With private student loans, it’s important to pay attention to the fine print. Many lenders charge added fees, such as origination fees or late fees, that can add to your overall cost.
Discover is an exception. It charges no fees at all: It doesn’t have application or origination fees, and it doesn’t even have a late fee. With Discover’s competitive interest rates and lack of fees, it’s a good choice for borrowers looking for private loans to cover their remaining education costs.
Table of Contents:
- Discover Student Loans Overview
- Discover’s Services
- Discover’s Credentials
- Discover’s Accessibility
- Discover’s Customer Satisfaction
- Discover FAQ
- How We Evaluated Discover
- Summary of Money’s Discover Review
Discover Student Loans Overview
Although Discover is well known for its credit cards and home loans, it’s also a popular student loan lender. According to the company’s annual report, it works with over 2,400 schools and issued over $10 billion in student loans in 2021.
- Cash reward for earning good grades
- No application, origination or late fees
- No loan maximums for most loan options
- Does not offer cosigner releases
- Only offers two repayment terms
- Does not offer loans for career training or certificate programs
None of Discover’s loans charge origination fees, application fees or late fees. You never have to worry about prepayment penalties either, so you can pay off your loans early and save money on interest. The lender also offers a 1% cash-back reward for eligible students who get at least a 3.0 GPA.
While some private lenders have caps on how much you can borrow, Discover doesn’t have loan limits; you can borrow up to the total cost of attendance at your school. Repayment terms vary based on the type of loan you take out — undergraduate loans have a single 15-year term — but you can choose from three different repayment options to manage your loans while you’re in school. Repayment options include interest-only, flat monthly and deferred payments.
Because students tend to have limited credit histories, most student borrowers will need a cosigner on their loan application to qualify. However, be aware that Discover doesn’t offer cosigner releases. The cosigner remains responsible for the loan if you fall behind on your payments until the loan is paid in full. The only workaround is if you refinance the loan and qualify for it to be solely in your name.
Discover offers loans for undergraduates, graduate school, medical school, law school, healthcare profession residencies, bar exam study and parent student loans. Other useful products for students include student loan refinancing options and student credit cards.
What they offer: Private student loans
|Discover Student Loans|
|Loan Types||Loan Amounts||Loan Terms||Repayment Options||Variable Rates||Fixed Rates|
|Undergraduate student loans||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||15 years||Deferred |
|6.37% to 16.62%||4.49% to 14.99%|
|Grad||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||20 years||Deferred |
|6.37% to 16.37%||5.24% to 14.59%|
|Law||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||20 years||Deferred |
|6.37% to 16.37%||5.24% to 14.59%|
|MBA||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||20 years||Deferred |
|6.37% to 16.37%||5.24% to 14.59%|
|Medical school||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||20 years||Deferred |
|6.37% - 12.12%||4.99% - 9.99%|
|Healthcare residency||$1,000 to $18,000 (amount varies by profession)||20 years||Deferred |
|7.62% - 10.62%||6.24% - 8.49%|
|Bar exam||$1,000 to $16,000||20 years||Deferred |
|8.12% - 16.37%||6.99% - 14.49%|
|Parent||$1,000 to total cost of attendance||15 years||Immediate||11.37% - 16.62%||9.99% - 14.99%|
|Rates current as of Aug. 4, 2023. Lowest-possible rates include interest-only repayment discount and auto debit reward|
All of Discover’s loan options can have variable or fixed interest rates. You can get an interest rate reduction of 0.25% by enrolling in autopay, and student borrowers that opt for interest-only repayment can qualify for an additional 0.35% rate discount.
With most of Discover’s loans, you can select one of the three following payment plans:
- Deferred: The most costly of the three plans, deferred repayment allows you to postpone making payments until after you graduate or leave school. You’ll also have a short grace period before monthly payments are required.
- Interest-only: With the interest-only plan, you make payments against the interest that accrues each month. You don’t start paying against the principal until after you leave school.
- Flat: The flat monthly payment option allows you to pay just $25 per month while you’re in school. After you graduate, your payments will increase to include the principal and interest.
However, parent student loans aren’t eligible for any of those payment options. All of Discover’s parent loans are on immediate payment plans, so you’ll have to start making full monthly payments immediately after the final loan disbursement.
Discover does have repayment options for borrowers experiencing financial issues. For example, borrowers may be eligible for a temporary loan deferment or payment extension. And Discover offers loan discharges for borrowers who pass away or become totally and permanently disabled.
What they don’t offer
If you’re considering a loan from Discover, consider these drawbacks:
- No loan prequalification tool: Most student loan lenders have prequalification tools that allow you to check your rates without damaging your credit. However, Discover doesn’t have that feature, so you have to start the application process and consent to a hard credit check to view your loan options and check your eligibility.
- No cosigner releases: Most private student loans will require a cosigner. Many companies allow you to apply for a cosigner release after making your payments on time for two or three years, but Discover doesn’t have cosigner releases.
- No loans for certificate or career training programs: Discover student loans can only be used to pursue degrees. If you want to attend a coding bootcamp or complete a certificate program, you’ll have to work with another lender.
Unlike other companies that partner with banks to issue their loans, Discover is its own lender. It also services all of the loans it issues. Discover is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Licenses and Registrations
Discover is licensed to issue private student loans in all 50 states, so borrowers nationwide can apply for its loans.
Awards and Certifications
Discover is regularly a top pick in student loan rankings. It was selected by Forbes Advisor as the “best no-fee lender” in 2023.
Like other student loan companies, Discover hasn’t been ranked by a third-party consumer agency for its student loan products. However, Discover has been highly ranked for its other financial products, including its credit cards and loans. J.D. Power ranked Discover third out of 18 companies on its consumer lending satisfaction survey in 2023. Discover ranked second in J.D. Powers's 2022 credit card study.
In 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a consent order against Discover. The order stated that Discover violated a 2015 consent order that was based on the CFPB’s findings that Discover misrepresented minimum loan payments, the amount of interest consumers owed and other material information. The order required Discover to pay at least $10 million in consumer redress and a $25 million civil penalty.
Regulatory action against a lender of Discover’s size isn’t uncommon, but it highlights the importance of carefully reviewing loan documents and ensuring you understand the terms and fees before signing a contract.
Discover stands out from other lenders because of its customer service. Its support team is available around the clock, and Discover also provides educational guides online.
Unlike other lenders, Discover’s customer service team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Discover’s support staff is accessible via phone, online chat or secure message:
- Phone: 1-800-788-3368
- Secure message
While other companies rely on third-party loan servicers to handle borrower issues after the loan is disbursed, Discover services its own loans. Discover is the company to reach out to if you have difficulties affording your payments or if you have questions about your account.
Discover has robust educational resources about student loans on its sites, but it doesn’t have a prequalification option. To check your eligibility for a loan and view your rates, you must consent to a hard credit inquiry.
Discover’s Customer Satisfaction
Discover is a huge company that offers a range of financial products. Customer complaints tend to focus on its other products, such as its credit cards or mortgages, rather than its student loans.
On TrustPilot, Discover has a 1.7 out of five TrustScore, based on about 220 reviews. Although Discover is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with an A+ rating, it has a 1.13 out five rating based on a limited number of customer reviews.
Like other student loan lenders, Discover has not been rated by third-party organizations for its customer service.
Discover Student Loans FAQ
What credit score is needed for a Discover student loan?
Is it possible to consolidate student loans with Discover?
Can you pay off Discover student loans early?
Can Discover loans be forgiven?
How We Evaluated Discover
To evaluate Discover, we compared it to 18 other student loan companies. We looked at Discover’s available loan options, repayment terms, loan amounts, customer support and financial hardship programs. We particularly focused on available in-school repayment options and alternative payment plans when choosing the top lenders.
Summary of Money’s Discover Review
Whether you’re entering your first year of college or are preparing for your medical residency, Discover has loan options for you. Unlike other lenders, Discover doesn’t charge any fees, so you never have to worry about origination fees, late fees or prepayment penalties.
However, borrowers should be aware that Discover doesn’t offer cosigner releases, nor does it have loans for certificate programs or coding bootcamps. If you’re looking for other education financing options, check out our picks for the best student loans of 2023.