Your Earnest student loans and COVID-19

Your Earnest student loans and COVID-19 Learn more

GRADUATE PRIVATE STUDENT LOANS

A loan that works as hard as you do

Take your education to the next level, get a low interest rate and flexible repayment options. Check your eligibility in 2 minutes.

Earnest

Graduate loans with serious benefits

Everything you need for a financially-healthy graduate student loan with Earnest.

Rate Check

Find a low rate

The lower your interest rate, the better. That’s why we look beyond your credit score, to give you the best rate possible.

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Starting at
1.24%
( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
variable rates
Are loans that have an interest rate that will fluctuate over time
Starting at
3.95%
( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
fixed rates
Are loans that have an interest rate that will not fluctuate over time
Starting at
1.24%
( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
variable rates
Are loans that have an interest rate that will fluctuate over time
Starting at
3.95%
( including 0.25% Auto Pay discount )
fixed rates
Are loans that have an interest rate that will not fluctuate over time

Build a loan that fits your budget

1

Simple application

Apply online and upload all documents on your phone

2

Fast decision

Most approved borrowers hear back within 72-hours

3

Customized payments

Choose a payment plan or pay nothing while in school

Am I a good candidate for private student loans?

Before applying for private student loans with Earnest, use this easy pre-application checklist to make sure you're prepared.

Way to go! Continue to check your eligibility with Earnest in 2 minutes.

Check My Eligibility

Way to go! Continue to check your eligibility with Earnest in 2 minutes.

Check My Eligibility

Get the FAQ’s on graduate private student loans

Can graduate students apply for FAFSA®?

Yes, graduate students can apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) to access federal student loans through the U.S. Department of Education. Applying for the FAFSA® as a grad student is the same process as applying as an undergrad student. We encourage grad students to apply for the FAFSA®, graduate plus loans, and any other financial aid options available at your school’s financial aid office. Some federal loans offer benefits that private loans may not, such as loan forgiveness. Since most federal aid is needs-based, FAFSA® does not do a credit check. We encourage grad students to apply for the FAFSA® and any other financial aid options available at your school’s financial aid office as your first option.  

Do I need a cosigner for a private graduate student loan?

No, but there may be benefits to adding a cosigner. A cosigner with a strong credit history and sufficient income can improve the likelihood of getting approved and qualifying for a lower interest rate. While many cosigners tend to be parents or relatives of the student, any relation to the student applicant is acceptable. 

If you apply with a cosigner and later would like to do a cosigner release, we regret to inform you that we do not offer this option at this time. However, you can apply to refinance your student loans in your own name without a cosigner upon graduation. Refinancing is subject to the following eligibility requirements.

Please keep in mind our eligibility criteria for student loan cosigners:

Personal

  • Both primary and cosigner must live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV) but they do not need to both live in the same state.
  • The cosigner must be the age of majority as defined by their state of residence.
  • Cosigner is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident (primary is not required to be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident but is required to have a SSN).

Loan

  • Student is enrolled in school full-time for College Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors. At least half-time for College Seniors and Graduate students.
  • Student is pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree.
  • School is a Title IV-qualified, not-for-profit, 4-year institution.
  • You’re requesting a loan of at least $1,000.
  • Past-due balances up to 365 days prior.

Financial

  • Cosigner has minimum FICO score of 650 (primary is not required to have minimum FICO score).
  • Cosigner has at least 3 years of credit history.
  • Cosigner has minimum income of $35,000 per year (in USD).
  • Cosigner and primary do not have a bankruptcy on their credit reports.
  • Cosigner and primary have a history of on-time payments as the primary borrower on any revolving or installment account that is reported to a credit bureau (e.g. student loans, personal loans, car loans/leases, mortgages, credit cards or charge cards).
  • Cosigner and primary do not have any accounts currently in collection.

We do require that our in-school graduate loan cosigners meet all our minimum Earnest Private Student Loans eligibility criteria. If you’re considering applying without a cosigner, you’ll need to meet our independent student loan eligibility criteria during the application process. 

Eligible students must be:

  • Attending, or enrolled to attend, full-time at an eligible 4-year Title IV institutions
  • You live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV)
  • The age of majority in their state of residence
  • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident or have a cosigner who is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

View full eligibility details on our Eligibility page.

If you meet all of Earnest’s eligibility criteria, you may be approved for a loan as a solo applicant—but applying with a cosigner who has good credit may increase your chances of approval. Many students see lower rates if they apply with a cosigner. 

How much can graduate students borrow in federal loans?

Grad students are eligible to borrow up to $20,500 in unsubsidized federal loans each academic year. (Unsubsidized loans start accruing interest while you’re in school, whereas subsidized loans don’t accrue interest until the end of your deferment period.) Grad students are also eligible for Direct PLUS (also known as Grad PLUS) loans through the government, but these higher education loans have a flat fixed rate as well as an origination fee of 4%+. Once your school receives the loan amount from the government, it will send it to you in a disbursement (essentially a payment to your bank account or check). 

You’ll need to apply for the FAFSA® to check your eligibility for graduate federal loans. Your school determines the actual loan amount you’ll be able to borrow.

Who is eligible for Earnest private student loans?

Eligible students must be:

  • Attending, or enrolled to attend, full-time at an eligible 4-year Title IV institutions
  • You live in the District of Columbia or a state that we lend in (all but NV)
  • The age of majority in their state of residence
  • A U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident or have a cosigner who is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident

View full eligibility details on our Eligibility page.

What are the advantages of private student loans vs. federal student loans?

Benefits

Federal student loans offer borrowers certain protections that private student loans may not. A federal loan program could include income-based repayment or student loan forgiveness. Private student loans offer different loan terms and may offer a lower interest rate. Income-based repayment or loan forgiveness programs are benefits of federal student loans, but a private lender may also offer you other perks, such as flexible payment terms or a lower interest rate.  

Borrowing limits 

Federal student loans have borrowing loan limits (similar to limits on credit cards). If the cost of attendance exceeds the federal loan amount, that means you will need to cover the leftover cost. Graduate students may apply for no-cap Direct PLUS loans from the government, but undergraduate students do not have this option. 

Cost of attendance

Many students choose to apply for a loan with a private lender to cover their leftover costs. Earnest private student loans, in addition to covering the entire cost of attendance, also have rates that are based on the credit profile of you and/or any cosigner you have. This may mean higher or lower rates than those offered by federal loans, depending on the credit profile. 

Grace periods and origination fees  

A loan servicer that handles private student loans may offer a longer deferment period or grace period than a federal student loan. Some private loans, such as Earnest Private Student Loans, don’t have an origination fee while some federal student loans do.

Auto Pay benefits 

With an Earnest Private Student Loan, you get a 0.25% APR reduction when you agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment on your loan debt.    

Before looking for loans with private financial institutions, such as online lenders, credit unions or banks, explore all of your student loan options with the federal government.

Do you offer flexible repayment options?

First, Earnest private student loans have a deferment period that’s 3 months longer than most other student loans. That means you don’t have to make student loan payments up to 9 months after you graduate. However, if you choose to make interest or principal balance payments while still in school, you will not be able to defer your loan payment after graduation. To learn more about Earnest student loan repayment terms and the repayment period visit the Help Center. 

With Earnest private student loans, you can choose from four repayment plans to pay off your student loan. 

To make in-school payments more manageable, we allow students to make $25 automatic payments while they are in school. Other in-school repayment options include monthly payments for the accrued interest, deferring payment for 9 months after graduation, or making the interest and principal payment on your loan. 

Also, we do not have any prepayment penalties, late fees, or origination fees.

What kind of interest rates do you offer?

There are two types of interest rates – fixed interest and variable interest. A fixed rate will not change and tends to be higher. A variable rate loan tends to offer lower interest rates, but that interest can fluctuate, making your payment less predictable. Before taking out a private student loan, make sure to compare interest rates and read the fine print on all of your loan applications. Having an adverse credit history may impact your rate, but as you make payments on your loan and take care of personal finance, your credit score should improve. 

We offer both fixed and variable interest rates. If you choose a fixed interest rate for your Earnest loan term, that means the interest will not change. If you have a variable interest rate, it may change over time. After you graduate and begin working, you may want to consider refinancing your loan for lower interest rates. You can learn more about student loan refinancing with Earnest here and about loan products from Earnest partners

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