Graduate student loans

Graduate students aren't all the same; graduate student loans shouldn't be, either.

If you’ve applied for graduate school scholarships (yes, they’re a thing!), you used your savings, and you applied for federal financial aid through the FAFSA®–then you might consider a private graduate student loan to cover any remaining grad school expenses.


Browse graduate student loans by category

Choose the right loan to cover your graduate degree or post-graduate studies


Pay for your expenses as you pursue your master's or doctoral degree in a discipline that's not listed below


Business administration

MBA loan icon dark blue briefcase

Pay for your expenses as you pursue your Masters of Business Administration degree


Medical & healthcare

icon dark blue first aid kit with red cross

Pay for your medical degree expenses in allopathic, general, osteopathic, podiatric, radiology, sports, and veterinary medicine

Icon dark blue first aid kit

Pay for your expenses associated with taking board examinations, traveling for interviews, and moving for your medical residency

Icon dark blue heart with red pulse

Pay for your health professions degree expenses in allied health, nursing, pharmacy, and other graduate-level health programs

Dark blue icon red tooth x-ray

Pay for your dental degree expenses in general dentistry, endodontics, oral and maxillofacial surgery, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, periodontics, and prosthodontics

Icon dark blue tooth x-ray and coral map pin

Pay for your expenses associated with taking board examinantions, traveling for interviews, and moving for your dental residency



Icon dark blue law scale

Pay for your school and associated expenses as you study for your law degree

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Pay for your expenses associated with fees and living cost as you study for the bar exam

Graduate student loans built to help support your journey to success

Concentrate on your graduate degree while Sallie Mae® will help you take care of the rest. Apply for a grad school loan without the hassle.

Here’s what you’ll get with a Sallie Mae Graduate School loan
  • 0% origination fee
  • Free access to quarterly FICO® scores onlinefootnote 1
  • 100% coverage of all your school-certified expenses like tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel, and even a laptopfootnote 2
  • Easy application process
  • 6-month grace period to help you ease into your career
  • Various repayment options to fit your needs
  • Auto-debit to make payments easier & an interest rate discountfootnote 3

Frequently asked questions about graduate student loans

Considering a graduate loan to help cover the cost of your next degree? Here are some FAQs to help you understand what types of loans to consider, how to apply, and how much aid you can qualify for.

Grad students can apply for federal and private loans. Federal loans are funded by the federal government, and you apply for Federal Direct Loans and Direct Graduate PLUS Loans by filling out a FAFSA®. Private student loans are offered by banks and credit unions, and you apply directly with the lender. Sallie Mae offers private student loans for graduate school.

Depending on the professional field that you're planning to enter, you may have different needs for a graduate student loan. For example, medical and dental degrees often require residencies, so it can help to have a deferment period. That’s why we offer graduate student loans designed for specific degrees: medical schooldental schoollaw schoolMBA, and health professions graduate school. We also have a Graduate School Loan for humanities, sciences, and other degrees.

Learn more about the differences between federal and private student loans for graduate students.footnote 4

It's easy to apply for a graduate student loan. Use the “Apply for a loan” button on this page to start. You’ll be asked a few questions to decide which graduate loan is right for you. Then, you'll fill out some basic information about you and your studies. The process usually only takes around 15 minutes.

The amount that you can borrow for graduate school generally depends on the loan. Most of our graduate student loans let you borrow from $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified Cost of Attendance (COA).footnote 2

The COA is an estimate of what you'll pay for expenses like tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel to and from school, a laptop or other technology, and personal expenses. You’ll most likely find it in your financial aid award letter or on your school’s website.

Private graduate student loans are credit-based. The lender wants to know how responsible you are with credit before approving your student loan application. That means they'll view your history of borrowing money and paying it back on time. If you believe your credit history isn't strong, consider adding a cosigner. Their good credit may help you get approved for your loan.

The greatest benefit to taking out a graduate student loan is being able to pay for the graduate education that's important to you. Most grad students see the expense of getting a degree as an investment in their future.3 Many believe that it can help them enter or advance in their chosen career field, and potentially reward them with higher earnings.footnote 5

Keep in mind that your school may have a deadline for financial aid to be submitted. When applying for a graduate student loan, make sure you apply with enough time for your application to go through the following steps:

  1. You and your cosigner (if you have one) submit an application
    a. This can take anywhere from 15 minutes to a few business days
  2. You and your cosigner (if you have one) undergo a credit review
  3. After approval, you choose your loan option
    a. Make payments during school or defer them
    b. Fixed or variable interest rates
  4. Your school certifies your loan
  5. The money gets disbursed to your school

Sallie Mae Graduate School Loans have two interest rates you can choose from: a fixed rate and a variable rate.

Fixed rate: 4.15% - 14.48% APRfootnote 6
A fixed rate gives you predictable monthly payments with a rate that doesn’t change over time.

Variable rate: 5.37% - 14.97% APRfootnote 6
A variable rate means that the interest rate can rise or fall as the market index changes, so your Graduate School Loan payments may vary over time.

You can get up to 100% of your school fees covered each year you’re in school with a Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan, including the following for students attending school at least half time.footnote 2

What you can use graduate loans for

  • Tuition
  • Fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Housing
  • Meals
  • Transportation
  • Technology and equipment
  • Childcare expenses
  • Other expenses as long as they are included in your school's cost of attendance

What you can’t use graduate loans for

  • Nonessentials (new clothes, concert tickets, etc.)
  • Dining out and entertainment
  • Other debts (credit cards, car note, etc.)
  • Travel for vacations

Check out this blog for what you can and can’t use student loans for

If you have existing student loan debt, you can still apply for a graduate student loan. After you apply and undergo a credit review, Sallie Mae will determine whether you are eligible for another student loan.

But always borrow smart—only take out loans that you know you can afford to pay back with interest.

Yes! International students can apply for graduate student loans. Students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents who reside in and attend school in the U.S. are eligible with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident) and an unexpired government-issued photo ID to verify identity.

Although international students are not eligible for federal student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), there is still financial aid, grants, and scholarships available to them.

Not sure if this is the right
student loan for your situation?

Explore our other student loan options designed to meet your needs.

footnote Borrow responsibly
We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.

footnote Graduate School Loan and Graduate School Loan for Health Professions are for graduate students at participating degree-granting schools and are subject to credit approval, identity verification, signed loan documents, and school certification. Student or cosigner must meet the age of majority in their state of residence. Students who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents must reside in the U.S., attend school in the U.S., apply with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident), and provide an unexpired government-issued photo ID. Requested loan amount must be at least $1,000.

footnote 1. Borrowers and cosigners with an available FICO® Score and a Sallie Mae-serviced loan with a current balance greater than $0, may receive their score monthly after the first loan disbursement. The FICO® Score provided to you is the FICO® Score 8 based on TransUnion data. FICO® Scores and associated educational content are provided solely for your own non-commercial personal review, use and benefit. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO® is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries. 

footnote 2. For applications submitted directly to Sallie Mae, loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Applications submitted to Sallie Mae through a partner website may be subjected to a lower maximum loan request amount. Miscellaneous personal expenses (such as a laptop) may be included in the cost of attendance for students enrolled at least half-time.

footnote 3. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. 

footnote 4. Explore federal loans and compare to make sure you understand the terms and features. Private student loans that have variable rates can go up over the life of the loan. Federal student loans are required by law to provide a range of flexible repayment options, including, but not limited to, income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment plans, and loan forgiveness and deferment benefits, which other student loans are not required to provide. Federal loans generally have origination fees, but are available to students regardless of income.

footnote 5. Source: How America Pays for Graduate School, from Sallie Mae and Ipsos

footnote 6. Advertised APRs for Graduate School Loan, MBA Loans, and Graduate School Loan for Health Professions assume a $10,000 loan with a 2-year in-school period. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent.  Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment.

footnote Sallie Mae loans are made by Sallie Mae Bank.

footnote Information advertised valid as of 7/12/2024.