3 of the best MBA student loans for business school

A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) can boost your career and increase your earning potential. Find the best personal loans to fund your MBA once your federal loans are exhausted. (iStock)

A Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) can boost your career and increase your earning potential. However, you may be a bit hesitant about the cost of taking on more student debt. If so, you’re not alone. About one in four prospective students say the cost of student loans deters them from applying for their MBA.

You can apply for scholarships, grants, or other financial aid, which aren't always enough to cover the cost. So, you may look at federal student loans or private student loans. Many federal student loans come with flexible repayment options, such as deferment and student loan forbearance. But federal student loans also come with borrowing limits, so you may want to take a look at private student loans.

Once you've maxed-out or exhausted your federal loan options, check out Credible to compare offers from multiple private lenders to find the best student loan interest rate possible. With Credible, you can discover MBA loans and check rates instantly.

3 of the best MBA student loans

Paying for your MBA doesn't have to be stressful. If financing your MBA is a concern, check out just a few of the best graduate student loan options, according to Credible. When browsing your MBA loan options, take into consideration loan amounts, loan terms, discounts, and more. It's also critical to check rates whenever shopping for student loans. Here's what you need to know about each lender.

Citizens Bank

At Citizens Bank, you can borrow up to $350,000 or more at competitive rates and repayment options, and you won’t pay origination fees, which means you could potentially save around $917 over the term of your loan. Citizens Bank also offers multi-year loans, so you know at the time of application just how much you’ll qualify for over the course of your time in graduate school.

There’s no hard credit check, so your credit score won’t take a hit, and you can apply online at Citizens. It takes 15 minutes, and you’ll have the option to add a cosigner—increasing the likelihood of obtaining the most favorable rates and terms.

Citizens doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score to qualify, but it does let you choose a fixed or variable rate, loan terms, and when and how you want to repay the loan. If you qualify for multi-year approval, you will have the option to select that option for your current loan and future loans.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to $350,000
  • Loan terms: 5, 10, or 15 years
  • Discounts: Loyalty and autopay discounts
  • Cosigner release: After 36 months

Visit C​redible today to learn more about private student loans​ and get personalized rates from lenders like Citizens Bank without affecting your credit score.


College Ave

Planning to attend an expensive graduate program? College Ave may be a good option as it’s possible to borrow up to 100% off your cost to attend. Loans are available in all 50 states, and College Ave lets you make full payments while in school or you can choose to pay a flat fee, defer payments, or pay interest only. There are no prepayment or origination fees, saving you money over the term of your loan.

College Ave works with you if you’re experiencing financial hardship. However, each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis with no guarantees you’ll qualify. College Ave also doesn’t disclose the minimum credit score to qualify. College Ave offers both fixed and variable rate loans with terms from 5 to 15 years.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of your school’s certified cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
  • Discounts: Autopay discount only
  • Cosigner release: After 24 months

Compare College Ave and other top private student loan lenders through Credible.


Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae, one of the largest loan holders in the U.S., offers graduate loans to U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students with a creditworthy cosigner. Sallie Mae doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score to qualify, and you’ll have to apply to see your best rate. Sallie Mae does offer lower student loan interest rates to students who make interest-only or $25 payments while still in school.

Sallie Mae has loan terms from 5 to 15 years, with loan amounts up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance. There are no application or origination fees or prepayment penalties. Sallie Mae also offers several repayment and deferment options, payments via autopay, six month grace periods upon graduation, and quarterly credit score tracking.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of your school’s certified cost of attendance.
  • Loan terms: 5 to 15 years
  • Discounts: Autopay discount only
  • Cosigner release: After 12 months

See what private student loan rates and deals Sallie Mae has to offer via Credible, where you can compare multiple student loan lenders at once to ensure you're getting the best offer.


Other MBA student loan lenders to consider

Along with the lenders listed, several other lenders offer various rates and repayment terms, discounts, and minimum loan amounts. A few other graduate student loan servicers include:

  • Commonbond
  • Discover
  • Earnest
  • Wells Fargo

When considering an MBA student loan for business school, visit Credible, and use the ​online student loan calculator​ to determine your monthly payments and total costs. (Just remember, private student loans don't have the same offerings as federal student loans — such as grace periods or student loan forgiveness).


Frequently asked questions about MBA student loans

Can you get student loans for an MBA?

Yes. And you have options. It’s not uncommon to attend grad school and have both federal and private loans, scholarships, grants, and other financial aid. You may qualify for a higher amount with a private loan, and if you have a good credit history, you may earn a lower student loan interest rate. Private loans can also cover the gap when your federal loans or other financial aid run out. To learn more about private student loans,​ and get personalized rates from multiple lenders as well as estimated monthly payments, visit Credible today.

Which MBA student loan option is best for you?

Depending on your financial circumstances, you may choose between a Federal Grad PLUS Loan, a private graduate student loan, or a Federal Direct unsubsidized loan. Each has pros and cons, so consider your options carefully.

  • Federal Direct unsubsidized loans - The federal government offers federal Direct unsubsidized loans. They may be easier to qualify for because your credit isn’t weighed as heavily as with private loans, so bad credit won't rule out getting a loan. Private lenders — banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions—do not forgive loans. You may still qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness, an income-driven loan repayment plan, and access to loan deferment and student loan forbearance with a federal MBA loan.  Federal loans have fixed interest rates, so your loan payments can stay the same until the loan is paid off. Some federal loans are also subsidized, so the government pays the interest while you are in school or in deferment. To qualify for an unsubsidized loan, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Federal Grad PLUS loans - Grad PLUS Loans are federal student loans that help pay for grad school. To qualify, you must pass a credit check. If you have adverse credit, you’ll need a co-signer, or you can file an appeal. With a Federal Grad PLUS Loan, you can borrow up to the full annual cost of attendance (COA) minus other financial aid. The interest rate is fixed, and loan payments can be deferred while you're in school.  You also have the choice of multiple loan repayment plans, including income-based, and any interest you pay on your loan may be tax-deductible. Only students whose FAFSA shows financial need can receive subsidized loans.
  • Private graduate student loans - Unlike federal student loans regulated by the government, private student loans are issued by banks, credit unions, and other independent lenders such as Sallie Mae.  It can be harder to qualify for a private student loan, but unlike federal aid, there is no deadline to apply, so you can apply mid-semester. But depending on the lender, the application and approval process can take time, and each lender has different requirements to qualify, interest rates, and repayment terms. That’s why it’s best to visit C​redible to learn more about private student loans​ and get personalized rates from multiple lenders.


How can you qualify for student loans?

Federal loans — both subsidized and unsubsidized — and private loans have different qualifications. For federal loans, you must fill out the FAFSA. You also must be in good standing with federal financial aid, maintain a 2.0 GPA, and attend at least part-time. You must also enroll in an eligible school and be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen.

A good credit score isn’t essential to qualify for federal loans. On the other hand, private lenders do a credit check to ensure you have a favorable history of paying your bills or other loans. It’s likely you’ll also need to show a stable income (even while in school) or have a cosigner. Most private loans require cosigners. Compare your private student loan options at Credible, where you can compare multiple lenders in minutes, without doing a hard credit check.

Remember, private lenders usually don’t offer protections like federal income-driven repayment and student loan forgiveness programs.

How to find the best student loan rates

It’s important to explore all of your MBA student loan options so you can find the best student loan rates available. When deciding between federal and private student loans, understand the differences in interest rates, repayment options, loan terms, fees and penalties, cosigner release, bonus offers, and any benefits. When applying for federal loans, your first step is to fill out the FAFSA. For private loans, you’ll want to shop around for a lender that will work with you to find the best rates.

Some lenders offer different incentives and programs that can help. And, if you already have student loans but are thinking about refinancing, it’s important to compare all of your options. By doing some homework before submitting your application for a loan, you can save money and get your MBA.

Do you want to refinance student loans? Credible can reveal what refinance rates you qualify for. You can compare student loan refinancing rates from up to 10 lenders without affecting your credit. Plus, it's 100% free!

How much can MBA students borrow in student loans?

As a result of COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education has suspended loan payments, stopped collections, and waived interest through January 31, 2021.

Even so, when payments on your grad degree resume, it’s possible you may shell out anywhere between $40,000 and $120,000 per year for your MBA. Overall, grad students leave school with $84,300 in average student loan debt.

Besides tuition, you’ll also have to figure in fees, housing, meals, books and supplies, travel, and other miscellaneous expenses. For private MBA loans, your lender (and your credit score or credit history) determines how much you can borrow, but loans usually max out at the total cost of attendance. For federal loans, your school determines the amount you can borrow. But the amount can’t exceed your financial need.

According to Federal Student Aid, the annual maximum graduate or professional student loan limit for Direct unsubsidized federal loans is $20,500, with a maximum aggregate total of $138,500. For a Grad PLUS loan, you can receive up to the cost of attendance, minus any other financial aid you’ve received.


Do MBA loans cover living expenses?

MBA grad loan limits are typically based on the type of loan, the cost of attendance, and year in school. MBA loans cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and other school expenses but may not cover living expenses. However, most loans do cover both on-campus room and board and off-campus housing and utilities.

You can take out a loan to pay for any living expenses not covered, but should you? Private MBA loans have interest attached, which only adds to your debt. It may be better to take on a part-time job, build up some cash during breaks in your schedule, or tap into your savings.