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Personal Loans

Personal Loans for Single Mothers & Other Sources of Financial Aid

Single moms have a tough job, and many Americans are taking on this responsibility. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 80% of single-parent households were headed by mothers.

Raising a family alone and on one income is challenging. When unexpected expenses pop up, that financial situation can be a disaster.

Loans for single mothers are a potential solution. We’ll help you compare your options and pick the best one for your needs and budget.

Potential challenges for single mothers needing a loan

A personal loan is a type of financing that lets you borrow a lump sum. The lender charges an interest rate and spreads out equal payments over a predetermined time. The interest rate is often fixed, so you can have a predictable loan payment each month. 

Being a single mom doesn’t have a direct bearing on which lenders you can borrow from. All applicants are evaluated on the following eligibility requirements: 

  • Credit score: A higher credit score helps you qualify for lower interest rates. That reduces your overall payment. 
  • Financial history: The most important component of your credit score is your payment history. Lenders consider late payments, bankruptcies, and more.  
  • Income: Lenders want to ensure you can afford the monthly payment. Alimony and child support typically count as income sources if you get them. Your current debt is compared to your monthly income—called your debt-to-income ratio (DTI)—to gauge eligibility. 

With a good credit history and stable income, you’ll have your pick of the best personal loan lenders. With a not-so-stellar credit history and finances that are stretched thin, you may need to turn to a fair- or bad-credit lender. 

Each lender has unique eligibility requirements and loan terms. Compare several options to see how much you can borrow and what you’ll pay in interest and fees. 

Our expert recommends

Erin Kinkade

CFP®

First, I recommend understanding DTI and how it affects their credit score and credit report. Second, to manage your DTI, I recommend creating a budget to balance income with expenses. In a case where you’re accruing debt or a loan is a need (not a want), it’s crucial to know you can repay the debt with on-time payments that result in reducing the loan amount and eventually paying it off. This seems obvious and is easy to say, but if you need assistance making this decision, I recommend consulting a trusted family member, friend, financial counselor, or other financial professional.

Where to find personal loans for single moms

Many loan options are available for single moms. To help you find the right fit, we’ve broken down the top lenders by the credit score category they specialize in. 

Here’s a quick overview of the different FICO score categories so you can see where you fall:

FICO credit scoreCategory rating
Less than 580Poor
580 to 669Fair
670 to 739Good
740 to 799Very good
800+Exceptional

Tip

Not sure how to check your credit score? First, see whether your bank or credit card company provides free access. Otherwise, you can get a free educational credit score with Credit Karma and similar companies.


We’ve compiled our top-rated lenders for different credit score categories. Click the lender’s name in the table to find out more about its personal loans for single mothers.

LenderBest forEditorial rating (out of 5)
SoFiGood credit5.0
UpgradeFair credit4.9
UpstartThin credit4.8
LightStreamExcellent credit4.8

SoFi – Best for good credit

  • Editorial rating: 5.0
  • Unemployment protection included
  • No fees

For single moms with good credit, SoFi is a strong option for several reasons. For starters, no hidden fees are involved. You’ll pay your monthly payments with interest—no upfront origination fee, late fees, or prepayment penalty. 

Plus, SoFi has an unemployment protection program that modifies your payment and even helps you find a new job. For a single-income family, this feature provides a helpful financial safety net. 

  • Soft credit pull to check rates? Yes
  • Deposit time: As fast as same day 
  • Origination fee: None
  • Interest rates (APR): 8.99% – 25.81
  • Repayment terms: 24 – 84 months

Upgrade – Best for fair credit

  • Editorial rating: 4.9
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Origination and late fees apply

Upgrade has two types of personal loan options: unsecured, which requires at least a fair credit score, and an auto-secured loan, which uses your car as collateral. You may qualify more easily for the secured loan, but you risk losing your vehicle if you default on your payments. 

If you need funds fast, Upgrade can deposit cash in your account as soon as the next business day. But watch for high origination fees. The lender deducts these from your loan amount before you get the money.  

  • Soft credit pull to check rates? Yes
  • Deposit time: One business day
  • Origination fee: 1.85% – 9.99% 
  • Interest rates (APR): 8.49% to 35.99% 
  • Repayment terms: 24 – 84 months

Upstart – Best for thin credit

  • Editorial rating: 4.8
  • Available to borrowers with thin credit, meaning you don’t have established credit
  • Smaller loan amounts available

Upstart‘s unique feature is its willingness to work with borrowers who have thin credit. This is ideal for many people, including younger single moms who haven’t established credit or women whose former partners had most of the loans and credit cards in their name.

Some Upstart loans come with a high origination fee, so compare the total cost for each of your options. But loan amounts from this lender are smaller, which means you don’t have to borrow more than you need. 

  • Soft credit pull to check rates? Yes
  • Deposit time: One business day
  • Origination fee: 0% – 12% 
  • Interest rates (APR): 5.20% – 35.99
  • Repayment terms: 36 or 60 months

LightStream – Best for excellent credit

  • Editorial rating: 4.8
  • Longer repayment terms available
  • Autopay discount available

LightStream caters to borrowers with strong credit. And when you also have enough income, you can apply for loans as high as $100,000. Single moms with a strong financial situation who want to borrow a larger amount should consider LightStream.

You also get a 0.50% rate discount by enrolling in autopay. This can help you stay on top of your bills each month while also keeping your payment as low as possible. LightStream doesn’t offer prequalification, so you’ll undergo a hard credit check to see your rate and terms. We recommend LightStream mainly for single mothers who know their credit score and are confident they’ll be approved.

  • Soft credit pull to check rates? No
  • Deposit time: As soon as same day
  • Origination fee: None
  • Interest rates (APR): 7.49%25.49%
  • Repayment terms: 24 – 144 months

Can I get a loan for single moms with bad credit?

Many lenders willwork with bad-credit borrowers. However, watch out for exorbitant interest rates and hefty origination fees. 

Depending on your financial needs, it may be worth waiting to improve your credit score before applying for a personal loan. This helps you qualify for a better interest rate, which keeps you monthly payments lower. 

The downside is that it takes time to improve your credit score. You need to make payments on time and lower your revolving debt to get that number up. When you’re in the middle of a financial emergency, waiting may not be an option.

If you can’t qualify and need the money right away, consider a few of the alternatives below. Proceed with caution when it comes to payday loans, which can get you caught in an expensive cycle of high-interest debt. 

Other types of aid and loans for single moms

Personal loans are a terrific option for many situations because they are often unsecured, meaning you’re not putting your personal property on the line if you’re unable to repay it.

However, in specific situations, a personal loan might not be the right answer. Here are three other loan options to consider.

Home loans for single parents

If you’re trying to purchase a home for your family, you’ll need a mortgage loan rather than a personal loan.

A mortgage uses your home as collateral for the loan, which means you’ll get lower rates than you would on a personal loan, but if you’re unable to make the loan payments, the lender could foreclose on your home. 

A number of first-time homebuyer programs and other mortgages can help you qualify:

  • FHA loans: Designed to make home buying more affordable for middle- and low-income first-time homebuyers. 
  • VA loans: No-down-payment loans for military members, veterans, and their surviving spouses.
  • USDA loans: No down payment for eligible homebuyers in rural areas.
  • HomeReady and HomePossible: Low-down-payment mortgages for low-income borrowers. 

Federal grants and nonprofit aid for single moms

Federal aid is available through a number of programs to help you make ends meet and provide the basics your family needs. These programs can help you pay for food, find and pay for housing, get medical insurance, or receive reduced-cost child care.

Charitable organizations and state and local assistance programs might also be available to help you get the support you need.

You can learn more in our guide to programs that offer help for single moms.

Educational aid for single moms

Support isn’t only available for your living costs. If you’re trying to get an education to further your career, options for aid outside of traditional student loans include applying for scholarships

Many scholarships can help ease the financial burden of paying tuition, taking time off work, and hiring child care.

Is a loan the right option for you?

Once you start looking at loan options, you might wonder how to figure out which is best for you. Every borrower has unique choices based on their needs and financial situation.

Many lenders do a soft credit pull, rather than a hard credit pull, before they give you an initial loan offer. That means your credit score won’t be hurt if you check your options with multiple lenders. 

You can also see how much you qualify for and what your monthly payments might look like before you fill out an application. It’s important to make sure you can afford your payments; otherwise, you may want to explore another source of aid. 

When you get personal loan quotes, compare the following:

  • APRs: The annual percentage rate on your loan will tell you the total annual cost of your loan, including the interest rate and related fees. It helps give you a more accurate total cost of the loan. The higher the APR on the loan, the more you can expect to pay in interest and fees. 
  • Loan amounts: Different lenders may have unique minimum and maximum loan amounts they’re willing to offer. Review each loan amount to see which ones meet your needs.
  • Loan repayment terms: How long will they lend you money, and what will your monthly payment be? Loans with a longer repayment term will mean your monthly payment is less, but you could also end up paying more in interest. 

Even small differences in your APR or repayment timeline can have a profound effect on your budget. Use a personal loan calculator beforehand so you know what you can afford.

How to apply for a personal loan as a single parent

Applying for a personal loan is easy, so it won’t take much time out of your schedule. Many lenders allow you to apply online in a matter of minutes. Use these five steps to apply for a personal loan:

  1. Check your credit score
  2. Determine whether you need a personal loan with a cosigner or co-applicant
  3. Decide how much you can afford to borrow based on loan payments and total cost
  4. Apply for prequalification with multiple lenders
  5. Compare quotes and choose a lender, then submit a full application

When getting a quote from potential lenders, you’ll need to provide documentation for the lender to assess what loan you may qualify for. This can include:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • An estimate of your credit score (some lenders may do a soft credit pull to get your score)
  • Your current income
  • What you plan to use the loan for
  • Your Social Security number

Once you choose a lender, it might need to verify your information with additional documents, such as:

  • Government-issued I.D.
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of income, such as pay stubs and tax returns
  • Proof of assets, such as bank account and investment account balances

Get organized early with all the documentation you may need to apply for a loan. 

A personal loan can offer financial support to a single mother when she needs it the most. Depending on income, financial history, and need, you may have several options to consider before making your final choice. 

FAQ

Will being a single mother disqualify me from taking out a loan?

By law, lenders cannot discriminate based on your marital status. A lender must evaluate married and single applicants based on the same set of criteria. 

However, these criteria will often include evaluating your current debt, income, and credit history. If you’re the only income earner in your household as a single mother, your finances could be strained and not ideal for lenders.

It’s important to research and understand all the loan and aid programs available: This can help you qualify for the money you need. 

How can single mothers manage loan repayments effectively?

The first step is to only take out a loan you can afford. Even if a lender approves your application, look at the monthly payment, and make sure it fits your budget. 

Another tip is to enroll in autopay. This could qualify you for a rate discount with many lenders. It also helps you meet your payment deadlines, so you don’t accrue late fees or hurt your credit score. 

Are emergency loans available for single mothers?

Most online lenders offer quick approvals and funding times. This can be helpful for single mothers who need an emergency loan. It takes just a few minutes to apply, and if approved, you could get money within one day (and sometimes sooner). 

Recap of personal loans for single mothers

LenderRates (APR)Amounts
SoFi8.99% – 25.81%$5,000 – $100,000View rates
Upgrade8.94%35.99%$1,000 – $50,000View rates
Upstart5.20% – 35.99%$1,000 – $50,000View rates
LightStream7.49%25.49%$5,000 – $100,000View rates