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Best student loans for bad credit

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

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.

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

Best for students with no credit

Ascent Funding

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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.
Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: Rates are effective as of 6/3/2024 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest rates require full principal and interest payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.

Best for international students

Mpower Financing student loans

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.

Best for high-performing students

FundingU student loans

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.

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.

Best for flexible repayment options

College Ave Student Loan Refinancing

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.

Best for multiyear approval

Discover undergraduate student loans

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.

Best for less than half-time students

Sallie Mae® Smart Option Student Loan for Undergraduates

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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.

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. 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

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.

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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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Rhys Subitch is a personal finance editor at Bankrate and former loans editor at Finder, specializing in consumer and business lending. Rhys has nearly a decade of experience researching, editing, and writing for startups, Fortune 500 companies, universities and websites. They hold a BA in sociology and a certificate of editing from the University of Washington. See full bio

Rhys's expertise
Rhys has written 57 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Personal, business, student and car loans
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