Best Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Ascent offers the best student loans if you’re dealing with poor credit scores

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Student loans can be expensive, and if you don’t have great credit, or access to a co-signer with great credit, you might end up paying a lot more than the original loan amount. But not all student loans require that you have a huge income or high credit score to apply. In fact, some lenders offer loans to students who have no credit history at all. 

Private student loan companies will sometimes help you qualify for a loan, even without income or credit history. With the advent of outcomes-based loans, and the ability to qualify based on your academics and future earnings, there are quite a few loan options available, even if you don’t have a co-signer.

We’ve reviewed dozens of student loan companies and found the top lenders that offer student loans without the need for a co-signer. If you don’t have the best credit and don’t have someone to help you qualify, these companies are worth a look.

Best Student Loans Without a Cosigner of February 2023

  • Best Overall: Ascent
  • Student Loan Marketplace: Credible
  • Best for No Fees: Discover
  • Best for International Undergrad Students: MPower
  • Best for International Graduate Students: Prodigy
  • Best for Flexible Repayment Terms: Funding U

We recommend exhausting all of your federal student loan options before considering private loans. Federal loans can provide more flexibility and relief options, as well as student loan forgiveness.

Best Student Loans Without a Cosigner
Best Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Best Overall : Ascent

Investopedia's Rating
4.5

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No application or origination fees

  • Competitive rates

  • Juniors and seniors can qualify based on future earnings

Cons
  • Outcomes-based loans not available to freshmen and sophomores

Why We Chose It

Ascent offers private student loan options for undergrad and grad students, as well as professionals. There are also outcomes-based loans for junior and senior students which allow them to qualify based on grades and future earnings potential instead of just a credit score.

Ascent offers loans from $2,001–$200,000 for undergraduate students, and up to $400,000 for graduate students. Rates without a co-signer are competitive, and Ascent doesn’t charge any application or origination fees on any loan. There is a nine-month grace period for repayment, which is longer than most lenders.

Loan terms are extremely flexible, too, with the ability to select a 5-, 7-, 10-, 12-, 15-, or 20-year loan repayment schedule. The combination of low rates, the ability to qualify based on future earnings (for some), and the flexibility of loan terms makes Ascent our top pick for student loans without a co-signer.

For more information, see the full Ascent Student Loans Review.

Repayment Options
  • Deferred: Students can defer payments until nine months after graduation (12 months for dental students). Interest will accrue during this time period and is capitalized once full repayment begins.
  • Fixed: Students can elect to pay $25/month as a fixed payment during school and the grace period. This helps lower the overall accrued interest on the loan.
  • Interest-only: Students can pay just the interest on the loan during school and the grace period, to prevent interest from accruing on the loan.
  • Full payment: Students may choose to make full payments on the loans during school to save the most amount of money over the life of the loan.
Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a student loan with Ascent, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must live in the District of Columbia or the United States (all 50 states are supported)
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time (full-time for outcomes-based loans)
  • Must be a U.S. resident, have DACA status, or have a qualifying visa
  • Must be pursuing a bachelor’s or graduate-level degree
  • Enrolled in an Ascent-approved institution
  • At least 2 years of credit history
  • Income of at least $24,000 in the current and previous year (in USD)

For outcomes-based loans, the eligibility criteria are:

  • Be a college junior or senior enrolled full-time at an eligible institution
  • Be a U.S. citizen or have a U.S. permanent resident or DACA status.
  • Maintain a 2.9 GPA or higher
  • Be at least 18 years old (or age of majority) in your state of residence

Student Loan Marketplace : Credible


Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Compare loan offers from multiple lenders

  • Flexible repayment terms

  • Pre-qualification available (no hard inquiry)

  • No additional fees

Cons
  • Does not include all lenders

  • Limited view of terms and conditions 

Why We Chose It

Credible is a student loan marketplace that allows you to submit an application and view rates and terms from top online lenders. There are no additional fees for the service. Credible pre-qualification doesn’t hurt your credit score, and the only hard credit pull happens after you select a lender and complete your application.

If you have excellent credit, some lenders offer student loans with rates as low as 4% (or less), and repayment terms can be up to 20 years in length. Several reputable lenders are absent from Credible, so you may still want to shop around further to compare rates with other lenders.

Credible is a leading student loan marketplace, making it easy to compare rates and review multiple loan options at once. Minimum credit scores aren’t disclosed, and each lender has different requirements to qualify, so you may see a variety of rates from different lenders.

For more information, see the full Credible Student Loans Review.

Repayment Options

Credible repayment options will vary by lender, but may include:

  • Deferment: Payments can be paused until after graduation and the grace period. This is the most expensive option as interest will accrue the entire time.
  • Fixed: Some lenders offer a fixed payment of $20 or $25 per month while in school. This helps lower the amount of interest that accrues over the lifetime of the loan.
  • Interest-only: Most lenders allow you to pay just the interest on the loan during school, which stops it from accruing and being added to your loan total.
  • Full payment: Students can elect to pay the full loan payment during school. This saves the most amount of money over the life of the loan. 
Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a student loan with Credible, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must live in the U.S.
  • Must be the age of majority as defined by state of residence
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be enrolled at least half–time
  • Have verifiable income

Best for No Fees : Discover

Investopedia's Rating
4.3

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No application, origination, prepayment, or late fees

  • Rewards available for good grades

  • Competitive rates

Cons
  • Pre-qualification not available

  • Only one repayment term

Why We Chose It

Discover is a financial services company that offers credit cards and banking products, but also offers private student loans to both undergraduate and graduate students (and their parents). Discover charges no fees on its loans (origination, application, prepayment, late payment), and interest rates are low compared to competitors.

Discover loans are available up to $150,000 for undergraduate students, and up to the total cost of attendance for graduate students. You can even earn a 1% cash-back reward for earning a 3.0 GPA (or equivalent) when applying for a new student loan.

Discover only offers one repayment term option (15 years for undergrad loans, 20 years for graduate loans), making it less flexible than other lenders. And while you can get great rates, pre-qualification is not available, meaning you have to submit a full application to check your terms. This hard inquiry may impact your credit score.

Overall, Discover offers competitive loans with no fees, making it one of the least expensive lenders out there.

For more information, see the full Discover Student Loans Review.

Repayment Options
  • Deferment: Payment can be deferred until after graduation and the six-month grace period. Interest accrues during the period, but payments are paused.
  • Fixed: Discover has a $25/month fixed payment option available during school and the grace period.
  • Interest-only: Students can elect to only pay the interest on the loan during school, helping lower the amount of interest over the life of the loan.
  • Full payments: Normal interest-and-principal monthly payments.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Must be 16 years or older at the time you apply
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree program at an eligible school
  • Must be making satisfactory academic progress as defined by your school
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or international student (international students require a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident)
  • Qualify based on credit profile, income, and other factors

Best for International Undergrad Students : MPower

Investopedia's Rating
3.8

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Available to international students without a co-signer

  • Interest rate discounts available

Cons
  • Supports fewer than 500 schools in U.S. and Canada

  • Must be in 1–2 year program or within 1–2 years of graduation

  • One repayment term available (10 years)

Why We Chose It

MPOWER is a student loan company that offers private loans to international students without the need for co-signer. Loans are available to undergraduate students who are within two years of graduation, or are signed up for a one- or two-year program.

MPOWER is designed for students who don’t have access to a co-signer, but want to attend one of MPOWER’s 400+ approved schools in the U.S. and Canada. While there are restrictions on funding for citizens of certain countries, MPOWER is available all over the globe.

MPOWER also offers student visa support and career services, and will help students with the application and qualification process. Rates on MPOWER loans start around 9.50% for undergraduate students who are U.S. residents, but international loans charge closer to 14%–15% APR. And there is no deferment available.

If you’re an international student considering a school on the MPOWER-approved list, you may be able to qualify without a co-signer for up to $100,000 in loans.

For more information, see the full MPOWER Student Loans Review.

Repayment Options

There are only two repayment options on MPOWER student loans:

  • Interest-only: Students will pay the interest on the loan during school and up to six months after graduation. Full payments will commence after this period has ended.
  • Full payments: Normal interest-and-principal monthly payments.
Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a student loan with MPOWER, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • You are currently admitted to or enrolled in a school in the U.S. or Canada that MPOWER Financing supports
  • You are within two years of graduating from your program
  • You must reside in the U.S. or Canada while you are in school
  • You are not a citizen of a restricted country or subject to individual sanctions

Best for International Graduate Students : Prodigy

Investopedia's Rating
3.5

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Private loans for international grad students

  • A variety of loan repayment terms

  • 18 supported countries

Cons
  • Not available in all locations

  • 5% admin fee added to loans

Why We Chose It

Prodigy Finance offers private student loans to graduate students who are studying abroad. Prodigy supports over 850 schools in 18 different countries, and you can even connect with a mentor via live chat to learn about how to apply and qualify for a loan.

Prodigy offers loans from $15,000 up to $220,000 in total, and rates are variable, starting at 10.50%. Unfortunately, there is no fixed-rate option. Loan repayment is available from 7 to 20 years in length, with a six-month grace period on all loans.

Qualifying for a Prodigy loan requires that you are matched with a lender that approves your application and borrower profile. And there is a 5% administrative processing fee on all loans, which is added to the balance of your loan.

If you are looking to study abroad and access funding for your graduate-level program, Prodigy is worth a look. For more information, see the full Prodigy Finance Student Loans Review.

Repayment Options
  • Deferment: Payment can be deferred until six months after graduation. Interest will accrue during this period.
  • Full payment: Students can choose to make full payments (principal and interest) on the loan, which saves more money over the life of the loan.
Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for a student loan with Prodigy, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be from an eligible country and be studying in a different eligible country
  • Apply to an eligible graduate degree program and college.

Best for Flexible Repayment Terms : Funding U

Investopedia's Rating
3.2

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Can qualify based on GPA and projected earnings

  • No origination fees on loans

  • Many hardship options available

Cons
  • Only available in 38 states

  • No co-signers

Why We Chose It

Funding U is a student loan company that considers more than your credit score when evaluating qualification for an undergraduate loan. Funding U doesn’t support co-signers, but instead focuses on helping students who may not have a strong credit profile qualify for student loans.

Funding U reviews your current GPA, your major and projected earnings, and the earnings data from your chosen school. It will also take a look at your total debt balances and your credit history when considering you for a loan.

Loans are available from $3,001 up to $20,000, which is a fairly small maximum amount that likely won’t cover the total cost of attendance. And repayment terms are not flexible, with only 10-year loan repayment available. But there are a variety of hardship options that offer deferment and forbearance in certain situations.

If you don’t have a credit score or a co-signer but need some funding for college, Funding U is a decent option.

Repayment Options
  • Deferment: Payments can be deferred during school and up to six months after graduation.
  • Fixed: Funding U offers a $20/month payment option while in school and during the grace period.
  • Interest-only: Students can pay just the interest on the loan as a monthly payment, which prevents the loan from accruing interest.
  • Full payment: Students can pay the full payment amount (principal and interest) which is the quickest way to pay off the loan, and saves the most in interest.
Eligibility Requirements
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or DACA recipient over the age of 18
  • Must be enrolled full-time 
  • Must be an undergraduate student in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible four-year, not-for-profit college
  • Meet the minimum GPA and graduation rate thresholds for borrowers and institutions depending on your class year

Final Verdict

Applying for a student loan doesn’t mean you have to bring in your parents or another qualified co-signer to be approved. Many lenders work with students who have a limited credit history, and some offer alternate ways to qualify for funding. 

Ascent offers the best loans without a co-signer, with low rates, outcomes-based qualification, and flexible loan terms. The other lenders listed offer a variety of features that may fit your circumstances, and most also have competitive rates. If you don’t have a co-signer available to help you qualify for a loan, one of these options may fit the bill.

How You Can Strengthen Your Application With a Cosigner

Although it is possible to get a private student loan without a cosigner, it's difficult. As a college student, you're unlikely to meet the lenders' income or credit requirements, and adding a cosigner improves your chances of getting a loan and qualifying for a low interest rate.

If you're worried about burdening your cosigner, keep in mind that several lenders offer cosigner releases. After a few years of making all of your payments on time, you could be eligible to have your cosigner removed from the loan, ending their obligation. A cosigner release allows you to enjoy the benefits of having a cosigner, and you can still remove the cosigner's liability for the loan later on when you are earning a regular salary and have improved your credit. But, bear in mind, benefits such as cosigner release may be limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Do All Private Student Loans Require a Cosigner?

Luckily, not all private student loan lenders require you to have a cosigner. Of the 12 lenders we looked at, only CommonBond required borrowers to have a cosigner to qualify for a loan. Most of the other 11 lenders encouraged borrowers to add a cosigner to their application; however, if you meet their credit and income requirements, you can get a loan on your own. MPOWER does not consider cosigners when approving student loans.

However, meeting the requirements while still in school can be difficult. Of the lenders that listed their minimum incomes for non-cosigned loan applicants, Ascent had the lowest minimum at $24,000. Other lenders had income requirements of $30,000 and up. If you're in school full-time, it can be difficult to find a job that allows you to earn that much while juggling your coursework, which is why having a cosigner can be so advantageous.

International students in the U.S. are far less likely to find a student loan that doesn't require a cosigner, although there are some available at select institutions.

How Can You Get a Student Loan Without a Cosigner?

If you need to borrow money but don't have a cosigner, you should first make sure you exhaust all of your federal financial aid options, including student loans. 

Unlike private loans, federal student loans don't require a credit check, nor do they have minimum income requirements. As a college student without an established credit history or salary, federal loans can be your best option.

If you still need more financial help after taking out federal loans, focus on building your credit score and earning an income. In some cases, it may make sense to go to school part-time so you can work more hours and earn enough money to qualify for student loans on your own. Or, you can work full-time during the summer and part-time during the school year to reach the minimum income requirement.

Given the limited number of options without a cosigner, be sure to carefully research every private loan you're considering and beware of lenders who may attempt to take advantage of your difficult situation.

What Are the Advantages of Having a Cosigner?

If it's at all possible to find a friend or relative to cosign the private student loan application with you, it's a good idea to do so. There are two main advantages: 

  1. You increase your chances of qualifying for a loan. The vast majority of private student loans issued to borrowers have cosigners. Having a cosigner decreases the lender's risk, making them more likely to issue you a loan so you can complete your education.
  2. You may qualify for a lower interest rate than you'd get on your own. If you can qualify for a loan on your own, you may get stuck with a higher interest rate because of your credit score or income. By adding a cosigner with good credit and a stable income, you can get a lower interest rate on your loan. Over time, that lower interest rate will help you save thousands in interest charges.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of student loan lenders. We collected thousands of data points across 30 lenders—including loan types, interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that we help readers make the right borrowing decision for their education needs.

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 02/01/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.  

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