How to Take Out Student Loans Without Parents

 March 19, 2020
How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

How Student Loan Hero Gets Paid

Student Loan Hero is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). Student Loan Hero does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

how to take out student loans without parents

OUR PROMISE TO YOU: Student Loan Hero is a completely free website 100% focused on helping student loan borrowers get the answers they need. Read more

How do we make money? It’s actually pretty simple. If you choose to check out and become a customer of any of the loan providers featured on our site, we get compensated for sending you their way. This helps pay for our amazing staff of writers (many of which are paying back student loans of their own!).

Bottom line: We’re here for you. So please learn all you can, email us with any questions, and feel free to visit or not visit any of the loan providers on our site. Read less

Private Student Loan rates starting at 2.49% APR

2.49% to 13.85% 1

Visit Lender

2.55% to 11.44% 2

Visit Lender

3.25% to 13.59% 3

Visit Lender

  • Variable APR

There are simple steps for how to take out student loans without parents. You should start with accepting all federal loans possible. Then, look to lenders that offer private student loans without a cosigner or consider finding a different relative or friend to cosign your loan. While it may seem daunting, it is possible to pay for college without parents.

How to get federal student loans without parents
How to get private student loans without parents
6 steps to minimize how much money you need for college

How to get federal student loans without parents

The first step you should take is to fill out the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student loans.

Determine whether you’re an independent or dependent student

When you fill out the FAFSA, questions regarding your dependency will determine whether you are considered an independent or dependent student. The FAFSA doesn’t consider other factors in determining dependency status, such as whether you live with your parents or whether or not they’ll contribute financially to your education.

You’re considered an independent student and won’t have to provide your parents’ information on your FAFSA form if you respond ‘yes’ to at least one of the following dependency questions on the 2020-21 FAFSA form:

  • Were you born before Jan. 1, 1997?
  • As of today, are you married? (Separated still counts as yes)
  • Will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program in 2020-2021?
  • Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. armed forces for purposes other than training?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. armed forces?
  • Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2021?
  • Do you now have—or will you have—children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021 [during the award year]?
  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • Has it been determined by a court in your state of legal residence that you are an emancipated minor or that someone other than your parent or step-parent has legal guardianship of you? (You also should answer ‘yes’ if you are now an adult but were in legal guardianship or were an emancipated minor immediately before you reached the age of majority in your state. Answer ‘no’ if the court papers say “custody” rather than “guardianship.”)
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2019, were you determined to be an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless, as determined by (a) your high school or district homeless liaison, (b) the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or (c) the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program?

If your parents are unwilling or unable to provide their information, you may qualify for unsubsidized loans through the federal government if you meet a special circumstance, such as if your parents are incarcerated. After reporting in the FAFSA that you are unable to gather information from your parents, you will need to contact your school’s financial aid office to get final approval for unsubsidized loan borrowing. Note that you won’t get an Expected Family Contribution if your parents are unwilling to share info.

Apply for federal unsubsidized or subsidized loans

Independent and dependent students should start with borrowing federal student loans first, as they don’t require the same credit standards that private student loans often do.

Independent students, or those who file the FAFSA without their parents, generally qualify for more student loan borrowing than dependent undergraduate students. Here are the 2019-2020 borrowing limits for independent students compared to dependent students:

Year Independent Student Annual Loan Limits Dependent Student Annual Loan Limits
First-year undergraduate $9,500 ($3,500 can be subsidized loans) $5,500 ($3,500 can be subsidized loans)
Second-year undergraduate $10,500 ($4,500 can be subsidized loans) $6,500 ($4,500 can be subsidized loans)
Third-year (and beyond) undergraduate $12,500 ($5,500 can be subsidized loans) $7,500 ($5,500 can be subsidized loans)
Graduate or professional student $20,500 (unsubsidized only) N/A (Graduate and professional students are all considered independent)

The aggregate, or total, limit for independent student loans for undergraduate students is $57,500. Up to $23,000 can be from subsidized loans. Dependent undergraduate students, on the other hand, can qualify for up to $31,000 in loans, with up to $23,000 from subsidized loans.

Note that dependent undergraduate students can qualify for the same loan limits as independent undergraduate students if their parents don’t qualify for parent PLUS loans.

“Thus, if you are a dependent student, you may benefit from your parents applying and getting denied for federal parent PLUS loans,” said Colleen Krumwiede, co-founder of college affordability platform Quatromoney.

How to get private student loans without parents

Federal unsubsidized and subsidized loans are preferable to private student loans for interest rates and repayment options, but private student loans are a good option for filling in funding gaps after scholarships and free resources are exhausted.

Unlike with federal student loans, private student loans often require an established credit history or a cosigner, though. Here’s how you can secure private student loans without a parent.

Find a different relative or friend to cosign your loan

One way to pay for college without your parents is to ask another relative or a friend who has good income and an excellent credit score to cosign a loan for you. An aunt, uncle or grandparent may be likely options.

Find a lender that doesn’t require a cosigner or solid credit

It’s also possible to get student loans with no cosigner, says Krumwiede. Lenders such as Sixup and Funding U offer private student loans without a cosigner and no credit history, but they do have other limitations and aren’t available in all 50 states, she says.

For instance, Sixup requires at least a 3.0 GPA in one of 18 states where it offers loans. Funding U, which offers loans in 30 states, bases eligibility on factors such as GPA and school graduation rates. Full-time status is generally required, and your future earning potential and when you enter the workforce after graduation are also typically factors in most of these loans.

Larger lenders like Sallie Mae may accept students with a good credit score who are also working, said Richard Castellano, a spokesperson for Sallie Mae. Having more than a year of work experience is helpful. Ultimately, each loan is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Both Castellano and Krumwiede advised that if you can’t get a loan for what you need to attend a certain school, you may want to consider choosing another. You may also want to focus on boosting your credit score through tactics such as:

  • Getting a student credit card. This will help you start building your credit history.
  • Making on-time payments. Payment history determines about 35% of your FICO® score.
  • Keeping your credit card balance low. About 30% of your credit score is based on the amount you owe compared to your credit limit.
  • Becoming an authorized user on a credit card of someone you know with a credit score of 700+. Their credit history will show up on your credit reports and in your score.
  • Adding utilities to your credit report. Adding your utility bills to your credit report to use your on-time payments to boost your credit score.

6 steps to minimize how much money you need for college

  1. Search for scholarships. Don’t stop searching for scholarships after your first year. You may qualify for scholarships in your junior and senior year that you didn’t qualify for before picking your major or boosting your GPA.
  2. Apply for as many scholarships as possible. This is one of the best ways to figure out how to pay for college without parents. This may include everything from federal grants to scholarships.
  3. Pass out of classes. AP, CLEP and Dantes tests allow students to get college credit for courses they’ve taken or knowledge they’ve acquired elsewhere. For instance, the cost of a CLEP test is $89 to pass out of at least three college credits. If the cost of the same three credits were $1,000 at their college, that student would save over $900 in tuition by testing out of just one course.
  4. Consider starting out at a community college. Taking early college credits isn’t just a good way to save money. You also may get into a more selective school if the community college you attend has a transfer agreement.
  5. Minimize the cost of textbooks. Share them, rent them or get them on reserve from your library, said Krumwiede. Buying used books online through sites like Amazon and eBay can also reduce costs, especially compared to what the school bookstore may charge.
  6. Budget carefully. Personal expenses—from groceries to clothing—can be budget hogs. Budget carefully to reduce the chance of overspending in any category.

Kat Tretina contributed to this report.

Interested in refinancing your Parent PLUS loans into your child's name?

Here are the top lenders of 2022!
LenderVariable APR 
2.49% – 11.72%1

Visit Splash

2.50% – 6.30%2

Visit Laurel Road

4.13% – 7.39%3

Visit Lendkey

Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.

Splash Financial Disclosures

Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount. Fixed loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 20 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.47% for a 12-year term would be $94.86. Variable loans feature repayment terms of 5 to 25 years. For example, the monthly payment for a sample $10,000 with an APR of 5.90% for a 15-year term would be $83.85.

The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of September 6, 2022.

2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

All credit products are subject to credit approval.

Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $9 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit

As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.

  1. Checking your rate with Laurel Road only requires a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
  2. Savings vary based on rate and term of your existing and refinanced loan(s). Refinancing to a longer term may lower your monthly payments, but may also increase the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Refinancing to a shorter term may increase your monthly payments, but may lower the total interest paid over the life of the loan. Review your loan documentation for total cost of your refinanced loan.
  3. After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship. During any period of forbearance interest will continue to accrue. At the end of the forbearance period, any unpaid accrued interest will be capitalized and be added to the remaining principle amount of the loan.
  4. Automatic Payment (“AutoPay”) Discount: if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically from a bank account, the interest rate will decrease by 0.25% and will increase back if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically from the borrower’s bank account. The 0.25% AutoPay discount will not reduce the monthly payment; instead, the discount is applied to the principal to help pay the loan down faster.

Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.

Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.

Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.

Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.


This information is current as of April 29, 2021. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.

3 Important Disclosures for LendKey.

LendKey Disclosures

Refinancing via is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it  endorse,  any educational institution.

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of  5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.

As of 09/09/2022 student loan refinancing rates range from 4.13% APR – 7.39% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.99% APR – 9.93% Fixed APR with AutoPay.

Need a student loan?

Check out our top picks below or learn more about other ways to pay for college.
Variable APRDegrees That QualifyMore Info
2.49% – 13.85%1 Undergraduate

Visit College Ave

2.55% – 11.44%2 Undergraduate

Visit Earnest

3.25% – 13.59%3 Undergraduate

Visit SallieMae

0.00% – 23.00%4 Undergraduate

Visit Edly

3.25% – 9.69%5 Undergraduate


N/A 6 Undergraduate

Visit FundingU