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If you have poor or no credit, you might still be able to qualify for a private student loan with the help of a cosigner. However, not every student knows someone who’s willing to act as a cosigner — especially considering the risks that come with cosigning a loan.
Thankfully, some student loans don’t require a credit check while others are available to borrowers with less-than-stellar credit.
Here’s what you should know about getting student loans without a cosigner:
- 3 best private student loans without a cosigner
- Other private student loan lenders to consider
- Federal student loan options without a cosigner
- Steps to take before applying without a cosigner
- Downsides of applying for a loan without a cosigner
- How to find a cosigner
3 best private student loans without a cosigner
You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a private student loan. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher. However, some lenders offer student loans to borrowers with scores lower than this. This means you might be able to qualify without a cosigner — though keep in mind that these loans tend to come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.
Before you apply for a private student loan, be sure to shop around and consider your options from as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for your situation. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders below that offer student loans for bad credit in just two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed Rates From (APR)||Variable Rates From (APR)||Loan amounts||Credit score|
|4.48%+10||5.98%+10||$2,001 to $400,000||Does not disclose|
|4.37%+8||6.85%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||670|
|4.89%+||N/A||$1,500 up to school’s certified cost of attendance less aid||670|
your credit score. 100% free!
To find the “best companies,” Credible looked at loan and lender data points from 10 categories to give you a well-rounded perspective on each of our partner lenders. Here’s what we considered:
- Interest rates
- Repayment terms
- Repayment options
- Customer service availability
- Eligibility criteria
- Cosigner release options
- Whether the minimum credit score is available publicly
- Whether consumers could request rates with a soft credit check
Our hope is that this will be a win-win situation for you and us — we only want to get paid if you find a loan that works for you, not by selling your data. This means Credible will only get paid by the lender if you finish the loan process and a loan is disbursed. Additionally, Credible charges you no fees of any kind to compare your loan options.
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)
Federal student loan options without a cosigner
Most federal student loans don’t require a credit check or a cosigner. However, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student loans — if you’re a dependent student, you’ll need to provide your parent’s financial information to complete the FAFSA.
Here are the three main types of federal student loans to consider:
|Direct Subsidized Loans||
|Direct Unsubsidized Loans||
|Direct PLUS Loans||
|1Meaning that any interest that accrues during your college career and 6 months afterward is completely paid for
2 For the 2021-22 academic year
Steps to take before applying without a cosigner
While eligibility requirements for private student loans can vary by lender, here are some of the main steps to take to increase your approval chances:
- Check and build your credit. When you apply for a private student loan, the lender will review your credit to determine whether to approve you, so it’s wise to check your credit beforehand to see where you stand. You can use a site like AnnualCreditReport.com to review your credit reports for free. If you find any errors, dispute them with the appropriate credit bureau to potentially boost your credit score. It could also be a good idea to work on building your credit if you have poor or no credit history. Some potential ways to do this include paying all of your bills on time, paying down credit card balances, or becoming an authorized user on a credit card account of someone you trust.
- Establish verifiable income. Some lenders have a minimum income requirement while others don’t — but in either case, you’ll typically have to provide proof of income to qualify for a loan. This means you’ll probably have a hard time getting approved if you don’t have a solid income history to show. If you’re unemployed, you’ll likely need to find a job before applying for a private student loan.
- Reduce your debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is the amount you owe in monthly debt payments compared to your income. Your DTI ratio should be no higher than 50% to take out a private student loan — though some lenders require lower ratios than this. If you need to bring your DTI ratio down, you might consider paying down your debt or even asking for a raise at your job.
Learn More: Best Private Student Loans That Don’t Require a Cosigner
Downsides of applying for a loan without a cosigner
If you’re thinking about applying for a student loan without a cosigner, here are some downsides to consider first:
- You might get denied. Many college students don’t yet have sufficient credit or income to get approved for a private student loan. If you have less-than-stellar credit (or no credit at all) or don’t have verifiable income, your application could get denied.
- You could get stuck with a higher interest rate. You’ll generally need good to excellent credit (or a cosigner) to qualify for the lowest interest rates. While you might still get approved, you could end up with a higher interest rate — which means you’ll pay more in interest over the life of your loan.
- Direct Subsidized Loans: Up to $5,500 per year
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans (undergraduate): Up to $12,500 per year
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans (graduate and professional): $20,500 per year
If you run into these student loan limits and need to borrow more, you’ll have to turn to federal Direct PLUS Loans or private student loans — both of which require decent credit to get approved without an endorser or a cosigner, respectively.
Check Out: Private Student Loan Repayment Options
How to find a cosigner
If you’re unable to qualify for a private student loan on your own, you could still need to find a cosigner. Luckily, you might have more options than you think — a cosigner can be anyone with good credit (such as a parent, another relative, or a trusted friend) who is willing to share responsibility for the loan.
But before you ask someone to cosign a loan, it’s important to be fully prepared. If you’re ready to find a cosigner, follow these four steps:
- Create a plan. If someone has agreed to cosign your loan, be sure to make a plan together that covers exactly how you’ll handle the loan if your application is approved. This should include how you’ll make payments and what you’ll do if you can’t make a payment on time.
- Go through the process together. Your cosigner’s name will be on the loan, too — so don’t leave them out of the application process. Instead, go through the entire process together so both of you know what’s involved as far as interest rate, repayment, fees, and anything else associated with the loan.
- Review the risks. Having a cosigner can make it much easier to qualify for a private student loan. But cosigning also comes with risks that are important to understand. If you fall behind on payments, your credit score will suffer — and so will your cosigner’s. And if you fail to repay the loan, your cosigner will be liable. Make sure you both know exactly what’s at stake.
- Keep communication open. Asking someone to cosign your loan is a big deal — so don’t shy away from discussing the risks involved. Also don’t be afraid to talk about your current financial state, your income, and how you plan to improve these areas. By laying everything out on the table, you can help set your cosigner’s mind at ease.
Learn More: How to Find a Cosigner for Your Student Loans
Frequently asked questions about student loan cosigners
Here are answers to some commonly asked questions regarding student loan cosigners:
Do you need a parent to cosign a student loan?
While many students ask one of their parents to act as a cosigner, this isn’t a requirement. Anyone with good credit who is willing to share responsibility for the loan can be a cosigner — for example, you might ask another relative or a trusted friend.
Who can be a cosigner on a student loan?
Anyone who meets the lender’s eligibility criteria can be a cosigner. This typically means that they must have good to excellent credit, verifiable income, and a low DTI ratio.
Remember that you don’t necessarily have to be related to someone to ask them to cosign a loan.
Do student loans affect a cosigner’s credit score?
Yes, your student loan could affect your cosigner’s credit score, in both good and bad ways.
- Initial hard credit check: To start, when you apply for the loan, the lender will perform a hard credit check on you and your cosigner to determine if you qualify for the loan. This could cause a slight drop in your credit score (and your cosigner’s) — though this is usually only temporary, and your score will likely bounce back in a few months.
- Payment history: Your payment history is one of the biggest factors in your credit score — so if you make your loan payments on time, you could see an improvement in your credit over time. This could help your cosigner’s score, too. However, if you fail to make payments on time, your credit could take a hit — along with your cosigner’s.
How to remove a cosigner from a student loan
Several lenders offer a cosigner release option — which means you could remove your cosigner from the loan after meeting certain requirements. Follow these three steps to remove a cosigner from a student loan:
- Make consecutive, on-time payments for a specific period of time. This is usually 12 to 48 months, depending on the lender.
- Meet the lender’s underwriting criteria on your own. This means you’ll need good to excellent credit, verifiable income, and a low DTI ratio — essentially, you’ll have to qualify for the loan without your cosigner’s help.
- Apply for cosigner release. You can often do this online via the lender’s website. Be prepared to provide your financial information and submit any required documentation, such as tax returns or pay stubs.
Depending on your credit, refinancing might get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own — which could save you money on interest and potentially help you pay off your loan faster.
Keep Reading: Student Loans with Cosigner Release
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