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Student Loans Reports

College Students Are Dropping Out Without Cosigners | Survey & Report

It is no secret that the cost of college is quite expensive and is only becoming costlier year-over-year. 

As a result, the student loan industry and the amount of outstanding student loan debt in the nation have grown in tandem. Today, there are over 45 million student borrowers in the United States that collectively owe more than $1.45 trillion in educational debt. According to our student loan debt statistics, the average student now owes $27,975​ upon graduating – a sum that many will be paying back well into their thirties.

>> Read More: How to pay off student loans fast

Undoubtedly, student loans are a useful, and often necessary, tool for anyone seeking to obtain a degree. Federal student loans are quite accessible, but often times cannot fully cover the cost of a college education.

Because of this, many young Americans must turn to the private student loan market, a sector not as accommodating when it comes to distributing educational loans. Private student loan lenders almost always require a cosigner and originate based on creditworthiness while the federal government has relatively few requirements.

Unfortunately, in our 2017 State of Private Student Loans report we found that 60.63 percent of private student loan applicants apply without a cosigner, yet only 4.90 percent are approved.

​Jeannie Tarkenton, Co-Founder and CEO of FundingU, explained, “Each year, about 2 million students apply to banks to attain critical ‘last gap’ loans to reach graduation. Those without co-signers are rejected, and poor/moderate income students are disproportionately represented in this rejected cohort.”

In short, meeting the cost of higher education in the U.S. is no small feat. And, meeting the cost of higher education can be even more difficult for students without a creditworthy cosigner.

In a new study, LendEDU and FundingU, a lender who specializes in non-cosigned student loans, found that many college students are having their dreams of graduating cut short due to a lack of funding. We thought it would be interesting to survey the population of college students who are applying for non-cosigned student loans to fill the gap between the cost of attendance and federal financial aid.

Full Survey Results

Note: This poll was completed by 569 current college students that submitted a request to FundingU for a non-cosigned student loan. All poll questions were designed by FundingU. FundingU also completed the polling process.

1. Did you find enough money to pay for college in the 2017-2018 school year?

a. 54.65% of respondents answered “no”

b. 45.35% of respondents answered “yes”

2. (Asked only to those who answered “no” to Q1) Has it delayed your intended graduation date?

a. 52.86% of respondents answered “yes”

b. 25.93% of respondents answered “maybe”

c. 21.21% of respondents answered “no”

3. (Asked only to those who answered “no” to Q1) How did it affect your college plans?

a. 51.04% of respondents answered “I dropped out”

b. 39.58% of respondents answered “I reduced hours”

c. 9.38% of respondents answered “I transferred”​

4. (Asked only to those who answered “yes” to Q1) Where did you get the money from to pay for the 2017-2018 school year?

a. 61.75% of respondents answered “federal loans”

b. 50.60% of respondents answered “scholarships/grants”

c. 31.47%% of respondents answered “friends and family”

d. 28.29% of respondents answered “bank loan – cosigned”

e. 27.09% of respondents answered “work income”

f. 18.33% of respondents answered “Parent PLUS Loans”

g. 17.53% of respondents answered “Perkins Loans”

h. 12.35% of respondents answered “credit cards”

i. 8.76% of respondents answered “bank loan – not cosigned”

Note: 76.50% of respondents answered with some combination of the above answer choices​.

5. (Asked only to those who answered “bank loan – cosigned” or “bank loan – not cosigned” to Q4) If you took out a private bank loan, what was the interest rate?

a. 35.98% of respondents answered “I don’t know”

b. 34.15% of respondents answered “5% to 10%”

c. 20.12% of respondents answered “11% to 15%”

d. 6.10% of respondents answered “Over 15%”

e. 3.66% of respondents answered “Under 5%”

6. Do you anticipate needing a non-cosigner loan again next year?

a. 73.76% of respondents answered “yes”

b. 17.98% of respondents answered “I don’t know”

c. 8.26% of respondents answered “no”​

Observations & Analysis

Finding Money for College Is a Struggle For Most…

The results of this poll, which was done collaboratively between LendEDU and FundingU, uncovered that the majority of college students applying for non-cosigned student loans were unable to find enough money to afford their college education during the 2017-2018 academic year.

54.65 percent of the respondents answered “no” when asked if they had found enough funding for the 2017-2018 school year. Only 45.35 percent of poll participants were successful in putting together enough money to afford their college education. 

And the Ramifications Are Severe

FundingU and LendEDU wanted to hear more from those students who took out student loans without a cosigner that lacked the necessary money to spend their 2017-2018 year on a college campus. 

The following question was proposed: “How did it affect your college plans?”​

The plurality of respondents, 51.04 percent, stated they dropped out of college because of lack of funds, while 39.58 percent had to reduce their hours to bring down cost. Another 9.38 percent of respondents had to transfer, likely to a more affordable institution.

And with the next follow-up question, the answers did little to help improve the mood amongst college students hopeful to receive college degrees.

The respondents were asked to answer the following: “Has it delayed your intended graduation date?”​

According to the poll results, 52.86 percent of respondents had their intended graduation dates impacted by the fact that they were not able to put enough cash together to attend colleges or universities. 25.93 percent stated that their planned graduation dates were “maybe” affected, indicating that it is most likely too soon to tell but remains a strong possibly. Finally, 21.21 percent of respondents were lucky enough to stay on track for their graduation timelines. 

As noted in the introduction, the cost of a higher education in the U.S. is quite expensive, but this is not a revelation by any means. College is certainly not meant for everyone, especially when the yearly cost of attendance can be over $50,000.

The results of this poll were surprising and particularly demoralizing because the respondent pool was made up of young Americans that were already in college and looking to continue their studies. Staying in a respective college or university based off of academic merits alone is already stressful enough, but imagine coupling the stress of achieving good grades with the struggle of finding enough cash to continue attending classes.

That sounds downright impossible, and according to this poll, it has become very difficult for students without a cosigner to find financing through the private market.

Most Borrowers Unsure of the Interest Rates They Received On Their Private Student Loans

Of those respondents that successfully obtained private student loans for their education, we asked if they knew what the interest rates were.

The slight plurality of respondents, 35.98 percent, were unsure of the interest rates they received on their private student loans. Obviously, this is not good. Student loan borrowers should have an acute understanding of all educational loans they hold so that when it comes time to repay said loans, they are not blindsided by intimidating debt balances.

The second most popular answer was that 34.15 percent of college students received private student loans with interest rates between 5 and 10 percent. 20.12 percent of respondents received loans with interest rates between 11 and 15 percent, while 6.10 percent of poll participants got loans with rates over 15 percent. Finally, 3.66 percent of college students obtained private student loans with interest rates under 5 percent. ​


This data-driven report was done in a partnership between LendEDU and FundingU, a private student loan lender who offers non-cosigned loan products. FundingU aims to help under-funded undergraduate students. All poll questions were designed by FundingU. FundingU also completed the polling process. In total, 569 current college students that submitted a request to FundingU for a non-cosigned student loan to continue their college education were polled. Respondents were asked to answer each question truthfully and to the best of their abilities. 

See more of LendEDU’s Research