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Best MBA Student Loans

Earnest offers the best MBA loans for aspiring business professionals

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If you’re going to school for your MBA, be prepared for sticker shock. The cost of a master's degree cay vary between $30,000 and $120,000, according to the Education Data Initiative. On the bright side, MBA graduates typically out-earn people with other types of graduate degrees, so many private student loan lenders offer special programs for you.

Best MBA Student Loans of 2023

It’s always best to use all of the scholarships, grants, and federal student loans available to you before resorting to private student loans. But if you need them, they can help.

Best Overall : Earnest

Investopedia's Rating



  • APR Range: 4.42%–16.42%
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000–$250,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–15 years
Pros & Cons
  • Skip-a-payment option

  • $100 rate match guarantee

  • Available for part-time grad students?

  • No co-signer release

  • Requires good credit

  • Not available for Kentucky or Nevada residents

Why We Chose It

Earnest offers a lot of benefits to all of its borrowers, but if you’re an MBA student, some of these may be especially handy. It’s one of the few lenders that doesn’t require you to be enrolled in grad school on at least a half-time basis, and since over half of MBA students complete their degree on the side, that’s especially important.?

Earnest also has a lot of built-in loan flexibility. Once a year you can request to skip a payment, provided you’ve been making your payments on time. This can help if you run into a small financial problem. But keep in mind that it’ll tack on an extra month to your repayment, interest will accrue, and it will lower the amount of forbearance you can use later if needed. After you graduate, Earnest also offers refinance loans with “Precision Pricing” that can help you dial in your loan payment to match your income a bit better.?

Repayment Options
  • In-school full payment: If you have a co-signer on your loan and you want to get a head start on repayment, you can choose to start making full payments as soon as you take the loan out.?
  • In-school interest-only payment: You can cover the cost of the interest portion while you’re in school if you want to prevent the balance from growing by the time you graduate.?
  • In-school fixed payment: Alternatively, you can opt to make $25 payments to cover at least some of the interest.?
  • Full interest-and-principal payment: After you graduate you’ll get a long nine-month grace period to get your new life set up before you have to start repaying your loan as agreed.?
  • Post-graduation interest-only payment: If you run into financial problems post-graduation, Earnest allows you to make smaller payments that only cover the interest due, granted in six-month intervals.?
  • Extended term payment: In cases of permanent financial hardship, Earnest may allow you to stretch your loan term out to 30 years to shrink each payment down, but this will bump up how much you pay in interest over your loan’s lifetime.?
  • Rate-reduction payment: Yet another option for temporary financial hardships, Earnest may lower your interest rate in six-month stints to help lower your payments and ease the burden.?
  • Deferment: In some cases you can choose to stop making payments entirely for a limited period, like when you’re in school.?
  • Forbearance: Similar to deferment, Earnest can put your loans in forbearance with zero payment due for up to one year over the life of your loan. To qualify you’ll need to have made your last three payments on time, and any Skip-A-Payment rewards you claim will reduce the amount of forbearance you have available.?
Eligibility Requirements
  • Must be enrolled in a Title-IV non-profit school
  • Available to residents of all states (except Nevada) and Washington, D.C.?
  • Requires a minimum 650 credit score and at least three years of credit history
  • Must not have any bankruptcies or accounts currently in collection listed on credit reports
  • Available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, international students, and DACA recipients

Marketplace for MBA Loans : Credible

Credible logo
Credible logo.
  • APR Range: 4.41%–16.99%
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros & Cons
  • Best rate guarantee

  • Excellent transparency

  • Low rates available with some lenders

  • Rates and terms vary by lender

  • Only a few lenders in partner network

  • Helps speed up loan shopping, but it still pays to do your research

Why We Chose It

You can speed up your MBA loan shopping by using a lender marketplace. There are many out there, but we like Credible for a few reasons. If you’re able to find a lower rate on an MBA loan elsewhere and you meet its program terms, it’ll offer you a $200 gift card. It’s also remarkably transparent with which lenders it’ll gather loan offers from, and currently there are four partner lenders offering MBA loans.??

We appreciate the transparency that Credible provides because that means you can cross those lenders off your shopping list without visiting them directly. Even so, we highly recommend spending more time shopping with other lenders too, because Credible’s partner MBA loan network is quite small. (By contrast, Credible partners with more lenders—seven total—for other private student loan types.) Besides, there’s no guarantee that Credible’s loan offers will actually work for you.?

Repayment Options

Your repayment options will vary by lender, but you may find the following:?

  • Deferred payments
  • Fixed payments?
  • Interest-only payments?
  • Immediate repayment?
Eligibility Requirements
  • Requires a credit score of 640 or higher
  • Available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
  • Available to residents of all states and Washington, D.C.
  • Specific requirements may vary depending on the lender you’re matched with

Best for Low Interest Rates : ELFI

Investopedia's Rating



  • APR Range: 4.48%–12.29%
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–15 years
Pros & Cons
  • Very low rates

  • Many repayment options

  • A record of excellent customer service

  • No co-signer release available

  • High fees for late and returned payments

  • DACA and international students not eligible

Why We Chose It

Education Loan Finance (aka ELFI) offers some of the lowest MBA loan rates available without resorting to a special negotiation intermediary like Juno. If you’re the type of person who values one-on-one assistance, you’ll appreciate ELFI because they have a good track record for excellent customer support.

Unfortunately, ELFI MBA loans aren’t available if you’re a DACA recipient or international student, even if you have a co-signer who otherwise meets the requirements. ELFI charges some of the highest fees among lenders if you make a late payment (5% of the overdue amount or $50, whichever is lower) or have a payment returned ($30). Finally, a big one—if you have a co-signer help you get the loan, they’ll be stuck on the loan with you for the entirety of the loan length because ELFI doesn’t offer co-signer release.??

Repayment Options
  • In-school full payment: If you’re earning enough, you can choose to make the full payments on your loan while you’re still in school to get a jump start on repayment.
  • In-school interest-only payment: If you want to keep your loan balance from growing but can’t pay the full amount, you can choose to cover just the interest portion.?
  • In-school fixed payment: If you can’t cover the full interest portion but don’t want to defer your loans, you can choose to pay a flat $25 while you’re in school.?
  • In-school deferment: If you don’t have any income you can choose to postpone your payments entirely until later, but this will bump up your loan cost due to interest accruing.
  • Full interest-and-principal payments: You’ll get a six-month grace period after you leave school before you begin full repayment on your loan.?
  • Forbearance: ELFI offers temporary payment pauses if you qualify, although it doesn’t disclose the details of its forbearance program.?
Eligibility Requirements
  • Must have an annual income of at least $35,000
  • Available to residents of all U.S. states and Puerto Rico
  • Available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents
  • Requires a credit score of at least 680 and three years of credit history

Best for Long Repayment Terms : Ascent

Investopedia's Rating

Ascent logo
Ascent logo.
  • APR Range: 5.48%–15.94%
  • Loan Amounts: $2,001–$400,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros & Cons
  • Long nine-month grace period

  • Quite a few discounts and incentives

  • 1% cash back graduation reward

  • Rates a bit on the high side

  • Three-year in-school deferment limit

  • Co-signer release not available for everyone

Why We Chose It

Ascent offers several innovative types of student loans, but its MBA student loan is fairly standard. On the bright side, Ascent offers many perks for all of its borrowers that can help you save money. If you meet the reward requirements when you graduate, you could get up to 1% of your loan balance back. You could earn a $525 referral fee as well.

There are big drawbacks, though. If you’re an international student (who requires a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer, by the way), you won’t ever be eligible for co-signer release. If you’re deferring your payments while you’re in school, you’ll also have a three-year runway at your disposal before you’ll need to apply for another in-school deferment, if you’re not yet finished.

Repayment Options
  • In-school interest-only payment: You’ll have the option of paying the interest on your loans while you’re in school to keep your costs down, but that will require some income.
  • In-school fixed payment: If you can’t afford the full interest payments, you can opt instead for $25 payments to help manage the cost.?
  • In-school deferment: You can choose to postpone any payments while you’re studying for up to three years, but this will increase your total overall cost.?
  • Full interest-and-principal payment: After you leave school you’ll get a long nine-month grace period before you have to start making the full payments on your loan until it’s paid off.?
  • Forbearance: You may be able to postpone your loan payments for one to three months at a time (two years maximum) if you run into certain financial difficulties.?
  • Progressive payment: This lets you repay your loan with smaller payments that gradually increase over time within the same term length, like the graduated repayment plans that federal student loans offer.?
Eligibility Requirements
  • Available to residents of all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, international student, or DACA recipient

Best for Discounts : SoFi

Investopedia's Rating



  • APR Range: 4.99%–14.05%
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000 minimum; no maximum
  • Loan Terms: 5–15 years
Pros & Cons
  • Many different repayment options

  • Tons of helpful perks and benefits

  • Lots of extra ways to save on loan costs

  • Good credit needed for approval

  • Forbearance increases payment amount

  • Can be confusing to navigate all the benefits

Why We Chose It

SoFi is a premier private student loan lender. Aside from having slightly lower maximum APRs for its MBA loans, these are basically the same loans that any grad student can apply for. Even so, there are a lot of things that MBA students might appreciate in SoFi’s extensive member benefits list: free access to personal financial planners, free one-on-one career coaching, and discounts on estate planning services. You’ll also get discounts on future SoFi loans, bonuses for referring new customers, and a points program to help shave money off your loan costs.?

As a premier lender, however, SoFi is not the easiest company to qualify with. You’ll need good credit, ranging from 650 to 700 or even higher. Most private student loan lenders require good credit, but SoFi has a reputation for having even more exacting standards.?

Repayment Options
  • Full interest-and-principal payment: You’ll get a six-month grace period after you leave school full-time to start making the full loan payments until it’s paid off, or you can begin making full payments ahead of time.
  • In-school interest-only payment: If you want to keep your balance from accruing but can’t afford full repayments while you’re studying, you can choose to pay only the interest each month.?
  • In-school fixed payment: If you don’t want to commit to making full interest payments each month but want to pay something, SoFi lets you choose $25 payments instead.?
  • In-school deferment: If you don’t have any income at all while you’re in school you can choose to make $0 payments, but your loan balance will grow as interest accrues.?
  • Forbearance: If you run into temporary financial snags or deploy with the military, SoFi allows you to put your loans into temporary forbearance for three months at a time, up to 12 months total. SoFi doesn’t add this extra time onto the end of your loan term but rather collapses your remaining balance into the shorter amount of time you have to repay, making your payments even higher when you return—even if you pay the interest in the interim.?
  • Reduced payment: Unlike most lenders, SoFi allows you to amend your loan to pay a lower amount if you’re having a hard time making your loan payments, although it’s not clear if this is a permanent adjustment or just a short-term solution.?
Eligibility Requirements
  • Minimum credit score of 650 or more is recommended
  • Available to residents of all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or non-permanent resident alien (including DACA recipients)

Best for Interest Rate Negotiation : Juno

Investopedia's Rating



  • APR Range: Not disclosed
  • Loan Amounts: Not disclosed
  • Loan Terms: Not disclosed
Pros & Cons
  • No origination fees

  • Rate Match Guarantee

  • Possibility for lowest MBA loan rates

  • Can only choose one lender

  • Loan specifics vary by lender

  • Confusing loan negotiation process

Why We Chose It

Juno isn’t a lender—rather, it’s a student loan negotiation company. It works like this: You can sign up anytime and provide basic information to show that you’re interested in joining a “negotiation group.” Juno then requests bids from student loan lenders each spring for your negotiation group and selects the lender that can offer the lowest rate. It comes back to you with the loan offer, which you can choose to formally apply for and accept, or pass—your choice.?

It can be a great way to find the lowest rate for your MBA loan (especially with its Rate Match Guarantee program that offers financial incentives if you can find a better APR), but it does have some drawbacks. You only get one choice of lender, and each lender has different policies. One might accept DACA students, for example, while another might not have the exact repayment terms you’re looking for. But since it’s free, it doesn’t hurt to try it at least.?

Repayment Options

Repayment options vary based on the lender issuing the loan. You may have access to the following options:?

  • Fixed payments
  • Interest-only payments
  • Deferred payments
  • Immediate repayment
Eligibility Requirements
  • Eligibility requirements vary depending on the lender that Juno selects
  • Not available for students at for-profit schools and schools outside of the U.S.

Best for Long Grace Period : College Ave

Investopedia's Rating

College Ave logo
College Ave logo.
  • APR Range: 4.41%–14.49%
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000–$150,000
  • Loan Terms: 5–20 years
Pros & Cons
  • Many repayment choices

  • Wide range of term length options

  • Nine-month grace period for MBA students

  • Strict co-signer release rules

  • High late payment fees

  • Unknown credit score requirements

Why We Chose It

College Ave is an all-around good lender, and it has the added advantage of having one of the longest grace periods for MBA students. If you’re a regular grad student you’ll get a six-month grace period, but College Ave bumps that up to nine months for MBA loans. That can give you a bit more time to sort things out and find a prime opportunity before you’re saddled with payments.?

Unfortunately, College Ave is rather tight-lipped about its credit requirements. In addition, it has some strange rules for when you can apply to have your co-signer released from the loan. Most lenders specify a time frame but with a College Ave MBA loan, you can only apply after half of your loan term has passed (e.g., five years into a 10-year loan). In addition, you’ll pay a $25 fee for each late payment you make, which is higher than most other lenders.??????

Repayment Options
  • Full interest-and-principal payment: After you graduate or drop out, you’ll get a nine-month grace period before you’ll start owing full loan payments according to your loan agreement; or, you can begin making full payments while in school.
  • In-school interest-only payment: You can cover the interest payments on your loan while you’re studying to prevent a larger balance from accruing later.
  • In-school fixed payment: You can opt to pay a flat $25 monthly payment to cover at least some of the interest.?
  • In-school deferred payment: If you don’t have any income, you can choose to make $0 payments until after you graduate, but this is the most expensive option since interest will accrue.?
  • Forbearance: If you run into problems paying your loans, College Ave does offer forbearance in three- or six-month increments, up to 12 months total.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Available to residents of all states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or have a co-signer who is
  • Must be attending an eligible school and meet its requirements for satisfactory academic progress

Final Verdict

For the absolute lowest MBA loan rates, we recommend getting started by signing up for Juno, which may or may not end up being a good option for you once it’s negotiated a rate deal with a private student loan lender.?

It’s not a bad idea to check your rates with each of the lenders on this list, but as a first choice for a direct lender we recommend Earnest, along with other standouts like Ascent and SoFi. These companies offer many helpful options that can help your career take off and make repayment easier.?

Guide to Choosing the Best MBA Student Loans

How to Apply for an MBA Student Loan

Applying for an MBA student loan isn’t any different than for other graduate study programs. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use financial aid and federal loans first: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as you can to find out how much financial aid and federal student loans you’re eligible for. These are better options than private student loans. 
  2. Shop for private MBA student loans: If you still have a balance to pay, check your rate with as many personal loan lenders as you can that offer grad school loans. 
  3. Choose the best lender: Most people choose the lender that offers the lowest rates, but other factors could be important to you too. Lenders may vary widely in their policies, so be sure to consider each one carefully. 
  4. Finish your application: You’ll need to complete a longer application so the lender can do a full credit check. You and your co-signer (if you have one) will need to provide documents such as copies of your ID, recent pay stubs and bank account statements, and possibly even past tax returns. 
  5. Sign the agreement: If approved, your lender will send you a loan agreement to sign. Make sure to read it carefully because it’ll spell out your options going forward, which is especially important with student loans because they’re so large and the future is such an unknown. 
  6. Get your funds: Student loan lenders generally send the funds to your school. Your school will apply that money to your account and send any leftover funds to you to pay for books, living expenses, and other needs. 

It’s best to complete all of your rate shopping and loan applications within a two-week time span so that you can limit any damage to your credit.?

Factors to Consider When Getting an MBA Student Loan

As an MBA student you’re probably already used to making business-savvy decisions, and when it comes to your personal loan situation, it’s no different. Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re looking for ways to fund your education.

  • Loan amount: The less you borrow, the easier it’ll be for you to flourish after school. You don’t want to shortchange yourself, though, so try your best to estimate exactly how much you’ll need
  • Interest rate: The loan APR is the best measure of its cost. A loan with a lower interest rate will be cheaper and have more affordable payments, but remember to keep other loan features in mind too.
  • Repayment options: Private student loans are notorious for being inflexible. Some lenders offer more payment options than others—both in-school and afterward—and this can ease the financial burden of paying off your loan later.
  • Loan perks: Some lenders offer extra financial incentives and perks for their customers, such as financial rewards for graduating, paying on time, or even career advice and unemployment help. 

Federal vs. Private MBA Student Loans

It’s always best to choose federal student loans over private student loans. Sure, they’re not as flashy and don’t offer neat rewards programs, but they offer things that will make a real difference in your life later, especially if you fall on hard times. 

For example, all federal student loan borrowers have been able to benefit from a zero-interest pause in payments since March 2020. Meanwhile, private student loan borrowers have been required to make payments that entire time.?

If you have federal student loans and you’re having trouble making your payments, you have abundant options for income-driven repayment plans, which may even forgive your student loan balance after a period of time. If you work for certain employers, you may also qualify to have your loans forgiven. You won’t get those options with private student loans.?

It’s also easier to get federal student loans because, for the most part, credit doesn’t factor into the equation for most graduate loans unless you have big negative marks on your reports, like a bankruptcy. You generally won’t need a co-signer, and federal loans may be cheaper anyway. On the other hand, it’s quite common for students to need a co-signer for private student loans because they have more difficult credit requirements, and rates can be much higher.?

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Is an MBA Student Loan?

    An MBA student loan is a private student loan that you can use to pay for your Master of Business Administration graduate studies. It’s not an official sub-type of loan per se; it generally works the same as any other type of private student loan for grad school, although some lenders offer special rates and features if you’re using it to pay for an MBA degree.

  • How Much Do Students Borrow for MBA Programs?

    The average student borrows just over $60,000 to pay for their MBA program, according to the Education Data Initiative. Just over half (51%) of MBA students end up taking out loans, and when you factor in undergraduate loans, the average MBA grad leaves school with a total of $80,892 in student loan debt.

  • Do MBA Student Loans Cover Living Expenses?

    Yes, you can use federal and private student loans to cover living expenses. It’s always best to check with your lender what “living expenses” entails, exactly, to make sure you’re following your loan agreement. Federal student loans, for example, allow you to use loan funds to cover transportation expenses, but that doesn’t include buying a car to get to school.

  • How Long Does It Take to Repay MBA Student Loans?

    Private student loan lenders may offer MBA loans ranging from 5 to 20 years in length. Federal student loans usually come with 10-year standard repayment terms, but you may be able to stretch that out to 25 years if you qualify for an income-driven repayment plan. You can also pay off your loan at any time if you have the funds for it.


Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

graduate students hugging and smiling

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Article Sources
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