How to get a student loan with bad credit | finder.com
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How to get a student loan with bad credit

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Your options to pay for school — even if you don’t have a cosigner.

Bad credit is less of a roadblock to getting a student loan than other types of financing. If you’re able to cover all of your costs with federal loans, it might not affect your application at all. But you might have trouble getting private funding if your credit score is less than stellar.

What are my student loan options with bad credit?

You have two main options when it comes to getting a student loan with bad credit: federal loans and private loans with a creditworthy cosigner.

Federal loans

With most federal student loans, your credit score doesn’t affect your eligibility. Everyone who qualifies for a federal loan gets the same rates and fees, which Congress sets each year. Apply for a federal student loan and other federal aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal loans are typically the most affordable option out there — especially for bad-credit borrowers. The downside is that federal loans come with annual limits, sometimes as low as $5,500. If it doesn’t cover all of your tuition and fees, you might need to turn to private funding.

Can I get a PLUS Loan with bad credit?

Yes, you can get a Parent PLUS or Graduate PLUS loan with bad credit. While PLUS is the only federal program that considers your credit score, you can fill out a form showing that there are circumstances outside of your control that have hurt your credit.

Another option is to bring on an endorser to help you qualify. Similar to a cosigner, an endorser must fill out part of your federal loan application and agree to repay your loan if you can’t.

With both choices, you’re required to complete credit counseling.

Private loans with a cosigner

Most private student loan providers require a credit score of 670 or higher. But you can typically bring on a cosigner with good credit to help you meet credit, income and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (DTI) requirements.

If your cosigner has good enough credit, you might even qualify for a lower rate than what’s offered with federal loans. However, no private lender can offer all of the benefits that come with federal loans such as flexible student loan repayment plans, extensive deferment and forbearance options, and some student loan forgiveness programs.

Compare private student loans

Updated March 25th, 2019
Name Product Min. Credit Score Maximum Loan Amount APR
Good to excellent credit
Varies by lender
Starting at 4.07%
Get prequalified rates from private lenders offering student loans with no origination or prepayment fees.
675
$200,000
4.58% to 7.25%
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
700
$500,000
3.2% to 7.25%
Finance your college education through this lender with a strong social mission and terms that fit your budget.
680
Varies by lender
Starting at 3%
Compare multiple student loans and student loan refinancing options in one place.

Compare up to 4 providers

Can I get a student loan with bad credit and no cosigner?

It’s possible to get a student loan with bad credit and no cosigner. However, your options are limited if you’ve maxed out your federal funding.

Some alternative student loan providers consider factors like your grades and standardized test scores rather than your credit history. These student loan options are often available to international students or borrowers with no credit score — though not always.

How to get a student loan with a cosigner

Compare providers that don’t require a cosigner

ProviderLoan amountsAPR
Sixup$2,500 to $60,0006.58% to 15.18%Read review
Prodigy FinanceVaries7.53% to 12.03%Read review
Mpower$2,001 to $50,0008.89% to 14.97%Read review

Student loan alternatives that don’t consider credit

Traditional student loans aren’t the only way to pay for school. If you have bad credit and federal loans aren’t an option, you might want to consider one of these alternatives:

  • Federal grants and work-study programs. Grants and work-study programs allow you to fund your education with money you don’t have to repay. When you fill out the FAFSA, you’re also applying for other types of federal aid in addition to loans.
  • Private grants and scholarships. Some private organizations offer small amounts of funding that can help cover part of your educational costs — though you likely won’t be able get as much as you would with a loan.
  • Income-share agreements (ISAs). A few lenders and schools will swap tuition costs in exchange for a percentage of your income over a certain number of years.
  • Crowdfunding. Working on a really exciting graduate project? Got a story to tell? You might be able to raise money for school from your social network and strangers by setting up a campaign on crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe.

Bottom line

Getting a student loan with bad credit isn’t impossible. But it could be challenging if you need private student funding and don’t have a cosigner. If you’re struggling to pay for school, reach out to your financial aid office to explore your options.

Want to learn more about how it all works? Read our guide to student loans.

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