3 Best Private Student Loans That Don’t Require a Cosigner

Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, whom we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to here as “Credible.”

You’ll typically need good to excellent credit to qualify for a student loan. If you have poor credit or haven’t yet built a credit history, one way to potentially get approved is by applying with a creditworthy cosigner — this generally means your cosigner must meet the underwriting criteria set by the lender, which includes having good credit.

If you don’t know someone with good credit who is eligible to cosign your loan, you might be able to qualify on your own with one of the lenders that offer student loans for bad credit.

Here’s what you should know about the best student loans for bad credit without a cosigner and where to find them:

3 best student loans that don’t require a cosigner

To find the right private student loan for your needs, it’s important to research and compare as many direct lender loans"}” data-sheets-userformat=”{"2":513,"3":{"1":0},"12":0}”>direct lender loans as possible. Keep in mind that the best student loans that don’t require a cosigner provide competitive interest rates, a wide selection of loan terms, inclusive eligibility requirements, and responsive customer service.

Here are Credible’s partner lenders that offer private student loans for poor or no credit without a cosigner:

Lender Fixed Rates From (APR) Variable Rates From (APR) Loan amounts Credit score

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.16%+ 1.83%+ $2,001 to $200,000 540
  • Fixed APR:
    3.16%+
  • Variable APR:
    1.83%+
  • Min. credit score:
    540
  • Loan amount:
    $2,001 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    0.25% to 1.00% automatic payment discount, 1% cash back graduation reward
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or DACA student enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 months
  • Loan servicer:
    Launch Servicing, LLC

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.83%+8 1.56%+8 $1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance 670
  • Fixed APR:
    3.83%+8
  • Variable APR:
    1.56%+8
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • Loan amount:
    $1,001 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, reward for on-time graduation
  • Eligibility:
    Must be an Indiana resident or a U.S. citizen attending an eligible Indiana school
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 48 months
  • Loan servicer:
    American Education Services

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.75%+ N/A $1,500 up to school’s certified cost of attendance less aid 670
  • Fixed APR:
    3.75%+
  • Variable APR:
    N/A
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • Loan amount:
    $1,500 up to cost of attendance less aid
  • Loan terms (years):
    10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    None
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 48 months
  • Loan servicer:
    American Education Services (AES)
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Ascent

With Ascent, you can borrow $2,001 to $200,000 (depending on if your credit is tested or not) with repayment terms from five to 20 years (depending on the loan type).

Additionally, you could be eligible for a 1% cashback graduation reward from Ascent if you earn your degree within five years.


4.9


Credible rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

Ascent Private Student Loans

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  • Fixed APR: 3.16%+
  • Variable APR: 1.83%+
  • Min. credit score: 540
  • Loan amount: $2,001 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: 0.25% to 1.00% automatic payment discount, 1% cash back graduation reward
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or DACA student enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 24 months
  • Loan servicer: Launch Servicing, LLC

INvestEd

If you live or attend school in Indiana, INvestEd might be a good choice for a student loan. You can borrow $1,000 up to 100% of your school’s cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received) with terms from five to 15 years.


4.6


Credible rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

INvestEd Private Student Loans

Ready to find a student loan?
Compare rates from top private lenders to find the right student loan for you.

Check Personalized Rates

Checking rates won’t affect your credit score

  • Fixed APR: 3.83%+8
  • Variable APR: 1.56%+8
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $1,001 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years): 5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance
  • Fees: Late fee
  • Discounts: Autopay, reward for on-time graduation
  • Eligibility: Must be an Indiana resident or a U.S. citizen attending an eligible Indiana school
  • Customer service: Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 48 months
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services

MEFA

MEFA student loans are available from $1,500 up to your certified cost of attendance (minus any other financial aid you’ve received) with terms from 10 to 15 years.

Keep in mind that you must attend a public or nonprofit school to work with MEFA — for-profit schools aren’t eligible.


4.4


Credible rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

MEFA Private Student Loans

Ready to find a student loan?
Compare rates from top private lenders to find the right student loan for you.

Check Personalized Rates

Checking rates won’t affect your credit score

  • Fixed APR: 3.75%+
  • Variable APR: N/A
  • Min. credit score: 670
  • Loan amount: $1,500 up to cost of attendance less aid
  • Loan terms (years): 10, 15
  • Repayment options: Full deferral, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferral, forbearance
  • Fees: None
  • Discounts: None
  • Eligibility: Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service: Email, phone
  • Soft credit check: Yes
  • Cosigner release: After 48 months
  • Loan servicer: American Education Services (AES)

Learn More: Student Loan Requirements: How to Qualify for a Student Loan

Methodology

To find the “best companies,” Credible looked at loan and lender data points from 10 categories to give you a well-rounded perspective on each of our partner lenders. Here’s what we considered:

  • Interest rates
  • Repayment terms
  • Repayment options
  • Fees
  • Discounts
  • Customer service availability
  • Eligibility criteria
  • Cosigner release options
  • Whether the minimum credit score is available publicly
  • Whether consumers could request rates with a soft credit check

Our hope is that this will be a win-win situation for you and us — we only want to get paid if you find a loan that works for you, not by selling your data. This means Credible will only get paid by the lender if you finish the loan process and a loan is disbursed. Additionally, Credible charges you no fees of any kind to compare your loan options.

Other private student loan lenders to consider

Here are more private student loan companies we evaluated. Note that you might need to apply with a creditworthy cosigner to potentially qualify with these lenders if you have poor or no credit.

Also keep in mind that these lenders aren’t offered through Credible, so you won’t be able to easily compare your rates with them on the Credible platform like you can our partner lenders.

Lender
Loan terms (years)
Cosigner release

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

5, 10, 15
After 24 months
  • Rates:
    Fixed, variable
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Cosigner release:
    Yes
  • Min. GPA:
    No
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full months payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Does not disclose

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

15, 20
(depending on degree type)
No
  • Fixed APR:
    4.84% – 12.39%6
  • Variable APR:
    1.59% – 11.37%6
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    Up to cost of attendance
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • Loan terms (years):
    15, 20
  • Min. GPA:
    No
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, good grade discount, cash reward for on-time graduation
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or international student with a qualifying cosigner, as well as be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Loan servicer:
    Discover Bank

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
No
  • Rates:
    Fixed, variable
  • Min. credit score:
    650
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Min. GPA:
    No
  • Cosigner release:
    No
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full month payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferral, military deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    A U.S. Citizen or permanent resident. Not available in KY or NV.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

20
After 24 months
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 to $150,000
  • Loan terms (years):
    10, 15, 20
  • Min GPA:
    No
  • Cosigner release:
    Yes
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Available in all 50 states
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

Does not disclose
Does not disclose
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Cosigner release:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Min. GPA:
    No
  • Repayment options:
    Fixed/flat repayment, interest only, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fees
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, on-time graduation
  • Eligibility:
    Does not disclose
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

5, 10, 15
After 48 months
  • Rates:
    Fixed, variable
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan terms:
    5, 7, 15
  • Min. GPA:
    No
  • Cosigner release:
    Yes
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferral, military deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late Fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Does not disclose

Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

5, 10, 15
After 24 months
  • Rates:
    Fixed, variable
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Min. GPA:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    Yes
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic or military deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a US Citizen or permanent resident
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
The lenders in this table aren’t our partners. But you can use Credible to compare rates in 2 minutes from other lenders who offer private student loans.

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3 steps to getting a student loan without a cosigner

There are ways to get a student loan without a cosigner, even if you have bad credit.

1. Borrow the maximum amount of federal student loans first

If you need to borrow for school, it’s generally a good idea to take out federal student loans first. This is mainly because these loans come with federal benefits and protections — such as access to income-driven repayment plans and student loan forgiveness programs. Many federal loans also don’t require a credit check.

Tip: Also be sure to research college scholarships and grants — since unlike student loans, these don’t have to be repaid. There’s also no limit to how many you might be able to get, so it’s worth applying to as many scholarships and grants as you possibly can.

Here are the main federal student loans that might be available to you:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need and don’t require a credit check. The government will cover the interest on these loans while you’re in school.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to both undergraduate and graduate students regardless of financial need. Like subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans don’t require a credit check. However, you’re responsible for all of the interest that accrues on these loans. Keep in mind that dependent students might be eligible for more unsubsidized loan funding if their parent doesn’t qualify for a Parent PLUS Loan.
  • Direct PLUS Loans come in two types — Grad PLUS Loans for students who want to pay for grad school and Parent PLUS Loans for parents who want to help pay for their child’s education. Unlike Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans, you’ll have to undergo a credit check and must not have an adverse credit history to take out a PLUS Loan. These loans also come with higher interest rates than other federal student loans.
Loan type Pros Cons
Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Based on financial need
  • Don’t pay interest while in school at least half time
  • Six-month grace period after graduation1
  • Only available to undergrads
  • Can defer student loans, but if you put your loans in forbearance interest will still accrue
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Not required to demonstrate financial need, so the amount you can take out is higher than subsidized loans
  • Available to undergrad and grad students
  • Interest accrues immediately from the date of disbursement, though you’re not required to pay interest until you finish school
Direct PLUS Loans
  • Available to grad students and parents of dependent undergrads
  • Can take out up to your school’s certified cost of attendance (minus other financial aid you’ve received)
  • Higher interest rates
  • 4.228%2 disbursement fee
1Meaning that any interest that accrues during your college career and six months afterward is completely paid for
2 For the 2021-22 academic year

Check Out: How to Apply for Federal and Private Student Loans

2. Fill in the gaps with private student loans

After you’ve exhausted your scholarship, grant, and federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill any financial gaps left over.

However, keep in mind that if you have poor or no credit as well as no cosigner, you’ll likely end up with higher interest rates. Because of this, it’s best to treat private student loans as a last resort, since they’ll be more expensive in the long run.

Tip: It’s critical to shop around and compare as many lenders as possible before you borrow. This way, you can find a loan with the most optimal rate and terms for your situation.

Also be sure to borrow only what you need to keep your future costs as low as possible.

You can find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.

Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay

Total Payment
$

Total Interest
$

Monthly Payment
$

With a
$
loan, you will pay
$
monthly and a total of
$
in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of
$
over the life of the
loan, assuming you’re making full payments while in school.


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3. Build credit during college

Many college students don’t yet have the necessary credit to qualify for private student loans on their own. If this is the case, it could be a good idea to focus on building your credit while you’re still in school.

A few ways to potentially do this include:

  • Becoming an authorized user: One of the easiest ways to start building credit as a college student is to become an authorized user on the credit card account of someone you trust. If they make on-time payments and keep their balance relatively low, it will benefit your credit in turn — without you even needing to use the card.
  • Making payments on your student loans: If you can afford it, consider making payments on your federal or private student loans while you’re still in school. This could have a positive impact on your credit over time as well as help you lower the amount you’ll owe after you leave school.
  • Getting a secured credit card: This type of credit card is secured by a cash deposit that acts as your credit limit. Some secured cards are geared toward borrowers with poor credit while others are designed for students looking to build their credit. As you use the card and make on-time payments, you could see your credit score begin to grow. You might also have the option to convert the card into a regular credit card after making a certain number of on-time payments — meaning you’ll also get your deposit back.
  • Taking out a credit-builder loan: This type of loan is designed to help borrowers build a positive payment history to improve their credit score. You’ll make payments over a short repayment term that will be deposited into a savings account. Once your term is over, you’ll get the deposited amount back, minus any interest or fees.

Check Out: Student Loan Limits: How Much in Student Loans You Can Get

Can I be a student loan cosigner with bad credit?

Cosigners are typically required to have good to excellent credit — which means you likely won’t be eligible to cosign a loan if you have bad credit. A good credit score is usually considered to be 700 or higher.

If you have poor credit and want to cosign a loan in the future, it’s a good idea to focus on building your credit beforehand.

Learn More: What to Do If You’re Denied a Student Loan With a Cosigner

Do I need a cosigner for student loans?

This depends on the type of student loan you want to get as well as your credit.

  • Federal student loans: Most federal loans — including Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans — don’t require a credit check or a cosigner. If you’re a dependent student, keep in mind that you might also qualify for unsubsidized loan funding if your parent isn’t eligible for a PLUS Loan.
  • Private student loans: Unlike federal loans, all private student loans require a credit check. You’ll also generally need good to excellent credit to be eligible. Because many college students don’t yet have sufficient credit history to get approved on their own, it could be difficult to qualify without a cosigner. While some lenders offer private student loans for bad credit, remember that these loans usually come with higher interest rates compared to good credit loans.

Check Out: The Right Cosigner Can Save Students Thousands on Their Student Loans

Who can be a student loan cosigner?

Many college students rely on one of their parents to cosign private student loans. However, a cosigner doesn’t have to be a parent. A student loan cosigner can be anyone with good credit — such as a relative, or trusted friend — who is willing to share responsibility for the loan.

Just keep in mind that your cosigner will be on the hook if you can’t make your payments.

If you decide to take out a private student loan — with or without a cosigner — remember to compare as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for your situation.

This is easy with Credible: You can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in just two minutes.

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  • Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
  • Get actual rates, not estimated ones
  • Finance almost any degree

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About the author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a student loan authority and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bankate, Inc, Quartz, and more.

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