Student Loans Without a Cosigner

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Mike Brown
Updated: April 1, 2020

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A cosigner is usually needed when an individual is applying for a loan but doesn't have strong enough credit or income.

According to our student debt statistics, 90% of all private student loans are cosigned. Having a creditworthy parent or guardian cosign for you can help you get approved and possibly qualify for a lower interest rate—but what if you can’t get a cosigner for your student loans?

Fortunately, there are a variety of student loans available without a cosigner, including both federal and private options.

On this page:

Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans are offered through non-government banks and lenders. There are many private lenders in the industry, each with their own eligibility requirements.

If you don’t have a strong credit score or a creditworthy cosigner, you likely won’t be eligible for most lenders. There are, however, some private lenders that offer student loans to borrowers without a cosigner.

Do you qualify for a student loan without a cosigner?

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Before choosing a lender, it’s important to shop around first to find the lender that will offer you the lowest interest rate. Use our private student loan comparison tool to get rate estimates from the leading student loan companies all in one place.

Here are some lenders that offer student loans without a cosigner:

  • FundingU
  • Ascent
  • Sallie Mae
  • Citizens Bank
  • LendKey
  • Sixup

FundingU

FundingU is a private student loan company specialized in lending to students who do not have a cosigner. Rather than look specifically at credit score or income to determine eligibility, FundingU looks at things like major, class hours completed, internship experience, and academic record. Read our full FundingU Review here.

Ascent

The Ascent non-cosigned option is a loan that is geared toward independent students who are college juniors or seniors, and graduate students who do not have a cosigner. The applicant will still need to meet certain eligibility requirements, including credit, school, loan amount, and other factors in order to get approved for a student loan without a cosigner. Read our full Ascent Review here.

Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is one of the most popular student loan lenders in the nation. While students may be approved for a loan without a cosigner, Sallie Mae’s website says applicants are four times more likely to be approved with one. If you have already had a chance to build your credit, Sallie Mae may be a good option for you. Read our full Sallie Mae Review here.

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank might consider issuing student loans to borrowers who don’t have a cosigner, but you have a better chance of getting approved if you have a good credit score and a minimum annual income of $12,000. It also offers a cosigner release option after 36 months. Read our full Citizens Bank Review here.

LendKey

LendKey does not charge loan application fees, and borrowers can apply for loans through its online portal. Because LendKey’s loans are funded by credit unions and community banks, they tend to charge lower rates. It ultimately comes down to the individual credit union or bank that approves the loan, but an applicant should expect to show at least three years of credit history and a minimum income to be considered without a cosigner. Read our full LendKey Review here.

Sixup

Sixup offers student loans without requiring a cosigner to help bridge the gap between financial aid and the cost of attendance. Borrowers do not need a credit history, but it will be considered if they have one. And in certain cases, a cosigner might be required. Read our full Sixup Review here.

Drawbacks of Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Applying for a private student loan with no cosigner is possible, as you’ve seen above.

However, there are some clear disadvantages to getting a loan without an additional signee. College is getting more expensive each year, and federal financing limits don’t seem to be keeping up. While federal loan options are the best option when it comes to student loans, not everyone will be able to get by with the maximum amounts offered.

Private loans can also be tricky. As mentioned above, getting approved can be difficult, and the interest rates offered are often very high. In the long run, having a high-interest rate on a student loan without a cosigner may be very costly.

However, if you are able to graduate and get a good job, you will probably be able to receive lower refinance rates. A refinance student loan, or consolidation loan, is offered by private lenders and replaces your old loans. In the end, you're left with a new student loan and a new – ideally lower – interest rate.

Federal Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Filling out the FAFSA is a necessary step for students to maximize their federal financial aid options including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans.

Federal student loans should always be used before borrowing private student loans. They offer several benefits including typically lower interest rates, loan forgiveness programs, and income-driven repayment plans.

All federal student loans do not require or allow for a cosigner. The most popular types of federal student loans are Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, and PLUS Loans. Here’s a brief overview of each of these student loans.

Direct Subsidized Loans

Direct Subsidized Loans are available for undergraduate students and are awarded on the basis of financial need, and carry the benefit of subsidized interest. The federal government pays the accrued interest while a student is in school and during periods of deferment.

If you are eligible for these loans, you should always maximize them before taking out any others. You can learn more about federal student loan limits here .

The interest rate on these loans for the 2019-20 school year is 4.53% and there is an origination fee of 1.059%. Mandatory repayment begins six months after leaving school and the standard repayment plan is for 10 years.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not need-based, meaning any student who submits the FAFSA is eligible to receive this kind of aid including graduate students. However, because these loans are unsubsidized, the student is responsible for paying any interest that is accrued while in school and during deferment.

For the 2019-20 academic year, the interest rate for this type of loan is 4.53% for undergraduates and 6.08% for graduate students.

The origination fee and repayment terms are the same as the Direct Subsidized Loan.

PLUS Loans

PLUS Loans are offered to parents of students (Parent PLUS Loan) and graduate/professional students (Grad PLUS Loan).

PLUS Loans have higher interest rates (7.08%) and origination fees (4.236%) for the 2019-20 school year as compared to the loans listed above. That being said, PLUS Loans often have lower rates than private student loans.

PLUS Loans are issued without a cosigner, and are not awarded on the basis of creditworthiness. There is a credit check, but only to make sure there is no adverse credit history such as a bankruptcy.

How Do I Apply for Student Loans Without a Cosigner?

To apply for a student loan without a cosigner, you can start by submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, (FAFSA). Filing the FAFSA is required by many colleges and universities these days, but either way, you must file the FAFSA to get financial aid.

To be eligible for federal financial aid without a guarantor you must submit the FAFSA. It usually takes about 22 minutes to complete and you can even file the FAFSA online.

When applying for private financing without the help of cosigner, it’s a good idea to shop around. There are many student loan lenders in the industry and each offers different rates and loan terms. If you are approved without an additional signer, you might have a higher interest rate.

Shop around before signing that promissory note to ensure that you are getting the best rates available. Even 0.25% is important over the long term.

>> Read More: How to Apply for Student Loans

How Can I Improve My Chances of Getting Approved for a Student Loan Without a Cosigner?

As with all types of loans, the amount you are looking to borrower directly affects your chances of getting approved. If you can lower your borrowing amount, you might stand a better chance of getting approved for a private student loan alone.

Why? Well, there’s less risk for the private lender. Asking for a sizable chunk of cash when you don’t have the credit score or income isn't a great strategy. Start by using as little student loan debt as possible. Look for scholarships and grants to lower the amount of money you need to borrow first.

Bottom Line

Before locking yourself into a debt dilemma, you should look at grants and scholarships. At LendEDU, we even have a scholarship search tool available for students. Grants and scholarships are free money. By spending just a few minutes a day searching for scholarships, you might be able to save yourself a significant amount of money over the long term.

Unfortunately, student loans are a necessary tool for a lot of people and, if you need financing without a cosigner, start with federal financial aid before using private financing products.