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Student Loans

Best Physician Assistant Student Loans

A career as a physician’s assistant offers the chance to help people in need and earn a lucrative salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for a physician’s assistant (PA) is $126,010 per year.

Both federal and private student loans can be used to cover your education costs and move you one step closer to your PA career. Here are the best physician assistant student loans.

LenderBest forOur rating
Department of EducationFederal student loansNot rated
College AvePrivate student loans5/5
Sallie MaeCosigners4.8/5
EarnestLarge loans4.7/5
SoFiMember benefits4.7/5
ELFIPersonalized support4.5/5

Federal physician assistant school loans

Federal student loans are offered by the government and backed by the U.S. Department of Education. These loans come with a variety of features and benefits, such as forbearance and deferment options. Federal borrowers may also be eligible for income-driven repayment (IDR) and even student loan forgiveness programs.

Federal student loans have fixed interest rates that are often lower for borrowers who don’t meet a private lender’s credit requirements. This ensures you can borrow the money you need, when you need it—possibly at lower fixed rates than private loans.

The two federal student loans to consider for PA school are Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Grad PLUS Loans.

Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to graduate students (including those in PA school), with no requirements to demonstrate financial need. These loans accrue interest while you’re in school—just like a private loan—which will add to your overall loan cost.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans come with a fixed interest rate of 6.54%, repayment terms ranging from 10 to 25 years, and a six-month grace period.

Federal Grad PLUS loans

Grad PLUS loans are credit-based, meaning you must meet certain credit history requirements to qualify.

A Grad PLUS loan lets you borrow up to the full cost of attendance, as certified by your school. This gives you more flexibility to borrow as much as you need for PA school while retaining the benefits of federal loans (including IDR plans and loan forgiveness options).

With Federal Grad Plus loans, borrowers aren’t required to demonstrate financial need. The fixed interest rate is 7.54%. Repayment terms range from 10 to 25 years, and they come with a six-month grace period.

Physician assistant private student loans

We’ve researched multiple lenders offering graduate and medical school loans to find the best options. Here are five top PA school lenders to consider.

Best for…
Rating (0-5)
Best Overall
Best for Cosigners
Best for Large Loans
Best Member Benefits
Best Student Loan Advisors

College Ave – Best overall

LendEDU rating: 5 out of 5

  • Deferment is available during residency
  • Many repayment options
  • Apply in just 3 minutes

College Ave offers physician assistant loans with flexible repayment options, fixed and variable rates, and the ability to defer payments for up to 48 months after leaving school.

You can use these loans for PA school, with no prepayment penalties or origination fees. Borrowers who apply with a cosigner can apply for cosigner release after 24 consecutive, on-time payments. Repayment terms are five, eight, 10, 15, or 20 years.

Health professions loans from College Ave make it easy to defer payments until after your required residency program is completed, or up to four years after PA school graduation. This benefit, combined with four types of in-school repayment options, makes this loan customizable for your specific needs.

Sallie Mae – Best for cosigners

LendEDU rating: 4.8 out of 5

  • 48-month deferment during internship or fellowship
  • Cosigners can be released after making 12 consecutive, on-time payments
  • In-school repayment can result in a lower rate

Sallie Mae is one of the most well-known student lenders, offering various funding options for students in undergraduate, graduate, and healthcare programs. Its Graduate Student Loans for Health Professions allow you to borrow up to 100% of your educational expenses with no maximum limit and a set repayment term of 15 years.

These loans are designed to be flexible to accommodate the unique financial needs of future healthcare professionals. With benefits such as deferred payments while in school and a grace period of six months post-graduation, they provide essential breathing room for students transitioning into their careers. Competitive interest rates and the absence of origination fees further enhance the appeal of Sallie Mae’s financing options for those pursuing a physician assistant degree

Earnest – Best for large loans

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Skip 1 payment per year if needed
  • No fees
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

Earnest offers a graduate student loan you can use to attend PA school in all states except Nevada. Loans have no prepayment, origination, or distribution fees, plus a nine-month grace period for repayment. Choose from five, seven, 10, 12, or 15-year term lengths.

Cosigners cannot be released from an Earnest graduate loan without refinancing. However, borrowers can request to skip one repayment every 12 months, and interest rates on Earnest’s loans are competitive.

SoFi – Best for member benefits

LendEDU rating: 4.7 out of 5

  • Defer payments for up to 9 months after graduation for residency or internship
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

SoFi is a lender offering graduate private loans for students in healthcare professions, such as PA school. With four in-school repayment options, you can use its loans to cover all your certified educational expenses. Available repayment terms are five, seven, 10, or 15 years

Borrowers can defer repayment until nine months after graduation while they complete a residency or internship program, and cosigners can be released from their financial obligation after 24 on-time consecutive loan payments.

ELFI – Best student loan advisors

LendEDU rating: 4.5 out of 5

  • Assigned a student loan advisor
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit

ELFI (Education Loan Finance) offers private student loans for PA schools. Loans through ELFI come with competitive interest rates and no application or origination fees.

Flexible repayment options are available, with terms ranging from five to 20 years. ELFI also provides a dedicated loan advisor to help you through the loan process. Additionally, borrowers can further defer payments depending on their program if certain criteria is met.

How to get PA student loans

  1. Use free money first. The first place to look for financial aid is from sources that allow you to avoid taking on student loan debt. Physician assistant scholarships and grants, for example, can help you pay for tuition, fees, and other costs of attending PA school without acquiring student debt.
  2. Tap your own savings or income. Another option is to tap into the financial resources you already have or could create to minimize your need for loans. Parents may be able to help out with money set aside in a college savings fund, for example. You could supplement that with personal savings or take on a part-time or full-time job to help cover PA school costs.
  3. Apply for federal student aid. Federal student loans from the U.S. Department of Education can help with paying for PA school. You should use these before turning to private loan options because federal loans may have lower fixed interest rates than private student loans, and they offer more flexible student loan repayment plans. The first step to applying for federal loans is completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  4. Consider private PA school loans. Federal student loans have borrowing limits. If your education costs exceed the maximum amount you can borrow, private PA school loans could make up the difference. Private student lenders may charge higher interest rates to borrow, and there will likely be less flexibility in your physician assistant student loan repayment options, but you shouldn’t count them out.
  5. Compare loan options. It’s always wise to shop around and compare the private loan options available to you before choosing one. Different lenders offer different rates, repayment options, loan terms, and even deferment periods. For this reason, one lender might be a better fit for you.

How much does PA school cost?

According to the Physician Assistant Education Association (PAEA), the median in-state tuition for public PA school programs in 2023 was $56,718. Private PA school students paid a median tuition of about $96,960.

For non-resident students enrolled in public PA programs, the median cost was about $88,168.


Which PA school loan is the best?

The best physician assistant school loan for you is the one that meets your financial needs. In general, federal student loans are the best place to turn first because they offer many protections, features, and fixed interest rates.

If you still need funding, private PA school loans can fill in the gap. It’s best to shop around to find the loan with the best terms and lowest rates, allowing you to reduce your borrowing costs as much as possible.

Do I need a cosigner for PA school loans?

Depending on your credit history, credit score, and income, a lender may request that you have a cosigner when taking out a private PA school loan. This cosigner could be any trusted, creditworthy adult such as a parent, grandparent, sibling, or spouse. While adding a cosigner can boost your chances of approval—and often get you better loan terms—most lenders also allow cosigners to be released from their financial obligation after a certain number of on-time payments.

Do PA school loans cover living expenses?

Most private lenders will allow you to take out a PA school loan that helps cover eligible living expenses. You can usually borrow up to 100% of your school-certified expenses, which may include housing and transportation.

How much can I borrow with PA student loans?

In general, you can borrow as much as you need for PA school with a private loan. Federal student loans have maximum limits, but private loans let you borrow up to 100% of your necessary expenses. Some lenders have aggregate limits, which may also take into account any loans you acquired from the same lender for your undergraduate degree.

When does repayment on PA school loans start?

Most PA school loans offer a grace period of between six and 12 months. Once you graduate, this grace period extends the time before full principal and interest repayment begins. Beyond that, most lenders allow an additional grace period while you’re in a PA fellowship or internship program. This additional grace period can range from 36 to 60 months, depending on the lender.

1 Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: Rates are effective as of 10/01/2022 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.  Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.

Recap of the best PA school loans

LenderBest forOur rating
Department of EducationFederal student loansNot rated
College AvePrivate student loans5/5
Sallie MaeCosigners4.8/5
EarnestLarge loans4.7/5
SoFiMember benefits4.7/5
ELFIPersonalized support4.5/5