Non-Degree Seeking Student Loans
Non-degree programs can help you broaden your horizons and increase your income. Most student loan lenders focus on degree-seeking students, but there are programs available for students of certificate and other non-degree programs.
Many or all of the companies featured provide compensation to LendEDU. These commissions are how we maintain our free service for consumers. Compensation, along with hours of in-depth editorial research, determines where & how companies appear on our site.
There are lots of reasons to pursue an education beyond earning a degree. You could attend school to broaden your horizons or find a certificate program that can expand your skills, but that doesn’t offer a traditional degree.
If you’re pursuing some type of education that doesn’t offer a degree, you may still qualify for certain kinds of financial aid, including student loans.
On this page:
Federal financial aid for non-degree seeking students
Generally, federal student loans are reserved for graduate and undergraduate students attending degree programs at accredited schools. However, there are some special exceptions for certain courses of study.
- Federal loans can help you pay for certificates programs like cosmetology school. The government’s college navigator tool can help you find certificate programs and you can check for their accreditation using the Department of Education’s accreditation search tool.
- You can use federal loans to pay for coursework that you need to complete before attending college.
The best way to find out what federal assistance you can get is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Of course, you should always use scholarships, grants, and other free money before turning to federal student loans.
Private student loans for non-degree seeking students
Some, but not all, private student lenders have options for non-degree students. You’ll need to check with each lender to see its requirements and what programs qualify.
Another thing to note about private student loans is that, unlike federal loans, you also need to have good credit to qualify. That means that some borrowers may need cosigners to be able to get private loans.
One option for non-degree seeking student loans is College Ave’s Career Loan.
College Ave Career Loan
1.49% – 12.99%
$1,000 – 100% of cost of attendance
5, 8, 10, or 15 years
College Ave offers a variety of loans tailored to specific programs, including one for students who want to advance their careers without getting a degree. This loan is called the Career Loan.
- Eligibility requirements: U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Variable rates: 1.49% – 12.99%
- Fixed rates: 4.39% – 12.95%
- Repayment options: Full principal and interest, interest-only, flat $25, or deferred payment
- Discounts offered: 0.25% automatic payment discount
- Key features:
- Remove cosigner after twenty-four payments
- Multiple payment options
- $150 reward for completing your degree
Is taking out a student loan for a non-degree program a good idea?
If you’re considering a non-degree education program, you have to ask yourself whether borrowing money to complete the program is a good idea. When making your decision, you’ll want to consider the following questions.
- Are you confident that you’ll be able to complete the program? Certificate programs can be difficult, so if you’re not sure that you’ll be able to make it to the end, you don’t want to spend money and not earn the certificate.
- Will the certificate increase your income? Your expected income varies widely with the certificate you choose, which can affect your decision.
- Is there an opportunity cost? Can you keep working while in the program or do you have to stop working entirely to study? The answer impacts your decision because not being able to work makes the effective cost of the program much higher.
- Even if the certificate increases your income, is the increase worth the debt? Borrowing $25,000 to make an extra $500 per year is a worse deal than borrowing $50,000 to earn an extra $20,000 per year.
- Do you have a plan for repaying the loan? You’ll have to repay the loan eventually, so you need to make sure you have space in your budget to make the payments or that your increased income from finishing the program will cover the cost.
Certificates can be highly valuable. However, the source of the certificate matters. Those who receive certificates from for-profit institutions pay more and earn less than people who earn certificates from non-profit institutions, like community colleges.
Ultimately, the main questions you must ask yourself are whether the certificate will increase your income and whether that increase is worth the cost of the program.
Other student loan resources for non-degree-seeking students
If you’re considering a non-degree program, we have many resources that you can use to find loans to help you pay for your educational costs.
- Student loans for certificate programs
- Student loans for continuing education
- Student loans for trade school and career training
- Student loans for acting school
- Student loans for cosmetology school
- Student loans for coding boot camps
Alternatives to non-degree-seeking student loans
If you’re looking for another way to pay for a certificate or non-degree education program, there are options out there.
- Speak with someone at your school’s financial aid office. Many can help you set up a payment plan.
- Some employers have programs that will pay for your certificates if they’re related to your job function. You may need to agree to stay at your employer for a period after finishing the program to qualify.
- You can look for scholarships for the program you want to attend.
- If you’d rather avoid student loans or have no other options, you can also consider a personal loan, home equity loan, or HELOC if you have no other options.
Author: TJ Porter