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You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a student loan. If you have poor credit or haven’t yet built a credit history, one way to potentially get approved is by applying with a creditworthy cosigner — this generally means your cosigner must meet the underwriting criteria set by the lender, which includes having good credit.
If you don’t know someone with good credit who is eligible to cosign your loan, you might be able to qualify on your own with one of the lenders that offer student loans for bad credit.
Here’s what you should know about the best student loans for bad credit without a cosigner and where to find them:
- 3 best student loans that don’t require a cosigner
- Other private student loan lenders to consider
- 3 steps to getting a student loan without a cosigner
- Can I be a student loan cosigner with bad credit?
- Do I need a cosigner for student loans?
- Who can be a student loan cosigner?
3 best student loans that don’t require a cosigner
To find the right private student loan for your needs, it’s important to research and compare as many lenders as possible. Keep in mind that the best student loans that don’t require a cosigner provide competitive interest rates, a wide selection of loan terms, inclusive eligibility requirements, and responsive customer service.
Here are Credible’s partner lenders that offer private student loans for poor or no credit without a cosigner:
|Lender||Fixed Rates From (APR)||Variable Rates From (APR)||Loan amounts||Credit score|
|3.19%+||1.83%+||$2,001 to $200,000||540|
|3.83%+8||1.56%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||670|
|3.75%+||N/A||$1,500 up to school’s certified cost of attendance less aid||670|
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With Ascent, you can borrow $2,001 to $200,000 (depending on if your credit is tested or not) with repayment terms from five to 20 years (depending on the loan type).
Additionally, you could be eligible for a 1% cashback graduation reward from Ascent if you earn your degree within five years.
If you live or attend school in Indiana, INvestEd might be a good choice for a student loan. You can borrow $1,000 up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received) with terms from five to 15 years.
MEFA student loans are available from $1,500 up to your certified cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received) with terms from 10 to 15 years.
Keep in mind that you must attend a public or nonprofit school to work with MEFA — for-profit schools aren’t eligible.
Other private student loan lenders to consider
Here are more private student loan companies we evaluated. Note that you might need to apply with a creditworthy cosigner to potentially qualify with these lenders if you have poor or no credit.
Also keep in mind that these lenders aren’t offered through Credible, so you won’t be able to easily compare your rates with them on the Credible platform like you can our partner lenders.
(depending on degree type)
3 steps to getting a student loan without a cosigner
There are ways to get a student loan without a cosigner, even if you have bad credit.
1. Borrow the maximum amount of federal student loans first
If you need to borrow for school, it’s generally a good idea to take out federal student loans first. This is mainly because these loans come with federal benefits and protections — such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs. Many federal loans also don’t require a credit check.
Here are the main federal student loans that might be available to you:
- Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need and don’t require a credit check. The government will cover the interest on these loans while you’re in school.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need. Like subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans don’t require a credit check. However, you’re responsible for all of the interest that accrues on these loans. Keep in mind that dependent students might be eligible for more unsubsidized loan funding if their parent doesn’t qualify for a Parent PLUS Loan.
- Direct PLUS Loans come in two types — Grad PLUS Loans for students who want to pay for grad school and Parent PLUS Loans for parents who want to help pay for their child’s education. Unlike Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, you’ll have to undergo a credit check and must not have an adverse credit history to take out a PLUS Loan. These loans also come with higher interest rates than other federal student loans.
|Direct Subsidized Loans||
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||
|Direct PLUS Loans||
|1Meaning that any interest that accrues during your college career and six months afterward is completely paid for
2 For the 2021-22 academic year
2. Fill in the gaps with private student loans
After you’ve exhausted your scholarship, grant, and federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill any financial gaps left over.
However, keep in mind that if you have poor or no credit as well as no cosigner, you’ll likely end up with higher interest rates. Because of this, it’s best to treat private student loans as a last resort, since they’ll be more expensive in the long run.
You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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3. Build credit during college
Many college students don’t yet have the necessary credit to qualify for private student loans on their own. If this is the case, it could be a good idea to focus on building your credit while you’re still in school.
A few ways to potentially do this include:
- Becoming an authorized user: One of the easiest ways to start building credit as a college student is to become an authorized user on the credit card account of someone you trust. If they make on-time payments and keep their balance relatively low, it will benefit your credit in turn — without you even needing to use the card.
- Making payments on your student loans: If you can afford it, consider making payments on your federal or private student loans while you’re still in school. This could have a positive impact on your credit over time as well as help you lower the amount you’ll owe after you leave school.
- Getting a secured credit card: This type of credit card is secured by a cash deposit that acts as your credit limit. Some secured cards are geared toward borrowers with poor credit while others are designed for students looking to build their credit. As you use the card and make on-time payments, you could see your credit score begin to grow. You might also have the option to convert the card into a regular credit card after making a certain number of on-time payments — meaning you’ll also get your deposit back.
- Taking out a credit-builder loan: This type of loan is designed to help borrowers build a positive payment history to improve their credit score. You’ll make payments over a short repayment term that will be deposited into a savings account. Once your term is over, you’ll get the deposited amount back, minus any interest or fees.
Can I be a student loan cosigner with bad credit?
Cosigners are typically required to have good to excellent credit — which means you likely won’t be eligible to cosign a loan if you have bad credit. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher.
If you have poor credit and want to cosign a loan in the future, it’s a good idea to focus on building your credit beforehand.
Do I need a cosigner for student loans?
This depends on the type of student loan you want to get as well as your credit.
- Federal student loans: Most federal loans — including Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans — don’t require a credit check or a cosigner. If you’re a dependent student, keep in mind that you might also qualify for unsubsidized loan funding if your parent isn’t eligible for a PLUS Loan.
- Private student loans: Unlike federal loans, all private student loans require a credit check. You’ll also generally need good to excellent credit to be eligible. Because many college students don’t yet have sufficient credit history to get approved on their own, it could be difficult to qualify without a cosigner. While some lenders offer private student loans for bad credit, remember that these loans usually come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.
Who can be a student loan cosigner?
Many college students rely on one of their parents to cosign private student loans. However, a cosigner doesn’t have to be a parent. A student loan cosigner can be anyone with good credit — such as a relative, or trusted friend — who is willing to share responsibility for the loan.
Just keep in mind that your cosigner will be on the hook if you can’t make your payments.
If you decide to take out a private student loan — with or without a cosigner — remember to compare as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for your situation.
This is easy with Credible: You can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in just two minutes.