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Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer of March 2024

Student loan interest rates increased last month, according to a U.S. News analysis of minimum and maximum APRs reported by private lenders. Student loan rates have trended higher during the past year, with variable rates climbing by a higher margin than fixed rates.

Here are the in-school student loan rates offered during the month of February 2024:

  • Average fixed APR range: 4.46% – 14.90% (Compared to 4.46% – 14.90% the previous month).
  • Average variable APR range: 5.08% – 15.23% (Compared to 5.08% – 15.08% the previous month).

The APRs on the lower end of the range are generally reserved for applicants with a high credit score and low debt-to-income ratio, while those with poor credit or limited income will see higher rates.

If you don’t have the credit history needed to qualify for a competitive student loan rate, consider enlisting the help of a co-signer. Additionally, shop around with multiple student loan lenders to ensure you’re getting the lowest possible rate for your financial situation.

Yes, it is possible to get a student loan without a co-signer, but it’s important to know what you’re qualified for and to compare your options. Private student loans are approved based on your creditworthiness, but many undergraduate students don’t have an established credit history, payment history or steady income. Even if you do, a lack of credit or income could result in loan offers with high interest rates. Still, there are some lenders willing to loan to students with a thin credit history and without a co-signer.

International students studying in the U.S. may have trouble finding a student loan without a co-signer. Some options do exist, such as loans offered through MPower Financing and Prodigy Finance – the latter of which specializes in loans for international master’s students – but many other lenders require that international students have a creditworthy co-signer.

A co-signer is someone with stronger credit, such as a trusted relative, who agrees to share responsibility for repaying a loan. If you don’t repay your student loan according to the terms, the co-signer must step in. If the loan goes into delinquency or default, both parties will face financial consequences. This decreases the risk for student loan providers, making it easier for students to obtain a loan. Often, parents act as co-signers for student loans – but not always.

Find the Student Loan That’s Right for You

Here’s how to get a student loan without a co-signer:

  1. Find student loan companies that do not require a co-signer. If you haven’t established credit, some lenders will partly judge eligibility based on academic performance.
  2. Compare student loan offers. Lenders generally let you check your loan eligibility and your approximate interest rate with a soft credit inquiry, which doesn’t hurt your credit. Get preapprovals from all the lenders you’re considering so you can compare offers.
  3. Apply. Upload your verification documents, which likely include identification, your financial aid award and your tuition bill.
  4. Sign and approve. Sign your final loan documents. Once you sign, before the school year starts, money will be disbursed to your school.

Here are some common private student loan eligibility criteria:

  • U.S. citizenship or national or permanent resident alien status.
  • An approved school or enrollment level, such as at least half-time enrollment in a four-year program.
  • Age, generally the age someone legally becomes an adult in your state.
  • Credit history, usually at least two years of established credit history verified by a credit check.
  • Credit score, usually in the good credit score range.
  • Income requirements, generally based on your debt-to-income ratio after taking out the loan.

Although securing a co-signer for your student loan provides certain advantages, it’s important to weigh the possible positive and negative results of obtaining a loan on your own.

  • Increased borrowing access for some students. Not everyone has a trusted friend or relative with good credit who is willing to act as a co-signer.
  • You assume sole responsibility. Getting a loan without a co-signer means no one other than yourself is burdened to repay it.

  • You may qualify for less. Without a co-signer, you’ll probably be offered a lower loan amount.
  • You’ll pay more. If you have a limited credit history or income, you may still qualify for a loan, but you will most certainly pay a higher interest rate without a co-signer.

Here are factors to consider when choosing a student loan with no co-signer:

  • Types of private student loans. Lenders may offer different types of private student loans, such as undergraduate, graduate, professional degree or parent loans.
  • Different loan terms. Your loan’s term is how many years you have to repay the debt. Loan term lengths vary by lender and typically range from five to 20 years. Short-term loans may have a lower interest rate but require a higher monthly payment. A longer repayment term results in lower monthly payments but higher borrowing costs over time.
  • Interest rate. Your interest rate greatly influences the cost of borrowing, so try to get the lowest interest rate possible. The lowest advertised rate may only be available to the most creditworthy student loan borrowers.
  • Eligibility requirements. Consider the lender’s minimum credit score, income and employment requirements. If you can’t qualify for a loan on your own, try another lender.
  • Other loan costs and discounts. It’s important to consider loan fees you may need to pay, including application, origination and late fees. But understand your options for saving money as well, such as a rate reduction for autopay or cash back for a good GPA.
  • Loan limits. Private student loans often have minimum and maximum loan amounts.
  • Repayment plans. Your repayment terms may defer your payment completely until after you graduate or leave school, allow you to make interest-only payments while you’re in school, or require a fixed monthly payment while you’re in school at least half time.
  • Discharge and hardship options. A discharge benefit can cancel your debt if you die or are permanently disabled. Some lenders offer hardship options to student loan borrowers that let you put your loans into deferment or forbearance, periods when you don’t need to make payments. Lenders may also offer other hardship options, such as a temporary interest rate reduction or monthly payment reduction.
  • Customer service ratings. Read student loan reviews and ratings before you commit. You can find student loan reviews online and browse comparisons and recommendations for some of the top private student lenders.

Scholarships and grants are preferable to loans, but if you need to borrow money, federal student loans are the best option. This is especially true if you don’t have a co-signer, as most undergraduate federal student loans don’t require co-signers.

Federal student loans may offer a much lower interest rate because eligibility isn’t based on your credit score or income. They also offer a variety of repayment plans, loan forgiveness programs and hardship options that can make it easier to repay the loan.

Many banks, credit unions and online lenders offer private student loans, so you should compare your loan options. The research you do now could help you find a private student loan without a co-signer and snag a lower interest rate or better benefits, which could save you money in the future.

If you have bad credit, you may still qualify for a student loan, but you should carefully weigh all your options before applying. Consider the impact that taking out a loan will have on your already low credit score if you are approved. Applying with a co-signer may improve your chances of getting a loan and securing a more favorable interest rate.

Students with no credit history may qualify for student loans without a co-signer in some instances. For these students, some lenders consider factors such as GPA, graduation date, program and cost of attendance when determining loan eligibility.

You’re not alone if you aren’t able to get approved for a private student loan without a co-signer. If your scholarships, grants and federal aid won’t cover your costs, you may need to take a step back. Here are a few strategies to consider:

Attend a less expensive school. Starting at a local community college is an inexpensive option. You may be able to get your general education requirements out of the way and then transfer to a four-year college or university to finish your degree. “The path for low-income students is lower-cost state schools, living at home and working while at school,” says Brad Baldridge, certified financial planner and college funding consultant, as well as owner and chief podcaster of “Taming The High Cost of College.”

Talk to the school’s financial aid office. If you’re looking for additional funds because of a change in your or your family’s financial situation, reach out to the school’s financial aid office. “Sometimes, colleges will make adjustments to the financial aid package when justified by special circumstances,” says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research at You may qualify for additional loans, grants or work-study awards.

Cut back on educational expenses. If you’re close to having enough savings and financial aid to pay for school but still have a small gap to fill, you may be able to cut expenses rather than find more aid. For example, you might be able to live with roommates and pay less for housing. You can save on textbook costs by buying used books, renting them or using free reference copies at the library.

Consider alternative financing. Kantrowitz encourages students who have hit their annual loan limit to ask their parents to borrow from the federal Parent Direct PLUS loan program. Other parent borrowing options, such as private parent loans and home equity loans, may help some families bridge the college financing gap, depending on their circumstances.

Take a gap year to start building credit and savings. If you’ve been admitted to a school but can’t afford it, you could ask to take a gap year to work and build your finances. Depending on the college or university policy, you may be able to maintain your admission at the school the following year and have a year to get your financial affairs in order.

U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.

To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. The scoring factors for private student loan providers are customer service ratings, fixed APR, variable APR, loan product availability, minimum and maximum loan terms, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, and online features.

The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.

To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.

To recap, here are the picks:

Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer of March 2024

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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