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26 low-interest student loans

Affordable options for undergrads, graduate students and parents.

Student loans come with lower rates than most other types of debt, but don’t let that fool you. They also have some of the highest balances. Looking for a loan with a low interest rate can save you thousands in both the short and long term — especially if you’re getting a high-cost professional degree.

11 low-interest undergraduate student loans

LenderInterest rate
US Department of Education (federal student loans)2.75% How to apply
CredibleStarting at 0.94% with autopay
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LendingTree3%
EarnestStarting at 1.34% APR with autopayRead review
College Ave0.94% to 12.99%Read review
Sallie Mae1.87% to 11.97%Read review
SoFi1.89% to 11.98% with autopayRead review
RISLA3.64% to 5.64%Read review
Advantage Education Loan3.8% to 6.99%Read review
MEFA4.89% to 6.99%Read review
Dollar Bank4.12% to 4.5%Read review

9 low-interest graduate and professional student loans

LenderInterest rate
CommonBond3.21% to 9.74%
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Citizens Bank2.85% to 11.35%Read review
SoFi2.87% to 11.85%Read review
RISLAStarting at 3.64%Read review
Discover3.74% to 12.24%Read review
Sallie Mae3.87% to 10.23%Read review
Laurel Road4.15% to 7.98%Read review
College Ave4.45% to 11.68%Read review
Wells Fargo4.67% to 11.76%Read review

Consider federal loans for a graduate degree

Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate and professional students come with a 4.3% interest rate for all borrowers. And Direct PLUS Loans come with a 5.3% interest rate for all borrowers. Even if these are higher than most low-interest private student loans, there are a few reasons you still might want to apply for them first:

  • Same rate for everyone. The chances of getting the lowest starting rate from a private lender are slim — it’ll likely be higher.
  • Flexible repayments. Federal loans are eligible for more deferment and forbearance options on top of several income-driven repayment plans, giving you more flexibility with your career.
  • Forgiveness. Federal loans are eligible for more forgiveness options, which can come in handy if you’re in an expensive professional degree program.

6 low-interest parent student loans

LenderInterest rate
US Department of Education (federal student loans)5.3% How to apply
College Ave2.72% to 12.01%Read review
Brazos2.95% to 5.65%Read review
Citizens Bank4.45% to 8.52%Read review
Sallie Mae5.12% to 12.87%Read review
Wells Fargo5.49% to 12.99%Read review

Compare more private student loans

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product APR Min. Credit Score Loan amount Loan Term
College Ave undergraduate student loans
0.94% to 12.99%
Not stated
Starting at $1,000
5 to 15 years
Rates start at 2.84% for residents of all 50 states.
Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduates
1.87% to 11.97%
Not stated
Starting at $1,000
5 to 15 years
Choose from over 8 different options for undergraduates, law students and more.
SoFi Student Loans
1.89% to 11.98% with autopay
680
Starting at $5,000
5 to 15 years
Undergraduate financing with no late fees to US citizens with good credit.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What’s a low interest rate on a student loan?

That depends on the type of student loan:

  • Undergraduate loans: Under 5%
  • Graduate loans: Under 6%
  • Parent loans: Under 8%

When considering interest rates lenders offer, also take into account the maximum interest rate. Unless you or your cosigner have near-perfect credit and finances, you likely won’t get the lowest advertised rates. In fact, going with a lender that offers a low maximum rate can sometimes work in your favor.

5 tips to get the lowest rate on your private student loans

From prequalifying with multiple lenders to reaching out to your local bank, here are a few tips for scoring a low rate on your private student loans:

  • Apply with a cosigner. If you’re getting a private student loan, bringing on a cosigner with stronger credit is key to getting the lowest rate.
  • Look at what your bank offers. Banks typically offer interest rate discounts to current customers, sometimes to the tune of 0.5%.
  • Prequalify with multiple lenders. Prequalifying allows you to see the rates that are closer to what you’d actually get, helping you make a more accurate comparison.
  • Be careful about fixed and variable rates. Variable rates might sometimes start lower than fixed rates, but they can increase over time. Read up on how fixed versus variable rates work and pay attention to the fed rate before you choose an interest rate type.
  • Sign up for autopay. Most student loan providers deduct around 0.25% from your interest rate if you sign up for automatic payments. In fact, the lowest rates lenders quote often include that discount.

How else can I save on college costs?

The less you have to borrow, the more you’ll save. Here are three ways to avoid taking out more student loans than necessary:

  • Apply for scholarships. Most scholarships are based on merit, but you don’t need to have excellent grades to qualify. Some scholarship programs offer funding based on unusual talents, like making a prom dress out of duct tape or having a really excellent duck call.
  • Look into private grants. If your family qualifies for need-based aid but your school can’t cover the full cost, check out private organizations in your area that provide college grants.
  • Get a part-time job. Apply for a job on campus or near school to help cover your living expenses while you’re in school. It likely won’t pay for your entire degree, but it can reduce the amount you have to borrow.

Bottom line

While some private lenders might offer student loans with rates that start much lower than the federal alternative, you might not actually get a better deal. The best way to compare interest rates on student loans is to prequalify first. You can learn about other factors to compare by reading our guide to student loans.

Frequently asked questions

Which bank is best for student loans?

There’s no one “best” bank for everyone — it depends on your financial history, how much you need to borrow and other factors specific to your personal situation. Learn more with our article on the best banks for student loans, which breaks downs different options for different types of students out there.

How can I get rid of student loan interest?

You can’t get rid of the interest on your student loans, but you can reduce how much you pay in interest by making repayments as soon as your funds are disbursed, signing up for the shortest repayment plan you can afford and avoiding deferment and forbearance. And you can reduce your interest rate by signing up for autopay, borrowing from your bank that offers a loyalty discount or both.

When should I apply for a student loan?

Apply for federal loans as soon as possible. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) also includes other types of financial aid, like work-study and grants. And it’s required for some private scholarship and grant programs.

Hold off on applying for private student loans until after you’ve exhausted all your options for free aid. There’s a chance you won’t need to take out a private student loan at all.

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