

Features

4.5/5

Fees

4.5/5

Ease of Sign-up

4.7/5

Ease of Funding/Deposit

4.5/5

4. LendKey

LendKey is a marketplace for students searching for the leading grad school loans to help with financing their education. You can enjoy potentially lower rates and repayment terms depending on the partner lender you’ll get, and signing up for auto-pay also gives you a 0.25% interest rate discount. Full Review

  • Potentially lower rates
  • No application or origination fees
  • Co-signer accepted
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LendKey is a marketplace for students searching for the leading grad school loans to help with financing their education. You can enjoy potentially lower rates and repayment terms depending on the partner lender you’ll get, and signing up for auto-pay also gives you a 0.25% interest rate discount. Full Review

Features

4.5/5

Fees

4.8/5

Ease of Sign Up

4.5/5

Ease of Funding/Deposit

4.5/5

5. SoFi

SoFi offers the most flexible private loans for graduate students along with an added value from your loan provider. Their loans cover the full cost of attendance and you can refinance both private and federal loans. Full Review

  • Refinance federal and private loans
  • Competitive rates
  • Coaching, referral, and financial planning
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SoFi offers the most flexible private loans for graduate students along with an added value from your loan provider. Their loans cover the full cost of attendance and you can refinance both private and federal loans. Full Review

Features

4.9/5

Fees

4.7/5

Ease of Sign Up

4.6/5

Ease of Funding/Deposit

4.5/5

Our Methodology

Various lenders exist out there in this big world. To ensure that we list only the best options among the private student loans for graduates, we’re describing the most important aspects of them.

  • APR (fixed and variable) 

APR, or annual percentage rate, refers to the cost you pay each year for the borrowed money; This is expressed as a percentage and can be either fixed or variable. Fixed APRs do not change or fluctuate based on an index used by the lender, while a variable APR is an exact opposite. If varied, the number moves up or down depending on the index’s movement.

  • Minimum credit score

When considering the best options for graduate student loans, remember your credit score; Your score should be at least at their required minimum. We looked into lenders that have reasonable credit score requirements to let you find the ones that may accept your application. Usually, you can add a cosigner that meets this requirement if your credit score does not qualify.

  • Features and benefits

Lenders offer different loan packages that come with various features and benefits for graduate school borrowers, such as flexible repayment terms, long loan terms, and discounts. Some providers also have features such as financial mentoring programs, financial planning training, and referral programs.

  • Deferment or forbearance

Deferments and forbearances let you postpone payments, usually until after your time in school has ended or any grace periods.

Detailed Reviews

College Ave Student Loans
College Ave Student Loans
College Ave Student Loans

Best for Fastest Loan Application With Reasonable Rates

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  • Prequalification available
  • Refinancing available
  • Fast application
  • Steep late payment fee of $25

College Ave is the best place to get private student loans if you are looking for speed and robust refinancing services.

To get approved for its student loan offers, you must be enrolled in a degree program at an eligible school. You or a cosigner (for international students) must be a US citizen. Prequalification is available, which is where College Ave performs a soft credit check to quickly determine your eligibility.

You can borrow $1,000 or higher to cover the full cost of attendance, and the loan term can last up to 15 years. The variable interest rate is 1.99% to 10.97%, variable rates may increase after consummation while the fixed rate is 4.49% to 11.98%. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties on College Ave’s private graduate student loans, so you can rest assured there are no hidden charges.

You have four repayment options. You can make full principal and interest payments, interest-only payments, or a flat fee of $25 a month. Deferment is available, but it will cost you since interest still accrues over time.

Refinancing is also available for graduate students, who can borrow between $5,000 to $300,000 to refinance existing loans.

APR Variable: 1.99% to 10.97%

Fixed: 4.49% to 11.98%

(Rates include an Auto-pay interest rate reduction of 0.25% as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments)

Recommended Credit Score  Mid-600s
Loan Amounts $1000 to the full cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
Discover
Discover
Discover

Best for Financially Strong Borrowers

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  • Flexible payment options
  • Awards for good grades
  • No late or prepayment fees
  • Reasonable interest rates
  • No prequalification available
  • No cosigner release
  • Only one repayment loan term

Thanks to its flexible repayment and refinancing options, Discover ranks among the best private student lenders around.

To apply, you must be enrolled and seeking a degree at an eligible school. You must also be 16 years or older and making satisfactory academic progress. Passing a credit check is also part of its eligibility requirements.

The maximum loan amount is your total cost of attendance minus other financial aid, such as federal loans. Discover’s loan for graduate students doesn’t charge any origination fees, prepayment penalties, or late fees. The loan term is up to 15 years.

The variable APR is from 1.99% to 11.37%, while the fixed APR is 4.99% to 12.39%. Get a 0.25% rate reduction if you apply for a debit card, and if you earn a 3.0 GPA or higher, there’s a 1% loan principal reduction.

There are in-school and post-school repayment options. With in-school repayment, you can make either interest-only or fixed payments; You can also defer making payments until six months after graduation, making this a good choice of a private loan for graduate school students.

You can find out more information in our review of Discover Student Loans.

APR Variable: 1.99% to 11.37%

Fixed: 4.99% to 12.39%

Recommended Credit Score  Undisclosed
Loan Amounts Total cost of attendance after other financial aids
Loan Terms 15 years
CommonBond
CommonBond
CommonBond

Best for Refinancing Options of up to $500,000

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  • Free money mentoring
  • 24-month forbearance period
  • Three loan terms
  • $500,000 refinancing option
  • Co-signer required on most loans
  • Not available in Nevada or Mississippi
  • Higher repayment amount

CommonBond is an online student loan lender that offers the most convenient loans for graduate students who want flexible refinancing options.

To be eligible, you must be a US citizen or a permanent resident and be enrolled at least half-time in an eligible school. Graduate school borrowers can quickly determine whether they qualify for a loan thanks to its prequalification feature.

You can borrow $2,000 up to the total cost of your attendance, and the loan terms are 5, 10, and 15 years. Variable graduate student loan rates are between 3.84% and 9.37%, while fixed rates are between 3.74% and 10.74%. The best thing is that you can refinance existing loans of up to $500,000 with 20 years in repayment terms.

As for repayment, there are four in-school options and a six-month grace period. You can pay the student loan, principal, and interest while you’re in school. Interest-only or fixed payment options are also available. You can defer payments until the end of the grace period, though interest rates will accrue. It also offers an impressive 24-month forbearance period for students facing financial difficulties.

APR Variable: 3.84% to 9.37%

Fixed: 3.74% to 10.74%

Recommended Credit Score  600
Loan Amounts $2,000 to 100% of the attendance cost
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years
LendKey
LendKey
LendKey

Best for Marketplace for Student Borrowers and Private Lenders

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  • No application or origination fees
  • Consider multiple lenders in one application
  • Potentially lower rates
  • Co-signer accepted
  • Loan limitations
  • Prequalification not available
  • Fees may vary based on partner lender

Unlike other student loan lenders, LendKey isn’t a bank. Rather, it’s a marketplace that connects students to credit unions or community banks. The borrowing process is simpler since you don’t have to shop around for lenders; LendKey does that for you.

To be eligible for its private graduate school loan offers, you must be enrolled at an eligible school at least half-time and have at least a 2.0 GPA. You or your co-signer should also have an income of at least $24,000.

Graduate students can borrow up to $250,000, which is the total loan amount they can borrow. You can choose a fixed or variable rate: Variable rates range from 1.49% to 7.73%, while fixed rates range between 3.99% and 7.73%.

With LendKey, you are required to make payments while in school. Your options are making flat payments of $25 per month or making interest-only payments. LendKey’s forbearance and deferment terms vary depending on the partner lender, so review the lender’s policy carefully before signing up.

You can find more information in our review of LendKey Student Loans.

APR Variable: 1.49% to 7.73%

Fixed: 3.99% to 7.73

Recommended Credit Score  680
Loan Amounts $5,000 to $250,000
Loan Terms 5, 7, 10, 15, or 20 years
SoFi
SoFi
SoFi

Best for Additional Programs Such as Career Improvement, Financial Planning, and Referral Programs

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  • Competitive rates
  • Refinance federal and private loans
  • No hard credit check
  • Coaching, referral, and financial planning
  • High loan minimum
  • No co-signer release
  • Limited repayment terms

SoFi leads the way in providing student loans for graduate school expenses while also gaining value from their SoFi programs.

To acquire their student loan offers, you must be of the age majority in your state; This is usually 18. If you’re a permanent US resident, you can start the application process by calling 877-936-2269. You also must make satisfactory academic progress at the school you’re enrolled in.

SoFi’s private loans for graduate school students let them borrow the full amount of attendance cost. Variable rates are 1.87% to 11.66%, while fixed rates are 4.23% to 11.26%. Loan terms are 5, 10, and 15 years.

SoFi also offers four repayment plans. You can pay the full principal and interest while in school or make interest only payments. You can also pay $25 a month toward your loan, and defer payments, where you don’t start paying until after the grace period of six months post-graduation.

SoFi offers extra benefits for borrowers: You can access their career coaching, referral, and financial planning programs, all of which add value to your SoFi loan.

APR Variable: 1.87% to 11.66%

Fixed:  4.23% to 11.26%

Recommended Credit Score  Undisclosed
Loan Amounts $5000 to the full cost of attendance
Loan Terms 5, 10, or 15 years

A Buyer’s Guide to the Best Private Graduate Student Loans

Whenever looking for a loan, you must ensure you are well-informed in order to understand the factors that come into play but also to get the best conditions. So, let’s start from the very beginning.

What Is a Private Student Loan?

Private student loans are loans you can use to pay for education costs. They’re similar to federal student loans except they come from a bank, credit union, or community banks.

Student loan debt statistics show that many students (including parents) take out private loans to finance their education. To get the best conditions for graduate school loans, you should have a great credit score and a steady source of income. If you’re missing one of these, it’s ideal to find a cosigner who can help.

How Do Private Loans Work?

To put it simply, private student loans work the same way as federal loans. You can apply for assistance from private lenders like banks and credit unions; They often cover the full cost of attendance, and you can pay the money back either while in school or after the grace period is set.

Although a student loan for graduate school commonly charges higher interest rates than their federal counterparts, you can get lower rates if you use great refinance companies to help with your loans. You can make payments over the course of the loan term, which is usually 5, 10, or 15 years.

Private student loan interest rates also depend on your ability to meet their eligibility criteria, which include residency and academic performance. You can refinance student loans, too, in order to get better rates. We discuss these requirements in detail below.

Private Student Loan Eligibility

To acquire the best conditions for any private graduate student loans around, you must ensure your eligibility. Here are the most common requirements you should be aware of:

  • US citizenship – Private student loan lenders prioritize US citizens and permanent residents. Legal US residents without citizenship might still qualify.
  • Enrollment status – Companies need to know that you’re going to use their funds to only finance your education. As such, you should be enrolled at least half-time at a school to qualify as a borrower.
  • Minimum credit score – Lenders often perform a soft credit check to see your credit score. If you don’t meet their required minimum score, you must have a cosigner who does.
  • Satisfactory academic performance – To get the best graduate student loan rates, you should also exhibit satisfactory academic performance as measured by the school you’re attending.
  • Income – Lenders need to know whether you have resources to pay them back, so they also sometimes have minimum income requirements. If you don’t meet this requirement, you must have someone cosign with you.

Everything Else You Should Think About

Apart from all of that, you should also consider other factors before you decide to file an application. Here are some of them:

  • Origination fees – These fees are charged by the lender as compensation for processing your loan application. Usually, this is 0.5% to 1% of the total loan amount.
  • Late fee – If you choose to make monthly payments, you may incur late fees if you fail or delay making a payment by your due date. Luckily, the top-rated graduate student loans usually charge little to no late fees as long as you pay within their grace periods.
  • Cosigner – If you fail to meet the lender’s required credit score or income threshold, having a cosigner with great credit history and a steady source of income can help you qualify for a loan. However, make sure you check whether your chosen lender actually accepts cosigned applications or not.
  • Loan terms – How long are you willing to make payments? Lenders usually offer 5, 10, and 15 year periods for you to pay off your loan.
  • APR – APRs can either be fixed or variable. While private student loans for graduate school often have higher rates than federal loans, they also offer flexible APRs that you can take advantage of depending on your situation.
  • Prequalification – Prequalification refers to the process of checking whether you’re eligible for the loan; It also lets you know what terms, rates, and amount you will get before you start the application process. This helps when you’re not sure of your eligibility, or if you want to plan ahead before taking out funds.
  • Discounts – Private lenders can offer certain discounts or rewards for borrowers. One example is an autopay discount, where you apply for autopay to reduce the total interest owed.

How to Get a Private Student Loan

Applying for a student loan may take time depending on your needs and choices. To get the top private loans for grad school, check out the following steps:

  1. Check your credit score – Check whether your credit score allows you to be eligible for a loan. If you have a bad credit score, find a cosigner who has an excellent rating to help you. Also, make sure your credit report is accurate and free of errors.
  2. Research lenders who offer private loans – Find as many lenders as you can and compare their reputations, interest rates, pros and cons of using them, and which ones are most likely to accept your application.
  3. Compare offers from various lenders – Compare each lender’s offers, including their loan terms, rewards, discounts, and value add-ons such as loan forgiveness programs and deferments. Check whether any of them offer graduate student loans for people with bad credit in case there is no cosigner available for you.
  4. Apply for a loan – Once you are confident with your chosen lender, it’s time to officially start the application process. Prepare any and all necessary IDs and documents, and read through their guidelines when filling out forms. Know all the details relating to your loan application, and make sure to read the fine print.

Differences Between Private and Federal Loans 

The key difference between private and federal loans is that the former is provided by private financial institutions, while the latter is provided by the federal government. Low-interest graduate student loans are often federal loans, while private loans offer higher loan amounts and longer loan terms. Both private and federal loans have their own eligibility criteria, application process, and terms and conditions.

Pros and Cons of Private Student Loans 

Pros  Cons 
Covers the total cost of attendance

Discounts and rewards

Faster application process

Longer loan terms

Flexible repayment terms

Higher interest rates

Need good credit score to have better rates

Deferment and forbearance both accrue interest

Most Popular Private Graduate Student Loans at a Glance

Bank Best For Variable APR Fixed APR Fees Minimum Credit Score
Discover Financially strong borrowers who need more wiggle room for education costs 1.99% to 11.37% 4.99% to 12.39% No origination fee;

No late fees

Undisclosed
CommonBond Refinancing options of up to $500,000. 3.84% to 9.37% 3.74% to 10.74% No origination fee;

5% late fee

600
LendKey Marketplace for student borrowers and private lenders 1.49% to 7.73% 3.99% to 7.73 No origination or prepayment fee;

$5 to $15 late fee

680
College Ave Fastest loan application with reasonable rates 1.89% to 10.97% 4.24% to 11.98% No origination fee;

No prepayment fee;

Late fee: 5% of unpaid amount or $25, whichever is less

650
SoFi Additional programs for borrowers, such as career improvement, financial planning, and referral programs. 1.87% to 11.66% 4.23% to 11.26% No origination fees, prepayment fees, and late fees Undisclosed

Wrap Up 

The most popular private student loans for graduate students are those that come with flexible rates and repayment terms, as well as various value add-ons like referral programs, discounts, and financial management programs. This type of loan is best for students who want to finance their graduate education and cover their total cost of attendance, supplementing any financial aid they receive from the federal government.

FAQ

How much can graduate students borrow in student loans?

You can borrow the full cost of attendance from private lenders. They often have minimum loan amounts, and they also deduct any other financial aid you’ve received apart from the private loan. This makes it the best loan type for college students who want to pay for their education.

How can you get a private student loan?

To get a private student loan, you must meet the lender’s eligibility criteria, which often includes a good credit score and a steady income. You also need to be enrolled at least half-time in any degree college that is accepted by the lender.

How do private student loans work?

Private student loans work the same way as federal loans do, except they come from banks and other financial institutions. Repayment can be interest only, monthly, or deferred until the end of school. You can also refinance existing loans for education using the best private graduate student loans.