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Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as "Credible."

A cosigner is a person who agrees to pay back your loan if you don’t pay it back as agreed.

Student loan refinancing with a private lender might require a cosigner if you have a short credit history (or no credit history at all). This situation is common amongst undergraduate students who’ve never had a credit card, car loan, or other type of credit in their name.

If you don’t have someone willing to cosign a loan or you want to go it alone, here’s what you need to know.

How does adding a cosigner help?

A cosigner gives lenders some extra insurance when they can’t look at your credit history to determine the likelihood of you paying your student loan on time. While having a cosigner could improve your approval chances — and maybe even get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own — it’s not always an option.

Eligibility requirements for student loans without a cosigner

Eligibility requirements vary by lender. But borrowers need to meet some general requirements to get approved.

Federal student loan eligibility requirements

To be eligible for federal student loans, you typically must meet the following requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • Enrolled at least half-time in a qualifying degree or certification program
  • A valid social security number
  • Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college

General requirements for private student loans

Private lenders set their own eligibility guidelines, but here are some common requirements:

  • U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • In good financial standing
  • A steady income
  • A valid social security number
  • A good credit score
  • Enrolled in a qualifying degree or certification program

Check Out: What is Entrance Loan Counseling for Student Loans

How to take out a student loan without a cosigner

If you think you might qualify for a private student loan without a cosigner, here are the steps to get started:

1. Maximize federal student loan options

Before you even think about applying for a private student loan, make sure you exhaust your federal student loan options first.

Federal loans often offer lower interest rates than private student loans, and they don’t require a cosigner. Plus, they come with several benefits that typically aren’t available through private lenders, such as income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.

2. Improve your odds of approval

Private lenders typically run a credit check to help determine eligibility, so if you have some time before you need to apply, see if you can bring your credit score up.

Most lenders prefer borrowers to have credit scores in the high 600s, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

If you’re not there yet:

  • Become an authorized user on someone else’s account. If you’ve never used credit before, see if a parent or family member will add you as an authorized user on their card. The account will be added to your credit report, and their responsible use of credit will improve your credit score — even if you never actually use the card.
  • Stay up to date on your bills. If you have a credit card, set up payments on autopay so you never miss a payment. Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score, so consistently paying on time can help your score. Be sure to make other payments on time, including rent, utilities, medical bills, and other services. While paying these bills on time won’t necessarily help your credit score, they can be sent to collections if you don’t pay, which will negatively impact your score.
  • Keep your credit utilization low. Credit utilization is the percentage of your credit limit that’s currently in use, and experts recommend keeping your credit card balances below 30% of your limit. In other words, if your credit card limit is $1,000, you should keep your balance under $300 at all times. If your credit utilization is greater than 30% on any one card, work on paying down that balance and using the card less.
  • Review your credit report. Errors on your credit report can drag your score down. So get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review each report to verify that your accounts and balances, payment history, personally identifiable information, and other details are correct. If you find any errors on your report, such as accounts that aren’t yours or are incorrectly reported as late or delinquent, contact the credit reporting agency to file a dispute.

See More: Can You Consolidate Private and Federal Student Loans Together?

3. Compare options

Another crucial step before applying for a student loan is comparing your options. Interest rates and fees on private loans can vary greatly from lender to lender, and even small differences can cost you hundreds — even thousands — of dollars over the life of the loan.

By comparing options, you can see which company offers you the lowest rate, what repayment options you have, and whether fees are applicable.

4. Plan for repayment

Once you’ve settled on a lender and have been approved for a loan, put together a budget that accounts for your student loan payments.

Start by figuring out how much money you have coming in, whether from a job, a side hustle, or help from family.

Next, calculate your monthly expenses, including necessities like housing, groceries, and transportation, and non-essentials like entertaining, dining out, and shopping. If you’re not sure where you spend your money, try tracking your spending for a month or two.

Finally, determine how much you can allocate to paying off your student loans. Of course, you’ll need to come up with at least the minimum monthly payment. But if possible, see if you can trim expenses elsewhere and send a little extra toward the loan principal each month. This will reduce the interest you pay and the total cost of your loan over time.

The student loan consolidation companies in the table below are Credible’s approved partner lenders. Because they compete for your business through Credible, you can request rates from all of them by filling out a single form. Then, you can compare your available options side-by-side. Requesting rates is free, doesn’t affect your credit score, and your personal information is not shared with our partner lenders unless you see an option you like.

LenderVariable rates from (APR)Fixed rates from (APR)


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.32%+ 4.75%+
  • Fixed APR: 4.75%+
  • Variable APR: 5.32%+
  • Min. credit score: 720
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $400,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must have a credit score of at least 720, a minimum income of $60,000, and must be a resident of Texas
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: 720
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 - $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $200,000 - $400,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Does not disclose


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
7.03%+1 6.49%+1
  • Fixed APR: 6.49%+1
  • Variable APR: 7.03%+1
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $750,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 to 36 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: Less than $150,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
6.99%+2 6.99%+2
  • Fixed APR: 6.99%+2
  • Variable APR: 6.99%+2
  • Min. credit score: Does not disclose
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 12, 15
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: All states except for ME
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 to 36 months
  • Loan servicer: College Ave Servicing LLC
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $100,000 to $149,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: Less than $300,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
8.04%+5 6.0%+5
  • Fixed APR: 6.0%+5
  • Variable APR: 8.04%+5
  • Min. credit score: 700
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and submit two personal references
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 months
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $150,000 to $249,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $150,000 to $199,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing : Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.28%+3 5.48%+3
  • Fixed APR: 5.48%+3
  • Variable APR: 5.28%+3
  • Min. credit score: 680
  • Loan amount: $10,000 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Forbearance
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have at least $15,000 in student loan debt, and have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an approved school
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Mohela
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $250,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $250,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
8.51%+4 5.85%+4
  • Fixed APR: 5.85%+4
  • Variable APR: 8.51%+4
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee, returned payment fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: Yes
  • Max undergraduate loan balance: $250,000
  • Max graduate loan balance: $250,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
5.53%+ 5.49%+
  • Fixed APR: 5.49%+
  • Variable APR: 5.53%+
  • Min. credit score: 700
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $300,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15
  • Max. undergraduate Loan Balance: $125,000
  • Time to Fund: 10 to 30 days
  • Repayment options: Immediate repayment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have already graduated with at least an associate degree from an eligible institution
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 12 months
  • Loan servicer: LendKey Technologies Inc.
  • Max. graduate Loan Balance: $175,000
  • Credible Review: LendKey Student Loans review
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: No


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
N/A 6.2%+
  • Fixed APR: 6.2%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $10,000 up to the total amount
  • Loan terms (years): 7, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Military deferment, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have at least $10,000 in student loans
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: AES
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: No maximum
  • Max. Gradaute Loan Balance: No maximum
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
7.12%+ - 11.19%+8 7.60%+ - 14.50%+8
  • Fixed APR: 7.12%+ - 11.19%+8
  • Variable APR: 7.60%+ - 14.50%+8
  • Min. credit score: Mid-to-high 600's FICO8
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $500,000 (depending on degree)
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 25 years8
  • Time to fund: 3 business days
  • Repayment options: Immediate
  • Fees: Late fee, NSF fee
  • Discounts: Autopay8
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency status with a valid U.S. Social Security number
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes8
  • Cosigner release: After 24 months8
  • Loan servicer: Firstmark Services
  • Max. undergraduate loan balance: $125,000
  • Max. graduate loan balance: $500,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS loans: Yes
  • Min. income: You or your cosigner must meet Nelnet Bank's income criteria


Credible Rating
Question mark icon to show more information Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.
N/A 6.34%+
  • Fixed APR: 6.34%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 680
  • Loan amount: $7,500 to $250,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Eligibility: Available in all 50 states; must also have at least $7,500 in student loans and a minimum income of $40,000
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release: No
  • Loan servicer: Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
  • Max. Undergraduate Loan Balance: $150,000 - $249,000
  • Max. Graduate Loan Balance: $200,000 - $249,000
  • Offers Parent PLUS Refinancing: Yes
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All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2College Ave Disclosures | 5EDvestinU Disclosures | 3 ELFI Disclosures | 4INvestEd Disclosures | 7ISL Education Lending Disclosures  | 8Nelnet Bank Disclosures

Alternatives to student loans

Many students, especially undergraduates, can’t qualify for a student loan without a cosigner. But options to pay for school without student loan debt are available.

  • Scholarships: You might receive some scholarships as part of your total financial aid package after completing the FAFSA. But don’t stop there. Ask your school’s financial aid office, use the U.S. Department of Labor’s Scholarship Finder, and search online for other scholarship opportunities. Exhaust every opportunity for gift aid you can think of because even a small scholarship can pay for a good chunk of your education.
  • Work-study: The federal work-study program can also be an excellent resource for covering some college expenses because the jobs are usually on campus and offer flexible schedules to fit your class schedule. You can be considered for work-study by completing the FAFSA, but many schools offer these programs on a first-come-first-served basis. So fill out and submit your FAFSA early to have the best chance of getting a work-study place.
  • Income-share agreements: An income share agreement (ISA) provides upfront money for your education in exchange for a percentage of your future income for a set number of years. Some colleges, universities, and vocational education programs offer them. While these can be a good alternative to traditional loans, some downsides should be considered. Since repayment is based on a percentage of your salary, the higher your income, the more you have to pay. If you go this route, look for an ISA that caps the amount you’ll have to pay — 1.5 times the amount you received is pretty standard.
About the author
Janet Berry-Johnson
Janet Berry-Johnson

Janet Berry-Johnson is an authority on income taxes and small business accounting. She was a CPA for over 12 years and has been a personal finance writer for more than five years. Janet has written for several well-known media outlets, including The New York Times, Forbes, Business Insider and Credit Karma. In 2021, Canopy named her one of the Top 10 Influential Women in Accounting and Tax.

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