If you’ve already maxed out on federal aid for the academic year, you may need to turn to private student loans to help cover costs. However, these loans are very different from traditional federal student loans.

You must apply for these loans through a separate lender instead of just filling out the FAFSA. And it’s entirely possible for your private student loan application to get denied.

What, then, could cause you to get denied for a private student loan? Here are a few of the primary reasons.

As always, before you take out any student loans, exhaust all other resources first. Apply for scholarships, grants, and federal aid; consider employer tuition assistance; consider a work college, and choose an affordable school.

Your Credit Score

Unlike federal loans, private loans require a credit check. The most common reason your application was denied was because your credit score is too low or you may not have enough credit.

In the long term, you’ll want to work on building and repairing your credit. In the short term, though, you may need to ask someone with better credit to cosign the application in order to get approved.

You Want Too Much

While a private student loan is different from a federal loan, it’s all money intended for your education. And that means that you can’t borrow more (in combined scholarships, grants, and loans) than the cost of attendance for the academic year.

Therefore, if you request too much money, your application may get denied. Or it may get approved for a lower amount after the lender speaks with your school. 

You’ve Borrowed Too Much

Sometimes, the reason you are denied for a private student loan is really simple: you’ve borrowed too much already. 

Lenders generally don’t like to approve loans (from student loans to mortgages) for someone with a debt-to-income ratio any higher than 40%. It’s possible to still get approved, especially if you bring in a decent amount of money. Unfortunately, many students can’t bring in that much income while they attend school full time. 

You Haven’t Been In School That Long

In the eyes of the lender, giving you money for school is always a bit of a gamble. That’s because it is bad for you and the lender alike if you end up dropping out of school and are unable to pay back your loan.

That’s why some lenders deny applications from freshmen or even sophomores. If they are worried you aren’t in this for the long haul, they are less likely to invest in you.

Conversely, juniors, seniors, and especially graduate students will have an easier time getting a private student loan.