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If you’ve been struggling academically, you might be worried about your student loan eligibility. But academic standing is just one of many factors that lenders take into account, and a low GPA won’t necessarily disqualify you from taking out student loans.
In this article, we’ll explain how your GPA factors into the student loan process, and go over some of the best funding options for students with a low GPA.
In this guide:
- Are there student loans for low GPA?
- Can I get financial aid with a 1.9 GPA?
- Student loan providers for low GPA
- Other student loan eligibility requirements
- What to do if you have a low GPA
Are there student loans for low GPA?
If you’re a high school senior applying for federal student loans, you have to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA will ask for your parents’ income, assets, and tax return information to determine if you qualify for any need-based financial aid.
The FAFSA does not look at a high school student’s GPA when deciding if they qualify for need-based aid or federal student loans. However, a student’s GPA will be used to determine eligibility for student loans in subsequent college years. To be eligible for federal student loans as a college sophomore or higher, you must be making satisfactory academic progress.
This generally means that you must maintain a certain GPA. Students also need to take a certain amount of credit hours each year and be working toward a major.
Each college is allowed to set its own standards for satisfactory academic progress, including the minimum GPA. If you want to know what the minimum GPA is for your college, visit the financial aid department’s website or call directly.
The minimum GPA may also differ depending on your year in school. For example, at The Ohio State University, the minimum GPA is 1.8 for first-year students and 2.0 for all other grade levels. But at UCLA, the minimum GPA is 2.0 for all undergraduate students. At most universities, graduate students have to meet a higher GPA standard to qualify for federal student loans, usually 3.0.
You will not qualify for more federal financial aid because of a higher GPA. For example, a 4.0 GPA in college will not get you more in federal student loans than a 3.0 GPA.
Can I get financial aid with a 1.9 GPA?
If you have a 1.9 GPA, check with your school to see if you meet their requirements for satisfactory academic progress. Talk to the financial aid department and see what your options are. It’s best to do this as soon as possible so you’re not surprised if your student loan request is denied later on.
Student loan providers for low GPA
Students who lose eligibility for federal student loans can look for private student loan companies to fill in the gaps.
College Ave is a private student loan company that offers loans for both undergraduate and graduate students. They offer both fixed and variable interest rates with five, eight, 10, and 15-year loan terms. Borrowers can choose to repay their loan in school or defer payments until after graduation.
College Ave GPA requirements
College Ave does not provide a specific minimum GPA requirement. However, students must meet their college’s satisfactory academic progress standard. There does not appear to be any minimum GPA requirement to apply for a College Ave student loan as an incoming freshman.
As one of the biggest private student loan companies, Sallie Mae provides both undergraduate and graduate student loans. Borrowers can pick from a fixed or variable interest rate and a repayment term from five to 15 years. There’s also an option to make fixed repayments or interest-only repayments.
Sallie Mae GPA requirements
Sallie Mae does not share any of its GPA requirements for current or prospective college students.
Ascent is one of the only student loan providers that offer a specific student loan for borrowers without a cosigner. Students from all grade levels who already have a good credit score and regular source of income can qualify for a student loan without a cosigner.
Ascent GPA requirements
However, only juniors and seniors can qualify for a loan without a cosigner if they don’t have a credit score or steady income. In this case, Ascent will use other information, including your GPA, to decide if you qualify. You must have a 2.9 GPA to qualify for a no-cosigner, non-credit-based loan.
Students must then maintain that 2.9 GPA while also making satisfactory academic progress as defined by the school.
Earnest is a private student loan company that provides undergraduate and graduate loans with fixed and variable rates. Earnest offers a nine-month grace period after graduation, while other lenders generally offer six months.
Earnest GPA requirements
Like other student loan companies, Earnest requires that students be making satisfactory academic progress to be eligible for student loans. Students in their first semester of school will be excluded from this requirement.
Discover provides student loans for both undergraduate and graduate students, including those attending law school and medical school. Borrowers can pick from a fixed or variable interest rate.
Discover GPA requirements
While Discover does not share any minimum GPA requirement, it does reward students who receive good grades. It will provide a one-time cash bonus worth 1% of the loan balance if you have a 3.0 GPA or higher and meet a few other requirements.
Other student loan eligibility requirements
A student’s grades are not the only thing that counts when it comes to qualifying for student loans. There are many several student loan requirements that borrowers must meet to be eligible for federal or private student loans.
To qualify for all federal student loans and most private loans, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a Social Security number.
There are some private student loan companies that allow DACA students or international students to apply for student loans, but they will usually require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosign the loan. A small handful of lenders will allow DACA or international students to qualify for a loan without a cosigner.
Private student loan companies will also run a credit check on borrowers and may have specific credit score requirements, usually around 650. They will almost always require that the borrower have a source of income.
If you don’t meet those requirements, then you will usually need a cosigner. The cosigner will also have to meet the lender’s credit score and income requirements, and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Federal student loans do not require a cosigner.
Another important requirement for federal student loans is that students must at least be attending school on a part-time basis. The number of credit hours necessary to qualify as a part-time student depends on your school, but is usually around 12 credit hours or four classes for undergraduate students. Graduate students are considered part-time if they take at least four credit hours each semester.
Private student loans may also require that students attend school on a part-time or full-time basis. The exact credit-hour requirement depends on the lender.
To qualify for a federal student loan, the college you attend must be a Title IV institution. Before you apply, verify that your school is listed in the Title IV directory. Being a Title IV institution will also make you eligible for other types of federal financial aid, including grants and work-study.
Students must also have a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for both federal and private student loans. If you are currently in default on any outstanding federal student loans, you will not be eligible for additional student loans.
What to do if you have a low GPA
Once your GPA drops below the minimum for satisfactory academic progress, you won’t be able to get federal student loans for college until you improve your GPA. The best option may be to find a private student loan to hold you over until your grades improve.
If you don’t qualify for a private student loan, you’ll have to come up with the money yourself. The most common ways to accomplish this are by finding a job or borrowing money from a family member or friend.
Author: Zina Kumok