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Best Medical School Loans

Enrolling in medical school requires some huge sacrifices that could be well worth the reward later on. While federal aid is available for medical school, it’s often not enough to cover the full cost of tuition and other fees year after year. This is why private loans are such a popular option.

Best Medical School Loans
Choncé Maddox
Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI)

The average cost of medical school is around $54,698 per year according to EducationData.org. A degree typically takes 4 years to complete and residency can last anywhere from 3 to 7 years. Medical school is also very time-consuming making it hard for students to balance school and a full-time job. All these factors contribute to the need for an unsecured loan to pay for medical school.

Our experts recently narrowed down some of the best medical school loans to consider. In this article, we’ll share some best practices for getting a medical school loan along with what you can expect from some of the best lenders.

Our Top Picks for The Best Medical School Loan

 discover_logo_sl
  • Favorable terms for borrowers with strong credit scores
  • Potential to cover up to 100% of educational expenses
  • Zero Fees
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not Disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment Up to 15 years
earnest_logo_sl
  • Long 9-month deferment period
  • Opportunity to skip one payment per year
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650+
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Fixed APR 5-20 years
 sofi_logo_sl
  • No maximum loan limit
  • Prequalify without a credit check
  • Unemployment protection
  • Flexible repayment terms
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $5K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years

How to Choose the Best Medical School Loan?

There are tons of medical school loan options. This is why it’s important to focus on key factors that make one loan a better option based on your preferences and situations. To help you choose the best medical school loan, consider the following factors. Keep in mind that these are the same parameters our experts used to rank the top lenders featured in this article.

  • Loan Features: Loan features such as the loan terms, minimum and maximum amounts, and loan use limitations can make or break a customer’s decision to borrow from a particular lender.
  • Interest rates and fees: Consider the type of fees the loan has along with the interest rate you’re offered. Is it higher or lower than other loans?
  • Application process: Most people prefer a streamlined and low-stress application process. Assess how the lender allows you to apply or if you can get prequalified quickly online. How quickly do they provide a response to applications and how much supporting documentation is needed?
  • Qualification process: Some medical school loans are geared toward borrowers with excellent credit while others cater to lower credit scores. Also, look into any income requirements, co-signer/joint application options, or membership requirements. 
  • Customer support: Consider whether the loan company provides accessibility to a live customer service rep if you have questions that need answers. Also, see if they offer options such as phone and chat support along with whether those hours are flexible enough to fit your schedule.
  • Online user reviews: Online reviews are always a perfect indicator of whether a personal loan would be a good option. Check out some customer reviews on the lender to gain valuable insights.
  • Perks and Bonuses: Don’t forget to examine any perks and bonuses that are offered with the loan such as payment flexibility, advertising transparency, and advanced technology.

Best Medical School Loans for 2022 - Full Overview

1. Discover - Best For Fast Funding

Discover offers one of the best medical school loans if you’re looking to supplement costs after receiving other funding such as federal student loans. Discover has low fees, flexible repayment options, and great rates. There is also an interest rate reduction if you set up automatic payments. For medical school loans, there are no loan use limitations to worry about so you can spend the money on the expenses you need to cover most when attending school.
Pros
Lower interest rates
Interest rate reduction for setting up auto-pay
In-school or deferred repayment options
Able to use a cosigner
Cons
May have stricter credit and applicant requirements
No co-signer release available

discover

Discover lets you borrow anywhere from $1,000 to the total cost of attendance for your certified medical school. There are no origination fees, late fees, or prepayment penalties. Interest rates range from 4.49% to 8.74% (fixed) and Discover provides a quick decision in most cases after you submit an application online.

Discover does factor in your credit score, length of credit history, the number of accounts, and other factors. This company has also been known to have stricter borrower requirements than other lenders but you can use a cosigner.

The Bottom Line

If you have great credit and need a private loan to cover a portion of your medical school expenses, Discover’s personal loan could be a great option.

2. Earnest - Best For Low Rates

Earnest offers private medical school loans that offer the most flexible repayment options allowing you to skip a loan payment once a year if needed. They offer low rates and fast decisions for applications, usually within 72 hours. Earnest also allows you to prequalify for a medical school loan online in just minutes.
Pros
Lower variable and fixed interest rates
Interest rate discount for setting up autopay
Flexible payment plans and longer grace periods
Invite a cosigner
Cons
Lower borrowing amounts
Doesn’t service the state of Nevada
Harder to get a loan when you have other types of debt (high credit card/mortgage debt)

earnest

Earnest’s medical school loan can cover your school tuition, books, living expenses, meals, and more. Loan rates start at 0.94% for a variable interest rate and 3.24% for a fixed rate. This includes a 0.25% rate reduction for setting up auto-pay. With Earnest, you get a 9-month grace period and there are no fees.

You have the option to make low $25 payments while you’re in school. Earnest does require a minimum FICO score of 650, 3 years of credit history, and no bankruptcies. You can apply for a medical school loan completely online and even invite a cosigner to your application to help you qualify.

The Bottom Line

Earnest has designed one of the most flexible private loan options for medical students especially if you are unable to make payments while you’re in school. It’s easy to defer payments and enjoy a longer grace period while you earn your medical credentials.

3. SoFi - Best For Flexible Repayment Options

SoFi makes it easy to apply for a medical school loan online and doesn’t have many fees. The interest rates can be higher than other lenders especially if your credit score is lower. However, they have great membership perks and multiple options to repay your loan. With SoFi, you can prequalify for a loan online and add a cosigner with just a few clicks. SoFi does have an eligible list of schools that it will service loans for so keep this in mind.
Pros
Prequalify in minutes
Add a cosigner
4 repayment options
No added fees
Cons
Rates are higher than other lenders
List of approved schools
Takes weeks to receive funds after approval

sofi

With a medical school loan from SoFi, you’ll need to borrow a minimum of $5,000 and repayment terms range from 5 years to 15 years. Fixed rates range from 4.75% to 13.30% and variable rates range from 2.59% to 11.98%. You can choose from deferred, partial payment, interest-only, and immediate payment options to repay your loan.

If you become a SoFi member, you can score discounts on your interest rate and gain access to career services, financial advisors, networking events and more. Becoming a member is free and there’s no catch. The major downside of getting a medical school loan with SoFi is that once you’re approved, it can take 4 to 6 weeks for your school to receive the loan funds.

The Bottom Line

While they don’t have the lowest rates around and take a longer time to provide funds, SoFi offers a ton of repayment options, reasonable rates, and a free membership program to benefit from.

Try SoFi

4. Laurel Road - Best For Medical Students Going Into Practice

Laurel Road provides medical school loans including loans for residency students as well. The loan can be used to cover tuition expenses, books and materials, living costs, and more. You can prequalify initially with a soft credit pull to preview your loan options. If your application is approved, you could receive loan funds within 7 business days. Laurel Road also allows you to use a cosigner if you don’t meet the loan requirements to qualify.
Pros
Prequalify online
Receive funding within a week
Option to use a cosigner
Ability to change payment date
Cons
Lower borrowing maximum for non-resident medical students
Shorter repayment terms

laurel road
Laurel Road offers unsecured medical school loans in all 50 U.S. states.The loan servicer also allows you to borrow up to $80,000 if you are a physician or dentist in practice within 12 months from completing training with a signed contract to practice. If you are still in school, you can borrow up to $45,000. Repayment terms range from 3, 4, or 5 years but you may be able to qualify for a 7-year term. Rates tend to be a little higher and range from 7.25% to 24.50%. When you set up automatic monthly payments, you can get a small rate discount.

The Bottom Line

Importantly, Splash Financial runs a soft credit inquiry. With that, there is no negative impact on your credit score. It takes just three minutes to explore a wide range of options.

5. College Ave Student Loans - Best for a Longer Repayment Terms

College Ave Students Loans provides one of the best medical school loans around with competitive interest rates. Loans are tailored to fit your needs and lifestyle and there are multiple payment plans available. You can prequalify for a loan online and also choose from a wide range of repayment options. College Ave Student Loans offers one of the longest grace periods compared to other lenders as well as automatic deferment during residency and fellowship.
Pros
Low APRs
4 different payment options
Available to international students
Cosigners allowed
Cons
Charges a late fee
Limited information on eligibility

college ave

College Ave Student Loans lets you borrow up to 100% of the costs for your medical school tuition. Rates range from 1.99% to 10.45% for variable interest and 3.99% to 11.46% for a fixed-rate loan. These rates include a small discount when you enroll in autopay.

Repayment terms range from 5 years to 20 years and there are 4 different repayment options. There are also no origination or prepayment penalties with this loan. It takes just 3 minutes to prequalify online and see which loan options you qualify for.

The Bottom Line

College Ave Student Loans is an ideal option if you are looking for more flexible repayment options, competitive rates, and a longer grace period. You’ll also have to option to lock in a longer repayment term which could make loan payments more affordable.

6. Education Loan Finance - Best For Lower Fees

Education Loan Finance or ELFI offers medical school loans with no application, origination, or prepayment fees. You can prequalify online in just 2 minutes to view your loan term options. From there, you can complete an application online and verify your enrollment status. To qualify for a loan, you only need to be enrolled in medical school at least part time. While you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, ELFI does allow you to add a cosigner to your application. All applicants also receive access to a Personal Loan Advisor who is available by text, email, and phone.
Pros
Prequalify online
Allows cosigners
Personal Loan Advisor
No fees
Cons
High minimum loan amount
No cosigner release option
Late fee of 5% of past due amount or $50 (whichever is less)

elfi

ELFI allows you to borrow anywhere a minimum of $10,000 to cover medical school costs. Repayment terms range from 5 to 15 years and interest rates start at 1.30% for a variable APR and 3.20% for a fixed APR. You’ll need a minimum credit score of 680 to qualify but can use a cosigner as well.

The Bottom Line

ELFI have an easy and streamlined online application and accepts borrowers with a credit score lower than 700. To access their low student laon rates, you’ll need excellent credit and the company is very upfront about fees.

Try ELFI

7. Sallie Mae - Best For Cosigners and Less Than Half Time Enrollment

Sallie Mae offers graduate medical schools with no origination fee. You can cover 100% of your certified-school expenses including tuition, fees, books, housing, meals, travel, and even electronics needed for school. You can get a small interest rate reduction for setting up automatic monthly payments. Sallie Mae also has a great cosigner release program after you make 12 on-time principal and interest payments and meet certain credit requirements.If you need a loan to help cover medical residency expenses such as costs for relocating, Sallie Mae offers up to $30,000 to cover these costs.
Pros
Cover 100% of medical school costs
Cosigners allowed
Flexible payment options
No origination or prepayment penalties
Cons
Repayment term is selected for borrowers
No online pre-qualification
Most applicants need a cosign

sallie mae

Sallie Mae’s medical school student loan has interest rates starting at 2.62% for a variable APR and 4.75% for fixed APR loans. You get a grace period of 36 months and a deferment option of up to 48 months during residency and fellowship.

If you set up automatic monthly payments, you’ll receive an interest rate reduction of 0.25%. When you make interest-only payments during your grace period, you can get another 0.25% interest rate deduction for a total of 0.50% lower than your standard APR.

Another unique feature of this medical school loan is that you may be able to get funds being enrolled in school less than half time.

The Bottom Line

Wile Sallie Mae offers slightly higher minimum interest rates than other student loan lenders, they offer plenty of payment flexibility and even interest rate discounts. You will likely need a cosigner but getting a cosigner release is easy and this loan has very few added fees.

8. Ascent - Best For Higher Borrowing Amounts

Ascent offers medical school loans with flexible repayment plans and competitive interest rates. You can check rates online without impacting your credit. Ascent allows you to use a cosigner but you must also complete a brief financial literacy course as part of the process to become eligible for funding.
Pros
Longer repayment terms
Different payment options
Reduced interest rate with automatic payments
Cons
Higher minimum APR for fixed-rate loans
No mention of residency or fellowship loans
Not all schools are eligible for financing

ascent

Ascent had made our list of best medical school loans due to a variety of borrower-friendly features. Loan rates start at just 1.75% for a variable APR and 5.00% for a fixed APR. You can borrow up to $200,000 and repayment terms range from 7 to 20 years (capped at 15 years for a fixed-rate loan).

Payments are also deferred for up to 36 months after you graduate from medical school. During school, you can pay an optional $25 per month or make interest-only payments.

The Bottom Line

Ascent allows you to borrow higher amounts for medical school and has a range of repayment terms to make payments more manageable. Their interest rates are a little higher than other lenders, but you can make interest payments during deferment and also use a cosigner to help you qualify.

Best Medical School Loans - Main Features

Company Name

Est. APR

Min. credit score

Loan Amount

Loan term

Discover

4.49% - 8.74% Fixed

2.49% - 6.99% Variable

Not disclosed

Up to 100% of school costs

Up to 20 years

Earnest

Min. 0.94% Variable

Min 3.24% Fixed

650

Depends on school

Varies

SoFi


4.75% - 13.30% Fixed

Not disclosed

Up to $20,500 annually

$138,500 total

5 to 15 years

Laurel Road

Min 7%

Not disclosed

$45,000 to $80,000

3,4, or 5 years

College Ave

Min 1.99% Variable

Min 3.99% Fixed

Mid 600s

Up to 100% of school costs

5 to 20 years

Education Loan Finance

Min 1.30% Variable

3.20% Fixed

680

Depends on school

5 to 15 years

Sallie Mae

2.50% - 12.10% Variable

4.25% - 12.84% Fixed

Not disclosed

Up to 100% of school costs

Varies

Ascent

1.75% - 11.12% Variable

5.00% - 14.96% Fixed

Not disclosed

Up to $200,000

7, 10,12, 15, or 20 years

What’s The Average Cost of Medical School?

The average cost of medical school is around $54,698 per year. According to EducationData.org, the average medical school graduate has $215,900 of medical school debt. These totals also may or may not include additional costs such as housing, food, electronics, and equipment for the school and other costs a medical student may incur while trying to attend school. Medical school can get expensive quickly which is why private student loans can be such a relief.

How Do Medical School Loans Work?

Do medical school loans cover living expenses?

Yes, so long as there are no loan use limitations about using loan funds for this purpose. Many medical students are unable to work a full or part-time job during school due to the intensity of their program. With a medical school loan, you can try to use some of the loan funds to cover living expenses while you get through all your requirements.

What’s the maximum amount you can borrow for medical school?

How much you can borrow depends on the type of funding, your school, and other factors. Studentaid.gov states professional and graduate students can borrow up to $20,500 in subsidized loans. Private lenders allow you to borrow more and can supplement your funding needs for tuition and other expenses. Some private lenders allow you to borrow up to 100% of your medical program’s costs.

What’s the average medical school debt?

Medical school grads have an average student debt amount of $194.280. Around 14% of medical students attending public schools said they had at least $300,000 in average medical school debt and undergraduate debt combined.

When does repayment begin on medical school loans?

Different lenders have different repayment plans. Some lenders allow you to defer payments while you’re in school but you can choose to pay a small amount monthly including interest-only payments. Required payments typically begin after a grace period that can vary from 6 to 36 months depending on the lender.

How long does it take to pay off medical school loans?

It depends on factors such as your repayment term, interest rate, and monthly payment amounts. Depending on your lender, you may be able to choose a repayment term that aligns with the timeline you had in mind for repaying your medical school debt. Most lenders also don’t penalize extra payments or pay off your loan before the repayment term end.

Are medical school loans tax deductible?

The IRS also allows you to deduct the interest paid on your medical student loan as well once you start repaying it. Talk to a CPA or your tax specialist to see if your specific medical school loan is tax deductible and how to proceed with claiming that deduction.

Are there prepayment penalties on medical school loans?

No, most lenders don’t penalize you for paying ahead on your medical school loans or even paying them off early. Just make sure you pay at least the minimum amount each month to avoid a late fee.

Can you refinance medical school loans?

Yes, you can refinance medical student loans during residency or wait to refinance when you become an attending physician. Refinancing can help you lower your payments or even save money by lowering your interest if you’re able to lock in a lower interest rate.

Is there loan forgiveness on medical school debt?

You may qualify for medical student loan forgiveness if you took out loans to pay for school. Generally, doctors who work in the public sector can see if they qualify for loan forgiveness. Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) is available through the U.S. government for Direct Loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working for a qualifying employer. Keep in mind that private student loans don’t qualify for forgiveness programs.

Types of Medical School Loans

There are a few different types of medical school loans that we’ll discuss below.

Federal Loans for Medical School

Graduate and professional students such as those attending medical school can borrow up to $20,500 in Direct Unsubsidized loans. Direct PLUS loans for parents of graduate students can be used to cover the remainder of the student’s college costs determined by the school (that aren’t covered by financial aid).

Federal student loans tend to have lower interest rates than private loans and you could also qualify for federal relief programs such as deferment, forbearance, and student loan forgiveness. You also don’t need a cosigner or credit check to qualify for these loans. The major downside is that with the medical school you may quickly reach the maximum borrowing limit for tuition and other fees. Still, it’s recommended that you review your federal student loan options first by completing a FAFSA and visiting StudentAid.org for more information on your options.

Private Loans for Medical School

Private loans are a popular option for medical schools because private lenders tend to offer higher borrowing amounts and fewer restrictions on the use of the loan. You will likely, need to get your credit run or use a cosigner and interest rates might be higher than a federal student loan.

However, many private student loan lenders are offering more flexible payments, longer grace periods, deferment, and other benefits.

Other Loans

There are a few other loan options to help you pay for medical school and one of those is a Primary Care Loan through the Bureau of Health Workforce. This low cost federal loan program allows you to borrow varying amounts depending on the financial aid office at your school and how much PCL funds are available at the time. There’s an interest rate of 5% that accrues after a 12-month grace period. Repayment periods range from 10 to 25 years.

Medical Residency Loans are another borrowing option to consider if you need additional money during residency once you finish medical school. These loans can be used to cover relocation costs and other expenses.

If you’re going to use a private loan for medical school costs, check to see if the lender also extends loan coverage to residency expenses as well. This could help you avoid having to fill out two different applications and undergo multiple credit screenings.

How to Get a Student Loan for Medical School

  • Fill out a FAFSA - Filling out a FAFSA online should be your first step to getting a student loan for medical school so you can see if you qualify for any federal loans
  • Consider prequalifying with a private lender - Private loans are still a solid option for getting the money you need to cover what federal loans can’t cover. If a lender allows you to prequalify online without getting a hard inquiry, spend a few minutes filling out the brief form.
  • Compare rates and loan terms - Refer back to our earlier section of this article about choosing the best medical school loan for your situation. Narrow down which loan terms are most important and compare rates and other features
  • Submit a formal application - Once you know which loan option you’d like to proceed with, submit a formal application and upload supporting documents for verification. You may want to use a cosigner at this time if you need help qualifying for a loan.
  • Review and accept loan terms - Carefully review the loan terms and ask questions if anything doesn’t make sense. When you’re ready, accept the loan terms and the lender will fund your loan shortly after. Sometimes it takes days or even weeks to receive funding depending on the lender. Make sure you understand where the funds will be sent and how they will arrive.

Conclusion

If you’re currently attending or thinking of enrolling in medical school, you can obtain the money you need to cover expenses with ease. This list of best medical school loans includes a variety of quality lenders to meet various needs and preferences. Start by narrowing down what you’re looking for in a medical school loan and then rate shop and compare features from different lenders.

FAQs

Should I get a loan for medical school?

Most students will need loans for medical school due to the high cost of tuition and other related expenses. Estimate what your costs will be each year and semester to determine how much money you’ll need.

Should I borrow federal loans or private loans for medical school?

If you qualify for federal student loans, it doesn’t hurt to explore your options by applying for a FAFSA online. Then, you can check out private loans if you still need more money.

How do you get the best interest rate on medical school loans?

Private lenders will consider your credit score, income, and other factors. The higher your credit is, the lower your loan rate might be. You can also use a cosigner with excellent credit to help you qualify for a better interest rate.

What credit score do you need to get medical school loans without a cosigner?

It depends on your lender since different lenders have their own requirements. Generally, it can be challenging to obtain a medical school loan without a cosigner if your credit score is below 680.

Can international students get loans for medical school?

Yes, some private lenders allow international students to get loans for medical school but not all. You may need to meet certain eligibility requirements.

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Choncé Maddox

Choncé Maddox

Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI)

Choncé Maddox is a Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI) and personal finance freelance writer.

More about me