Graduate Student Loan Rates (Page 1 of 3)

Few students can afford to pay for college without some form of financing, and graduate and professional students borrow even more than undergraduates, with the additional debt for a graduate degree ranging from $27,000 to $114,000. Fortunately, graduate student loan rates are low. Federal law sets the maximum interest rates and fees that lenders may charge for federally-guaranteed loans. Nothing prevents a lender from charging lower fees, and many lenders offer a variety of discounts to attract borrowers.

Grants, scholarships, work-study, and other forms of gift aid just do not cover the full cost of a college education. Many students find that they must supplement their savings with government and private loans. The Federal education loan programs offer lower graduate student loan interest rates and more flexible repayment plans than most consumer loans, making them an attractive way to finance your education.

How can you figure out how much your graduate student loans will cost when the interest rate is often variable? You’ll be pretty safe if you figure on a rate of around 8%. That’s more than the current rate for federal student loans right now, but rates may go up, and most loans are capped at 8.25% to 9%. (If you’re a parent using a home-equity loan, your rates were fixed when you borrowed the money. If yours is a home equity line of credit, however, your rates are variable, so use an 8% interest rate to be conservative.)

At 8%, each $1,000 you borrow will cost you about $12 a month to repay, assuming a 10-year loan. If you’re a graduate student and you borrow the maximum allowed under current federal student loan programs — $23,000 in subsidized and unsubsidized borrowing for undergraduates who are still their parents’ dependents — your monthly payments will be around $276.

The rate for PLUS Loans disbursed on or after July 1st, 2006 is fixed at 8.5%, while the rate for Stafford Loans disbursed on or after July 1st, 2006 is fixed at 6.8%.

Shop for graduate student loan rates in order help manage your future debt burden. Your school’s financial aid administrator can help you consider all of the important factors when comparing loan programs. The guidelines for Federal Stafford and PLUS loans are established by the federal government; however, there are some lenders that make adjustments to the terms in order to provide savings to borrowers. For example, many lenders discount fees on Federal Stafford Loans (that normally would be deducted from the amount disbursed to the borrower). And some lenders offer borrower benefits or payment incentives on Stafford and PLUS loans. Be sure to compare lenders before borrowing your federal student loans.

When choosing a private graduate student loan, there are many things to consider. You should investigate the features of several private loans and prioritize which factors are the most important for you, including the overall cost of the loan, credit criteria and approval rate, monthly payment, grace period, deferment, and forbearance, reputation of the lender, customer service, and other services.

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