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A student loan can be a great tool to pay for an undergraduate degree or graduate program — it might also come with a credit check. But you can find student loans that don’t require a credit check.
Here’s a look at which student loans require a credit check (and other options if your credit is less than stellar):
- Federal student loans with no credit check
- 3 student loans for low credit scores
- Adding a cosigner can increase your chances of approval
Federal student loans with no credit check
Federal student loans don’t come with a credit check. They’re backed by the U.S. government, and you can apply for one by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Types of federal student loans that don’t require a credit check include:
- Direct Subsidized Loans: Subsidized loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. With these loans, the government covers Interest charges while you’re in school.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: Unsubsidized loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, and they don’t take financial need into account. Unlike subsidized loans, you’ll be responsible for the interest that accrues on unsubsidized loans right away. But they can still be a good deal if you need to borrow for school.
While you don’t need a credit score to qualify for most federal student loans, you will need to meet some other important requirements, including:
- A valid Social Security number
- Selective Service registration (male students ages 18 to 25)
- Eligible citizenship or legal residency status
- High school diploma, GED, or equivalent
- Enrollment in an eligible accredited college, university, or trade school program
- Signed and completed FAFSA
- Satisfactory academic progress
- Be in good standing with existing loans
Lastly, remember to look into free financial aid, such as scholarships and college grants. Unlike student loans, you don’t have to pay these types of aid back.
Learn More: 7 of the Best Student Loans for Bad Credit
3 student loans for low credit scores
While most federal student loans don’t require a credit check, private student loan lenders will review your credit before issuing a new loan. To increase your chances of being approved, consider looking at private student loans aimed at those with low credit scores. Here’s a brief look at how your credit is used to approve a private student loan:
- Getting your loan rate: You can usually check your rate by filling out a short form that allows the lender to take a quick look at your credit, as well as other factors. This typically involves a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit score.
- Full underwriting: If you like the rate and terms you get from filling out the short application, you can submit a full application. The lender will then look at your credit, income, and ability to repay to make a final decision.
The Credible partner lenders in the following table offer personal loans for borrowers with low credit scores. You can easily check your rates from these and other lenders by filling out a single form. Plus, there’s no hard credit check involved when you check rates, meaning your credit score won’t be affected.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan amount||Min. credit score|
|4.62%+10||5.86%+10||$2,001 to $400,000||Does not disclose|
|4.37%+8||5.86%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||670|
|4.89%+||N/A||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school’s certified cost of attendance (depending on school type and minus other aid received)||670|
your credit score. 100% free!
Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 10Ascent Disclosures | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Adding a cosigner can increase your chances of approval
Private loans could help fill in funding gaps if federal loans, grants, and scholarships aren’t enough to fully cover your education costs. Even if you have bad credit or no credit, you might still qualify for a private student loan with a cosigner.
How to find a cosigner
Finding a cosigner means seeking someone who trusts you with their credit. It’s a huge responsibility, which is why you need to be able to prove to this person you have a solid plan in place to pay your loan back. Plus, being open about your current financial situation (or when you graduate), and explaining the risks in being a cosigner is important. Whether it’s a close friend, relative, or parent, you should be upfront and honest with them.
You can also seek loans with a cosigner release, where the cosigner can be released from the loan once you’ve met certain criteria, such as making on-time payments.
You also might be able to qualify for a student loan without a cosigner. However, it could take longer to get a loan without a cosigner, since you’ll likely need to repair or build your credit first.
Whatever you decide, remember to compare as many private student loan lenders as possible so you end up with the right loan for your situation. You can see your rates with multiple lenders in as little as three minutes by using Credible — including loans with and without a cosigner.
See Your Rates
Checking rates will not affect your credit
Eric Rosenberg contributed to the reporting for this article.