How to Get Student Loans Without a Cosigner

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Bethany McCamish

By Bethany McCamish

March 12, 2020

Cosigning a student loan or any other type of loan is a huge financial responsibility. The cosigner is equally responsible for the student loan and it impacts their credit. If you don’t want to involve family or don’t have a credit-worthy cosigner available, all hope is not lost. It’s possible to get a student loan without a cosigner. 

Use federal student loans

The government offers several student loan options that do not require a cosigner. It’s a general rule to use federal student loans first to fund your education. That’s because these loans have relatively low-interest rates, don’t require a cosigner and have flexible repayment options. 

To apply for federal student loans, you must submit the Free Application for Federal Aid (FAFSA). Based on this application, you will receive a financial aid award letter. This letter will detail grants and any federal student loans you qualify for. 

As with all student loans, you will have to repay them. With this in mind, only borrow what you need. 

See also: Federal Student Loans Offer Superior Benefits

Build your credit score

If you find that your federal student loans don’t quite cover tuition, then you may consider taking on a private student loan. There is one major catch. Private student loans typically require a cosigner.  

One reason for this is that most young college students don’t have a credit history, and the lender wants to be sure the loan will be paid in full. To increase your chances of qualifying for a private student loan without a cosigner, you will need to build your credit score. 

A good credit score is 700 or above, according to Experian. Start building your score by paying bills on time, keeping your balances on credit cards low, and not opening too many new lines of credit in a short period of time. 

Increase your income and decrease your debt 

Private student loans don’t have borrowing limits like federal student loans. However, you will need to have an income that can support a private student loan payment.  

One way lenders determine if you can afford the loan is through your debt-to-income ratio (DTR). Your DTR takes your total monthly debt payments and divides this by your monthly gross income. The result is a percentage. One way you can lower this percentage is by increasing your income and paying down debts.  

A low DTR and steady paycheck can increase your ability to get a private student loan without a cosigner. 

Shop around for private student loan lenders 

If you can qualify for a private student loan without a cosigner, it’s essential you shop around. Start with the lenders that do not always require a cosigner such as LendKey, Earnest and DiscoverCredible is a great tool for comparing several different private lenders at once.

Our Loan Comparison Calculator lets you compare two or more different loans, identifying which loan offers a lower monthly payment and which one offers a lower total cost.

When you’re comparing these private student loan lenders, you need to look at: 

  • Origination fees
  • Repayment terms
  • Application fees
  • Repayment options
  • Interest rate 
  • Loan terms available (how long you have to pay off the debt)
  • Any discounts you can qualify for 
  • Options for deferment or postponing payments

You should also look at your finances and make sure you can afford to start paying on the private student loan right away. 

See also: How to Minimize Student Loan Debt

Student Loans without a Cosigner 

If you opt for your federal student loans first, you’re going to be better off. Not only do these student loans not require a cosigner, but certain subsidized student loans have the interest paid for you while you’re in school. After you leave school, federal student loans offer a grace period before repayment begins so you have some time to become financially settled.  

In addition to these benefits, federal student loans remain eligible for income-based repayment programs and student loan forgiveness. These loans are by far the better option for obtaining a student loan without a cosigner.  

Private student loans without a cosigner mean you’re the only one responsible for repaying the student loan. This can be a good thing and keep family relationships out of your personal finances. 

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 At, our goal is to help you make smart decisions about saving and paying for education. Some of the products featured in this article are from our partners, but this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

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