Discover Student Loans Review

See if Discover student loan rates are right for your education

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Discover student loans

While Discover is best known as one of the main credit card issuers in the U.S., it also offers several other banking and credit products. This includes Discover student loans, which provide education-related funding for a range of borrowers, from undergraduates currently in school to those who have graduated and are now repaying student debt.

Discover offers several private student loan options for borrowers earning degrees of all kinds, from an associate’s up to a medical or law degree. It even offers funding after graduation, with medical internship and residency and bar exam study loans, as well as a student loan consolidation option. Discover student loans might be a good fit for you if you typically get good grades (above a 3.0 GPA) and want to get rewarded for them, want multi-year preapproval and a lender that offers repayment assistance and protections, may need to defer student loans, are an international student who needs to borrow for college (with a co-signer), or are a law or medical student seeking funding for your bar exam study period or residency.

  • Pros and Cons
  • Undergraduate Loans
  • Graduate Loans
  • Postgraduate Bar Exam and Medical Residency Loans
  • Student Loan Consolidation
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Borrow up to full college costs

  • Allows co-signers

  • Flexible in-school options

  • Grace period before full repayment

  • Forbearance and deferment options

  • Rewards for good grades

  • Pre-qualify for future student loans

  • No loan fees

  • International students may apply


Cons
  • No soft credit checks or rate quotes

  • No co-signer release

  • Limited repayment terms

  • No parent-only student loans

Undergraduate Loans
  • Fixed APR range: 4.24% to 12.39% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Variable APR range: 1.24% to 10.99% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Loan amount: $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 15 years
Graduate Loans

Graduate

  • Fixed APR range: 4.49% to 12.99% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Variable APR range: 1.99% to 12.49% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Loan amount: $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 20 years

MBA

  • Fixed APR range: 4.49% to 10.74% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Variable APR range: 1.99% to 9.99% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Loan amount: $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 20 years

Health Professions

  • Fixed APR range: 4.49% to 9.49% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Variable APR range: 1.99% to 7.14% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Loan amount: $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 20 years

Law

  • Fixed APR range: 4.49% to 9.49% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Variable APR range: 1.99% to 8.37% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
  • Loan amount: $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
  • Loan terms: 20 years
Postgraduate Bar Exam and Medical Residency Loans

Bar Exam

  • Fixed APR range: 7.24% to 12.74% (with autopay discount)
  • Variable APR range: 6.24% to 11.99% (with autopay discount)
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $16,000
  • Loan terms: 20 years

Medical Residency

  • Fixed APR range: 6.74% to 8.74% (with autopay discount)
  • Variable APR range: 5.24% to 7.99% (with autopay discount) 
  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $18,000
  • Loan terms: 20 years
Student Loan Consolidation
  • Fixed APR range: 3.99% to 7.74% (with autopay discount)
  • Variable APR range: 2.37% to 6.12% (with autopay discount)
  • Loan amount: $5,000 minimum, maximum limits vary per field of study
  • Loan terms: 10 to 20 years

Pros of Discover Loans

  • Borrow up to full college costs: Discover can provide student loans up to the full cost of attendance for a college or graduate program.
  • Allows co-signers: Applicants who may not meet credit requirements on their own can apply with a qualified co-signer to improve their chance of approval. Adding a co-signer could also help you qualify for lower rates. 
  • Flexible in-school options: Students have three repayment options on Discover student loans while they’re in school. They can fully defer payments until enrollment ends. They can also choose to make limited payments while still a student, selecting either interest-only or fixed $25 monthly payments.
  • Grace period before full repayment: The in-school payment will carry through a six- or nine-month grace period after enrollment ends. 
  • Forbearance and deferment options: Discover student loans come with several options to pause payments when needed. Borrowers can defer payments while they’re in school, on active military duty, completing public service, or in a medical residency program. Forbearance is also offered in cases of unemployment, medical disability, financial hardship, or excessive student loan burden.
  • Rewards for good grades: Students can get a one-time cash reward for good grades equal to 1% of their Discover student loan amount. To qualify, they must earn a GPA of at least 3.0 for the term that the student loan helped pay for.
  • Pre-qualify for future student loans: Once approved, borrowers with a co-signer may be pre-approved to borrow Discover student loans in the future (for the same degree work and same school) without needing to re-apply.
  • No loan fees: Discover student loans come with no fees. You won’t pay an application fee, origination fee, prepayment penalty, or even a fee for late payments.
  • International students may apply: Discover can accept applications from international students. To qualify, these international students will need a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident to act as their co-signer.

Cons of Discover Loans

  • No soft credit checks or rate quotes: Many student lenders will offer a soft credit check that applicants can use to pre-qualify for a loan and see rate estimates, without affecting their credit. Discover, however, doesn’t offer any pre-qualifications or rate quotes. You’ll need to complete a full application, including a hard credit check.
  • No co-signer release: A co-signer release allows a borrower to apply to have his or her co-signer removed from the loan. Discover student loans don’t offer a co-signer release, so there’s no way to remove one while the loan is still in repayment.
  • Limited repayment terms: Discover only offers a 15-year repayment period to undergraduates, while student loans for graduate students come with 20-year repayment terms. 
  • No parent-only student loans: While it offers lending for undergraduates and several options for various graduate programs, Discover doesn’t provide a parent-only student loan. These are student loans that parents can take out on behalf of their child to fund that child’s education.

What Does Discover Offer?

College students and graduates may be interested in Discover student loans for undergraduate and graduate programs, or for refinancing student debt.

Discover offers the following types of student loans:

  • Undergraduate
  • Graduate
  • Postgraduate
  • Loan consolidation

Undergraduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

Loan Amount $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR 4.24% to 12.39% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
Variable APR 1.24% to 10.99% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
Terms Available 15 years
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 6 months
Origination Fee None

Discover undergraduate student loans come with competitive rates and no origination fees. It stands out due to robust borrower protections. Discover borrowers can pause payments for life events, from re-enrolling in college to entering the military or losing a job. If you plan to apply with a student loan co-signer, keep in mind that Discover doesn’t provide an option to release them from the loan. The minimum to borrow is also low, but there’s only one repayment term of 15 years available.

The Discover undergraduate student loan only offers a 15-year term. Use a payment calculator, such as this one from Discover, to understand if it results in affordable payments that fit your budget.

Graduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

Loan Amount $1,000, up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR 4.49% to 12.99% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
Variable APR 1.99% to 12.49% (with interest-only repayment and autopay discounts)
Terms Available 20 years
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 9 months
Origination Fee None

There are four total student loans for graduate students: One general graduate student loan, along with loans for MBAs, health professions, and law degrees. These loans have similar features and terms, although the offerings and requirements are specific to each unique program.

The 20-year loan repayment term keeps borrowing costs low by stretching payments out, but we’d like to have seen more term options for graduate school borrowers.

Discover graduate student loans have one of the longer grace periods offered from private lenders, and at nine months, it even beats the six months provided on federal student loans. 

Postgraduate Student Loan Rates & Terms

Loan Amounts $1,000 to $16,000 for bar exam
$1,000 to $18,000 for medical residency
Fixed APR for Bar Exam 7.24% to 12.74% (with autopay discount)
Variable APR for Bar Exam 6.24% to 11.99% (with autopay discount)
Fixed APR for Medical Residency 6.74% to 8.74% (with autopay discount)
Variable APR for Medical Residency 5.24% to 7.99% (with autopay discount) 
Terms Available 20 years
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period 9 months after graduation
Origination Fee None

Discover offers two loans that can help recent graduates transition from earning professional degrees to launching their careers: A bar exam study loan and a medical residency loan. These loans can help cover additional costs of studying for the bar exam or completing a medical residency, including program fees, prep classes, and moving and living expenses.

Student Loan Consolidation Rates & Terms

Loan Amount $5,000 minimum, maximum limits vary per field of study
Fixed APR 3.99% to 7.74% (with autopay discount)
Variable APR 2.37% to 6.12% (with autopay discount)
Terms Available 10 to 20 years
Recommended Minimum Credit Score Not disclosed
Grace Period Earlier ones not honored
Origination Fee None

Discover student loan consolidation will repay existing student loans of your choice with a new student loan, which can give you the chance to secure lower interest rates and simplify repayment. You can refinance up to $150,000 in student loans, though Discover may refinance more—up to the full balance—for specific fields of study.

If you refinance student loans with Discover while they’re in a grace period, you will lose that benefit. Repayment will begin 30 to 45 days after your new student loan is disbursed.

How to Get a Student Loan From Discover

Discover accepts applications from international students (with a qualifying co-signer). It also will lend to students as young as 16, though student loan refinancing has a minimum age of 18 years.

You can apply for a Discover student loan by visiting Discover.com and clicking “Apply Now” on the page of the private student loan of your choice.

In order to add a co-signer, you’ll need to submit your student loan application. You’ll then get an access code to send to your co-signer so that they can complete their portion of the student loan application.

Repaying Your Discover Student Loan

You’ll need to start repaying your Discover student loan once the initial grace period is up, or within a few weeks for refinanced student loans. Discover will be your student loan servicer and should provide you with all the necessary details to make payments.

Discover also offers an autopay discount, which is common among most lenders, but called the “Auto Debit Reward” by Discover. This gives borrowers a discount of 0.25% off their interest rate if they make automated payments that meet the lender’s terms and conditions. 

As mentioned, Discover allows borrowers to pause payments for a wide range of reasons. On top of that, Discover student loan borrowers can request other forms of repayment assistance, including:

  • Early repayment assistance for borrowers who need a little more time if their grace period is up
  • Reduced payments that drop the minimum monthly payment to $50 for six months
  • A temporary decrease in the student loan interest rate for six months in cases of extreme hardship
Final Verdict

These loans come with a solid set of repayment assistance and protections to help borrowers who face financial hardship or need to pause payments. Discover also provides a wider selection of loans than most tailored to graduate students, including its bar exam and medical residency loans.

Still, applicants will have options limited in some key ways if they choose Discover student loans. With no preapproval or rate quotes, it can be tricky to know if Discover student loans will offer you a better deal than other lenders. Additionally, having just a single loan term available for most loans gives you less control over monthly payments. There’s also no co-signer release as with many other lenders.

Overall, Discover student loans and its consolidation program are solid options that can provide affordable funding for students in school, recent graduates, and borrowers repaying student debt. Applicants should still compare options and consider their specific situation and goals to guide them to the best student loan.

Article Sources

The Balance 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. "What Are My Repayment Options?" Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  2. Discover. "Repaying Student Loans 101." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  3. Discover. "Rewards for Good Grades." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  4. Discover. "Undergraduate Student Loans." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  5. Discover. "Graduate Student Loans." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.

  6. Discover. "Repayment Assistance Options." Accessed Aug. 14, 2020.