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Pharmacy school generally requires four years of school beyond undergraduate education. The average pharmacy school debt was $179,514 in 2020, according to estimates from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Graduating Student Survey. With such a long and costly program, you may be considering how to cover the cost of pharmacy school.
Here are 10 of the best private student loans for pharmacy school, and some other tips to reduce your education expenses:
- 10 best student loans for pharmacy school
- How to pay for pharmacy school
- Student loan forgiveness for pharmacists
- Student loan repayment for pharmacists
- Is it worth it to go to pharmacy school?
10 best student loans for pharmacy school
With so many student loan options available, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one. The following eight lenders are Credible partners that offer private student loans for pharmacy school:
|Lender||Fixed Rates From (APR)||Variable Rates From (APR)||Loan amounts||Loan terms|
|4.53%+10||6.16%+10||$2,001* - $400,000||5, 7, 10, 12, 15, or 20 years (depending on loan type)|
|4.99%+1||6.37%+||$1,000 - $350,000 (depending on degree)||5, 10, or 15 years|
||5.59%+2,3||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||5, 8, 10, 15, or 20 years|
|4.43%+||5.39%+||$1,000 to $99,999 annually ($180,000 aggregate limit)||7, 10, or 15 years|
|6.25%+7||8.13%+7||$1,000 - $200,000||7, 10, or 15 years|
|4.6%+8||7.64%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||5, 10, or 15 years|
|5.35%+||N/A||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school’s certified cost of attendance (depending on school type and minus other aid received)||10 or 15 years|
|4.50%9 - 15.49%9||6.37%9 - 16.70%9||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||10 to 15 years|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | Read our full methodology | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 11Custom Choice Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Ascent offers both fixed and variable rates. The lender has five-, seven- 10-, 12-, 15- and 20-year repayment terms, and you won’t pay any application, origination, or disbursement fees.
Citizens offers graduate student loans with fixed interest rates and flexible repayment plans. You can borrow up to 100% of your cost of attendance. For PharmD degrees, the maximum loan amount is $350,000. Citizens offers discounts for autopay and loyalty.
College Ave offers graduate student loans for pharmacy school and other areas of study. Loans come with either fixed or variable rates. You can choose from flexible repayment options such as interest-only or flat $25 monthly payments. You can choose a five-, eight-, 10-, or 15-year repayment term, and you’ll be able to borrow up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance, minus other aid received.
Custom Choice offers a 2% reduction of your principal when you show proof of graduation, and it also has a 0.25% discount for automatic payments. If you have a cosigner, you can release them after 36 consecutive on-time payments. However, Custom Choice has a cumulative maximum loan amount of $180,000, which may not be sufficient for all pharmacy students.
EdvestinU is a nonprofit organization. You can borrow up to 100% of your cost of attendance, with a maximum borrowing amount of $200,000. EdvestinU offers both fixed and variable rates, and seven-, 10-, and 15-year repayment plans.
While INvestEd only services students from Indiana and those attending Indiana schools, it’s worth considering if you qualify. The lender has repayment terms of five, 10, and 15 years, and offers flexible repayment options. The lender has no application, origination, or disbursement fees, and it has a 0.25% autopay discount.
MEFA offers graduate student loans with fixed interest rates up to the certified cost of attendance. You won’t pay any fees with a MEFA loan, and you’ll have access to multiple payment options, so you can choose the best one for your situation. However, MEFA only offers a 15-year repayment term for graduate students.
Sallie Mae is one of the top names in student loans and offers a wide variety of graduate student loans. The Sallie Mae Graduate School Loan for Health Professions — which includes pharmacy — offers both fixed and variable rates, loans for 100% of school-certified expenses, flexible repayment terms, and deferment during any internships or fellowships.
Credible makes it easy to compare student loan rates from multiple lenders, all in one place.
Other lenders to consider
The following two lenders are not Credible partners, so you won’t be able to easily compare your rate with them on the Credible platform. But they may also be worth considering if you’re looking for a loan for pharmacy school.
With Discover, you can pay for up to 100% of school-certified costs with either fixed or variable rates. The lender has no application, origination, or late fees, and offers a one-time cash reward of 1% of your loan amount when you maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.
Earnest offers graduate student loans with no fees, and the lender allows you to skip a payment once per year. Earnest has both fixed and variable rates and a longer deferment period of nine months after graduation.
Learn More: When You Should Apply for a Student Loan
Credible evaluated private student loan lenders in 10 different categories to determine the best lenders for graduate student loans. This included interest rates, repayment options, terms, fees, discounts, customer service availability, as well as eligibility requirements and cosigner release options.[/basic-box]
How to pay for pharmacy school
Pharmacy school comes with a hefty price tag, leaving many students wondering how to foot the bill. Take these five steps to pay for pharmacy school:
- Fill out the FAFSA. Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in qualifying for federal financial aid. On your FAFSA, you’ll provide financial information to help the federal government, state governments, and your school determine your financial need.
- Apply for scholarships and grants. Scholarships and grants are a great place to start when looking for help paying for pharmacy school since both are free money. They don’t have to be repaid after you graduate, the way loans do. You can find thousands of scholarships online, including many specifically designed to help students pay for pharmacy school.
- Explore employer tuition assistance. When you join the workforce, it’s worth exploring whether your company offers any form of tuition assistance. Many companies offer this type of assistance as an employee benefit and will pay up to a certain dollar amount of tuition to help you pay for your advanced degree.
- Take out federal student loans. When you’re borrowing money for school, it’s best to start with federal student loans. Not only do they offer low, fixed interest rates, but they also offer plenty of borrower benefits, like income-based repayment plans and forbearance options. Unfortunately, you can only take out $20,500 in federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans each academic year. However, you can also borrow Direct PLUS Loans, which will cover your cost of attendance minus any other financial aid you received.
- Use private student loans to fill the gaps. If you need assistance beyond federal loans, private student loans can help you bridge the gap. Most private lenders allow you to borrow up to 100% of your cost of attendance. Many also offer competitive interest rates and flexible repayment options.
Student loan forgiveness for pharmacists
If you borrow money for pharmacy school, you may be able to have your loans forgiven. Here are a few of the loan forgiveness options that you may qualify for:
Public Service Loan Forgiveness
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program is only available to federal loan borrowers. It allows you to have the remainder of your student loans forgiven after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for an eligible employer. Many of the PSLF qualifying payment rules have been suspended through Oct. 31, 2022. Learn more on the FSA’s limited PSLF waiver page.
State-based loan forgiveness programs
Individual states also offer various loan forgiveness options for pharmacists and other health professionals. These programs often require you to work in an underserved area of the state or for certain health-care organizations. Many of these programs apply to both federal and private loans.
Health Resources & Services Administration Faculty Loan Repayment Program
The HRSA Faculty Loan Repayment Program offers up to $40,000 of loan forgiveness for both federal and private student loans to health professionals — including pharmacists — who serve as faculty members at an approved health professions school for two years. To qualify, you must also come from a disadvantaged background based on environmental and economic factors, and have an eligible health professions degree or certificate.
Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program
The Indian Health Services Loan Repayment Program also offers up to $40,000 of loan forgiveness to health professionals in exchange for two years of practice in health facilities servicing American Indian and Alaska Native communities. You can continue to extend your contract each year until your debt is repaid.
National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program
The National Institutes of Health Loan Repayment Program is available to pharmacists and qualified health professionals, and repays up to $50,000 of your debt annually if you conduct NIH research. This program covers both federal and private loans, but your debt must be more than or equal to 20% of your institutional base salary.
Student loan repayment for pharmacists
Your repayment options after pharmacy school will largely depend on the type of loans you have. Federal loan borrowers have plenty of repayment options, including income-based repayment plans.
Private borrowers have options, too. Lenders often offer loan repayment terms ranging from just a few years to as many as 20 years. Additionally, some lenders give you the option to start making payments while in school, make interest-only payments while in school, or fully defer your payments until six months after you’ve graduated.
You can use our student loan repayment calculator to figure out how long it’ll take to pay off your student loans:
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Also Read: How to Pay for Medical School
Is it worth it to go to pharmacy school?
With the high cost of attendance, it’s easy to wonder whether pharmacy school is really worth it. And while it’s true that it’s expensive, there can also be a high financial reward. Pharmacy school has a great ROI thanks to its earning potential.
The median pay for pharmacists in 2021 was $128,570 per year, or $61.81 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, the amount you’ll make depends on the state you live in and the amount of experience you have.
In addition to the above-average salary, you can make the cost of your education worth it by applying for scholarships and grants or by qualifying for one or more of the student loan forgiveness options mentioned earlier.