Sometimes, releasing your cosigner from your student loans is necessary. It takes years to pay off loans, and in that time, your or your lender’s situation may change.
Perhaps you’re no longer in contact with your cosigner, or they can’t handle the financial responsibility now.
If your lender offers a cosigner release option, be prepared to meet certain requirements.
In this guide:
- Why do some lenders allow a cosigner release?
- Steps to release a cosigner
- What if my lender doesn’t allow cosigner release?
- How do my responsibilities change when I remove a cosigner?
- Do my terms change if my cosigner is released?
- Can a lender require that I add a cosigner back once removed?
Why do some lenders allow a cosigner release?
Certain lenders offer a cosigner release option in exchange for proof that the original borrower now qualifies for the loan on their own.
Lenders base their approval decisions on statistics and qualifications, so some see no issue in removing a cosigner if the original borrower has a stronger financial history now.
Many lenders offer this as an added perk to draw in customers. Sallie Mae, for example, requires just a year’s worth of payments to qualify for a cosigner release. Other companies require 36 months of payments or more.
Steps to release a cosigner
Private student loans, on the other hand, offer financing for expenses federal loans won’t cover. Private lenders set their own requirements, which many young students with little to no credit history can’t meet, so they seek out a cosigner.
If you need to remove a cosigner from your private loans—or you’re a cosigner who wants to be removed—take the four steps below.
Find out whether your lender offers cosigner release
Your loan servicer might be willing to release your cosigner from repayment obligations if you meet certain criteria.
Most private lenders provide a process for cosigner release. To find out whether yours does, check the lists below. If your lender isn’t listed, you can call, send a letter, or check its website.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has sample scripts you can use when contacting your lender online or via mail.
Lenders that allow a cosigner release
The following lenders will allow you to release a cosigner from your student loans:
|Lender||Number of on-time monthly payments required for cosigner release|
|College Ave||Half of repayment term (e.g., 5 years if the borrower selects a 10-year repayment term)|
Lenders that don’t allow a cosigner release
The following lenders don’t offer cosigner release:
If your credit score won’t allow you to qualify for a refinance, you may have to refinance with a different cosigner or spend time improving your score.
Determine whether you meet your lender’s requirements
When your lender confirms a cosigner release is an option, your next step is to find out what it requires to release your cosigner from their obligations.
Common requirements include:
- Proof the primary borrower has graduated college. Most lenders won’t release a cosigner while the borrower is still in school.
- A certain number of on-time monthly payments. As you can see in the table above, many lenders require borrowers to have made between 12 and 48 full payments, including both principal and interest, before releasing a cosigner.
- Proof of employment: You may need to prove you have a steady job and are earning a certain level of income.
- Good credit: The primary borrower must meet minimum credit requirements, which vary by lender. You’ll need to submit to a credit check.
- Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
If you can’t meet your lender’s requirements yet, you should take the necessary steps to fulfill them if you want to release your cosigner from the loan.
You may need to make more payments, increase or supplement your income, or work to improve your credit.
Gather your documents
If you think you meet the requirements for cosigner release, you’ll need to assemble documentation to prove it.
You can find the cosigner release application on your lender’s website or by contacting its customer service department. This form should have requirements specific to your lender, and it may be online or a hard copy.
The documentation you may need to supply includes:
- W2s, pay stubs, or tax returns to provide proof of income.
- A copy of your degree or college transcripts to show you’ve graduated.
- Proof of the number of required payments made, aka your payment history.
- Cosigner release application.
It’s helpful to have all the paperwork together so when you submit your application, you can provide the documents your lender needs and prevent delays.
Submit your application
You can submit a request for cosigner release via mail or, for some lenders, online. It’s wise to keep a paper copy for your records either way.
The CFPB has helpful sample letters for this. Be certain to send your requests and documents certified with return receipt requested so you’ll know when your lender receives them.
Your lender should respond within several weeks to advise it will release your cosigner or to explain why you don’t qualify for cosigner release at the time. If you don’t qualify, your lender should explain why and advise you on what steps you can take to free your cosigner from responsibility for the loan.
If your lender allows cosigner release, be sure to keep all the documentation. Depending on the lender, the cosigner should see the debt removed from their credit report after several weeks.
What if my lender doesn’t allow cosigner release?
Some lenders won’t offer cosigner releases. In those instances, you’ll need to get more creative in how you remove your cosigner. Another way to release your cosigner is to refinance your student loans.
Student loan refinancing means you take out a new loan, often from a different lender, and repay the old loan using the money from the new loan. The new loan will ideally have more favorable repayment terms, which means you could lower your monthly payment and total interest, making the payments more affordable.
If you qualify, refinancing can be a simple way to remove your cosigner. As with a cosigner release, you must qualify for a refinance loan in your own name.
Many refinance lenders’ requirements are similar to those in place to qualify for the original loan, such as proof of income (via recent pay stubs) and satisfactory credit history. Read the new loan terms to ensure they’re reasonable, so you don’t end up with higher payments or an outright denial on your refinancing application.
How do my responsibilities change when I remove a cosigner from my student loans?
When you’re new to financial responsibilities, student loans can be intimidating. That’s why companies allow for cosigners, often the student’s parents or guardians, so someone with an established financial track record is responsible for payments if the original borrower doesn’t make them.
When you release your cosigner, you take on the full responsibility of paying your loans. If you cease making payments, no one else is responsible for paying.
If your cosigner wants out of their agreement, but you’re worried you might still struggle with paying down the loan, talk with them.
Are they willing to assist with repayment even if it isn’t a legal requirement? If so, relying on them from time to time could be a “best of both worlds” option for you and your cosigner.
Do any of the terms on my student loan change if my cosigner is released?
When you release your cosigner, your loan should remain the same. The original agreement you made when you took out the loan still holds. The only difference is you’re now fully responsible for those agreements.
Your loan terms will only change if you refinance with a new lender. By switching, you may be able to select new payoff terms and qualify for a lower interest rate.
Can a lender require me to add a cosigner back once removed?
If you’ve removed your cosigner only to realize you’re struggling with payments, you’re on your own.
You can add a cosigner back to your loan if you refinance with another lender. Most private lenders have a cosigner option, so if you refinance, you should be able to add a cosigner to your loan.