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Part-Time Student Loans

Students may study part-time at a university because they don’t have the time to dedicate to full-time studies. To help pay for their education, they can take out part-time student loans or part-time graduate student loans depending on what level of education they’re pursuing.

Part-Time Student Loans
Allison Bethell
Written by:Allison Bethell
Real Estate Expert

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Students may want to further their education, but have too many commitments to attend school full time. Between family life, work, sports, and health reasons, not everyone can go to school full-time, so many universities offer part-time studies programs. It’s still expensive to attend university part-time and the average cost of college in the U.S. is $35,331 per year. You can get a part-time study student loan to offset some of the costs. You may not qualify for a grant or a federal student loan, so check out unsecured loans to see which best suits you. Our team of financial experts did the work for you. They reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you get funded and on track to further your education.

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Best Part-Time Student Loans for 2023 - Full Overview 

Sallie Mae - Best for Additional Loan Products

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is now a private lender and a publicly traded U.S. corporation but it used to be a government entity that serviced federal education loans. It is one of the largest student loan providers and offers resources for parents and students about part-time student loans, as well as banking products, graduate school loans, and credit cards. In fact, the company offers a credit card where you can earn reward points and cash-back on student related purchases which can help pay off your student loans.

Loan options: Multiple loans to choose from
Easily navigable site
Resources: College planning and helpful blogs
Restrictions for international students
Higher rates for borrowers with lower credit scores
Big company may not provide personalized service

The company offers a variety of undergraduate, graduate, and career training loans. Variable rates range from 2% to 12.35% and fixed interest rates range from 3.75% to 13.72%. Higher credit scores receive lower interest rates. Maximum loan amounts vary based on the cost of attendance of the school.

The Bottom Line

A well-known company, Sallie Mae is a great option for part-time student loans. They have resources to learn more about their loan products, offer multiple types of loans and repayment terms, and you can apply for a loan online. They also offer credit cards that earn rewards for school-related purchases.

College Ave Student Loans - Best for a Streamlined Loan Process


College Ave Student Loans offers part-time and full-time student loans to undergraduate and graduate students including those in medical and dental school. The company aims to make the entire student loan process as simple as possible. Its website is full of part-time student loan application tips and is easy to navigate.

Choose from fixed or variable interest rates
Refinancing options on current loans
Student loans that aren’t one size fits all
Must meet income requirements
International students need cosigner
Cosigner release only halfway through term

The company offers flexible loan options for parents and students with various repayment terms. The online application only takes about three minutes and fixed rates start at 3.99% and variable rates start at 1.99%. All rate estimates include an auto-pay discount. There are four types of repayment options and a residency deferment for medical students. Loan terms range from five to twenty years.


The Bottom Line

College Ave Student Loans is a good option if you’re looking for part-time student loans that you can easily apply for online. You can research the loan, apply, and even refinance the loan with the same company.

SoFi - Best for Member Benefits


SoFi is an online personal finance company and online bank. It provides student loans and a variety of financial products and services. Its website is high-tech, easy to navigate, and includes helpful resources for learning more about part-time student loans. It also has numerous member benefits for its borrowers including SoFi Stadium perks and a referral program.

No fees: No insufficient, origination, or loan fees
All online: Complete application in a few clicks
Covers additional school related costs
Need to apply to see all loan requirements
Higher rates with lower credit scores
Online applications may take up to six weeks to fund

SoFi offers fixed and variable rate loans. Fixed rates range from 3.75% to 13.30% which include an autopay discount. Variable rates range from 1.89% to 11.98%. The maximum loan amount depends on the cost of attendance and if you have any other student loans or financial aid. However, SoFi will fund school-related expenses in addition to tuition. Loan terms typically range from five to fifteen years.


The Bottom Line

SoFi is a good choice for part-time student loans because they have an easy entirely online application process, and don’t charge any loan fees. They also offer member benefits including financial planning and career coaching services.

Try SoFi

Earnest - Best for Flexible Loan Terms


Earnest offers a wide variety of student loans for students and parents, as well as personal loans, credit cards, and refinancing for current student loans. The company was founded in 2013 as an online lender and is designed to help you build your financial future.

Choose your own loan terms
No fees: No application, origination, or late fees
Choose your monthly payment
Credit score requirement: 650+ on most loans
Half-time enrollment required
Loans and refinancing not available in all states

Students can choose repayment terms of 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years at Earnest. There are fixed and variable rate loans with competitive rates. Variable rates start at 0.94% with an autopay discount and fixed rates start at 3.24%. A minimum credit score of 650 is required on most student loans and there isn’t a maximum loan amount. It depends on the cost of attendance and if the student has any other financial aid.


The Bottom Line

Earnest is a great option for part-time students who want to repay their student loans based on a schedule that best works for them. The site offers multiple types of loans, information on applying, and loan resources. Additionally, you can upload all of your documents and apply from your phone.

Ascent - Best for Loans without Cosigners


Ascent is an online lender that offers student loans with and without cosigners. It offers part-time and full time loans for undergraduate and graduate students. It also offers a variety of loans for international students with a cosigner. The company helps you cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance plus school-related costs.

High loan limits: Up to $200,000
Multiple loans for international students
Loans with no minimum credit scores
No credit score loans have higher rates
Not all no credit score loans are available for part-time students
Some loans have minimum G.P.A requirements

Ascent offers part-time student loans tailored to the individual students. You can choose from different repayment arrangements, and fixed or variable rates. Typical rates range from 5.17% to 13.21% with an autopay discount. A minimum credit score of 540 is required on most loans. If you get a no credit score loan, a minimum G.P.A of 2.9 is needed. Maximum loan amounts are $200,000.

The Bottom Line

Ascent is a good option if you want to get a part-time student loan but don’t have a qualified cosigner. They offer multiple different loans, informative articles on student loans on their site, and flexible repayment arrangements.

How to Choose the Best Part-Time Student Loan?

As is the case with any financial decision, choosing part-time student loans should be done carefully. You will want to do your research, and find out the total costs of the loans, repayment terms, rates, lender fees, loan criteria, and more. Our experts used the following parameters to rank the lenders with the best student loans for part-time students. 

Consider the following factors: 

  • Loan Features: Know as much as possible about the student loans part-time status up front. Compare things like loan terms, loan amounts, and loan use limitations. You don’t want to waste time applying for a loan if you’re not comfortable with all of its features. 
  • Interest rates and fees: Considers different types of fees including origination fees, application fes, and prepayment penalties. Know the minimum and maximum interest rates and what rate you will get based on the lender’s criteria and the type of loan. 
  • Application process:When you apply for part-time student loan, know how invasive and time-consuming the application process is going to be. Find out what information you should have on hand, like your identification, social security number, G.P.A, etc. Also, find out if the application involves a hard-pull or soft-pull on your credit score. Consider funding times and types of disbursement. You want to make sure the funds are disbursed in time for you to start the semester. 
  • Qualification process:  What do you need to do to qualify for part-time student loans? Is there a minimum credit score, income requirements, or a cosigner requirement? Do you need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident? You don’t want to waste time applying for a loan if you don’t meet the criteria. 
  • Customer support: Consider accessibility to a live customer service rep, the degree of multi-channel support, and the availability of supplemental information and tools. Will you be able to get your student loan questions answered by email or over the phone? Do the customer service hours work for your busy schedule? 
  • Online user reviews: Check out reviews on independent review sites like Trustpilot and see what borrowers have to say about the lender in general. Take note of both positive and negative comments and see if there are any recurring complaints or compliments. 
  • Perks and Bonuses: Consider specified service offerings like payment flexibility, advertising transparency, and advanced technology. Does the lender offer an online resource center, discounts for auto pay or cash back for getting good grades? 

Best Part-Time Student Loans - Feature Comparison

Company NameEst. APRMin. credit scoreLoan AmountLoan term
Sallie Mae2%+ (variable)Not disclosed Depends on cost of attendanceVaries 
College Ave Student Loans1.99%+ (variable)Mid 600s+Not listed 5 - 20 years 
SoFi3.75% to 13.30% with autopay (fixed)Not disclosedDepends on cost of attendance5 - 15 years 
Earnest 0.94%+ with autopay (variable)650No maximum5 - 15 years 
Ascent5.17% to 13.21% with autopay (fixed)540 on most loans$200,000Varies 

Who Qualifies as a Part-Time Student?

Typically, to be considered as a full-time undergraduate student, you must be enrolled in at least twelve credit hours per semester. So, anything less than that would be considered a part-time student.

A half-time student is enrolled in half of the expected full-time courses, so that would be six or more credit hours. Keep in mind that different lenders, institutions, and financial aid providers may have varying definitions of what it means to be a part-time student. These criteria also can vary between undergraduate and graduate level programs.

What Are Your Part-Time Student Loan Options?

Part-time student loan options include:

Federal Part-Time Student Loans

Federal loans, also called financial aid, are backed by the U.S. Department of Education, a government agency, typically offers better rates and repayment terms than private loans. Some options for federal part-time student loans include the following:

  • Direct Subsidized Loan: The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest for you while you’re in school and during your grace period after graduation on direct subsidized loans. You may also have loan deferment options available. Half-time student status is required in order to qualify for this type of loan.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loan: You’re responsible for paying the interest on a direct unsubsidized loan during all periods, including while you’re in school. These loans are available for undergraduate and graduate students. You don’t need to be considered needy to qualify for a direct unsubsidized loan.
  • Direct PLUS Loan: These are federal loans that can be used to pay for college or career school. The U.S. Department of Education is your lender and you can’t have an adverse credit history to qualify. These loans can pay for education-related expenses not covered by other loans and can be given to students or their parents. If the loan is given to the parent, it’s referred to as a Parent PLUS loan.

Private Part-Time Student Loans

Private loans are provided by non-federal sources such as online lenders, banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Loan amounts vary by lender and also depend on the cost of attendance of the school.

Private student loans can typically be used for undergraduate or graduate school and may also include related costs such as housing, a laptop, and books. Generally, students need to be enrolled in half-time status and take six or more credits per semester to qualify. However, if you get an unsecured personal loan and use it for your education, there aren’t enrollment restrictions

How to Take Out Private Student Loans as a Part-Time Student

The process for taking out private part-time student loans is as follows:

  • Get your finances in order: Know your credit score, dispute errors on your credit report, and pay off any collections accounts if possible. Also, pay down your credit card balances. All of these things will help increase your credit score. And, the better your credit score, the more likely you will be approved for a loan and will get a lower interest rate, which saves you money over the life of the loan. You will also need to show proof of income if you’re working and have tax returns and bank statements ready. 
  • Find a Cosigner: If you’re coming straight out of high school, you may not have the credit or income needed in order to qualify for a private student loan. Ask a parent, guardian, other friend or family member if they will cosign for you. This is a good time to explain your plan on paying them back if that’s what they require.
  • Check out ‘free money’: See if you qualify for any scholarships or grants that you don’t have to pay back. Your high G.P.A. or basketball skills may be able to earn you a partial scholarship to college. Also, inquire about work study programs and paid internships. These may not pay for your entire tuition, but they can lessen the loan amount you will need.
  • Compare lenders: You won’t need to do this with federal funding, because you will fill out a financial aid package and see what you qualify for, but with private loans, you need to shop around because lenders set their own loan requirements. Check out repayment arrangements, grace periods, interest rates, and fees.
  • Apply for the loan: Once you find a loan that you think you will qualify for, get your documents in order, and apply. This can usually be done online, over the phone, or at a branch of your credit union or bank. Expect rates to be higher with private loans than with federal loans, and eligibility requirements may vary as well.
  • Get funded and start school: Find out how the loan will be disbursed. If it’s an unsecured personal loan, you will receive the money in your bank account and can then pay the school yourself. However, if it’s a private student loan, the funds may go straight to the school, and any leftovers may be used for books and school-related supplies. Loan amounts vary by loan program and by cost of attendance.


It’s a common misconception that financial aid and student loans are only available to full-time students. That’s not always the case, in fact many part-time student loans are available. Whatever stage you’re at in your life, furthering your education can help you, and student-loans for part time studies can help you get there. Check out our list of lenders, compare rates, terms, and repayment options, and choose the loan that best fits with your educational goals.


Are federal student loans available to part-time students?

Yes, there are some federal student loans available to part-time students who are attending school at least half-time, which generally means they’re taking at least six credits worth of classes per semester. At most schools, this equates to two classes per semester.

A direct subsidized loan may be an option if you’re an undergraduate student who meets half-time eligibility requirements and you have proven financial need. A direct subsidized loan is another option and this can be applied towards undergraduate or graduate programs and no proof of financial need is required.

Can I get financial aid as a part-time student?

Part-time students can receive financial aid, but there are certain eligibility requirements they need to meet. Some factors that are taken into account when determining financial aid include:

  • You need to fill out a FAFSA form: Free Application for Federal Student Aid
  • Meet minimum credit hours: Usually six or more hours per semester
  • Some programs are income based
  • Some programs have minimum credit score requirements
  • Some financial aid packages are need based
  • You may need a cosigner
  • G.P.A may be considered
  • The school must be accredited
  • No adverse credit history for some student loans
When do I have to start paying back my part-time student loans?

Typically, most part-time student loans have a grace period. This may be six, nine, or occasionally twelve months after graduation. Once the grace period is up, you will need to start repaying your student loans. If you drop below half-time student status, you may be required to immediately start repaying your student loans with no grace period. Additionally, if you leave school, you may be required to start repaying your loans immediately as well.

Are there other ways to pay for part-time study besides student loans?

Some other ways to pay for part-time study besides student loans include:

  • Paid internships and work study programs
  • Working to pay for classes
  • Liquidating stocks and/or using your savings to pay for classes
  • Working for an employer who will pay for your education
  • Borrowing the money from friends or family
  • Earning a scholarship
  • Being awarded a grant to pay for school
  • Defer enrollment until you can afford to pay for classes
  • Consider an institutional loan directly from the school you will be attending
  • Look into alumni programs to help with graduate school costs
What’s the difference between a part-time student and a full-time student?

The definition of a part-time student and full-time student varies depending on who you ask. In terms of financial-aid and student loans, a full time student is someone who is enrolled in twelve or more credit hours per semester. A part-time student is someone who is enrolled in less than twelve credit hours per semester. Some institutions have their own specific definitions of what it means to be full-time and part-time and it can vary between undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Can you get a student loan if you’re studying less than half-time?

Most federal student loans require that students be enrolled in a minimum of half-time studies. However, you can still get a private student loan from some lenders, and unsecured personal loans are also an option. You can check out online lenders and make sure there aren’t any restrictions in place for educational purposes.

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Allison Bethell

Allison Bethell

Real Estate Expert

Allison has over 15 years of real estate experience, including sales, management, investing, and marketing. She also has more than seven years of content writing experience on a broad range of topics. She spends her time writing engaging, SEO friendly content, investing in real estate, traveling, and hanging out with...

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