What Are the Average Student Loan Interest Rates?

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

average student loan interest rate

The average student loan interest rate changes periodically, and has varied substantially over time, with rates starting of around 6.94% or greater for different types of student loans when variable interest rates were first introduced for student loans in the early 90s and then dropping down to below 4% for some loans in the 2010 year.

average student loan interest rate

Image credit: Forbes

If you’re borrowing money for school, it’s important to understand how student loan interest works and to shop around for loans with the lowest rates possible to avoid spending more than necessary on your educational debt.

Student loan interest rates can vary depending upon the type of loan you take, so when you research the average interest rate on student loans, you’ll need to look into whether the loan is a federal loan or a private loan and whether it’s available to undergraduates, graduate students, or parents.

Below is the information you need to know about average rates for different kinds of loans.

Average student loan interest rates today

When it comes to federal student loan interest rates, there technically is no “average” because rates are set by the government each year and do not change based on the characteristics of individual borrowers. This means there is just one set rate for each type of loan.

The average student loan rate varies only depending on the type of loan — including whether it’s a federal or private loan — and the type of degree.

The rates for private student loans, on the other hand, are determined by each lender and can vary depending on the qualifications of the borrower.

Federal student loan interest rates

The average student loan interest rate in 2017 ranges from 4.45% to 7.00%. Interest rates for different types of loans are as follows:

Lender Loan Rates (Min/Avg/Max)
Acumen Student Loans Acumen Private Student Loan 3M LIBOR + 2.99% to 3M LIBOR + 8.99%
Charter One TruFit Student Loan Variable: 1-month LIBOR + 2.50% 1-month LIBOR + 9.25%
Fixed: 5.75% to 11.75%
Citizens One Citizens One Student Loan™ Variable: 1-month LIBOR + 2.50% 1-month LIBOR + 9.25%
Fixed 5.75% to 11.75%
Citizen One Student Loan™ for Parents Fixed: 6.69% to 6.79%
Citizens Bank Citizens Bank Student Loan™ Variable: 1-month LIBOR + 2.50% 1-month LIBOR + 9.25%
Fixed 5.75% to 11.75%
Citizens Bank Student Loan™ for Parents Fixed: 6.69% to 6.79%
College Ave Student Loans College Ave Student Loan- Undergraduates Variable rates from 1M LIBOR + 1.93% to 1M LIBOR + 9.64%
College Ave Student Loan- Graduates Variable rates from 1M LIBOR + 4.24% to 1M LIBOR + 6.24%
One fixed rate of 6.75%
Commerce Bank Your Future Education Loan Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 2.00% (2.25% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 8.875% (9.37% APR) Fixed Rates: 5.75% (5.74% APR) to 8.375% (8.56% APR)
Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority CHESLA Loan 4.95% fixed annual rate (non-tiered, simple interest)
Credit Union Student Choice Student Choice Education Loan Line of Credit 3M LIBOR + 3.00% to Prime +8%
cuStudentLoans.org cuScholar Private Student Loan 3M LIBOR + 2.99% 3M LIBOR + 8.99%
Dakota Education Alternative Loan School Certified — Fixed Rate FHLB 10-Year Advanced Rate + 2.00% (ND) or FHLB 10-Year Advanced Rate + 3% (otherwise)
School Certified — Variable Rate 3-month LIBOR + 1.50% (ND) or 3-month LIBOR + 2.50% (otherwise)
Discover Student Loans Discover Undergraduate Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 11.99% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 2.62% to 3-Month LIBOR + 8.74% (starting rates range from 2.99% APR to 9.12% APR).
Discover Graduate Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 11.24% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 2.62% to 3-Month LIBOR + 8.24% (starting rates range from 2.99% APR to 8.62% APR).
Discover Health Professions Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 9.99% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 2.62% to 3-Month LIBOR + 7.24% (starting rates range from 2.99% APR to 7.62% APR).
Discover Law Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 9.99% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 2.62% to 3-Month LIBOR + 7.24% (starting rates range from 2.99% APR to 7.62% APR).
Discover MBA Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 9.99% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 2.62% to 3-Month LIBOR + 7.24% (starting rates range from 2.99% APR to 7.62% APR).
Discover Residency Loan Fixed Rates: 6.49% to 9.99% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 3.74% to 3-Month LIBOR + 7.24% (starting rates range from 4.12% APR to 7.62% APR).
Discover Bar Exam Loan Fixed Rates: 6.15% to 11.24% APR Variable Rates: 3-Month LIBOR + 3.74% to 3-Month LIBOR + 8.49% (starting rates range from 4.12% APR to 8.87% APR).
Graduate Leverage School-Certified Private Loans (Undergraduate) 1-month LIBOR + 1.75%
1-month LIBOR + 10.0%
School-Certified Private Loans (Graduate) 1-month LIBOR + 1.75%
1-month LIBOR + 10.0%
Medical Residency & Relocation Program 1-month LIBOR + 5.00%
1-month LIBOR + 8.00%
1% interest rate reduction upon entering repayment
Dental Residency & Relocation Loan Program 1-month LIBOR + 5.00%
1-month LIBOR + 9.00%
1% interest rate reduction upon entering repayment
Veterinary Internship & Relocation Loan Program 1-month LIBOR + 5.00%
1-month LIBOR + 9.00%
1% interest rate reduction upon entering repayment
Bar Study Loan 1-month LIBOR + 3.00%
1-month LIBOR + 12.00%
1% interest rate reduction upon entering repayment
Higher Education Servicing Corp. (Texas) Texas Extra Credit Education loan Variable: 3M LIBOR + 2.99% to 3M LIBOR + 8.99%
Independent Community Bankers iHelp Student Loan 3M LIBOR + 2.50%
3M LIBOR + 6.80%
Maine Education Loan Authority The Maine Loan Immediate Repayment – 5.50% fixed, interest only – 6.50% fixed.
Full deferment- 7.50% fixed
The Maine Medical Loan Immediate Repayment – 5.50% fixed, interest only – 6.50% fixed.
Full deferment- 7.50% fixed
Massachusetts Educational Financing MEFA Loan for Undergraduate Education 5.99% fixed during the anticipated in-school period, 7.24% thereafter (APR 7.26% – 7.83%)
MEFA Loan for Undergraduate Education 6.29% fixed during the anticipated in-school period, 7.29% thereafter (APR 7.40% – 7.76%)
MEFA Loan for Undergraduate Education Deferred Repayment / 15 Years 7.59% fixed (APR 7.52% – 8.18%
MEFA Loan for Undergraduate Education Interest-Only Repayment / 15 Years 7.09% fixed during the anticipated in-school period, 8.09% thereafter (APR 8.15% – 8.55%)
MEFA Loan for Undergraduate Education Student Loan Deferred Loan / 15 Years 8.00% fixed (APR 7.95% – 8.68%)
MEFA Loan for Graduate Education Interest-Only Repayment 7.09% fixed during the anticipated in-school period, 8.09% thereafter
MEFA Loan for Graduate Education Deferred Repayment 7.59% fixed (APR 7.89% – 8.18%)
Minnesota Office of Higher Education SELF Loan (cosigner required) Fixed 7.25% Variable 3M LIBOR + 3.00% rounded to nearest 10th of a percent, adjusted quarterly, 3.00% cap on interest rate changes in any 12 month period.
New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) NYHELP’s Principal & Interest Payments During In-School/Grace Period 7.55% fixed
NYHELP’s Interest-Only Payments During In-School/Grace Period 8.25% fixed
NYHELP’s Full Deferment of Principal and Interest During In-School/Grace Period 8.75% fixed
PNC Education Lending PNC Solution Loan for Undergraduate Students Variable Rate: 3.51% – 10.46% (APRs 3.43% to 10.45%) Based on LIBOR + 3.30% to LIBOR + 10.25%
PNC Solution Loan for Graduate Students
PNC Solution Loan for Health Professionals
PNC Solution Loan for Health Professionals
PNC Solution Loan for Bar Study
Regions Bank Smart Option Student Loan — Interest Repayment Option Variable rates: 1-month LIBOR + 2.00% (2.25% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 8.875% (9.11% APR) Fixed rates: 5.75% (5.74% APR) to 11.875% (11.95% APR)
Smart Option Student Loan — Fixed Repayment Option Variable rates: 1-month LIBOR + 2.50% (2.75% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.375% (9.09% APR) Fixed rates: 6.25% (5.74% APR) to 11.875% (11.85% APR)
Smart Option Student Loan — Deferred Repayment Option Variable rates: 1-month LIBOR + 3.00% (3.17% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.3875% (9.37% APR) Fixed rates: 6.75% (6.41% APR) to 12.875% (11.69% APR)
Rhode Island Student Loan Authority (RISLA) Rhode Island Family Education Loan (RIFEL) 6.39% fixed (immediate repayment) with a 10-year repayment term. 7.49% fixed (defer repayments up to 6 months after graduation; 54 months deferment limit unless borrower enrolled full-time in a 5-year program or graduate school) with a 15-year repayment term
Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan® Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 2.00% (2.50% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.88% (9.59% APR) Fixed Rates: 5.75% (5.74% APR) to 12.88% (11.85% APR)
Career Training Smart Option Student Loan Variable Interest Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 4.25% (4.75% APR)
Sallie Mae Bar Study Loan Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 3.00% (3.50% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.75% (10.20% APR)
Sallie Mae Residency and Relocation Loan Variable Rates: 1-month LIBOR + 3.00% (3.46% APR) to 1-month LIBOR + 9.75% (9.85% APR)
SoFi, Inc. SoFi Fixed Rate Student Loan 6.45% (fixed)
South Carolina Student Loan Network Palmetto Assistance Loan 7.15% to 9.15% (fixed)
Student Loan Network Act Education Loan for Undergraduate Students LIBOR + 3.50% to LIBOR + 7.75%
Act Education Loan for Graduate Students LIBOR + 3.50% to LIBOR + 7.75%
Act Education Loan for Continuing Education LIBOR + 3.50% to LIBOR + 8.00%
GradLoans.com Graduate Student Loan LIBOR + 4.95% to LIBOR + 7.75%
GradLoans.com Medical Student Loan
GradLoans.com Dental School Loan
GradLoans.com Law School Loan
GradLoans.com MBA Student Loan
GradLoans.com Bar Exam Loan
GradLoans.com Medical Boards Exam Loan
GradLoans.com Medical Residency/Relocation Loan
GradLoans.com Dental Boards Exam Loan
GradLoans.com Dental Residency/Relocation Loan
InternationalStudents.com – Undergraduate LIBOR + 3.50% to LIBOR + 7.75%
InternationalStudents.com – Graduate LIBOR + 3.50% to LIBOR + 7.75%
StudyAbroadLoans.com – Undergraduate Students Studying Abroad LIBOR + 4.95% to LIBOR + 7.75%
StudyAbroadLoans.com – Graduate Students Studying Abroad LIBOR + 4.95% to LIBOR + 7.75%
SunTrust Education Loans Custom Choice Loan Fixed 3.75% to 12.25% Variable: 1-month LIBOR + 2.25% to 1-month LIBOR + 12.25%
Union Federal Union Federal Private Student Loans 3M LIBOR + 2.60% to 3M LIBOR + 8.99%
Wells Fargo Private Student Loans Wells Fargo Collegiate Loan Variable Rates: PRIME + 0.25% to PRIME + 6.76% (Current APR: 3.402% to 9.242%) Fixed Rates: 6.99% to 13.74% (APR 6.62% to 12.36%)
MedCAP Alternative Loan Variable Rates: PRIME + 1.50% to PRIME + 4.00% Fixed Rates: 7.79% to 9.99%
MedCAP XTRA Variable Rates: PRIME +4.50% Fixed Rates: 7.79% to 9.99%
Wells Fargo Graduate Loan Variable Rates: PRIME + 1.50% to PRIME + 5.00% (APR: 4.680% to 8.036%) Fixed Rates: 7.79% to 9.99% (APR 7.6% to 9.675%)
Wells Fargo Bar Exam Loan Variable Rates: PRIME +4.50% Fixed Rates: 7.79% to 9.99%
Wells Fargo Private Student Loan for Career and Community Colleges Variable Rates: PRIME + 2.25% to PRIME + 8.74% Fixed Rates: 8.99% to 15.74%
Wells Fargo Private Student Loan for Parents Variable Rates: PRIME + 0.25% to PRIME + 6.49% Fixed Rates: 7.48% to 13.33%

Historical student loan interest rates

Though the interest on your student loans can accumulate and make it harder to pay down the principal, average student loan interest rates are pretty low today by historical standards.

Take a look at how federal rates have changed over the last 20 or so years, with some highlights:

1992-93, 6.94% average interest rate on student loans: This is the year that variable interest rates appeared for student loans. If close to 7.00% seems high enough, loans issued in the prior decade stay at a fixed rate of 8.00% to 10.00%!

1993-94, 6.22% rate: The federally-backed Direct Loan program was started by Congress to give borrowers more options apart from banks.

1998-99, 7.46% rate: Congress incorrectly predicted that direct loans would have entirely replaced private loans, even though they still represented more than half of all student loans.

2008-09, 6.00% interest rate: After a few years when the Stafford Loan interest rate was fixed at 6.8%, Congress approved a reduction to 6.00% for Federal Stafford Loans.

2010-11, 4.5% subsidized Federal Stafford Loans, 6.8% other loans: Lawmakers eliminated bank-based federal loans and made all loans available directly.

In 2013, President Obama signed the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, which marked a change in how student loan interest rates are calculated.

According to the Edvisors Network, APRs on all loans taken out after July 1, 2013, are linked to the current 10-year U.S. Treasury rate. The law also capped all Stafford Loans at 8.25% for undergrad students and 9.50% for grads.

Obama’s mandate also stipulated that while rates would remain fixed and there would be no more variable loans, each year’s student loan average interest rate could fluctuate depending on market conditions.

In 2017, Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina announced in a press release that student loan interest rates remained near historic lows because of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act. Burr stated the law has saved borrowers $58 billion in student loan interest since it went into effect.

However, loan interest rates did rise for the 2017 to 2018 school year for new borrowers. MarketWatch indicated the decision to raise rates was influenced by the Federal Reserve.

What does this mean for you?

If you took out your loans years ago when interest rates were much higher, or at a time when your credit score was lower than it is today, it might be worth looking into ways to lower your interest rate so you could save thousands of dollars over time.

By refinancing your student loans to lower your interest rate, you could potentially cut your repayment costs significantly. Our student loan refinancing calculator can help you determine if you could save money by lowering your rate.

Of course, refinancing isn’t for everyone, so do your homework to find out if it’s a good option for you. In fact, you can start with the 10 questions to ask before refinancing your student loans to find out if refinancing might be the right choice for you.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.