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Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Most new private student loans require the borrower to have a creditworthy cosigner. This includes more than 90% of new private student loans to undergraduate students and more than 75% of new private student loans to graduate and professional students. However, there are options for student loans that do not require a cosigner.

The Best Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Federal student loans are the best options for students who do not have a cosigner. Direct student loans such as subsidized and unsubsidized loans do not require a cosigner, and PLUS loans only require an endorser (similar to a cosigner) if the borrower has adverse credit history as defined by the federal government.

Note: The credit check for a PLUS loan is not as strict as that for a private student loan. If you did not pass a private student loan credit check, you may still be eligible for a PLUS loan.

To apply for federal student loans, including Parent PLUS Loans, you must file the FAFSA®.

Direct Subsidized Loans

A direct subsidized loan is a loan offered by the federal government with a fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. With a subsidized loan, the government pays the interest while you are in school at least half-time, during your grace period, and during authorized periods of deferment. Demonstrated financial need is required for this loan.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

A direct unsubsidized loan is offered by the federal government with a fixed interest rate and flexible repayment terms. With an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for the interest that accrues while you are in college, during your grace period, and during authorized periods of deferment. This is not a need-based loan.

PLUS Loans

A PLUS loan is a loan offered by the federal government for parents and graduate students. PLUS loans come with a fixed interest rate. The borrower is responsible for interest of a PLUS loan, and there is no grace period.

What Student Loans Can You Get Without a Cosigner?

If you have excellent credit and work history, you may qualify for a private student loan on your own without a cosigner. If you fall into this category, we recommend comparing private student loan lenders to find the best rates and benefits for you.

If you do not fall into this category it may be difficult for you to find a private student loan that you qualify for without a creditworthy cosigner, but you can still explore federal student loans and income share agreements.

Who Can Cosign a Student Loan?

A student loan cosigner is usually a parent, but can also be another relative or trusted adult. A good cosigner will meet the following criteria:

  • Have a good credit
  • Have stable employment
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Have no recent bankruptcies, liens or foreclosures

Once you have located a suitable cosigner, you can apply for a private student loan.

What is the Minimum Credit Score for a Private Student Loan?

The minimum credit score required for a private student loan depends on the lender. Each lender sets their own requirements, but generally speaking you will need a FICO® score of 660 or better on a scale from 300 to 850. The average FICO score in America in 2020 was 711.

Income Share Agreements

An alternative to student loans and something to consider for students without a cosigner, is an income share agreement (ISA). These agreements are growing in popularity as a means for students to pay their tuition. Here’s how it works:

When you enter into an income share agreement you agree to borrow the money you need for school in exchange for a percentage of your future salary. To repay an income share agreement, you commit to pay the decided upon percentage of your salary for a set period of time. ISAs do not charge interest, and the typical repayment period is ten years or fewer.

A note of caution: taking out multiple ISAs could require you to pay a significant percentage of your income during repayment. Plan ahead for what you will be able to afford once you are out of school.

Apply for Scholarships and Grants

In addition to student loans, you may want to seek out gift aid. Contact your school’s financial aid office to ask about scholarships and grants you may qualify for. Many institutions have their own in-house scholarship, grant, and aid programs for students in need, but you won’t know unless you ask. Your financial aid office may also be able to help you find additional scholarships and grants outside of the school that you qualify for, such as state aid.

You can also seek out additional scholarship opportunities on our site or apply for easy, no essay scholarships on our site

Attend a Cheaper School

This is the answer most students don’t want to hear, especially if they have the opportunity to attend their dream school. But the hard truth may be that you can’t afford to attend the school of your choice. Look at community colleges and state schools for more affordable options. They offer a competitive education at a fraction of the price of most private colleges and universities.

Ask About Tuition Payment Plans

You don’t always have to pay all of your tuition up-front. Many colleges offer tuition payment plans to make it more affordable. If you or your family can work to make payments on a schedule as set forth by your school, you may be able to eliminate the need for student loans.

Want to Know More?

Undergraduate Student Loans

Introduction to Federal Student Loans

How to Find a Good Cosigner

Private Student Loans and Credit

Student Loans for Borrowers with Bad Credit

5 Things to Consider Before Seeking a Cosigner

Income Share Agreements

Emergency Student Loans




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