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Having bad credit isn’t the best predicament to be in, but luckily there are programs and loans available that can help.
Here are some options for student loans with bad credit:
Federal student loans
Your first and best option for bad credit is to look into federal student loans. When you fill out the FAFSA to apply for financial aid, you can receive many different types of aid. This includes grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and student loans.
The different types of student loans may include:
- Direct Subsidized Loans: These are available if you showcase financial need. In your financial aid award letter, you’ll know your expected family contribution. A Direct Subsidized Loan is when the government covers interest costs while you’re in school. Credit checks aren’t required for this type of loan, and you can receive on without having an established credit history.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These are available for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and aren’t based on need. Anyone who needs a federal loan that doesn’t qualify for a subsidized one can get an unsubsidized one. But an unsubsidized loan is when you’re responsible for interest costs while you’re in school. A credit check or an established credit history isn’t required for this type of loan.
- Direct PLUS Loans: These types of loans are for graduate and professional students or parents of dependent undergraduate students. You can get this type of loan without demonstrating financial need, but a credit check is required. If your parent is taking out a loan to help you pay for school, their credit will be checked, not yours.
- Direct Consolidation Loans: These are available after you’ve graduated or dropped below half-time enrollment. If you have many different federal loans, you can consolidate them into one manageable payment. Consolidation loans are usually taken out after you’ve graduated with many federal loans.
Though not always, federal loans typically have lower interest rates compared to private student loans. So keep that in mind as you figure out what works best for you.
8 private student loans for bad credit
If you’ve exhausted all your federal student loan options and still need money to pay for school, private student loans could be a good option. Many different financial institutions offer private student loans, including:
- Credit unions
- Online lenders
If you decide to take out a private student loan, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for your situation. Depending on the lender, you might be able to qualify for a private student loan with or without a cosigner.
Credible makes shopping for the best private student loan easy — you can see your rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Min. credit score|
|3.49%+2,3||1.04%+2,3||Does not disclose|
|4.25% - 12.35%9||1.25% - 11.10%9||Does not disclose|
your credit score. 100% free!
Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Bank Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Using a cosigner for your student loan
If you don’t have strong enough credit to qualify on your own, many private student loan lenders allow you to use a cosigner. A cosigner signs onto the loan with you and agrees to pay back your loan if you can’t. In fact, over 90% of private student loans are cosigned.
Having a cosigner might help you qualify for a lower rate than you could on your own, so it’s worth considering.
If you decide to go with a private student loan, remember to compare plenty of lenders to find the right loan for you.
Credible makes this easy — you can see your rates from multiple lenders in two minutes after filling out a single form. And you can even compare different cosigners to see which one would get you the best rate.
You can also work to improve your credit
If you’re in need of student loans with bad credit, but have exhausted all your options above, don’t worry. There are many things you can do to improve your credit score so you can qualify for student loans in the future:
- If you have debt, pay it off. Start lowering your credit utilization and increasing your positive payment history by paying off your debt. Even minimum payments made on time every month can increase your score in a few months.
- Become an authorized user. Rather than attempt to take out credit on your own, ask a parent or other relative with great credit if you can become an authorized user on one of their credit cards. You don’t have to use the credit card but your score will go up from their strong creditworthiness.
- Report your other expenses to credit bureaus. You can use things like Experian Boost to get your utility bills and phone bill on your credit report. These don’t require a credit check and can show you’re responsible with credit.
Methodology: Credible evaluated loan and lender data points in 10 categories to identify the “best companies” for private student loans. We looked at interest rates, repayment terms, repayment options, fees, discounts, and customer service availability. We also considered each company’s eligibility, cosigner release options, whether the minimum credit score is available publicly, and whether consumers could request rates with a soft credit check. Credible receives compensation from its lender partners when a user of the Credible platform closes a loan with the lender.