Lenders Offering Private Loans for Part-Time College Students

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Attending college part-time could give you the flexibility to work a job, care for your children or save on school tuition.

Being a part-timer, however, limits your access to private student loans.

Here’s a look at how your enrollment status affects your aid, plus where to find private loans when you need them.

How your enrollment status affects your financial aid

If you’re attending school at least half-time, it’s generally recommended to lean on federal student loans first. They don’t require strong credit or a cosigner, and they come with exclusive protections like income-driven repayment and the potential for student loan forgiveness.

But your options are more limited if you’re only taking classes here and there.

To borrow Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans from the federal government, for example, you must attend school at least half-time. This is based on your course load, with your school likely setting a certain number of credit hours per week to be considered “full-time” status.

The same goes for Parent PLUS Loans if your mom or dad is considering borrowing on your behalf — you’d still need to attend school half-time or more.

A private loan could help you finance your cost of attendance, but not all banks, credit unions or online lenders work with part-time students. Those that do will usually look at your credit score, credit history and debt-to-income ratio — or your cosigner’s — before offering their stamp of approval.

Some lenders offering private loans for part-time college students

Many private lenders, such as Ascent and Citizens Bank, follow in the federal government’s footsteps and require you to be enrolled at least half-time.

The following three lenders, however, allow you to dip below half-time and still qualify for borrowing.

1. College Ave Student Loans

  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Borrow as little as $1,000
  • Four in-school repayment options, including deferment
  • Repayment term options include 5, 8, 10 and 15 years
  • Receive a 0.25% rate deduction for enrolling in autopay
  • No application fees
  • Prequalify in three minutes
  • Release your cosigner after completing half of your repayment

Eligibility fine print: You must be seeking a degree from an eligible school. If you don’t see your school listed when applying for a loan, it’s likely ineligible. Confirm by contacting your school or emailing the lender at [email protected]

2. Sallie Mae

  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Borrow as little as $1,000
  • Three in-school repayment options, including deferment
  • Repayment term options span 5 to 15 years
  • Receive a 0.25% rate deduction for enrolling in autopay
  • No origination or prepayment fees
  • Apply in 15 minutes
  • Receive free credit-score tracking and academic study support
  • Request 12 months of interest-only payments after graduation
  • Release your cosigner after industry-best 12 months of prompt payments

Eligibility fine print: You must be seeking a bachelor’s or associate’s degree or a certificate from a participating school.

3. Rhode Island Student Loan Authority

  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Borrow as little as $1,500 per year
  • Defer payments until six months after finishing school
  • Repayment term options include 5, 10 and 15 years
  • Receive a 0.25% rate deduction for enrolling in autopay
  • No application or origination fees
  • Prequalify in 10 minutes or less
  • Possible access to federal loan-like features forgiveness and Income-Based Repayment
  • Receive multi-year approval with one application
  • Release your cosigner after 24 consecutive months of prompt payments

Eligibility fine print: Only Rhode Island residents or students can borrow fixed-rate loans, although any student nationally — of any enrollment type — is eligible to borrow a variable-rate loan.

3 catches of part-time students borrowing for college

As you consider borrowing a private student loan for your part-time enrollment, keep these issues in mind:

1. School certification

Your school must certify your enrollment status with a lender before you can receive a loan. If the school doesn’t allow part-time students — or private loans for part-timers — you would have wasted your time applying for aid in the first place.

To avoid headaches, check in with your campus financial aid office to learn about its enrollment requirements before you borrow. You might be asked to complete a self-certification form, confirming the amount you’re eligible to borrow.

2. Minimum borrowing amount

As a less-than-half-time student, you probably don’t need to borrow as much money for school as your full-time peers. At many schools, the fewer credits you sign up for, the lower your cost of attendance is.

To be eligible for a private loan, however, you must borrow a minimum amount. College Ave and Sallie Mae, for example, all set a $1,000 threshold. If you need to borrow less than that, you might be able to avoid borrowing by taking on a part-time job.

3. Triggering repayment

If you drop below half-time enrollment after borrowing private student loans, you could be expected to begin repaying those loans immediately. Contact your lender (preferably before you change your enrollment status) to learn about any consequences.

Similarly, if you drop credits from your course load and fall below half-time, you’ll be expected to enter repayment on your federal loans.

Consider all of your financial aid options

Only a handful of reputable lenders allow part-time students to borrow for college. With fewer options than your half- and full-time peers, ensure borrowing is best for you before signing on the dotted line.

Explore all of your financial aid options for part-timers. And, if you haven’t already, apply for gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid, including grants and scholarships.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2021!
LenderVariable APREligibility 
1.04% – 11.98%1Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

1.13% – 11.23%*,2Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit SallieMae

1.04% – 11.44%3Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Earnest

1.85% – 11.35%4Undergraduate

Visit Ascent

2.20% – 6.17%5Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit EdvestinU

1.12% – 10.22%6Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

1.12% – 11.23%7Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SoFi

1.15% – 11.01%8Undergraduate and Graduate

VISIT CITIZENS

N/A9Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit FundingU

* 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.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

Rates shown are for the College Ave Undergraduate Loan product and include autopay 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.
 
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary. This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a first year graduate student borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7.10% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $141.66 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $16,699.21. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 7/22/2021. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.


2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Rates include 0.25% Auto Pay Discount
     
  2. Explanation of Rates “With Autopay” (APD)
    Rates shown include 0.25% APR discount when client agrees to make monthly principal and interest payments by automatic electronic payment. Use of autopay is not required to receive an Earnest loan.

    Available Terms
    For Cosigned loans – 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 years. 
    Primary Only – 10, 12, 15 years

    In school deferred payment is not available in AL, AZ, CA, FL, MA, MD, MI, ND, NY, PA, and WA).


4 Important Disclosures for Ascent.

Ascent Disclosures

Ascent loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs

Rates are effective as of 08/01/2021 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes income-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions, please visit AscentFunding.com/Cashback. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and may require a cosigner.



6 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

SHORT FORM

Lowest APRs shown for Discover undergraduate loans are available to the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.1

LONG FORM

1The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.125% as of July 1, 2021. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APRs are only available to applicants with the best credit. The APR will be determined after an application is submitted. It will be based on credit history, the selected repayment option and other factors, including a cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). If a student does not have an established credit history, the student may find it difficult to qualify for a private student loan on their own or receive the lowest advertised rate. Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

2 Aggregate loan limits apply.

3 Get a cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan when you earn at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) in any academic period covered by the loan. Limitations Apply. Visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for terms and conditions.


7 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

Sofi Disclosures

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.66% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 1.12% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.13% to 10.90% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.10% to 11.34% APR (with autopay). MBA AND LAW SCHOOL LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.08% to 10.86% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.05% to 11.29% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.23% to 10.66% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 1.20% to 11.23% APR (with autopay). For variable rate loans, the variable interest rate is derived from the one-month LIBOR rate plus a margin and your APR may increase after origination if the LIBOR increases. Changes in the one-month LIBOR rate may cause your monthly payment to increase or decrease. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 4/1/2021. Enrolling in autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. SoFi Lending Corp., licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. NMLS #1121636 (>www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org).


8 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.15% – 11.01% (1.15% – 10.24 APR)Fixed interest rates range from 4.18% – 11.70% (4.18% – 10.83% APR).

Graduate Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 10.66% (1.89% – 10.41% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.64% – 11.23%% (4.64% – 10.95% APR).

Business/Law Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 9.22% (1.89% – 8.50% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.38% – 10.44% (4.38% – 9.72% APR).

Medical/Dental Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.89% – 8.02% (1.89% – 7.72% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.28% – 9.24% (4.28% – 8.94% APR).

Parent Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 1.97% – 7.06% (1.97% – 7.06% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 4.94% – 8.58% (4.94% – 8.58% APR).

Bar Study Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 4.44% – 9.58% (4.44% – 9.52% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 7.39% – 12.94% (7.40% – 12.83% APR).

Medical Residency Rate Disclosure: Variable interest rates range from 3.53% – 7.03% (3.53% – 6.76% APR). Fixed interest rates range from 6.99% – 10.49% (6.98% – 10.09% APR).

Variable Rate Disclosure: Variable Rates are based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of June 1, 2021, the one-month LIBOR rate is 0.09%. Variable interest rates will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree and presence of a co-signer. The maximum variable rate is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. 

Fixed Rate Disclosure: Fixed rate ranges are based on applicable terms, level of degree, and presence of a co-signer.

Lowest Rate Disclosure: Lowest rates require a 5-year repayment term, immediate repayment, a graduate degree (where applicable), and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Rates are subject to additional terms and conditions, and are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.

Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer.  Borrowers should carefully review federal benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are considering possible loan forgiveness options, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision on our website including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible non-citizen with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer is required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. Citizens Bank private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/Promissory Note, verification of application information, and if applicable, self-certification form, school certification of the loan amount, and student’s enrollment at a Citizens Bank participating school.

Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.

Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.


9 Important Disclosures for Funding U.

Funding U Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.