Discover is one of the top credit card issuers in the country. However, Discover offers a wide range of other financial products, including private student loans for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, health profession, law, residency, and bar exam students.

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Depending on your program, you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, making Discover a good choice when you need money to finish your degree. The lender also offers forbearance options—a rarity for private lenders—and rewards for good grades and graduating from your selected program.

But Discover has limited repayment terms, and may not be the right lender for everyone. Here’s what you need to know about Discover student loans to make an informed decision.

Pros
  • No origination, application, or late fees

  • Forbearance available in cases of financial hardship

  • Good grade and graduation rewards

Cons
  • Discover only offers one repayment term

  • No prequalification available

  • No co-signer release offered

Discover Student Loans Available

Undergraduate Student Loans

If you’re an undergraduate student and need additional financing to pay for school, Discover’s undergraduate loans can help fill the gap. Eligible students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and can pre-qualify for future loans with multi-year approval. Undergraduate loans have no application, origination, or late fees, and there are no prepayment penalties if you decide to pay off your loan early.

Variable Rates 1.87% - 11.62%
Fixed Rates 4.49% - 12.39%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 15 years

Graduate Student Loans

If you’re pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree, you can take out a graduate student loan to cover up to the total cost of attendance. Like undergraduate loans, there are no application, origination, or late fees, and no prepayment penalties.

Variable Rates 2.62% - 11.99%
Fixed Rates 4.99% - 12.39%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 20 years

MBA Loans

If you intend to go to business school or are pursuing an MBA, you may be eligible for an MBA student loan. With a zero-fee MBA loan, you can apply online in as little as 15 minutes, and borrow up to the total cost of attendance.

Variable Rates 2.62% - 10.62%
Fixed Rates 4.99% - 10.74%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 20 years

Health Professions Loans

Health profession student loans are for graduate students in allopathy, dentistry, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, osteopathy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant, podiatry, or veterinary medicine. The loans have no application, origination, or late fees, and there are no prepayment penalties.

Variable Rates 2.62% - 7.77%
Fixed Rates 4.99% - 7.99%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 20 years

Law School Loans

Graduate students in law school can take out law school student loans to pay for their education. These no-fee loans allow you to borrow up to the total cost of attendance, and you can choose an interest rate type and repayment option that works for you.

Variable Rates 2.62% - 7.77%
Fixed Rates 4.99% - 9.49%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance
Loan Terms 20 years

Residency Loans

As a residency candidate in medical school, you can use a residency student loan to cover the cost of your residency, internship, relocation costs, and board exam review. Loan maximums are dependent on your field of study, and loan terms are set at 20 years.

Variable Rates 5.74% - 8.50%
Fixed Rates 6.99% - 8.99%
Loan Amounts (Allopathy, Dentistry, Optometry, Osteopathy, Pharmacy, Podiatry, Veterinary Medicine) $1,000 up to $18,000
Loan Amounts (Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant) $1,000 to $5,000
Loan Terms 20 years

Bar Exam Loans

If you’re preparing to take the bar exam, you can use a bar exam student loan to cover the cost of your bar study prep classes and living expenses. You can borrow up to $16,000, and there are no application, origination, or late payment fees.

Variable Rates 6.74% - 11.99%
Fixed Rates 7.74% - 12.39%
Loan Amounts $1,000 up to $16,000
Loan Terms 20 years

Loan Eligibility

To qualify for a student loan from Discover, you must meet the following criteria: 

  • You must be enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program (or other eligible program if pursuing a graduate, MBA, law, or health professions degree) at an eligible school.
  • You must be intending to get a degree. 
  • You must make satisfactory academic progress as defined by your college. 
  • You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible international student with a qualifying cosigner. 
  • You must be at least 16 years old at the time you apply. 
  • You must pass a credit check. 

Discover does not disclose its minimum credit score or income requirements. However, you’ll generally need good credit to qualify for any private student loan.

Is Loan Prequalification Available?

Unfortunately, Discover doesn’t offer loan prequalification.

Some private student loan lenders offer loan prequalification, a tool where you can answer a few basic questions and get an informal decision from the lender. It can give you an idea of whether or not you’d get approved for a loan and what your interest rate would be without having to submit a full application or undergoing a credit check, which can impact your credit score.

To find out if you qualify for a Discover student loan, you have to submit an application and go through a hard credit inquiry.

Loan Fees

Unlike some other lenders, Discover charges no fees at all. It has no application fees, origination fees, or late fees. And, it doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so there’s no downside to paying off your student loans early. 

Loan Discounts 

Discover offers auto debit rewards. If you sign up for automatic withdrawals for your minimum monthly payment, Discover will reduce your interest rate by 0.25 percentage points.

If you agree to make interest-only payments while in school, you’ll also qualify for a 0.35 percentage-point discount.

Repayment Options

Discover offers three loan repayment options: 

  1. In-School Interest-Only: While you’re still in school and during the six months after graduation, you’re required to make interest-only monthly payments. By doing so, you’ll qualify for a 0.35 percentage-point interest rate discount. 
  2. In-School Fixed: While you’re in school and during the six months after graduation, you’re required to make fixed payments of $25 per month. 
  3. Deferred: If you prefer, you can defer making any payments until six months after you graduate. 

Rewards

There are two possible rewards you can receive: 

  • Good Grades: If you earn at least a 3.0 GPA (or its equivalent), you’ll get a one-time cash reward on each Discover student loan you have. The award is equal to 1% of the loan amount, so if you have a $10,000 student loan, you’d get a $100 reward. 
  • Graduation: If you graduate from your degree program less than six years after the loan’s disbursement, you may qualify for a Graduation Reward that is equal to 2% of your outstanding loan balance. If your loan balance was $10,000 when you graduated from college, you’d get $200. 

Discover is one of the few lenders that offers multi-year approval. With this option, eligible borrowers can pre-qualify for future undergraduate loans to cover the rest of their education needs. When it comes time to take out your next loan, you can use a pre-filled application, and there’s no impact to your credit. 

Are Cosigners Required? 

With Discover, cosigners aren’t required. However, many students lack an established credit history or sufficient income to qualify for a student loan on their own. If that’s the case, asking a friend or relative with good credit and steady income to cosign your loan application can help you qualify for a loan and secure a competitive interest rate. 

Forbearance and Loan Discharge Options

If you’re facing a financial hardship, such as losing your job, you may qualify for forbearance options with Discover. Depending on your situation, you could postpone making payments for up to 12 months, or Discover could lower your interest rate to make your monthly payment more affordable.

Not all private student loan lenders offer forbearance options, so it’s important to check into hardship programs before submitting a loan application. 

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

Once you send in your information, it can take three to five business days for Discover to process your documents. If approved, it can take up to five weeks before your loan is disbursed.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available? 

Discover offers student loan refinancing for both federal and private student loans. You can refinance between $5,000 and $150,000 in student loan debt. Both fixed and variable-rate loans are available. 

Customer Service

Your student loan servicer is important; it’s who you go to if you have questions or issues about your account or payments.

According to the Annual Report of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Student Loan Ombudsman, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau handled approximately 2,900 consumer complaints about private student loans from September 1, 2018 through August 31, 2019. Out of those complaints, 115—or about 5%—were about Discover. 

That said, Discover’s student loan specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can reach them by calling 1-800-788-3368, by secure message through your account, or by faxing 1-224-813-5195. 

Applying for a Discover Student Loan

Before applying for a private student loan through Discover or another lender, make sure you submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and exhaust all of your federal financial aid options. If you still need help paying for school, then you can move forward with your private loan application.

You can apply for a Discover student loan over the phone or online. According to Discover, the application typically takes about 15 minutes to complete. 

If you have a cosigner, you both need to fill out a separate application.

To complete the application, you’ll need: 

  • Your Social Security number
  • Selected school information, including field of study
  • Loan amount requested
  • Expected financial aid
  • Financial information, including rent or mortgage payments and income
  • Permanent address and in-school address (if applicable)

Once you submit your information, Discover will review your application. In some cases, a representative may reach out to you to ask you to submit additional documentation before they can make a decision. Once they do approve you for a loan, it can take three to five weeks for your loan to be disbursed. 

Paying for College

When it comes to paying for college, it’s a good idea to use all of the scholarships, grants, and federal financial aid available to you first before turning to private student loans.

Discover does offer flexible repayment options, allowing you to defer payments until you graduate. And, it allows borrowers experiencing financial hardships to enter into forbearance and postpone their payments. However, you may find other lenders that offer more repayment terms that meet your needs, so it’s a good idea to shop around and look at multiple private student loan lenders to find the best one for you.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected over forty five data points across more than fifteen lenders including interest rates, fees, loan amounts and repayment terms to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.