Best MBA Loans of 2021

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Going to business graduate school can be expensive – the top schools can charge in the six figures – so it’s important to take steps early to determine how MBA loans can help you finance your education.

The Best MBA Student Loan Companies in 2021

Earnest

3.74% to 13.03% Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
650 Min. Credit Score

College Ave

3.74% to 13.24% Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Sallie Mae

4.5% to 12.84% Fixed APR
Not disclosed Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Discover

4.49% to 13.24% Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

U-fi

3.84% to 12.42% Fixed APR
$125,000 Max. Loan Amount
680 Min. Credit Score

PNC

4.99% to 10.14% Fixed APR
$50,000 yearly Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

SoFi

4.48% to 11.51% Fixed APR
No maximum Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

CommonBond

3.99% to 10.99% Fixed APR
$500,000 Max. Loan Amount
680 Min. Credit Score

Ascent

3.38% to 14.50% Fixed APR
$200,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

Best for fair credit

Earnest is an online lender offering private student loans to current college and graduate students and student loan refinancing to graduates. The company was founded in 2013. Borrowers can choose their loan terms to fund up to the full cost of their education.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, co-signer, refinancing, Parent PLUS refinancing, MBA, law, medical
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 650
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Earnest doesn’t charge origination, application or late fees.

  • You can choose your monthly payment and loan term length.

  • You can use a co-signer on undergraduate or graduate student loans, and student loan refinancing is available.

See full profile

Best for customer service

Education Loan Finance, also known as ELFI, is a student loan refinancing program offered by SouthEast Bank. Options are available in all 50 states and Puerto Rico to refinance private and federal student loans, including undergraduate, graduate, parent and MBA loans, as well as loans for law, dental and medical school. ELFI also offers private loans for students at eligible institutions.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, law, health care
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 680
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • There are no application, origination or prepayment fees.

  • All types of student loans are eligible for refinancing.

See full profile

Best for instant approval

College Ave Student Loans offers student loans to borrowers in all 50 states. Undergraduate, graduate and parent loans are available. The lender specializes in simple applications with an instant decision.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical, career, international
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Loans are available from $1,000 up to 100% of the student’s school-certified cost of attendance.

  • Borrowers can make full payments while in school, or choose to pay interest only, pay a flat fee, or defer payments.

  • College Ave Student Loans have no origination or prepayment fees.

See full profile

Best for product availability

Sallie Mae is a publicly traded consumer bank that offers private student loans to pay for undergraduate, graduate and specialty degrees. The company started in 1972 as a government entity that serviced federal student loans. It went private in 2004 and has served nearly half a million students and families with its range of student loan products. Beyond student loans, Sallie Mae Bank offers savings products to help families plan and pay for college, and credit cards with incentives for using cash back rewards to pay back student loans.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, career training, parent, K-12, graduate, MBA, medical, medical residency, dental, dental residency, health professions, law school, bar study
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Student loans completely cover school-certified expenses such as tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel or a laptop.

  • Customer service is 100% U.S.-based.

  • Borrowers don’t have to pay a loan origination fee.

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Best for no fees

Discover Bank has been operating for more than 100 years, and since 2010, it has offered private student loans to students attending more than 2,400 colleges and universities. Loans of up to 100% of education costs with fixed or variable rates are available.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent, refinancing, MBA, law, international, consolidation, health professions, residency, bar exam. International loans require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Loans as small as $1,000 are available.

  • Discover has no origination, application or late fees.

See full profile

Best for flexible loan terms

U-fi from Nelnet offers private student loans and refinancing loans to borrowers in all U.S. states except Vermont. Undergraduate, graduate and refinancing loans are available. The lender specializes in offering flexible repayment options.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, health professions, refinance
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 680
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Borrowers can get up to 15 years to pay off the loan.

  • The lender offers an interest rate discount for automatic payments.

  • Borrowers can make full payments or pay interest only while in school, or defer payments.

See full profile

Best for ACH discount

PNC Bank was established in 1845 and operates in all 50 states. The bank is engaged in a number of community efforts, including its Grow Up Great program in conjunction with Sesame Workshop and various financial literacy efforts. For students, PNC offers opportunities to win $2,000 scholarships toward education expenses. PNC provides a range of loans for students at all stages of postsecondary education, including professional training loans and refinancing.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical, bar and residency
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • PNC offers a range of loans for undergraduate, graduate and professional education.

  • Loans are available in all 50 states.

  • Borrowers can receive an interest rate discount for automatic payment from a checking or savings account.

See full profile

Best for online service

SoFi is an online lender offering student loan refinancing, undergraduate, graduate and parent loans in all 50 states. The lender has served more than 375,000 borrowers with $30 billion in refinanced student loans. Although SoFi focused on refinancing in its early years, the company has expanded to also offer its own undergraduate, graduate and parent loans.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, parent loans, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, law, dental, medical
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A

Best Features

  • All types of student loans are eligible for refinancing.

  • SoFi’s lending process is completely online.

  • Loan terms are available from five to 20 years.

See full profile

Best for online preapprovals

Founded in 2012, CommonBond has funded more than $3 billion in student loans. The lender offers undergraduate, graduate, MBA and student loan refinance loans.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, refinancing, parent refinancing, MBA, dental, medical, law
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 680
  • Co-signer accepted: A co-signer is required for the undergraduate and graduate products. No co-signer is required for MBA, dental or medical loans. The lender offers a co-signer release after 24 on-time, consecutive payments. Parent PLUS loans can be refinanced to the child’s name, if they are eligible borrowers.
  • Better Business Bureau rating: B-

Best Features

  • Co-signers are accepted for all loans.

  • Borrowers can make up to full monthly payments while in school or choose to pay interest only, a flat fee or defer payments.

  • Online preapproval is available.

See full profile

Best for bad credit

Ascent offers student loans to borrowers in all 50 states. Undergraduate and graduate loans are available. The lender specializes in providing opportunities for students to borrow loans in their own names.

Before You Apply

  • Loan types: undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law, dental, medical, international, health professionals, graduate Ph.D./general, DACA students with an eligible co-signer
  • Minimum FICO credit score: undisclosed
  • Co-signer accepted: yes
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A

Best Features

  • Ascent offers a 1% cash back graduation reward with the satisfaction of certain terms and conditions.

  • Co-signed loans offer the ability to make full payments while in school and during a nine-month grace period following graduation, or choose to pay interest only, a flat fee or defer payments.

  • Ascent student loans have no origination, prepayment or application fees.

See full profile

What Is an MBA Student Loan?

An MBA loan is a student loan designed to help students pay for a Master of Business Administration degree.

These loans typically have higher interest rates than what you’re paying on your undergraduate loans, but they may also provide you with more financing so you can afford the higher costs of graduate school.

What Are the Different Types of MBA Student Loans?

There are a few different types of MBA loans you can get. While some are marketed as such, others may simply be general student loans:

  • Private MBA loans. Some lenders advertise loans specifically to help MBA students pay for their degree. Terms can vary depending on the lender, but you can typically borrow up to the total cost of attendance at your school.
  • Private graduate loans. Most private student loan companies offer general graduate student loans that you can use for any type of graduate degree. Interest rates, repayment terms and other features will differ from lender to lender, but you can usually borrow whatever you need to pay your tuition bill and other eligible costs.
  • Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These federal loans limit how much you can borrow each year, as well as in total. However, they also offer certain benefits that private lenders don’t provide, such as loan forgiveness programs and income-driven repayment plans.
  • Federal Graduate Direct PLUS Loans: There’s no limit on how much you can borrow with these loans, but the interest rate and loan fee are higher than what you’d get with a Direct Unsubsidized Loan. You’ll also get access to the same federal loan benefits.

Are MBA Loans Worth It?

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to borrow money to complete your MBA depends on your goals and future prospects. Take a look at what you expect to borrow to get through the program and compare it with the average starting salary for someone with an MBA in your field.

According to Department of Education data analyzed by the Brookings Institution, the median first-year salary for MBA graduates is $73,868.

Mark Kantrowitz, a student loan expert who has written about student aid policy, suggests using the rule of thumb that your graduate student loan debt should be less than your annual starting salary.

“It’s a rule of thumb for undergraduate student loan debt and applies to graduate degrees,” he says, “except you include any outstanding undergraduate debt along with the new debt that you incurred during graduate school.”

The real key is whether you’ll get a job, Kantrowitz adds. If you’re already employed and have a secure place to land at your company after you complete your degree, business school may be a no-brainer. But if you’ve previously struggled to gain employment and think an MBA might do the trick, your prospects may not be as high.

How to Choose the Best MBA Loan for You

Not all MBA loans are created equal, so it’s important to take your time to shop around and compare multiple options before you make a decision. Here are some features to keep in mind as you do your research:

  • Qualifications. Private student loans typically require a credit check when you apply, and if your credit isn’t in great shape and you have no co-signer, it can be tough to qualify and get a favorable interest rate. Direct PLUS Loans also require a credit check, but it’s only to ensure you don’t have any significant negative items on your credit reports. If you want to avoid a credit check altogether, Direct Unsubsidized Loans are the only option.
  • Interest rates. Federal student loan interest rates are standardized, so you know what you’re going to get before you apply. “The government offers some good rates for which you don’t need a co-signer,” says Steve Muszynski, founder and CEO of Splash Financial, an online student loan refinance marketplace. “However, you may be able to get a better rate via a private lender.” Just be sure you’re comparing apples to apples. Some private student loan companies offer both variable and fixed interest rates – unless you’re planning to pay off the debt quickly, a fixed rate is usually best because it won’t change with market rates.
  • Fees. In addition to the interest rate, you’ll also want to compare fees. In most cases, private lenders don’t charge origination fees, though you may be assessed a charge if you pay late. In contrast, federal student loans include an upfront loan fee, which is deducted from your loan disbursement. Federal loan fees can change from year to year, so check the Federal Student Aid website to get the latest information.
  • Repayment options. With federal student loans, you’ll get a variety of repayment options, including income-driven repayment plans. Private student loans also offer several different repayment schedules, but most of them don’t offer any kind of income-driven repayment plan.
  • Other features. Some MBA loans come with other features that could be appealing for you. For example, if you think you might qualify for a loan forgiveness program or loan repayment assistance program, federal loans may be the way to go. If not, compare the different benefits private student lenders offer to determine which one makes the most sense.

Muszynski says the loan’s interest rate should be at the top of your priority list. After all, even a slightly lower rate could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. But plan to look at each option holistically, especially if the rates are comparable.

How to Apply for an MBA Student Loan

The steps to apply for an MBA loan will vary depending on whether you’re applying for a federal or private loan. With federal loans, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, in which you’ll share information about yourself and your financial situation.
  • Review the financial aid award letter you receive from your school after it processes your FAFSA.
  • Once approved, choose how much you wish to borrow, up to the amount listed in your award letter.

In contrast, if you have private student loans, here are the steps you may need to take:

  • Get prequalified with multiple private lenders, so you can compare interest rates and other terms.
  • Choose a lender and submit an application through its website, including information about yourself, your creditworthiness and your financial situation.
  • Once the lender approves your application, you’ll be able to see the final offer, which you can accept or decline.

How Long Does an MBA Loan Typically Take to Pay Off?

The amount of time it’ll take to pay off your MBA loans will depend on a variety of factors. For example, the standard repayment term for federal student loans is 10 years, but you can stretch that out for up to 30 years through consolidation, says Kantrowitz. Just keep in mind that consolidating your loans will result in a slightly higher interest rate.

You can’t opt for a shorter repayment plan on federal loans, but you can make additional payments to eliminate the debt faster.

With private student loans, repayment terms can range from five to 20 years, depending on the lender and what you chose when you applied. If you want a shorter or longer repayment term after the fact, you’ll need to refinance the loans with a new private lender.

If you want to pay off the debt faster without refinancing, you can simply make extra payments until you’ve reached a zero balance.

How Much Do MBA Students Typically Borrow?

However, your debt balance will depend on several things, including which school you attend, which nontuition expenses you need to finance and whether you’re working while in school.

“Consider how much debt you’re taking on and what your job prospects will be coming out of your MBA program,” says Muszynski. “If you borrow $200,000, will you be able to repay that amount of debt, and in what time frame? Running the numbers could be eye-opening.”

Also, keep in mind that there may be other ways to reduce how much you need to borrow, which can pay off in the long run. Check with your school and websites like Scholarships.com and Fastweb to see if you qualify for grants and scholarships, which you don’t have to repay.

Advertising Disclosure: Some of the loan offers on this site are from companies
who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact
where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions,
such as which loan products we write about and how we evaluate them. This site
does not include all loan companies or all loan offers available in the marketplace.



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