How to Get Federal and Private Student Loans Without A Cosigner

Nicolas Cesare  | 

With college tuition in the rise, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get through college without taking out some student loans. However, if you don’t have financial support from your family and you aren’t able to get a cosigner, can you even get student loans?

Yes you can. It is possible to get student loans without a cosigner, however, you will find that your options are more limited than they would be if you had someone with more of a credit history to backup your student loan application. Let’s go over how you can get student loans without a cosigner, and what you can do to improve your loan application if you aren’t able to find someone to cosign for you.

How to Get Student Loans Without a Cosigner and No Credit

Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of student loans: federal and private. Federal student loans are provided by the government in an effort to make education more accessible to would-be students regardless of initial economic status.

However, because student loans are immediately financed by taxpayer dollars and not all students will eventually pay back their loans, giving out student loans represents a gamble by the federal government. For this reason, federal student loans aren’t always as robust as you might like them to be. As a response to unsatisfying federal support, private lenders like banks also offer student. However, private lenders aren’t as willing to gamble with their money as the government is, so they may take a harder look at your credit report than federal lenders.

How to Get Federal Student Loans Without a Cosigner

In principle, federal student loans exist primarily as a tool to smooth out economic inequality. The thought is that a student whose parents make $50,000 a year should have an equal shot at a college education compared to a student whose parents make $1,000,000 a year.

Since people in lower income brackets tend to have lower credit scores, the government doesn’t check your credit when it comes to most federal student loans. They also won’t require a cosigner with good credit to support your student loan claims. However, if you are applying for Direct PLUS Loans or your parents are interested in Parent PLUS Loans, your credit score will come into play. If you have a poor credit history or you can’t find a cosigner, you should stick to direct subsidized or unsubsidized loans.

How to Get Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Unlike the federal government, private lenders are out to make a profit with their loans. That means that they’re only interested in giving out loans when they can be confident that they’ll get their money back along with any interest that’s accumulated. Credit scores and cosigners are the tools that private lenders use to make sure they come out ahead with loans, so you can bet that your and your cosigner’s credit histories will be thoroughly examined if you apply for a private student loan.

If your own credit score isn’t very good and you don’t have a good cosigner for your private student loan, then you’ll probably be turned away from most reputable lenders. Beware of predatory lenders who may try to take advantage of your desperate situation by offering loans with high interest rates and hidden fees.

Challenges and Disadvantages of Having Student Debt with No Cosigner

Not only is student debt without a cosigner bad for lenders, it’s also bad for you. Here are just a few of the things that can go wrong by having student debt with no cosigner.

  • With no cosigner, there is no one to help you out with your student loans when times get rough. Missing payments will only force you to have to pay additional fees and interest.
  • If you miss too many loan payments and no one is there to pick up the slack, you can end up defaulting on your student loans. Defaulting on private student loans is especially bad, since you won’t have tools like student loan rehab to help you recover.
  • If you suffer a financial emergency without a rainy day fund, your lender could sue you for the money you owe, turning a small financial blunder into a disaster.

Even if you don’t have a cosigner, it’s still possible to get student loans and complete your college education. Make use of federal loans that don’t require a cosigner or a credit check to pay your college expenses.


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Nick Cesare is a writer from Boise, ID. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing and making avocado toast.

This post was updated February 13, 2018. It was originally published January 20, 2018.