How to Get Student Loans for Your Advanced Degree Without a Cosigner

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It’s not rocket science. The further you are in your academic career, the more financially independent you become.

That’s why just 60 percent of advanced-degree students have cosigners on their student loans. Compare that to 93 percent of undergraduate students who enjoy cosigner support, according to MeasureOne.

If you’re going to law school, seeking an MBA, or considering other professional degrees, you probably already exhausted your financial aid opportunities for an education.

In the interest of independence, you could now be considering student loans without cosigner help.

Federal student loans without cosigner requirements

There are two federal options that don’t require cosigners for graduate or professional students: Direct Unsubsidized Loans and Direct PLUS Loans. They do require filling out the FAFSA, however.

You’re allotted $20,500 in Direct Unsubsidized Loans to put toward your graduate or professional degree. Your combined limit for your undergraduate and graduate education is $138,500. (At most, $65,500 of that amount can be in Direct Subsidized Loans from your undergraduate degree.)

The average cost of a law degree at top-ranked schools is $60,293 per year, according to U.S. News. So you can see why you might need help beyond unsubsidized loans.

If you maximize your unsubsidized loan allotment during graduate school, you could then resort to a Direct PLUS Loan.

Like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, PLUS Loans don’t require a cosigner. But you would need to have better than an “adverse” credit history to qualify. That’s key among the facts to know before applying for PLUS Loans.

If your credit history fails to make the grade, you could find an “endorser,” which is the federal government’s equivalent of a cosigner.

But without a creditworthy cosigner, you might start considering your private student loan options.

How to get a private student loan without a cosigner

If you took out a private loan for your undergraduate degree, you’re already familiar with the process of applying for and securing a loan. You supply personal and financial information to lenders and shop around for the best possible interest rate and loan terms.

The key difference is that when you were an undergrad, you likely rode the coattails of a cosigner. Lenders consider credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and other factors when evaluating a borrower. Because you were likely a teenage or 20-something borrower without much of a credit history, your cosigner would have stood in for support.

Now that you have an undergraduate degree and possibly even some work experience, you might be able to secure a favorable loan from a private lender on your own. In fact, graduates are four times more likely than their younger peers to secure student loans without cosigner backing, according to Sallie Mae.

So if you were wondering how to get a private student loan without a cosigner, now you know it’s possible.

Some lenders even offer student loans without cosigner backing specific to your degree type. For example, Sallie Mae offers loans for students seeking an MBA or pursuing a health profession, to name a couple examples.

Compare your federal and private student loan options

If you’re focused on student loans without cosigner requirements, you can receive one from the federal government or a private lender. Knowing which lender is best is the real challenge.

Your interest rate is a good place to start. Via the federal government, you’ll find fixed interest rates. For loans disbursed before July 1, 2018, the rates are:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans: 6.00%
  • Direct PLUS Loans: 7.00%

The federal government also applies a fee on these loans. For loans disbursed before Oct. 1, 2018, that would be 1.066 percent for Direct Unsubsidized Loans and 4.264 percent for PLUS Loans. The fee is taken out from your loan amount, making it important to apply for the right amount of funds.

Many of our recommended private student loan companies don’t charge loan origination fees. They also start their fixed interest rates at or near 3.00%. But these rates could be as high as 12.00% or more, depending on your creditworthiness.

Aside from offering variable interest rates — rates that can change over the life of your loan — private lenders might be more appealing for other reasons.

If you’re a dental school student, for example, you might have off-campus expenses. A private lender like Citizens Bank lends as much as $295,000 to health profession students. By comparison, a Direct PLUS Loan would only cover the cost of your school’s attendance.

You should also compare your federal and private student loan options on another major front: repayment assistance. Even the best private lenders can’t match the federal government’s potential offer of loan forgiveness, for example. In fact, there are nationally- and state-funded loan repayment assistance programs for lawyers, doctors, and other health care professionals.

A final word on student loans without cosigner support

Being a graduate or professional student makes you independent in the eyes of the federal government. That status allows you to borrow more for your education than a dependent undergraduate. It’s one of many differences between undergraduate and graduate school loans.

But just because you could borrow from the government without a cosigner doesn’t mean you should do the same with a private lender.

If you find yourself Googling the words, “student loans without cosigner bad credit,” for example, you might be better off relying on your federal loan options or finding a good cosigner. For example, you can explore ways to find a cosigner when your parents aren’t options.

But you might still be prioritizing private student loans without a cosigner and no credit history required. In that case, ensure that you get the lowest possible interest rate by working on improving your credit first.

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LenderVariable APREligibility 
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

1 Important Disclosures for College Ave.

CollegeAve Disclosures

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

(1)All rates shown include the auto-pay discount.  The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

(2)This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

(3)As certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive. Minimum $1,000.

Information advertised valid as of 11/4/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.


2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

3 Important Disclosures for Discover.

Discover Disclosures

  1. Students who get at least a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) qualify for a one-time cash reward on each new Discover undergraduate and graduate student loan. Reward redemption period is limited. Please visit DiscoverStudentLoans.com/Reward for any applicable reward terms and conditions.
  2. View Auto Reward Debit Reward Terms and Conditions at DiscoverStudentLoans.com/AutoDebitReward.
  3. Aggregate loan limits apply.
  4. Lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments. The interest rate ranges represent the lowest interest rate offered on the Discover Undergraduate Loan and highest interest rates offered on Discover student loans, including Undergraduate, Graduate, Health Professions, Law and MBA Loans. The fixed interest rate is set at the time of application and does not change during the life of the loan. The variable interest rate is calculated based on the 3-Month LIBOR index plus the applicable Margin percentage. The margin is based on your credit evaluation at the time of application and does not change. For variable interest rate loans, the 3-Month LIBOR is 2.250% as of October 1, 2019. Discover Student Loans will adjust the rate quarterly on each January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 (the “interest rate change date”), based on the 3-Month LIBOR Index, published in the Money Rates section of the Wall Street Journal 15 days prior to the interest rate change date, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent (0.125% or 0.00125). This may cause the monthly payments to increase, the number of payments to increase or both. Please visit discover.com/student-loans/interest-rates for more information about interest rates.
Discover's lowest rates shown are for the undergraduate loan and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

4 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

Offered terms are subject to change and state law restrictions. Loans are offered through CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS #1175900).

  1.  Rates are as of July 1, 2019 and include auto-pay discount. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment. Variable rates may increase after consummation.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens.

Citizens Disclosures

Undergraduate Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of December 1, 2019, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.70%. Variable interest rates range from 2.80% – 11.06% (2.80% – 10.91% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Fixed interest rates range from 4.72% – 12.19% (4.72% – 12.04% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a co-signer. Lowest rates shown requires application with a co-signer, are for eligible applicants, require a 5-year repayment term, borrower making scheduled payments while in school and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of the loan.

Please Note: International Students are not eligible for the multi-year approval feature.

2.84%
10.97%
1
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

2.87% – 10.75%*,2Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

2.80%
11.37%
3
Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

3.52% – 9.50%4Undergraduate and Graduate

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2.80% – 11.06%5Undergraduate and Graduate

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Published in Career & Jobs, Paying for College, Student Loan Repayment, Student Loans