How to get a student loan without a cosigner | finder.com
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How to get a student loan without a cosigner

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Compare 4 lenders you can apply with on your own — plus explore alternatives.

Getting a student loan when you’ve run out of federal aid isn’t impossible without a cosigner, but it’s not necessarily easy. While a handful of private lenders specialize in no-cosigner student financing, the majority have requirements that most full-time students can’t meet.

If you don’t have someone to share the responsibility of private student debt, you might want to look into your non-loan alternatives first.

Can I get a no-cosigner student loan?

You can. Federal student loans generally don’t require cosigners, with the exception of Direct PLUS Loans for graduate students or parents with bad credit.

But there are limits to how much you can borrow, and federal loans aren’t available to all students — including nonresidents. If you need a private student loan to cover the costs federal loans can’t, you have options — but they’re limited.

How to get a private student loan without a cosigner

With most private student loan providers, you need to meet the following requirements to qualify on your own:

  • Good to excellent credit. You often need at least a 670 credit score to get a private student loan without a cosigner — sometimes even higher.
  • Strong, steady income. You typically need to have a regular job that pulls in at least $24,000 a year.
  • Low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Generally, your monthly debt obligations must be no more than 43% of your income before taxes.
  • US citizen or permanent resident. Some private student lenders allow you to skip this requirement if you apply with an eligible cosigner. But most don’t allow you to apply on your own.
  • Age of majority. You need to be at least 18 in most states to take out a loan on your own. That’s 19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 for Mississippi residents.

No-cosigner private loans for students

Can’t meet these requirements? Some student loan providers and personal loan providers offer financing options designed for students who can’t qualify for your typical private student loan and don’t have a cosigner.

Some of these student loans are also available to international students who don’t know anyone in the US to help them meet the residency requirement.

Compare no-cosigner loans for students

LenderEligibilityLoan amountsAPR
BoroEnrolled in a US school, be a US resident or have an applicable visa; 2.0+ GPA or 3.0+ for graduate students, live in an eligible state. $1,000 to $3,00015.9% (starting at)
Sixup

2.5+ GPA, full-time student at four-year Title IV school, live in eligible state, US citizen or permanent resident, age of majority

$2,500 to $60,0006.58%–9.187%Read review
MpowerF-1 student visa, attendance at partner university and in last two years of degree program$2,001 to $50,0008.89%–14.97%Read review
Prodigy FinanceAttend an eligible program and live in an eligible state.Varies7.53%–12.03%Read review

How do I apply for a no-cosigner student loan?

The application process for a student loan without a cosigner varies by lender and loan type.

How to apply for federal loans without a cosigner

Applying for a federal loan involves filling out the FAFSA. Before you get started, reach out to your school’s financial aid office — it might have specific instructions. While you don’t need to have a cosigner, you might need to provide the contact information of someone who is not a relative as a reference.

How to fill out the FAFSA in 10 steps

How to apply for traditional private loans without a cosigner

Each lender has a different application procedure. If you’re applying for a traditional private student loan, you’ll likely need to submit recent pay stubs, tax returns or other proof of employment along with a copy of your financial aid award letter.

You can usually complete an initial application online and hear back from the lender with instructions on how to proceed within one or two business days. Once you sign your loan documents, the lender typically coordinates with your school to disburse the funds.

How to apply for no-cosigner loans for students

No-cosigner loans for students work a lot like private loans — with one exception: They’re typically based on academic achievement rather than your credit score. Because of this, these lenders tend to ask for more documents than traditional private loan providers and can take a little longer to process.

You might be asked to provide academic transcripts, standardized test results and a resume — in addition to information about your finances.

What are the benefits of no-cosigner student loans?

From minimal credit requirements to options for international students, here are a few perks of no-cosigner student loans:

  • Credit history not necessary. While you’ll have more options with a strong credit score, you can find financing based on your grades and test scores rather than your history of paying off debt.
  • Options for nonresidents. Many alternative financing options are designed with international students in mind.
  • Additional support available. Alternative lenders that offer financing to students often offer support beyond just a loan, such as help applying for jobs and visa support letters for international students.
  • No strained relationships. Applying on your own means your student loans won’t affect your relationship with your family or friends.

Are there any drawbacks?

Consider these potential pitfalls of taking out a student loan without a cosigner:

  • Higher rates on private loans. Unless you’re working a high-paying, full-time job while in school, you likely won’t qualify for as low a rate as you would with a cosigner. Alternative student loans also typically have higher rates.
  • Fewer options. Most students can’t qualify for a private student loan on their own, limiting your choices to a handful of alternative lenders.
  • Age restrictions. You can’t qualify for a private student loan without a cosigner if you’re under 18 in most states — 19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 in Mississippi. Federal student loans have no age restrictions, however.

Compare more private student loan options

Updated March 20th, 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

How can I strengthen my application without a cosigner?

The main way to improve your chances of approval is to apply for a smaller loan amount. Typically, the more you want to borrow, the stricter a lender’s credit requirements.

If you’re worried about approval, apply for federal aid and other non-loan scholarships first before turning to no-cosigner student loans.

Student loan alternatives that don’t require a cosigner

You’re not limited to loans when you need help paying for school. Consider these alternatives first:

  • Grants. The Department of Education and most schools offer grants to students based on financial need. You don’t need to repay these funds, though applications tend to be intensive and competitive.
  • Scholarships. Look for funding in your area of academic interest by reaching out to your school’s financial aid office, contacting potential employers and by searching online. It likely won’t cover your full tuition, but it could make a dent.
  • Income share agreements (ISAs). Some schools and alternative lenders will cover your tuition costs in exchange for a percentage of your income over a set number of years once you graduate and have a full-time job.
  • Budgeting. Skip the meal plan, find a cheaper place off campus and maybe sign up for a summer course or two to help you save on the overall cost of your degree.

Bottom line

Federal loans are typically the first stop for student aid and don’t require a cosigner. But your options narrow if you’re looking for private funding and don’t have someone to share the responsibility — especially if you’re an international student.

Learn more about how student loans work and compare lenders by checking out our master guide to student loans.

Frequently asked questions

Anna Serio

Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.

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