- International students accepted (with American co-signer)
- Multi-year feature gets you pre-qualified for future loans
- Cash reward for good grades
- Only one repayment term on offer (15 years)
- No parent loans
Has learning resources, access to rates, mobile app
Customer services and support
Multiple ways of reaching lender, wide range of hours
Only offers immediate repayment & limited repayments plans
Doesn't cover bad credit, low income borrowers
Variety of Loan Types
Offers most loan types
Discover Financial has been providing student loans since it acquired the Student Loan Corporation from Citigroup in 2010. It has grown to become a major provider of student loans, reporting $8.402 billion in outstanding student loan debt at the end of 2019. Discover offers a wide range of student loans, including undergraduate loans, graduate loans, MBA loans, health professions loans, law loans, medical residency loans, and bar exam loans.
If you’re the sort of person who demonstrates discipline in regard to your finances and studies, then Discover is for you. It has generous variable rates and no prepayment penalties, making it a great option for anyone planning to play off their loan early. Plus, it offers cash rewards for good grades (more on that below).
Credit companies are known for their customer perks. Therefore, it’s no surprise Discover’s student loan service also includes several interesting features.
Here are the highlights:
- Zero fees. That means no application fees, no origination fees, no prepayment penalties, and no late fees;
- Auto debit reward. 0.25% interest rate deduction when you are enrolled in automatic payments;
- Rewards for good grades. Get at least a 3.0 GPA or equivalent and earn a one-time cash reward worth 1% of the loan amount;
- Multi-year option. When you qualify for your first loan, you’ll also find out if you’re pre-qualified for future loans. If the answer is yes, then you can apply for your next loan with pre-filled paperwork and no impact to your credit;
- Deferment options. If you are in school at least half-time and on active military duty, serving a public service organization, or in a residency, you may qualify for a deferment;
- Help tools. On the website, you’ll find free tools include student loan calculators, information on schools, and a college scholarship search tool.
The Application Process
With Discover, you get two ways of applying for a loan: online or by calling 1-800-STUDENT. Either way, the process is straightforward. If you’re applying online, you’ll need to first state whether you’re a student or co-signer, new or returning Discover student loans customer. Next, fill out these details: name, phone number, date of birth, citizenship status, school, degree, and year of expected completion. It takes only a couple of minutes to see your pre-approved offer. If you like the rate offered, just upload any missing documentation (usually just proof of income) to complete the process.
It’s important to note here that by providing your phone number to Discover, you agree for its affiliates to contact you. This means you may start getting calls for other financial products such as credit cards. We’re not saying this is necessarily a good thing or a bad thing; we’re just letting you know so you can make your own decision.
Like any student loan, a Discover student loan is subject to credit approval and Discover will run a hard credit query before final approval. If your credit doesn’t meet the minimum threshold (approximately 660), you can bring a co-signer.
The eligibility requirements for a Discover student loan are fairly straightforward.
- Be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program at an eligible school;
- Be seeking a degree;
- Be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school;
- Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student (international students require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident);
- Be at least 16 years at the time of application;
- Pass a credit check (roughly 660 minimum).
Discover offers both variable and fixed-rate student loans. The variable rate loans range from 2.99% - 12.59%*, and fixed rate loans range from 5.49% - 14.99%*.
Discover only offers one repayment term: 15 years. However, the good news is you can pay the loan off early without being slapped with prepayment penalties. Also, any time spent in deferment is added to the repayment term.
How Safe Is It?
Credit card companies tend to have strict security protocols, so it’s no surprise Discover’s student loans platform is big on security too.
According to Discover, here is how it protects your data:
- It uses 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt your data and hide it from third parties;
- Limits the sharing of information (such as your social security number) with third parties and maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to protect the information it has about you.
Discover is one of the very few student loan providers that offers 24/7 customer service. It has separate phone lines for U.S. residents, people abroad who have been accepted to study in America, and military service members on active duty.
Phone: 1-800-STUDENT (1-800-788-3368)
Phone from outside U.S./Canada: 1-801-619-2250
Military: 1-844-DFS-4MIL (1-844-337-4645)
Military abroad: 1-801-451-3730
It’s easy to understand Discover’s appeal when you consider the wide range of loans, features, and discounts on offer. There are even a couple of features here that are difficult to find elsewhere, such as rewards for good grades and loans for international students. Thanks to the generous variable rates and lack of prepayment penalties, this is a solid option for anyone planning to pay off their student debt quickly.
*APR ranges vary by loan type and the lowest available APR may be higher than what is shown here. Lowest APRs are available to the most creditworthy applicants, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may improve your likelihood for loan approval and you may receive a lower interest rate.
The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan unless you are no longer eligible for one or more discounts. The variable interest rate and corresponding APR may increase over the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month CME Term SOFR index plus the applicable margin percentage less any applicable discounts. The 3-Month CME Term SOFR index value for variable interest rate loans is 2.00% as of July 1, 2022. 3-Month CME Term SOFR is administered by CME Group and is published by CME Group on its website (cmegroup.com/termsofr). Discover Student Loans may adjust the variable interest rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (each an “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month CME Term SOFR rate available for the day that is 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125), or 0%, whichever is greater. This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. If the 3-Month CME Term SOFR rate is less than zero percent, then the index will be deemed to be zero percent (as stated in the promissory note) for purposes of calculating your interest rate. Your variable interest rate (index + margin – applicable discounts) will not exceed 18%. Our lowest APRs are only available to applicants with the best credit. The APR will be determined after an application is submitted. It will be based on credit history, the selected repayment option and other factors, including a cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). If a student does not have an established credit history, the student may find it difficult to qualify for a private student loan on their own or receive the lowest advertised rate. Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.