Comparison of Federal and Discover Private Student Loans

At Discover Student Loans, we believe in responsible borrowing and encourage students to maximize grants, scholarships and other free financial aid before taking student loans. The tables below compare federal and private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, including masters and doctoral candidates, and parents and other creditworthy individuals.

When you compare your options, you may find private student loans are more competitive than federal student loans. Learn more about evaluating student loans.

 

Compare Undergraduate Student Loans

The table below compares federal and private student loans for undergraduate students.

Select Loan Type

Discover

Undergraduate Loan

Federal

Direct Loans for Students

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Parents

Borrower Student
(may require a cosigner)
Student Parent of dependent undergraduate student (may require an endorser)
Lender Discover Bank® Government Government
Annual Loan Limits
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
of school-certified college costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.

Includes subsidized and unsubsidized loans up to:

Yr.
Dep.
Indep.
1 $5.5K
$9.5K
2 $6.5K
$10.5K
3 $7.5K
$12.5K
4 $7.5K
$12.5K


Note: A dependent student whose parent is denied for a PLUS loan may borrow up to the independent student limit.

Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR
(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.1
Fixed 3.73%
(for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Fixed 6.28%
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 1.057%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
Rewards for Good Grades yes no no
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes yes
Payment Deferment while in School No payments are due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time unless the borrower has elected, during the application process, to make either interest-only or $25 fixed monthly payments while in school and during the grace period. No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time. Payments typically begin within 2 months of final disbursement; you have the option to defer payments until 6 months after student's graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Bachelor's or Associate's degree program at an eligible school. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.
Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.
Repayment Plans 15 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility yes
(with eligible cosigner)
no no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required
no yes yes
Credit Check Required

yes

 

no yes
Cosigner Depends on your credit evaluation. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and may lower your interest rate.
no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by your school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Compare Health Professions Student Loans

The table below compares federal and private student loans for graduate students in health professions.

Select Loan Type

Discover

Health Professions Loan

Federal

Direct Loans for Students

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate / Professional Students

Borrower Student
(may require a cosigner)
Student Student
(may require an endorser)
Lender Discover Bank® Government

Government

 

Annual Loan Limit
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
school-certified medical school costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to $20,500
(certain health profession programs may be higher; contact your financial aid office for exact amounts).
Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR

(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.1
5.28% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
6.28% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 1.057%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
Rewards for Good Grades yes no no
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes yes
Payment Deferment while in School No payments are due until 9 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time unless the borrower has elected, during the application process, to make either interest-only or $25 fixed monthly payments while in school and during the grace period.
No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Payments typically begin within 2 months of final disbursement; you have the option to defer payments until 6 months after student's graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Graduate degree programs in Allopathy, Dentistry, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Optometry, Osteopathy, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Podiatry or Veterinary Medicine. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.
Repayment Plans 20 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility
yes no no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required no yes yes
Credit Check Required yes no yes
Cosigner Depends on your credit evaluation. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and may lower your interest rate. no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by your school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Compare Law Student Loans

The table below compares federal and private student loans for graduate students in law school.

Select Loan Type

Discover

Law Loan

Federal

Direct Loans for Students

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate / Professional Students

Borrower Student
(may require a cosigner)

Student

 

Student
(may require an endorser)
Lender Discover Bank® Government Government
Annual Loan Limit
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
of school-certified law school costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to $20,500 Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR
(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.1
5.28% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
6.28% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 1.057%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
Rewards for Good Grades yes no no
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes yes
Payment Deferment while in School No payments are due until 9 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time unless the borrower has elected, during the application process, to make either interest-only or $25 fixed monthly payments while in school and during the grace period. No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.  No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time. 
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Graduate law degree programs. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.  Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office. 
Repayment Plans 20 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility yes
(with eligible cosigner)
no no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required no yes yes
Credit Check Required yes no yes
Cosigner Depends on your credit evaluation. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and may lower your interest rate. no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by your school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Compare MBA Student Loans

The table below compares federal and private student loans for graduate students in business school.

Select Loan Type

Discover

MBA Loan

Federal

Direct Loans for Students

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate / Professional Students

Borrower Student
(may require a cosigner)
Student Student
Lender

Discover Bank®

 

Government

 

Government

 

Annual Loan Limits
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
of school-certified business school costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to $20,500 Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR

(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.1
5.28% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
6.28% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 1.057%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
Rewards for Good Grades yes no no
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes yes
Payment Deferment while in School No payments are due until 9 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time unless the borrower has elected, during the application process, to make either interest-only or $25 fixed monthly payments while in school and during the grace period. No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time. No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Graduate business degree programs. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.
Repayment Plans 20 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility yes
(with eligible cosigner)
no no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required
no yes yes
Credit Check Required yes no yes
Cosigner Depends on your credit evaluation. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and may lower your interest rate. no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by your school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Compare Graduate Student Loans

The table below compares federal and private student loans for graduate students, including masters and doctoral candidates.

Select Loan Type

Discover

Graduate Loan

Federal

Direct Loans for Students

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate / Professional Students

Borrower Student
(may require a cosigner)
Student Student
(may require an endorser)
Lender

Discover Bank®

 

Government

 

Government

 

Annual Loan Limit
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
of school-certified graduate school costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to $20,500
(certain health profession programs may be higher; contact your financial aid office for exact amounts).
Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR

(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.1
5.28% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
6.28% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 1.057%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
Rewards for Good Grades yes no no
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes yes
Payment Deferment while in School No payments are due until 9 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time unless the borrower has elected, during the application process, to make either interest-only or $25  fixed monthly payments while in school and during the grace period.
No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
No payments due until 6 months after graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Graduate degree programs. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact your school's financial aid office.
Repayment Plans 20 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility yes
(with eligible cosigner)
no no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required
no yes yes
Credit Check Required yes no yes
Cosigner Depends on your credit evaluation. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and may lower your interest rate. no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by your school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Compare Parent Loans

The table below compares federal and private parent loans for parents and other creditworthy individuals who choose to borrow money to fund an undergraduate or graduate student's education.

Discover

Parent Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loans for Parents

Borrower Parent or other creditworthy individual on behalf of an undergraduate or graduate student Parent of dependent undergraduate student (may require an endorser)
Lender Discover Bank® Government
Annual Loan Limits
Loan amounts are certified and disbursed through the school.
Cover up to 100%
of school-certified college and graduate school costs, minus other financial aid.* Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to 100%
of the cost of attendance minus other financial aid.*
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR

(3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx to 3-Month CME Term SOFR + xxx)

Lowest APRs are available for the most creditworthy applicants and include an Auto Debit Reward.1
6.280% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022).
Origination Fee Zero 4.228%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2021 and before October 1, 2022.
0.25% Auto Debit Reward yes yes
Payment Due No payments due until the final disbursement. Payments typically begin within 2 months of final disbursement; you have the option to defer payments until months after student's graduation or enrollment in school less than half-time.
Eligible Academic Programs
Must be enrolled at least half-time.
Bachelor's, Associate's or graduate degree program at an eligible school. Degree, certificate, study-abroad or certain distance education programs. For more information, contact the school's financial aid office.
Repayment Plans 15 years
standard repayment.
10 years
standard with flexibility to extend up to 25 years. Multiple repayment options available.

Learn more
International Student Eligibility yes no
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) Required
no yes
Credit Check Required yes yes
Cosigner no Borrowers with adverse credit history may be required to apply with an endorser.

Learn more

*Annual cost of attending a specific school, including tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and personal expenses. This amount is determined by the school.
FAFSA® is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education and is not affiliated with Discover Student Loans.


Did You Know?

Interested in private student loans?

Learn More

  1. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan unless you are no longer eligible for one or more discounts. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month CME Term SOFR index plus the applicable margin percentage less any applicable discounts. The 3-Month CME Term SOFR index value for variable interest rate loans is X as of X. 3-Month CME Term SOFR is administered by CME Group and is published by CME Group on its website (cmegroup.com/termsofr). Discover Student Loans may adjust the variable interest rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (each an “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month CME Term SOFR rate available for the day that is 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125), or 0%, whichever is greater. This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. If the 3-Month CME Term SOFR rate is less than zero percent, then the index will be deemed to be zero percent (as stated in the promissory note) for purposes of calculating your interest rate. Your variable interest rate (index + margin – applicable discounts) will not exceed 18%. 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.

Borrow responsibly. 1. Maximize grants, scholarships and other free financial aid. 2. Compare federal and private student loans. 3. Choose the loans that best fit your needs.