The real estate industry has grown in recent years, and expectations are that it will continue growing for years to come. This growth presents an opportunity for anyone interested in building a career as a real estate agent.
In order to take the licensing exam, you’ll likely need to complete a pre-licensing course. In most states, you won’t need a college degree to pursue a career as a real estate agent. However, getting a degree is one way to complete the pre-licensing educational requirements.
The choice between completing a four-year degree or just the necessary courses is entirely up to you. Whether you opt for a fast program or the entire college experience, you’ll find information about some of the most accessible student loans for real estate school here.
In this guide:
- Do student loans cover real estate school?
- Is there federal aid available for real estate school?
- Which private lenders offer real estate school student loans?
- Alternatives to student loans for real estate school
Do student loans cover real estate school?
A career in real estate doesn’t usually require a college degree.
However, many colleges and universities offer a four-year degree that prepares you for a career as a real estate agent. As a student in a degree program, you’ll open the door to several financing opportunities. A few include financial aid, scholarships, and student loan options.
If you want to skip the degree path, that’s often an affordable choice. The average cost of tuition and fees for an in-state student at a public college or university in the U.S. was $10,740 for the 2021-22 academic year.
On the other hand, pre-exam educational requirements for a real estate license often cost less than $1,000. The downside to skipping a degree is that you’ll find more limited funding options.
If you tackle pre-licensing courses separately or through a trade school that specializes in real estate, you might not have access to federal aid or private student loan options. That’s because federal student loans are only available to students participating in an accredited degree program.
Ultimately, your educational path will determine what funding opportunities you have at your disposal. Generally, a four-year college degree is more expensive. But the degree route comes with more loan opportunities.
Is there federal aid available for real estate school?
Since a college degree isn’t a requirement for this career path, it might make sense for you to skip this expensive educational experience. Instead, you would move straight on to the certification classes required by your state.
But if you choose the degree route, it’s important to select a college or university with an accredited real estate degree program. If you attend a trade school or online certificate program from an unaccredited institution, you will be automatically disqualified from federal funding.
Students seeking a degree or certificate from an accredited school open the door to federal funding opportunities. You can apply for federal aid by filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
When you provide this information, you will quickly see your eligibility for federal loans or financial aid, to pay for a qualifying degree or certificate. Federal student aid options might include scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and federal loans.
If possible, stick to work-study programs, scholarships, and grant opportunities. None of these funding options must be repaid. After exhausting those options, it’s time to turn to federal student loans.
Direct Subsidized Loans
Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with a clear financial need. Whether or not you qualify for this need-based loan option depends on the information you provide in the FAFSA.
The maximum loan amount for this type of Direct Loan cannot exceed a student’s total financial need. Your school will determine the size of your Direct Loan. But over the course of your degree, you cannot take out more than $23,000 in subsidized loans.
The federal government makes your interest payments for you while you are enrolled at least half-time, during grace periods, and during deferment periods. However, you’ll be responsible for paying the interest when your grace period expires, six months after graduation.
New loans come with an interest rate of 4.99% and an origination fee of 1.057%.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
Direct Unsubsidized Loans are also available to undergraduate students. But you won’t need to show a clear financial need to take advantage of this loan opportunity. The major difference with this loan type is that you’ll be responsible for the interest at all times.
The cost of attendance at your school and the financial aid you receive will determine how much you can borrow in unsubsidized loans. But you will be limited to a total of $31,000 in Direct Loans over the course of your college career if you are a dependent student, or $57,500 if you are independent.
As an undergraduate borrower, a new loan will come with an interest rate of 4.99% interest rate and an origination fee of 1.057%. Graduate borrowers have an interest rate of 6.54% with the same origination fee.
If you choose not to make payments during school, your interest will accrue and capitalize during that time. But you’ll have a six-month grace period after graduation before you are required to start repayment.
Grad PLUS loans
For those pursuing a graduate-level real estate degree or certificate, Grad PLUS loans are an option.
If you don’t have an adverse credit history, you might be eligible for Grad PLUS loans. These loans allow you to defer payments until six months after either graduating or dropping below half-time status.
Grad PLUS loans come with an interest rate of 7.54% and an origination fee of 4.228%. Due to the higher interest rate, it’s smart to take advantage of Direct Unsubsidized Loan opportunities first.
It’s important to note that pursuing a graduate degree for a career as a real estate agent isn’t required. But the additional knowledge may prepare you even more for this potentially lucrative career path.
Which private lenders offer real estate school student loans?
Federal student loans may not cover all your real estate school costs. Whether you just need help bridging a funding gap or need help paying for a program that doesn’t qualify for federal loans, private lenders may be able to help.
Even if you make it through a four-year degree program, there may be additional educational requirements set by your state. Private student loans might help you get to the finish line.
The reality is that students encounter limited options when it comes to paying for a trade school or certificate program for real estate school.
Some private lenders offer student loans for real estate school. But you’ll likely have to pass credit checks. If you have bad credit or lack a credit score, you might need to get a cosigner in order to obtain the funds you need.
With more limited opportunities, it’s especially important to shop around for the best lender for your unique situation. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best private lenders who offer real estate student loans below.
Editorial Selection: Best Overall
- Earn $150 cash back after completing your degree
- Cover up to 100% of costs
- Choose between 16 different repayment schedules
College Ave offers student loans specifically designed for career development, which includes real estate programs at eligible schools. You’ll find funding opportunities available for different educational levels, such as associate’s, bachelor’s, and graduate degree programs.
In addition to opening the door to a new career, you’ll have the extra motivation of receiving a $150 cash back bonus after completing your program. The ability to add a cosigner increases your approval odds. But you can remove them after half of the original repayment term has elapsed.
- Eligibility requirements: U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
- Variable rates: 1.29% – 13.95% APR
- Fixed rates: 3.22% – 14.96% APR
- Repayment terms: 5, 8, 10, or 15 years
- When repayment begins: Six months after graduation or immediately. Immediate repayment options include making full principal and interest, interest-only, or flat-fee payments.
- Discounts offered: 0.25% automatic payment discount
- Cosigner release: Remove cosigner after half of the repayment term
- Unique features: $150 cash bonus for graduating
Editorial Selection: Best for Cosigners
- Release your cosigner after 12 consecutive, on-time payments
- Covers up to 100% of costs
As a well-known private student loan provider, Sallie Mae offers career loans for professional training and trade certificate programs. The option to take out loans for all program-related costs sets this opportunity apart from the crowd.
Students pursuing real estate school can take out a Smart Option Student Loan for Career Training, even if the program is offered through a non-degree-granting institution.
- Eligibility requirements: U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Variable rates: 2.62% – 13.40% APR
- Fixed rates: 3.75% – 14.08% APR
- Repayment terms: 10 – 15 years
- When repayment begins: Six months after graduation or immediately. With immediate repayment, you can make interest payments or a flat $25 payment each month. Additionally, you’ll have the option to request making interest-only payments for twelve months after finishing school.
- Discounts offered: 0.25% automatic payment discount
- Cosigner release: Apply for cosigner release after making twelve on-time principal and interest payments, and meeting other unspecified credit requirements
- Unique features: Covers all program-related costs, including books, housing, meals, travel, and technology
Alternatives to student loans for real estate school
Paying for real estate school with student loans can be tricky. That’s especially true due to the differing pre-licensing educational requirements for each state. If student loans for real estate school aren’t working out for you, there are alternatives to consider:
- Grants: Grants that fund your real estate licensing coursework don’t have to be repaid.
- Scholarships: Scholarships for real estate licensing expenses are another way to fund the costs without paying any interest. You can find these scholarships through local and national real estate organizations. For example, the Florida Realtors Education Foundation offers scholarships to students considering a career in real estate.
- Personal loans: A personal loan often comes with higher interest rates than student loans. But without usage restrictions, you can use a personal loan to cover your real estate education costs.
- Real estate broker funding: Real estate agents are employed by real estate brokers. Depending on the situation, you might be able to work out a payment arrangement with a real estate broker. For example, if you are willing to work for the broker after you pass the licensing exam, they might cover the upfront costs.
- Open a low-interest credit card: Using a credit card to fund your real estate school costs can be a bit risky. If you don’t start earning commissions soon, the cost of your credit card debt can add up quickly. But it’s one way to get your new career off the ground.
The path to becoming a licensed real estate agent will look a bit different for everyone. Although there is no correct path, some paths will disqualify you from student loan opportunities.
As you consider your options, check out the pre-licensing educational requirements for your state. With a clear idea of what’s required, you can map out a better plan for the costs involved.
If you don’t need to get a degree, that will streamline your path to earning a living as a real estate agent. Whether or not you need a degree, be sure to explore all financing options to find the most affordable opportunity.