College Students: What to Do Before Borrowing Loans for Without a Cosigner

 March 31, 2021
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student loans without cosigner

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Breakups are never easy, especially if it’s with your student loan cosigner.

When your cosigner helped you take out your first private student loan for college, you probably thought they were in it for the long haul. Now you’ve learned that your cosigner is unable or unwilling to help you borrow again.

This might seem like a major setback, but you can overcome it. In fact, there are plenty of ways to pay for school, including loans for college students without cosigner support. Here’s how you can get started.

1. Fill out the FAFSA
2. Search for scholarships
3. Trim your education costs
4. Reconsider your federal loan options
5. Find a new cosigner for private loans
6. Consider student loans without cosigner support
● Plus: How did you end up without a cosigner?

1. Fill out the FAFSA

You might have leaned on private student loans to cover college costs. The most important thing to do now is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Without the FAFSA, you close the door on federal loans, governmental grants and work-study opportunities. Those options could come in handy as you overcome the loss of your cosigner.

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2. Search for scholarships

You might think scholarships are reserved for high school seniors, but that’s just one of the most common myths about scholarships.

There are plenty of scholarships for college students. Prioritize applications that are meant for students of your experience level and field of study.

There are many ways to win scholarships while attending college, including:

  • Your school’s financial aid office
  • Your employer
  • Contests
  • Local and national foundations

Think about how your major area of study, minor in-school accomplishments, or even your part-time job might help you score scholarships.

3. Trim your education costs

Before you consider borrowing more money without a cosigner on board, try to trim your college costs. That might offset your need for student loans for college students without cosigner support.

Drastic measures include transferring to a more affordable school, even a community college, or taking time off to save for your cost of attendance. But there are also small ways to save, such as:

Despite adopting these measures, you might still need to take out loans for college students without cosigner backing. But you’ll at least be able to lower your potential debt.

4. Reconsider your federal loan options

If you previously relied on private student loans for college, you probably had a good reason. Maybe you scored a significantly lower interest rate with a private loan company, thanks to your former cosigner.

But now that you’re considering loans for college students without cosigner requirements, there’s no better place to look than the federal government. Direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans for undergraduates don’t require a cosigner. You borrow the loans in your name, and it’s your sole responsibility to repay them.

Federal student loans come with features a private lender likely can’t match. For example, you can switch your repayment plan for a federal loan to an income-driven repayment (IDR) plan, which limits your monthly payments to a percentage of your income, after you leave school.

5. Find a new cosigner for private loans

Perhaps you worked with a private loan company in the past because you maxed out your federal student loan allotment and needed to fill in the gaps.

Whatever the case, understand that you could find a new cosigner to replace your old one. If your mom or dad cosigned your previous loan, you might find a cosigner from a different branch of your family tree. A grandparent or other relative could stand in this time around.

But your cosigner doesn’t have to be a family member — it could be a friend. Many private student loan companies only require your cosigner to be creditworthy and have a positive debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Ask your lender about its specific criteria before putting your next cosigner through the application process.

6. Consider loans for college students without cosigner help

If a private lender is best for your situation, be aware that it’s possible to take out education loans for college students without cosigner support.

About 91% of undergraduate private student loans had a cosigner in the 2020-2021 academic year, according to a report from MeasureOne. This high percentage is likely because most college students don’t have the credit history and regular income to qualify for private student loans on their own.

You could be in the 9% minority, however. Not all lenders require undergraduate borrowers to have a cosigner. And if you have a credit score near or above 700 and earn a regular paycheck, you could likely earn a private loan approval on your own at most lenders.

Ensure you understand the pros and cons of loans for college students without cosigner assistance. Without the built-in support of a cosigner, you’ll be responsible solely for repayment. So, don’t borrow more than you can repay once you leave school.

Top lenders offering private loans for college students without cosigners

The table below has some private student loan lenders offering loans with no cosigner, as of March 5, 2021.

Stated eligibility criteria Note that …
Ascent Two years of credit history, $24,000 minimum income If you don’t meet those requirements, you could still qualify for an Ascent income-share agreement-like loan
Citizens Bank Good credit, no prior student loan default Noncitizens and non-permanent residents have to find a cosigner
College Ave Credit score of 660 or above If you’re unsure if you can qualify on your own, try the lender’s prequalification tool
Earnest Credit score of at least 650, annual income of $35,000-plus and three years of credit history Non-citizen students without permanent resident status (who have a Social Security number) are eligible with a cosigner
Education Loan Finance Credit score of at least 680, annual income of $35,000-plus and three years of credit history ELFI has a minimum loan amount of $10,000
Funding University GPA and school graduate rates vary by your year in the degree program Your academic success, job experience and projected postgraduate income determine the fate of your loan application
MPower Financing Attend a degree program in the U.S. or Canada and be within two years of graduation Your future earning potential, not your credit score, is used to determine your eligibility
PNC “Satisfactory” credit, meet unspecified debt-to-income (DTI) criteria Students must be citizens or permanent residents living in the U.S. for at least two years, enrolled at least half time; cosigner required for 17-year-olds
Prodigy Finance Attend an eligible graduate school in an eligible state International students and American students studying abroad are eligible to borrow
SoFi Good credit Half-time enrollment is required for all SoFi loans

How did you end up without a cosigner?

Student loan cosigners carry a great deal of risk.

Your cosigner agrees to be responsible for the repayment of your loan if you fail to keep it up. They also put their credit history on the line, limiting their own ability to borrow money.

That’s why it might not be wise to have your parents cosign a loan. It could harm your relationship with them or put the family’s finances at risk.

With that in mind, a cosigner might refuse to cosign your student loan because:

  • They have a limit on the amount of debt they’re willing to cosign.
  • They want to see you repay one loan before agreeing to cosign another.
  • They have money problems.

If you currently find yourself without a cosigner, don’t waste time being angry. Thank your cosigner for the previous show of support.

Your cosigner will remain a part of your previous loan agreement (or agreements). You’ll want to keep your relationship intact.

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

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2.55% – 11.44%2 Undergraduate

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3.25% – 13.59%3 Undergraduate

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0.00% – 23.00%4 Undergraduate

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3.25% – 9.69%5 Undergraduate


N/A 6 Undergraduate

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