How to Get a Student Loan Without a Cosigner

Quick Answer

If you qualify for federal student loans, you can get a student loan without a cosigner by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Federal student loans don't require a cosigner, and in some cases, you can even get a private student loan without someone cosigning your application.

College student studying in a library

If you're planning to take out student loans to pay for school, it's generally possible to get approved without a cosigner. There are, however, some exceptions, so it's important to know what to expect before you apply.

Can You Get a Student Loan Without a Cosigner?

Federal student loans are available to all eligible students with no cosigner requirements. In most cases, there isn't even a credit check, so you don't need a credit history to get approved. For most college students, it's recommended to prioritize federal student loans for this reason.

Federal loans also offer several benefits that most private student loans don't, including access to student loan forgiveness programs, income-driven repayment plans and generous forbearance and deferment options.

However, most federal loan programs have a cap on how much you can borrow each year, leading some students to seek out private student loans to bridge the gap. You may also consider private loans if you don't qualify for federal student aid.

Most private lenders require a cosigner if you don't have a solid credit history and a good income. However, some lenders, including Ascent, Funding U, MPOWER Financing and Edly, offer loans with no cosigner requirement.

How to Get a Student Loan Without a Cosigner

If you qualify for federal student loans, here's what you can do to get loans without needing a cosigner:

  1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application is required for all forms of federal financial aid, including federal student loans. You'll provide details about yourself and your financial information, as well as your parents' finances.
  2. Review your financial aid award letter. You'll receive a financial aid award letter from your school based on the information you provided on the FAFSA. Look at your aid options, including loans, and accept the amount you need.

If you're considering private student loans, the process is a bit more complicated, but it's still relatively straightforward:

  1. Seek out the right lenders. Remember, most private lenders require a cosigner if you don't have a good credit history and a solid income. Instead of trying your luck with one of those, it may be easier to focus on lenders that specialize in working with students without cosigners.
  2. Review eligibility criteria and loan terms. Each lender has its own approach for determining eligibility, basing it on your major, career prospects and other factors. Additionally, some lenders may base your payments on your income rather than giving you a fixed repayment term. Make sure you understand the fine print before you apply.
  3. Submit an application with the lender. Once you pick a lender, you can usually apply online through the lender's website. You'll typically need to provide some basic information about yourself, your school and how much you want to borrow.
  4. Agree to the terms. If you're approved, you'll receive a loan agreement and other disclosures. Make sure you read them thoroughly before signing the contract.

How to Choose the Best Student Loan Without a Cosigner

As you consider your options for paying for college, here are some ways you can ensure you get the best offer on your student loans:

  • Focus on federal loans first. Federal student loans not only offer certain benefits and relief options, but they also typically offer lower interest rates and more flexibility with your repayment options, even after you graduate.
  • Understand loan limits. In some cases, federal student loans may not be enough to cover all of your expenses. If you decide to apply for a private student loan to pay for your remaining expenses, look at annual and aggregate loan limits for each lender you consider.
  • Compare interest rates. Private student loans with no cosigner requirement often charge higher interest rates to compensate for the added risk. As a result, it's critical that you compare multiple lenders to avoid paying more than you need to.
  • Look at repayment options. Each private lender has its own approach to repayment, including how you'll repay and how long you have to pay off the debt. Narrow down your list of options based on the repayment plan that works best for you.

Build Your Credit to Expand Your Options

Whether or not you currently have a credit history, college is a great time to start building your credit profile so that you can have more opportunities for inexpensive financing in the future. Experian Go™ can help you by establishing a credit report for you and providing insights and tools to help you build credit. As you do, you'll have free access to your Experian credit report and FICO® Score so you can track your progress.