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To qualify for student loans, you typically need to be enrolled at least half time at your school. This often means taking at least six credits per semester.
So if you’re a part-time student, you might still be eligible for part-time student loans depending on how many credits you’ve signed up for and what type of loan you want to take out.
Here’s what you should know about part-time student loans:
- 8 part-time student loans to consider
- How to take out student loans as a part-time student
- Federal student loans as a part-time student
- What is the difference between a part-time and full-time student?
- What happens to your student loans if you drop below half-time?
8 part-time student loans to consider
If you’re enrolled at least half time, you might be eligible for federal student loans or private student loans — though keep in mind that you’ll typically need to meet other qualifying criteria, too.
Here are Credible’s partner lenders that offer private student loans to part-time students:
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan amounts||Loan terms (years)||Cosigners allowed|
|4.48%+10||5.98%+10||$2,001 to $400,000||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20|
(depending on loan type)
|4.43%+1||6.02%+||$1,000 to $350,000|
(depending on degree)
|5, 10, 15||Yes|
||5.09%+2,3||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||5, 8, 10, 15, 20||Yes|
|3.65%+||6.14%+||$1,000 to $99,999 annually |
($180,000 aggregate limit)
|7, 10, 15||Yes|
|6.25%+7||7.96%+7||$1,000 to $200,000||7, 10, 15||Yes|
|4.37%+8||6.85%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||5, 10, 15||Yes|
|4.89%+||N/A||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school’s certified cost of attendance |
(depending on school type and minus other aid received)
|4.50%9 - 14.83%9||5.99%9 - 16.33%9||$1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance||10 to 20||Yes|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 11Custom Choice Disclosures | 6Discover Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Ascent offers part-time student loans only for its credit-based loans. If you’re enrolled at least half time and have either good credit or a creditworthy cosigner, you might be able to borrow $2,001 to $400,000 with Ascent.
Citizens offers student loans from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the degree and loan type.
You could also qualify for a 0.25% loyalty rate discount if you already have an account with Citizens — and could get another 0.25% off your rate if you sign up for autopay.
College Ave is one of the few private lenders that will work with borrowers who are enrolled at less-than-half-time status. It also has a low minimum borrowing requirement of $1,000, which means you can likely borrow only what you need to cover one or two classes.
The Custom Choice Loan is available from $1,000 to $99,999 annually ($180,000 aggregate limit) with a three- or five-year term. You can use funds to cover past due balances.
Plus, if you graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree, you could get a 2% principal reduction on your loan.
You’ll typically need very good to excellent credit (or a cosigner with this type of credit) to qualify for a student loan from EDvestinU.
If you’re enrolled at least half time and meet EDvestinU’s other requirements, you might be able to borrow $1,000 up to your school’s cost of attendance. Plus, you could get 0.25% off your rate if you sign up for autopay.
INvestED loans are available only to students enrolled at least half time who are living or going to college in Indiana.
There are mo application, origination, or disbursement fees if you take out a student loan with INvestEd — but there is a 0.25% rate discount if you sign up for automatic payments.
MEFA could be a good choice if you’re partway through your degree or plan to start attending school full time later on. This is because MEFA allows borrowers to defer their loans for up to five years while they’re still in school.
Sallie Mae is another lender that allows borrowers to be enrolled less than half time.
However, keep in mind that you’ll need to be enrolled at least half time if you want to use a Sallie Mae loan to cover personal expenses on top of school tuition and fees. With Sallie Mae, you can borrow $1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance.
Learn More: How to Get a Student Loan for Online College
How to take out student loans as a part-time student
If you decide to take out student loans as a part-time student, follow these four steps:
- Fill out the FAFSA. To apply for federal student loans and other federal aid, you’ll need to complete theFree Application For Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). How much you qualify for in federal student loans will depend on your financial information, enrollment status, dependency status, and what year you are in school.
- Take any scholarships or grants first. You might qualify for school-specific college scholarships or grants through the FAFSA. Unlike student loans, you won’t have to worry about repaying these types of financial aid. You can also find scholarships and grants elsewhere — such as through local or national businesses or nonprofit organizations.
- Opt for federal loans next. If you still need to borrow money to cover your school expenses, federal student loans are usually a good place to start. This is because federal student loans come with federal benefits and protections, including access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs. Your school will let you know what federal student loans you’re eligible for after you submit the FAFSA.
- Use private loans to fill the gaps. If you’ve exhausted your scholarship, grant, and federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill any financial gaps left over. A private student loan is also likely your only student loan option if you’re enrolled less than half time.
If you’re struggling to get approved, another option is to apply with a cosigner. Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.
No matter if you take out federal or private student loans, be sure to consider how much the loans will cost you over time. This way, you can plan for any added expenses. You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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Federal student loans as a part-time student
If you’re attending school on at least a half-time basis, you might be eligible for federal student loans.
This generally means signing up for at least six credits per semester, though your school might have its own definition of half time.
Your school will use your enrollment status to calculate your cost of attendance, which helps determine how much you might be able to borrow in federal loans.
Just keep in mind that if you drop below half-time status, you’ll no longer be eligible for federal student loans.
Learn More: Summer Financial Aid and Student Loans for Summer School
What is the difference between a part-time and full-time student?
Whether you’re a part-time or full-time student generally depends on how many credits you’ve signed up for. Here’s how students are usually classified:
- Full-time students:Typically means you’ve signed up for at least 12 credit hours
- Half-time students: Typically means you’ve signed up for at least six credit hours
- Less-than-half-time students: Usually means you’ve signed up for five or fewer credit hours
Less-than-half-time students generally have fewer student loan options in comparison, as they aren’t eligible for federal student loans and most private student loans.
While being a part-time student might limit your student loan or financial aid options, it also comes with its own benefits. For example:
- You’ll likely have more time for family, which can be important for adult learners.
- You might have more time for a part-time or even full-time job.
- You won’t need as much money to pay for school.
- A part-time course load can be more sustainable for your physical and mental well-being, especially if schoolwork isn’t your forte.
Check Out: How to Get a Student Loan With No Credit Check
What happens to your student loans if you drop below half-time?
For most federal and private student loans, dropping below half-time status generally means you’ll have to begin repaying your loans.
Before you drop any classes, make sure to double-check how it will affect your enrollment status and whether you’ll need to start making student loan payments.
Also keep in mind that some student loans don’t offer a grace period, which means you might have to start making payments right away.
Make sure to check with your school to see what counts as half-time status. Then contact your servicer or lender so you know when to begin repayment.
If you decide to take out private student loans to pay for school as a part-time student, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.
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