How to Pay for Your Next Semester of Grad School Without a Cosigner

 May 5, 2020
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Private Student Loan rates starting at 2.49% APR

2.49% to 13.85% 1

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2.55% to 11.44% 2

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3.25% to 13.59% 3

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  • Variable APR

While student loans can help you cover the costs of graduate school, they’re not always easy to get without a cosigner. Fortunately, you do have options for student loans without cosigner support. Make sure to compare all your options before you borrow to find the best loan for your situation.

Federal student loans without cosigner requirements

If you’re looking at student loans without cosigner requirements, you might have already maximized your federal loan allotment. Or maybe you’re just looking for better loan terms than those offered by the government. Whatever is the case, here’s a quick refresher on your federal loan options.

As an independent student, you can borrow up to $20,500 worth of Direct unsubsidized loans per year. You’re also limited to $138,500 total when you include any federal loans you took out to pay for your undergraduate degree.

Those restrictions might make Direct PLUS loans appealing despite the fact they’re tagged with higher interest rates and origination fees.

The good news is that PLUS Loans allow you to borrow any amount up to the cost of your program. The bad news is that an adverse credit history would require you to document special circumstances or find a cosigner. The Department of Education uses the word “endorser.”

If you’re prioritizing student loans without cosigners, that might erase PLUS Loans from your list of options.

Private student loans without cosigner requirements

It’s also possible that you’re looking for student loans without cosigner support because your previous cosigner can’t (or won’t) cosign a new loan. Whatever your situation, you do have private loan options.

There are many benefits of going to a private lender. For one, you save on the loan origination fees of PLUS Loans. Citizens Bank, for example, claims that their average graduate student borrower saves $917 on fees.

Graduate student loans from private lenders also come with slightly lower interest rates than those offered to undergraduates. For example, at Sallie Mae, the highest interest rate offered to undergraduates is 13.72%. Meanwhile, the highest rate presented to grad students is 12.11%.

But there’s a hard truth. Without a cosigner, you’re less likely to score a rate at the bottom of the range.

How to find a (private) student loan without cosigner support

Some top lenders, including CommonBond, require you to have a cosigner for your graduate school loan. Others, such as Sallie Mae, will approve graduate students for student loans without a cosigner as long as they have good credit.

So, the first step in shopping around is to identify reputable lenders that offer private student loans to grad students without requiring cosigners.

Then you can focus on making yourself the best possible applicant. For most lenders, you’ll need to meet some basic criteria. That may involve submitting valid identification and proof of U.S. citizenship, permanent residency or other eligible status.

The application itself will be decided on primarily by your credit history and your debt-to-income ratio. Those two factors will also shape the interest rate that you’re quoted.

If you have a bachelor’s degree, some job experience and a superior credit score, you’re well-positioned. We estimate that you increase your chances of qualifying with top lenders when your credit score reaches 690. Once you’re in the 720-and-above range, you’re more likely to secure a low rate.

But maybe you haven’t had time to find employment or build your credit into those ranges. If you’re anything like the average grad student, you probably already have student loan debt, too.

Be wary of no-credit student loans without a cosigner

During your search, you might come across private student loans without cosigner requirements and no credit history needed.

That might sound appealing at first. But remember that in the world of private loans, your credit history is like currency. It can (or can’t) help get you a favorable interest rate and the loan terms that fit your needs.

Without your credit (or a cosigner’s) to consider, there’s no way for less reputable lenders to judge how likely you are to repay your loan. As a result, you might be stuck with some of the consequences of no-credit loans:

  • A higher interest rate.
  • A shorter repayment term.
  • A lack of repayment protections.

Ideally, you’ll find a private loan that matches all of your needs, from how much you need to borrow to how you repay it.

Say you have another couple years of grad school ahead of you, for example. You might hold out for a loan that allows you to defer payments until after graduation. You might also seek out lenders that offer forbearance. It could protect you if the job you have lined up after school doesn’t pan out.

If you don’t have the credit score needed for a private student loan with these friendlier terms, return to the drawing board. After all, you’ll want to avoid student loans without cosigner requirements that accept bad credit. To do so, consider spending the time necessary to improve your credit score. You might even rethink enlisting a cosigner.

Find the right graduate student loan for you

If you made it this far, you’ve already considered all the ways to get financial aid for grad school. You’re also done wondering, “Is there any way to get a student loan without a cosigner?” Now you know it’s possible.

Taking out a federal or private student loan without cosigner help probably wasn’t your first choice. But if you find the right loan from the right lender, it will do more than cover the cost of your next year of grad school. It will also set you up for a successful repayment once you receive your diploma.

Just make sure to shop around and compare rates to find a student loan with the lowest long-term costs of borrowing.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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