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Best student loans for bad credit

Top-notch loans for low- and no-score borrowers.

Posted

Fact checked
A credit score below 580 can make funding your education difficult, especially if you exhausted federal loans and grants. But there are options out there — just make sure to weigh all of the pros and cons before choosing a lender.

Compare the best private student loan for bad credit

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Ascent private student loans
540
$200,000
2.69% to 12.98%
EDvestinU Private Student Loans
675
$200,000
4.07% to 9%
Straightforward student loans for undergraduate and graduate students.
LendKey Private Student Loans
Varies by lender
4.99% to 11.06%
This connection service partners with Sallie Mae and WSFS Bank to offer competitive rates.
 Advantage Education Loan Refinance Loan
670
Starting at 3.74%
Refinance to a more flexible repayment plan with this nonprofit lender.
Alliant Credit Union Traditional Student Loan
680
$60,000
Starting at 4.56%
All-purpose personal loans from @pl_product_min_loan_amount@ to @pl_product_max_loan_amount@ with rates that stop at @pl_product_var_rate@.
ChangEd student loan payment app
Securely connect all of your student loans and bank accounts to one place for a painless repayment experience.
Chicago student loans
None
Cost of attendance, up to $50,000
7.53% to 8.85%
No cosigner needed for this fixed-rate financing option.
Citizens Bank Private Student Loans
700
$295,000
1.25% to 10.57%
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Compare up to 4 providers

How we picked these lenders

When choosing these three lenders, we looked at the overall quality and prioritized flexible eligibility requirements, low interest rates and high borrowing limits.

3 best private student loans for bad credit

All three of these lenders offer loans that don’t use credit as a factor for approval. So you may be eligible, even with low or no credit.

  • Ascent: Best for students with no credit
  • Mpower: Best for international students
  • FundingU: Best for high-performing students
Ascent private student loans logo
Check eligibility
on Ascent private student loans's secure site

Best for students with no credit: Ascent private student loans

540
Min. Credit Score
2.69%
Starting APR
$200,000
Loan Amount
Ascent is well-known for working with students who struggle with credit and don't have a cosigner. In fact, if you meet all of the other requirements for the loan, credit score isn't even considered. However, loans are capped at $20,000 for borrowers applying for future income-based loans without a cosigner.
Pros
  • Can apply for loans that aren't credit-based
  • Transparent terms and costs
  • Autopay discount and cashback reward available
Cons
  • Loans capped at $20,000 for noncredit loans
  • Limited repayment plans for noncredit loans
  • Freshmen and sophomores are not eligible
Min. Loan Amount $2,000
Max. Loan Amount $200,000
APR 2.69% to 12.98%
Interest Rate Type Fixed and variable
Min. Credit Score 540
Minimum Loan Term 60 months
Maximum Loan Term 240 months
Turnaround Time Varies depending on certification time at your school

Best for international students : Mpower Financing student loans

Not required
Min. Credit Score
7.52%
Starting APR
$25,000
Loan Amount
Mpower provides loans to international and domestic students who struggle to get funding elsewhere. You don't need to have a cosigner, collateral or credit history. Also, loans are available to students attending school in both the US and Canada.
Pros
  • No credit score required
  • Autopay discount available
  • International students may be eligible
Cons
  • High interest rates compared to other lenders
  • Limited terms and repayment plans
  • Multiple fees
Min. Loan Amount $2,001
Max. Loan Amount $25,000
APR 7.52% to 14.98%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Maximum Loan Term 120 months
Turnaround Time 4 to 8 days for approval

Best for high-performing students: FundingU student loans

Not required
Min. Credit Score
7.99%
Starting APR
$10,000
Loan Amount
FundingU is another lender that doesn't use your credit score to approve or deny your loan. Instead they use their SMaRT (Student Merit and Risk Test) scoring model. This takes into account non-credit variables like your academic success, likelihood to graduate on time and projected earnings for your major. However, the company does not disclose their interest rates online so they could be very high.
Pros
  • Credit score and debt-to-income ratio aren't used
  • Provides a dedicated loan advisor who acts as an advocate
  • Autopay discount available
Cons
  • Not available in all states
  • Low maximum loan amounts
  • Strict GPA and graduation requirements
Min. Loan Amount $3,001
Max. Loan Amount $10,000
APR 7.99% to 13.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Maximum Loan Term 120 months
Turnaround Time 6 to 8 days for approval

3 more private lenders that allow a cosigner

You may still get approved for a loan with a more traditional lender if you apply with a cosigner. Our top three picks include options for flexible repayments, multiyear approval and less than part-time students.

College Ave undergraduate student loans logo
Check eligibility
on College Ave undergraduate student loans's secure site

Best for flexible repayment options: College Ave undergraduate student loans

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
1.24%
Starting APR
Cost of attendance
Loan Amount
CollegeAve understands that you might not have enough credit history to get a loan on your own, and encourages borrowers to use a cosigner. Once you have the loan, you can choose from multiple repayment plans and loan terms to tailor the loan to your needs.
Pros
  • Multiple terms available
  • Competitive low starting rates
  • Cosigner release options
Cons
  • Credit requirements aren't transparent
  • Forbearance and deferment unavailable
Min. Loan Amount $1,000
APR 1.24% to 11.98%
Minimum Loan Term 60 months
Maximum Loan Term 180 months
Turnaround Time Typically 10 days
Discover undergraduate student loans logo
Check eligibility
on Discover undergraduate student loans's secure site

Best for multiyear approval: Discover undergraduate student loans

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
4.49%
Starting APR
Cost of attendance
Loan Amount
Discover is a well-known name for credit cards, but it also offers student loans — generally at pretty fair rates. You can qualify for loans up to your yearly cost of attendance, and you can prequalify for future loans with your initial application. But its required credit score is high, so students who have no credit or low credit will need a qualifying cosigner.
Pros
  • Multiyear approval available
  • Offers cash rewards for good grades
  • No origination or late fees
Cons
  • Only one term available
  • No grace period following graduation
  • Credit requirement of over 660
Min. Loan Amount $1,000
APR Variable APRs: 1.24% - 10.99%
Fixed APRs: 4.49% - 12.39%
Maximum Loan Term 180 months
Turnaround Time Typically 3 to 5 weeks
Disclaimer
1. Aggregate loan limits apply.
 2. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
3. Lowest APRs shown Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and Auto Debit Reward. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including undergraduate and graduate Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable margin percentage. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 0.375% as of July 1, 2020. Discover Student Loans may adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Our lowest APR is only available to customers with the best credit and other factors. Your APR will be determined after you apply. It will be based on your credit history, which repayment option you choose and other factors, including your cosigner’s credit history (if applicable). Learn more about Discover Student Loans interest rates.

Best for less than half-time students: Sallie Mae Student Loans

Not stated
Min. Credit Score
4.25%
Starting APR
Cost of attendance
Loan Amount
SallieMae has been in the business of private student loans for many years. You can qualify for a Smart Option Student Loan even if you're studying at less than half-time hours. In fact, you can use the loan for single classes, study abroad programs and summer or winter sessions.
Pros
  • Available for students studying less than half time
  • Six-month grace period
  • Autopay discount available
Cons
  • Not transparent about credit requirements
  • Potentially high late fees
  • Preapproval unavailable
Min. Loan Amount $1,000
Minimum Loan Term 60 months
Maximum Loan Term 180 months
Turnaround Time 10 days on average

How to get a student loan with bad credit

Working around bad credit to get a student loan can take extra research and a dash of creativity. You can read our guide to getting a student loan with bad credit to get more in-depth information. In the meantime, consider these tips:

  1. Exhaust your federal loan options first
  2. Apply for private loans with a cosigner
  3. Take steps to build your credit before applying
  4. Scope out high-earning majors
  5. Rely on the total cost to guide your decision
  6. How much will my loan cost me?

    The overall cost of your loan can vary greatly based on factors like amount, loan term, repayment plan and interest rate. To get an idea of what your monthly payments might look like, use our calculator by entering in your potential APR, loan amount and term.

    Student loan calculator

    See how much you'll pay
    Your loan
    Loan amount
    $
    Loan terms (in years)
    Interest rate
    $ %

    Fill out the form and click on “Calculate” to see your estimated monthly payment.

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    4 alternatives to a bad-credit student loan

    Check out even more options — that don’t require a credit check — before you take out a personal loan.

    • Work Study. This government-sponsored program assists colleges with employing active students. It allows you to work on campus with a schedule that works around your classes.
    • Federal loans. If you absolutely need to take out loans, try federal loans first. You’re eligible for some without a credit check.
    • Scholarships. Tons of different scholarships available, and the best part is the funds don’t have to be repaid. Look for ones that suit you best, and set an intention to apply for more than one.
    • Crowdfunding. You can also reach out to your community. Try using GoFundMe or a similar crowdfunding site to allow friends and family to donate.

    Bottom line

    Having bad-credit doesn’t completely nix private student loans as an option. Specialty single-borrower and cosigner friendly loans exist and can help you fund your education — regardless of your credit. If you are looking for even more information on available loans, read our guide to student loans.

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