Helpful College Loans to Finance Your Continuing Education

 September 9, 2020
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Private Student Loan rates starting at 2.49% APR

2.49% to 13.85% 1

Visit Lender

2.55% to 11.44% 2

Visit Lender

3.25% to 13.59% 3

Visit Lender

  • Variable APR

Note that the government has paused all repayment on federally held student loans through the end of 2022, with no interest to be charged during that period and no loans to be held delinquent or in default.

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Depending on your career path, getting an extra certification or some other form of continuing education might be necessary. But continuing education programs can be expensive, and you typically can’t use regular college loans to pay for them. If you need help financing your career training, some continuing education loans are available to you.

We’ll run through three solid options and help you figure out whether they’re a good fit.

3 continuing education loans to consider

As you read about these loans for continuing education, consider your needs to determine which is the best option for you.

Unfortunately, there are no continuing education loans for bad credit. But if you’re in that camp, you might be able to qualify for these loans if you can find a cosigner with a solid credit history.

1. Federal direct PLUS loan
2. Citizens Bank
3. Sallie Mae
Plus: How to choose between these college loans for continuing education

1. Federal direct PLUS loan

The federal direct PLUS loan is available to students who are seeking a degree or certificate at an eligible school. Unlike federal student loans for undergraduate students, PLUS Loans require a credit check, so you might not get approved if your credit score is low.

Since this loan is considered federal student aid, you’ll need to fill out a FAFSA to qualify.

If you get approved, you can borrow up to the cost of attendance of your school minus any financial aid you’ve already received. You’ll pay a 7.08% interest rate for loans disbursed before July 1, 2020, and a 4.236% loan fee will be deducted from the loan disbursement. So, if you need $10,000 for your program, borrow at least $10,424 to make sure you have enough to cover the full cost.

You’ll have between 10 and 25 years to repay the loan, and you’ll have access to income-driven repayment plans.

2. Citizens Bank

If you’re considering a major career change or want to pursue a graduate or professional degree, Citizens Bank offers a private student loan for students who are in school at least half time.

You can borrow as little as $1,000 or as much as $150,000 during your time in college. Citizens Bank offers terms of five, 10 and 15 years. You can start making payments immediately, make interest-only payments while you’re in school or defer your payments until you’re no longer enrolled.

Citizens Bank offers both variable and fixed interest rates. Here’s what to expect when you apply, as of May 29, 2020:

  • Variable interest rates: 3.25% to 9.69% APR
  • Fixed interest rates: 4.24% to 9.93% APR

You also can get a rate reduction of up to 0.50 of a percentage point — 0.25 if you set up automatic payments and another 0.25 if you have a qualifying Citizens Bank account when you apply for the loan. The lender doesn’t charge an application, origination or disbursement fee. There’s also no penalty if you pay off the loan early.

3. Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae’s Career Training Smart Option Student Loan is designed for students taking professional training or trade certificate courses at non-degree granting schools.

You can borrow as much as you need to cover your school-certified expenses, whether you need money to pay for tuition, travel or a laptop.

There’s no origination or prepayment fees, and you’ll get a 0.25 percentage point discount on your rate if you put your loan on autopay.

As of May 29, 2020, Sallie Mae offers the following rates on its career training loans:

  • Variable interest rates: 3.25% to 13.59% APR
  • Fixed interest rates: 3.75% to 13.59% APR

While you can’t defer repayment completely while you study, you can limit your payments to $25 per month or make interest-only payments. After you leave school, you’ll make full payments on the principal and interest.

How to choose between these college loans for continuing education

For undergraduate students, taking out federal student loans is usually a no-brainer. Federal student loans typically charge lower interest rates than private student loans do, and they offer extra features and protections.

If you’re doing continuing education, though, private student loans for certificate programs, licenses and other career training might be a better option. For starters, the ones we’ve listed don’t charge an upfront loan fee like the direct PLUS loan does.

And while some of the interest rates private student loan companies offer are higher than the rates the Department of Education offers, you could qualify for a lower rate if you get help from a cosigner. These lenders also offer interest rate reductions to help lower your costs.

To make sure you get the best deal, though, compare the features of these lenders. You can apply for each one to see what offers you qualify for without getting hit with multiple credit inquiries. FICO considers this process rate shopping. For 30 days, it consolidates all your inquiries into one.

If you do your due diligence with these college loans, you’ll have a better chance of getting the best loan for your needs and your budget.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this article.

Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
2.49% – 13.85%1 Undergraduate

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2.55% – 11.44%2 Undergraduate

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3.25% – 13.59%3 Undergraduate

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0.00% – 23.00%4 Undergraduate

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3.25% – 9.69%5 Undergraduate


N/A 6 Undergraduate

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