How to Get Student Loans Without a Cosigner

The cost of earning a college degree continues to rise, which means many students have to take out student loans to pay for school. And since most college students have a limited credit history, it’s not uncommon for them to apply with a creditworthy cosigner.

college kid

Applying for a student loan with a cosigner can help you qualify for a lower interest rate and will save you money over the life of the loan. But what if you don’t have someone available or willing to cosign for your student loans?

Fortunately, federal student loan options don’t require a cosigner to qualify. However, it can be challenging to get approved for private loans with no cosigner. This article will cover how to apply for student loans and pay for college when you don’t have the option of using a cosigner.

How to Apply for Federal Student Loans

The Department of Education offers direct loans, and the good news is, you don’t need a cosigner to apply. You should always apply for federal student loans first because they come with lower interest rates and more favorable loan terms than private loans. Plus, their repayment plans provide a lot more flexibility such as income-driven repayment plans, forbearance, deferment, and student forgiveness programs.

To apply, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If you’re applying as a dependent student, you’ll need your parents’ help to complete the application. If you’re applying independently, you can complete the form on your own.

The FAFSA is what colleges will use to determine how much federal aid you will qualify for. By filling it out, you could be eligible for scholarships and grants, which are free money you can apply toward your tuition.

Once you’ve completed the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) summarizing the information you submitted. You should check this carefully for any inaccuracies. Then in the coming weeks, you’ll begin receiving offer letters from the schools you applied to.

The 4 Types of Federal Student Loans

According to the Department of Education, there are four different types of federal loans you can apply for. Most of the loans outlined in the list below do not require a credit check or a cosigner. Here is an overview of each type of federal student loan:

  • Direct subsidized loans: These loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.
  • Direct unsubsidized loans: These loans are available for undergraduate and graduate students and are not based on financial need.
  • Direct PLUS loans: Direct PLUS loans are offered to graduate students, and eligibility is not based on financial aid. However, a credit check is required, and student loan borrowers with bad credit may not meet the requirements to qualify.
  • Perkins loans: These loans are meant for undergraduates and graduate students who demonstrate extreme financial need.

How to Apply for Private Student Loans

Federal loans are the best place to start, but there will come a point when you max out on the amount you’re able to borrow in a year. So many students need to take out private loans to cover any gaps left by federal loans.

Private loans are offered by banks and online lenders, not the government, so you don’t have to fill out a FAFSA to apply. But you will have to apply on the lender’s website and undergo a credit check.

This is where many borrowers run into problems. Most students haven’t established credit history, so it can be hard to qualify on their own. However, it’s not impossible. Listed below are five private student loan lenders that are willing to work with borrowers that have a limited credit history. However, some of them do have minimum credit score requirements.


Ascent offers private student loan options designed for undergraduates who are at least a junior or senior in college, and grad students. You can qualify without a cosigner, but you will need to meet specific eligibility requirements.

Citizens Bank

You may qualify for a private student loan through Citizens Bank without a cosigner, but it will be much easier if you have a good credit score and a stable income. However, they do offer a cosigner release option after 36 months. So if you’ve been having a hard time finding a cosigner, this could help you make your case.


You can apply for a private student loan through LendKey on the company’s website. The application process is easy, and the company doesn’t charge any application fees. Their loans tend to come with lower interest rates, but you’ll have a better chance of qualifying if you have a good credit score.

Funding University

Funding University is a great place to start because they specialize in offering private student loans to borrowers with limited credit history. Instead of basing your eligibility on a credit score, they consider your academic history, your major, and how far along you are in school.


Sixup is another lender that offers private student loans to borrowers with no credit history. And they offer lower interest rates than what most private lenders would give to someone without a cosigner.

How to Get Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Hopefully, this article has shown you that it is entirely possible to get student loans with no cosigner. That being said, there are several drawbacks.

As college becomes more expensive, many students will find that they are unable to get by with just federal loans. But applying for private student loans is not always the best option. Your interest rate will be much higher, which means you’ll pay more over the life of the student loan.

One of the best ways to improve your odds of approval is by having a high credit score. This is not as difficult to achieve as it sounds. Merely paying your bills on time every month will go a long way toward improving your FICO score. And there are credit cards designed specifically for students that can help you raise your score.

The best way to ensure you have the funds to pay for college is to start the process early. Apply for as many scholarships and grants as possible, since this is money you don’t have to repay.

If you do have to take out a private student loan, only apply for the amount you truly need. Spend some time comparing offers from multiple lenders so you can get the most favorable rates possible.

Jamie Johnson
Meet the author

Jamie Johnson is a freelance writer who has been featured in publications like InvestorPlace and GOBankingRates. She writes about various personal finance topics including student loans, credit cards, investing, building credit, and more.