//4 Lenders Offering Private Loans for Part-Time College Students

4 Lenders Offering Private Loans for Part-Time College Students

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.

4 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 four 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 studentloans@collegeave.com.

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. Wells Fargo

  • Fixed and variable interest rates
  • Borrow as little as $1,000
  • Defer payments until six months after finishing school
  • Repayment term options include 15 and 20 years
  • Receive up to 0.25% rate deduction for enrolling in autopay, plus additional discounts for opening qualified bank accounts
  • No application, origination or prepayment fees
  • Release your cosigner after 24 consecutive months of prompt payments

Eligibility fine print: You must be seeking a degree, certificate or license at a participating school.

4. 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, Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo, 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 2019!

Lender Variable APR Eligibility  
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* 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.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

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4.23% – 13.23%1 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Ascent

4.20% – 11.44%2 Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit CollegeAve

4.84% – 13.49%3 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

4.62% – 10.23%*,4 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

4.25% – 13.25%5 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SunTrust

5.85% – 6.99%6 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit LendKey

3.95% – 9.81%7 Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit CommonBond

4.45% – 12.42%8 Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit Citizens


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