The Difference Between a Variable Rate and a Fixed Rate

Taking out a student loan is one of many ways to pay for college, and is oftentimes a last resort method after students have exhausted other avenues like scholarships and financial aid packages from colleges.

A lot of questions surround student loans: should I get a federal or private student loan? What happens if I end up defaulting? How can I lower my payment? And this article aims to solve another one: What’s the difference between a fixed rate vs variable rate?

A red and blue rollercoaster with a loop.

Variable Rate

The key here is the word “variable” meaning, essentially, subject to change. With variable rates, the interest rate can go either up or down (depending on the index rate). Variable rates can be a bit of a gamble. On the one hand, you might score a lower interest rate, but on the other, it might go up. This also affects your payments—you could end up paying more one month and paying less another month, or vice versa. Variable rates are generally not recommended for longer-term loans.

Your Student Loan, Your Way.

Variable rates from 1.30% - 11.52% APR


Fixed Rate

If you’re looking for a little bit more structure and permanence, look into fixed rates. With these, what you see is what you get. Fixed rates do not fluctuate and instead stay constant throughout the duration of the loan. So if you want steady payments instead of ones that can roller coaster, you might want to opt for a fixed rate.




Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Sallie Mae logo.
1.62% - 11.73% Variable
3.75% - 12.85% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
0.94% - 11.98% Variable
2.99% - 12.99% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
1.47% - 9.05% Variable
3.97% - 11.89% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Ave company logo.
1.19% - 11.98% Variable
3.49% - 12.99% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
2.93% - 5.67% Variable
4.35% - 7.15% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
0.99% - 11.44% Variable
2.94% - 12.78% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
1.30% - 11.52% Variable
3.20% - 11.99% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

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