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Comparison of Federal and 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 Table below compare federal and private student loans for undergraduate and graduate students, including masters and doctoral candidates.

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 Stafford Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loan
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.
Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance1 minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply.

Includes subsidized and unsubsidized loans up to:

Year Dependent Independent
1st $5,500 $9,500
2nd $6,500 $10,500
3rd $7,500 $12,500
4th $7,500 $12,500


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 attendance1 minus other financial aid.
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable

xxx - xxx APR2
(3-Month LIBOR + xxx to 3-Month LIBOR + xxx)

Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.

APRs reflect interest rates as of xxx.
4.53% fixed
(for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
7.08% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
Origination Fees No fee required 1.059%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
4.236%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
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'sdegree 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
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
  1. 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
  2. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable rate loan may increase during the life of the loan if the 3-Month LIBOR increases. This may result in higher monthly payments, an increase in the number of scheduled payments or both.

    FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

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 Stafford Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loan

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.
Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance1 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 attendance1 minus other financial aid.
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR.

Variable
xxx - xxx APR2
(3-Month LIBOR + xxx to 3-Month LIBOR + xxx)

Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.

APRs reflect interest rates as of xxx.
6.08% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
7.08% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
Origination Fees No fee required 1.059%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
4.236%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
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 (with eligible cosigner) no no
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
  1. 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.
  2. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable rate loan may increase during the life of the loan if the 3-Month LIBOR increases. This may result in higher monthly payments, an increase in the number of scheduled payments or both.

    FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

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 Stafford Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loan

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.
Up to 100%  of your cost of attendance1 minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply.
Up to $20,500. Up to 100% of your cost of attendance1 minus other financial aid.
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR2
(3-Month LIBOR + xxx to 3-Month LIBOR + xxx)

Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.

APRs reflect interest rates as of xxx.
6.08% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
7.08% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
Origination Fees No fee required 1.059%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
4.236%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
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 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
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
  1. 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.
  2. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable rate loan may increase during the life of the loan if the 3-Month LIBOR increases. This may result in higher monthly payments, an increase in the number of scheduled payments or both.

    FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

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 Stafford Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loan

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.
Up to 100%  of your cost of attendance1 minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply. Up to $20,500 . Up to 100%  of your cost of attendance1 minus other financial aid.
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR2
(3-Month LIBOR + xxx to 3-Month LIBOR + xxx)

Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.

APRs reflect interest rates as of xxx.
6.08% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
7.08% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
Origination Fees No fee required 1.059%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
4.236%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
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
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 
  1. 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.
  2. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable rate loan may increase during the life of the loan if the 3-Month LIBOR increases. This may result in higher monthly payments, an increase in the number of scheduled payments or both.

    FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

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 Stafford Loan

Federal

Direct PLUS Loan

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.
Up to 100%
of your cost of attendance1 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 attendance1 minus other financial aid.
Interest Rate Fixed
xxx - xxx APR

Variable
xxx - xxx APR2
(3-Month LIBOR + xxx to 3-Month LIBOR + xxx)

Lowest rates shown include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward.

APRs reflect interest rates as of xxx.
6.08% fixed
(for unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
7.08% fixed
(for loans with a first disbursement between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020).
Origination Fees No fee required 1.059%
of loan amount for subsidized and unsubsidized loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
4.236%
of loan amount for loans with a first disbursement made on or after October 1, 2019 and before October 1, 2020.
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
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
  1. 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.
  2. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for a variable rate loan may increase during the life of the loan if the 3-Month LIBOR increases. This may result in higher monthly payments, an increase in the number of scheduled payments or both.

    FAFSA is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Education.

Is student loan consolidation right for you?

Before deciding if consolidating your student loans is right for you, we recommend you consider the possible benefits and impacts of a
consolidation loan and how it may fit with your specific situation and needs.

Potential Benefits Other Considerations
A lower interest rate You'll have the option to choose between a fixed or variable interest rate.
If you have a fixed rate loan(s) and are considering refinancing your loan(s) into a variable rate consolidation loan, you may receive a lower interest rate, but your rate may change if the rate index changes.
A lower monthly payment When you consolidate your student loans, you may be able to lower your monthly payment if you qualify for a lower interest rate and/or extend your repayment term. If your repayment term is extended, it will take you longer to pay back your loan and you will increase your total loan cost.

To reduce the cost of borrowing, you can make additional payments without penalty.
Simplify monthly payments You have the option to consolidate your federal and private student loans into one loan and monthly payment.

If you choose to consolidate your federal student loan(s), the features and benefits associated with those loan(s) will not apply to your new consolidation loan. For example, certain repayment options, such as Income-based repayment, loan forgiveness for public service and other benefits will no longer apply to your new consolidation loan.

Once you have decided to consolidate your existing federal and/or private student loans, you will forego the features and benefits associated with those loans.
Apply on your own You need to qualify for the consolidation loan on your own. If you choose to apply with a creditworthy cosigner, you may receive a lower interest rate.

If you choose to consolidate loans that currently have a cosigner, your cosigner will no longer be responsible for the loans you include in your new consolidation loan.

Did You Know?

Interested in Private Student Loans?

Learn More