Without a high school diploma, you might have had to search high and low for the right school to continue your education.
The same could be said for student loans.
Although your lack of a diploma could be a big obstacle to borrowing student loans, it’s one you might also be able to overcome.
Getting federal student aid without a high school diploma
Most eligibility requirements for federal student aid — including governmental grant, work-study and loan programs — are pretty straightforward. You must be an American citizen (or an eligible noncitizen with a Social Security number), and you must be enrolled at an eligible school, attending classes at least half-time.
Fortunately, there’s some gray area around your educational background. If you don’t hold a diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate, there are two ways you could still qualify for federal aid:
- Completing high school via homeschool in a state that doesn’t require receiving a credential
- Enrolling in an eligible school’s career pathway program and passing an “ability-to-benefit” test or meeting other prerequisites
If you’re still not sure whether you fit these criteria, contacting your school’s financial aid office is your best bet. It can confirm whether you’ll be able to borrow from the Department of Education.
Borrowing private student loans without graduating high school
In the world of federal student loans, the lender (the government) makes the rules. It works similarly in the realm of private student loans, but with one exception: Private lenders typically don’t care whether you graduated high school or not.
Once you’re enrolled, it’s no longer a question of your eligibility — but your school’s.
Banks, credit unions and online companies typically lend exclusively to students who attend programs within their so-called network. Some lend regionally or nationally, and others reserve their loans for students attending four-year programs.
College Ave, for example, offers undergraduate loans in addition to career loans for students seeking associate’s degrees or attending select community colleges. Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo are among other lenders that cater to students borrowing for trade schools.
So you might not need a diploma or GED to get into school and borrow loans, but that doesn’t mean your school and preferred lender will be willing to work together.
When shopping around, confirm your school’s eligibility by entering its name into lenders’ applications. You can also circle back to your campus financial aid office and ask for its list of approved private lenders.
Borrowing for college without finishing high school
Admittedly, not having a high school diploma can limit your college options, as well as restricting where you can find student loans — but it is still possible to attend and finance the next step of your education.
If you’re eligible for federal loans, start your search there, as the Department of Education offers loan protections, including pathways to loan forgiveness, that private lenders can’t match.
When surveying your private student loan options, however, beware of lenders who say they specifically cater to non-high-school graduates and charge exorbitant interest rates or fees. Expand your search for the right bank, credit union or online company that not only deems you eligible, but also fulfills what you’re seeking as a borrower.
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|2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
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 an 8-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 7% variable Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 96 monthly payments of $179.28 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $17,211.20. 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 5/22/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
* 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.
3 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
4 Important Disclosures for Discover.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|3.99% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.84% – 13.49%4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 11.30%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 9.47%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.74% – 9.72%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.32%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|