Discover Student Loans Review

Discover offers a variety of specialized private student loans

We recommend the best products through an independent review process, and advertisers do not influence our picks. We may receive compensation if you visit partners we recommend. Read our advertiser disclosure for more info.

Discover

Discover

Investopedia’s Rating
4.3

Our Take

Discover offers a wide range of private student loan options, including loans for undergraduate, graduate, MBA, law school, health professions, residency, and bar exam students. Parents can also apply on their own, and graduates can work with the lender to refinance existing loans.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Variety of loan options available

  • Rewards for good grades and interest-only payments

  • No late fees

Cons
  • Only one repayment term available for in-school loans

  • No pre-qualification option

  • No co-signer release program

Key Takeaways
  • College students and their parents can take out student loans with Discover, with graduate students getting more specialized options.
  • Discover doesn’t offer pre-qualification.
  • Discover charges no fees whatsoever, not even late payment fees.
  • Discover offers three in-school repayment options but only one repayment term, which can vary by loan.
  • College students can enjoy discounts if they earn good grades and opt for interest-only payments while they're in school.
Company Overview

Discover started out as a credit card company but now also offers several financial products and services, including bank accounts, personal loans, mortgage loans, and student loans. The online bank doesn't have any physical branches, but it offers student loans in all 50 states. 

Discover has a good reputation for customer satisfaction, consistently ranking high in various J.D. Power satisfaction surveys. 

  • Year Founded 1985
  • Official Website www.discover.com
  • Loans Available Undergraduate, Graduate, Parent, Professional, Refinance
  • Customer Service Phone: (800) 788-3368

Discover Student Loans: Quick Look

Loan Type Variable APR  Fixed APR 
Undergraduate loa 5.87%–15.12% 5.49%–14.99%
Graduate loan  6.62%–16.72%  5.99%–15.99% 
Law school loan  6.62%–15.62%  5.99%–14.99% 
MBA school loan  6.87%–13.62%  5.99%–12.99% 
Health professions loan  6.62%–11.47%  5.99%–10.99% 
Residency loan  7.12%-10.12%  6.49%–9.49% 
Bar exam loan  7.62%–15.62%  6.99%–14.99% 
Parent loan  10.62%–15.87%  9.99%–14.99% 
Refinance loan  6.62%–10.37%  5.99%–10.49% 

Discover offers competitive rates, but it’s always wise to shop around and compare private student loan options and interest rates before settling on a lender. 

Pros Explained

  • Variety of loan options available: Instead of offering general graduate loans, Discover provides several specialty graduate and professional loans with varying interest rates, allowing MBA, law, and medical students to potentially save money on interest.
  • Rewards for good grades and interest-only payments: If you received a GPA of 3.0 or higher in high school, or in your undergraduate program if you're applying for graduate or professional loans, you may be eligible for a cash reward worth 1% of your loan balance. Additionally, students who opt to make interest-only payments while in school will get a 0.35% interest rate discount.
  • No late fees: It's common for private student loan companies to skip application and origination fees, but Discover goes the extra mile and waives late fees, too.

Cons Explained

  • Only one repayment term available for in-school loans: While other lenders may offer a range of repayment periods, Discover only offers 15 years for undergraduate and parent loans and 20 years for all other loans. Refinance borrowers can choose between 10 and 20 years.
  • No pre-qualification option: Many private student lenders allow you to get a rate quote with just a soft credit check, but Discover doesn't offer that feature; you'll need to submit an official application to get an offer that you can compare. That said, Discover's multi-year approval option does allow undergraduate students with a co-signer to get pre-qualified for future academic terms. 
  • No co-signer release program: If you need a co-signer to help you get approved for a loan, you'll need to refinance the loan later on to remove them from their obligation. With some other lenders, you can release a co-signer without refinancing if you meet certain criteria.

Student Loans Offered by Discover

Undergraduate Student Loans

Discover offers loans for undergraduate students with no fees, multi-year approval, and rewards for automatic payments, good grades in high school, and interest-only payments. Eligible students can borrow up to the total cost of attendance, but aggregate limits apply.

Terms for Undergraduate Loans
Variable APR 5.87%–15.12%
Fixed APR  5.49%–14.99% 
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 (aggregate limits apply). As with undergraduate loans, there are no fees, and you can enjoy rewards for automatic payments, good grades, and interest-only payments. 

Terms for Graduate Loans
Variable APR 6.62%–16.72%
Fixed APR  5.99%–15.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  20 years 

Law School Student Loans

Law school students can take advantage of law school loans to cover up to the total cost of attendance (aggregate limits apply). You'll get the same reward benefits as other Discover loans, as well as no fees.

Terms for Law School Loans
Variable APR 6.62%–15.62%
Fixed APR  5.99%–14.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  20 years 

MBA Student Loans

If you're planning to pursue a Master of Business Administration degree, you may be eligible for an MBA student loan.

Terms for MBA Loans
Variable APR 6.87%–13.62%
Fixed APR  5.99%–12.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  20 years 

Health Professions Student Loans

If you're participating or planning to participate in a program in allopathy, dentistry, nursing, occupational therapy, optometry, osteopathy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physicians assistant, podiatry, or veterinary medicine, you may be eligible for a Discover health professions loan.

Terms for Health Professions Student Loans
Variable APR 6.62%–11.47%
Fixed APR  5.99%–10.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  20 years 

Residency Loans

As a residency candidate in a qualifying health professions program, you can use a no-fee residency student loan to cover the cost of your residency, internship, relocation, and board exam review. Loan maximums are dependent on your field of study, and you can get an interest rate discount for automatic payments and interest-only payments during your residency program.

Terms for Residency Loans
Variable APR 7.12%–10.12%
Fixed APR  6.49%–9.49% 
Loan Amounts (allopathy, dentistry, optometry, osteopathy, pharmacy, podiatry, and veterinary medicine)  $1,000–$18,000 
Loan Amounts (nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant) $1,000–$5,000
Loan Terms  20 years

Bar Exam Loans

If you’ve graduated from law school in the past six months or you're in your final year of law school, you can use a bar exam student loan to cover the cost of your bar study prep classes and living expenses.

Terms for Bar Exam Loans
Variable APR 7.62%–15.62%
Fixed APR  6.99%–14.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 to $16,000 
Loan Terms  20 years 

Parent Loans

If you're a parent who wants to help your child get through school, you can take out a no-fee parent loan. Parents must begin making payments immediately but can benefit from an automatic payment discount. 

Terms for Parent Loans
Variable APR 10.62%–15.87%
Fixed APR  9.99%–14.99% 
Loan Amounts  $1,000 up to the total cost of attendance 
Loan Terms  15 years 

Refinance Loans

If you've graduated or you're a parent who wants to refinance parent loans, you can apply for Discover's no-fee consolidation loan. The loan offers a discount for automatic payments.

Terms for Refinance Loans
Variable APR 6.62%–10.37%
Fixed APR  5.99%–10.49% 
Loan Amounts  $5,000 to $150,000 or more for select fields of study 
Loan Terms  10 or 20 years 

Loan Eligibility and Approval

Discover offers private student loans and refinance loans to borrowers in all 50 states. To qualify for a private student loan, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be enrolled at least half-time in a bachelor’s or associate’s degree program (or another eligible program if you're pursuing a graduate, MBA, law, or health professions degree) at an eligible school.
  • You must intend 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 co-signer. 
  • You must be at least 16 years old at the time you apply. 
  • You must pass a credit check.

If you're applying for a consolidation loan, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a U.S.-based address.
  • Be 18 years or older at the time you apply.
  • Pass a credit check.
  • Have no more than $150,000 in aggregate student loan debt. Higher limits may apply for specific fields of study.
  • Have verifiable income sufficient to support your debts and show a positive repayment history.
  • Be the primary borrower on the loans you want to consolidate.

Are Co-Signers Required?

U.S. citizens and permanent residents are not required to have a co-signer if they can meet Discover's eligibility requirements on their own. If they can't, however, a creditworthy co-signer is required for approval. International students must have a creditworthy co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to qualify. Remember, though, that Discover does not offer a co-signer release program.

Is Loan Pre-Qualification Available?

Discover does not offer a general pre-qualification option for interested borrowers. However, undergraduate students can get pre-qualified for future loan needs with the lender's multi-year approval feature.

Length of Time for Loan Approval and Disbursement

Loan approval for private student loans can vary, but once Discover submits your application to your school for certification, it typically takes three to five weeks before loans are disbursed to the school. 

You can check the status of your application by using the access code Discover provides when you begin the application process.

If you apply for a consolidation loan, it can take 30 to 45 days to process your application. Once approved, Discover will pay off your existing loans directly. 

Loan Fees and Repayment Options

Loan Fees

Discover does not charge any loan fees on its private student loans or consolidation loans; that includes no late fees.

Loan Discounts

Discover offers a 0.25% interest rate discount if you set up automatic payments. For in-school loans, students can also take advantage of a 0.35% interest rate discount if they choose the interest-only payment plan while they're in school.

Repayment Options

Discover offers several repayment options on its private student loans:

  • Interest-only payments: You'll pay only the amount of interest that accrues each month while you remain in school and during the six-month grace period after you graduate or after your enrollment drops below half-time.
  • Fixed payments: You'll make a fixed $25 monthly payment while you're in school and during your six-month grace period, after which you'll make full principal-and-interest payments.
  • Deferred payments: You won't be required to make full payments until six months after you graduate or your enrollment drops below half-time.
  • Full payments: After your six-month grace period you’ll be required to make full principal-and-interest payments.

Parent loans and refinance loans only have the option to make immediate principal-and-interest payments.

Rewards

Discover offers a cash reward for good grades worth 1% of your disbursed loan. For undergraduate loans, you can qualify if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your cumulative high school GPA is at least 3.0. 
  • You are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • You submitted an application for a Discover undergraduate loan for your freshman year on or after May 1, 2020, and were approved and accepted the loan.
  • The loan you accepted is your first loan with Discover. If you previously refunded a loan, you will not be eligible for the high school reward. Note: If you apply for and are approved for multiple loans, you will be eligible to receive the reward on only the first loan you accept.
  • The first disbursement on your eligible student loan has been sent to your school.
  • You redeem your reward after accepting your loan and within six months of the loan’s first disbursement. 

Graduate students can get the reward if they meet certain criteria, including:

  • Your GPA for any academic term covered by the loan is at least a 3.0 (or equivalent).
  • You submitted an application for a Discover undergraduate, health professions, law, MBA, or graduate loan on or after May 1, 2014, and received the loan.
  • There are no pending disbursements on your eligible student loan.
  • You redeem your reward within six months after the academic term covered by the loan has ended or six months after the loan's final disbursement, whichever is later. Note: If the loan covers multiple academic terms, you may only redeem your reward after the end of the final academic term covered by the loan.

Undergraduate students can qualify for one reward on their undergraduate loans and another on their graduate loans. Good grade rewards are considered taxable income, and you'll receive a 1099-MISC, which you'll use to claim the reward on your tax return.

Loan Forbearance and Discharge Options

If you’re facing 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.

Additionally, you may be able to defer your monthly payments if you're performing active-duty military service (up to three years), performing public service for an eligible organization (up to three years), or entering a health professions residency program (up to five years).

The lender will forgive your debt if the primary borrower dies or becomes permanently disabled.

Is Student Loan Refinancing Available?

Discover offers refinance loans with interest rates ranging based on creditworthiness. Loan terms are 10 or 20 years based on your creditworthiness. A degree is not required to get approved.

Private parent loans, post-graduate loans such as bar exam and residency loans, international loans, and loans taken out while the student attended school less than half-time are not eligible for consolidation. Additionally, parents can't transfer student debt to their child with a Discover consolidation loan.

Refinancing federal student loans will result in you losing access to certain benefits, including student loan forgiveness programs, income-driven repayment plans, and generous forbearance and deferment options.

Customer Service

In 2021, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau received 58 student loan-related complaints about Discover. In general, though, Discover has earned awards for its customer service efforts from analysts like J.D. Power.

Discover’s student loan specialists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach them by calling (800) 788-3368, or by secure message through your account. 

Applying for a Discover Student Loan 

Before applying for a private student loan through Discover, make sure to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) 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 from a computer, smartphone, or other device. According to Discover, the process takes minutes to complete. 

If you have a co-signer, you both need to fill out a separate application; you will provide your co-signer with a key to begin their 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 the information, Discover will review your application. In some cases, a representative may reach out to you to ask for additional documentation, which you can upload securely via the website, before they can make a decision. 

Alternative Choices

  Discover PNC  Sallie Mae 
Loan Types Offered Undergraduate; graduate; parent; professional Undergraduate; graduate; professional Undergraduate; graduate; medical; technical; bootcamp
Undergraduate Fixed APR  5.49%–14.99%  4.49%–12.24%  4.50%–14.83% 
Undergraduate Variable APR  5.87%–15.12%  5.14%–12.89%  5.37%–15.70% 
Origination/Administrative Fee  None  None  None 
Repayment Options  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; interest-only; full payment  Deferment; fixed; interest-only; full payment 
Refinancing Available  Yes  Yes  No 

Final Verdict

Discover offers a variety of private student loan options and provides borrowers with the chance to get two interest rate discounts, and even a cash reward for good grades. And once you're in repayment, the lender offers fairly generous forbearance and deferment options. However, repayment terms don't provide a lot of flexibility, and some of the lender's interest rates can be high, so make sure to use up all federal loan options first and compare Discover student loans with other private lenders before you move forward.

Compare Discover’s student loans with the top lenders in the industry with our picks for the best student loans.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Discover. "Student loans with great rates."

  2. Discover. "Discover’s Credit Card Mobile App and Website Both Rank Highest in Customer Satisfaction by J.D. Power."

  3. Discover. "Rewards for Good Grades."

  4. Discover. "Interest-Only Repayment Option Rate Discount Terms and Conditions."

  5. Discover. "Graduate Student Loans."

  6. Discover. "Parent Student Loans." 

  7. Discover. "Undergraduate Student Loans."

  8. Discover. "Consolidate your student loans." 

  9. Discover. "Multi-Year Option."

  10. Discover. "Application Help."

  11. Discover. "College loans for international students."

  12. Discover. "What Do I Do If I Can’t Make My Student Loan Payments?"

  13. Discover. "Deferment Options for Your Discover Student Loans."

  14. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Consumer Complaint Database." 

  15. Discover. "Cosign a student loan."

  16. Discover. "Let's get started."