Depending on your career path, getting an extra certification or some other form of continuing education might be necessary. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education found that 27% of adults have a non-degree credential, such as a certificate, certification, or license.
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 the top three options and help you figure out whether they’re a good fit.
The 3 best college loans for continuing education
As you read about these college loans, 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
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 $20,500 per year. You’ll pay a 7.00% interest rate for loans disbursed before July 1, 2018, and a 4.264% loan fee will be deducted from the loan disbursement. So, if you need $10,000 for your program, borrow at least $10,445 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 $110,000 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 February 2018:
- Variable interest rates: 3.46% to 11.46% APR
- Fixed interest rates: 5.74% to 11.90% APR
You also can get a rate reduction of up to 0.50% — 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. Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo’s student loan for career and community colleges might be a good choice if you’re an existing Wells Fargo customer. The loan is designed for students attending a two-year school, a career-training program, or a nontraditional school.
You can borrow up to $20,000 per year, depending on the type of school you attend, and the lifetime limit can be as high as $100,000. You’ll have 12 years to repay the loan.
Like Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo offers variable and fixed interest rates. Here are the ranges, as of February 2018:
- Variable interest rates: 5.91% to 11.65% APR
- Fixed interest rates: 7.46% to 12.65% APR
If you already have a consumer checking account with Wells Fargo, you can get a 0.25% discount on your interest rate. You’ll get another 0.25% discount if you set up automatic payments.
Wells Fargo doesn’t charge any application or origination fees, and there’s no penalty if you want to pay off the loan before it’s due.
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.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2018!
1 = Citizens Disclaimer.
2 = CollegeAve Autopay Disclaimer: All rates shown include the auto-pay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
|4.12% – 11.85%*3||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit SallieMae|
|3.69% – 12.07%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CollegeAve|
|4.07% – 12.19%1||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit Citizens|
|3.83% – 12.11%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit Ascent|
|4.63% – 9.71%||Undergraduate and Graduate||Visit LendKey|
|3.62% – 9.79%||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents||Visit CommonBond|