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How to Get Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Kathryn Morstad
how to get private student loans without a cosigner
how to get private student loans without a cosigner

Federal student loan
Payments Return December 31

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Federal student loan
Payments Return December 31

We've got you covered.

Get Purefy’s free 20-page Ultimate Guide with just one click.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get private student loans without a cosigner? Well, it may be possible if you meet certain financial or academic criteria, and we’re here to walk you through the process.

As a student today, finding ways to finance your education is critical to your long-term success. Over 70% of undergraduate students and 54% of grad students graduate with some form of student debt. And for those with professional degrees, like doctors and lawyers, it can be as high as 84%.

Unfortunately, you may not have a person in your life who can cosign a student loan and obtaining a loan on your own with little credit history can be difficult. Read on to explore our strategies to get the best private student loans without a cosigner.

Federal vs Private Loans

While private loans can be beneficial to bridge any funding gaps, they should only be used after you have exhausted all federal options, as well as gifts, grants, and scholarships.

Why use federal loans first?

Federal student loans generally offer lower rates than those offered by private lenders. And since federal loans are guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Education, they have a ton of great benefits and protections, including:

  • No credit history or cosigner required
  • Lower fixed rates
  • Interest is accrued until graduation for subsidized federal loans
  • Forbearance and deferment options
  • Multiple repayment options, including income-driven repayment plans (for example, Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan and Revised Pay As You Earn Prepayment Plan)
  • Loan forgiveness for certain qualified careers in the public sector, including healthcare, public service, and teaching
  • Repayment grace periods
  • Loan consolidation

However, there are annual limits as to how much you can borrow from the federal loan program. For undergraduate students, the annual limit is $12,500 each year, with a maximum of $57,500 in total.

For graduate students, the limits are $20,500 annually and $138,500 in total.

Once you have reached these limits and exhausted other options, private student loans are the next choice.

Eligibility Criteria for the Best Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

To find the best private student loans without a cosigner, you’ll need a few things in your toolbox, including:

  • Your credit score and credit report — This is your financial calling card and is used not only by financial institutions to determine interest rates, but also by companies evaluating job applicants, by rental companies when making housing decisions, and more.

If you don’t know your credit score and want to check it out along with your credit history, you are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit bureaus. You can obtain your free credit reports here.

If your credit report shows missed payments or if you have very little credit history, there are ways to improve your score quickly to qualify for better interest rates on new or refinanced loans. Here are a few ways to boost your credit score:

    • Pay your bills on time.
    • Get a credit card to start building a credit profile. Just be sure to manage it well.
    • Pay your credit card balances in full each month.
    • Check your credit report for errors or omissions. Each credit bureau has a process to dispute errors that can make a big difference to your score.
    • Don’t open too many accounts at once or carry maxed out balances on your credit cards.

  • Your Income — You’ll need to demonstrate that you earn income sufficient to repay the loan. That can be tough when you are a full-time student. Be sure to consider any part-time income, contract work or work-study income, and miscellaneous income, like alimony (if that is something you have).

  • Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI) — Private lenders want to see that you don’t owe more than you can pay each month and that is easily determined by looking at your outstanding monthly payments for fixed costs (such as rent, credit card payments, and car loans) compared to your total gross income. Easily figure out your DTI by using our debt-to-income ratio calculator.

Income and Credit Requirements from Some Top Lenders

Let’s take a look at some of the eligibility requirements used by several of the top-tier student loan lenders:

Ascent Credit-Based Loans

  • Credit score – 680 minimum
  • At least 2 years of good credit history
  • An annual income of $24,000
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status
  • Enrolled at least half-time

Ascent Outcomes-Based Loan

  • Available to Juniors and Seniors without a credit score who have a 2.9+ GPA
  • Must be enrolled full-time or graduating within the next 9 months
  • Must meet your school’s satisfactory academic performance (SAP)
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status

College Avenue

  • Credit score – mid-600’s, plus solid repayment history
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must have steady income
  • Must pass a credit check
  • Enrolled at least half-time

Earnest

  • Credit score – 650 minimum
  • Enrolled at least half-time
  • Enrolled in a Title IV-qualified school
  • At least 3 years of good credit history with no collections or bankruptcy
  • An income of at least $35,000 annually

The 4 Best Companies for Private Student Loans

Our Top-Rated Picks for 2022 Offer Low Rates and No Fees

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Option to skip a payment once a year

Fixed Rate

3.22% – 12.78% APR 1

Variable Rate

1.34% – 11.44% APR 1
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In-school deferment available if you return for another degree

Fixed Rate

3.20% – 11.99% APR 4

Variable Rate

1.86% – 11.52% APR 4

Optional $25 payment plan during school to reduce interest after graduation

Fixed Rate

3.22% – 13.95% APR 2

Variable Rate

1.29% – 12.99% 2

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward program

Fixed Rate

3.15% – 14.75% APR​ 3

Variable Rate

1.73% – 12.30% APR 3

Compare Student Loan Options Without a Cosigner

Without a cosigner, you’ll either need a good credit score and steady income, or you’ll need to pursue an outcomes-based loan like Ascent’s. The next step is to compare lenders to get an idea of what rates you can qualify for with each lender.

Let’s weigh the pros and cons for some top lenders in the student loan space.

Ascent

Loan Limit: $200,000
Terms: 5, 10, 15, or 20 years
Offers financial hardship deferments of up to 24 months

Pros

  • Offers both fixed and variable terms.
  • Loans considered on credit and non-credit criteria, such as school, program, and upper classmen can qualify on ‘future income’ with no credit or cosigner.
  • Offers a 0.25% to 1.0% discount for autopayment.
  • Offers a graduation reward or bonus equal to 1% cash back if you graduate within five years.

Cons

  • Not available if you are enrolled less than half-time.
  • Loans without a cosigner come with significantly higher rates than Ascent’s cosigned options.

College Avenue

Loan Limit: $150,000 for undergraduate degrees
Terms: 5 to 15 years
Discretionary forbearances awarded on a case-by-case basis

Pros

  • Offers 11 different options for repayment terms between 5 and 15 years.
  • Allows biweekly payments through autopay to increase speed of payoff.
  • Offers $150 cash bonus when you graduate.
  • Offers fixed and variable rate loans.
  • Offers a well-reviewed app for mobile use.

Cons

  • No clear forbearance policy and no deferments available.
  • Repayment terms max out at 15 years, which is shorter than most private lenders.
  • Loan servicing is handled by a third party.

Earnest

Loan Limits: up to 100% of the cost of attendance
Terms: 5 to 20 years
Offers deferment and forbearance options up to 12 months, plus multiple repayment options

Pros

  • Offers customizable repayment plans, including extra payments through autopay to save money.
  • All loan servicing done in-house from start to finish.
  • You can skip a payment once per year.
  • Offers a 9-month grace period post-graduation.
  • No late fees.

Cons

  • No weekend customer service support.
  • No mobile app available as of yet.

Checking rates on a Student Loan Marketplace Website

The next step is to check rates with premier private lenders to see if you are eligible for a private student loan without a cosigner.

Comparing rates is simple — you can use Purefy’s rate comparison tool to explore your options in minutes. All you need to do is enter your information and undergo a soft credit pull (which does not affect your credit score) to receive real-time prequalified rates from private lenders.

You can compare offers to see which deal makes the most sense for you before applying. Just remember to keep your tuition deadlines in mind, since full disbursement to your school can take anywhere between a few weeks to a month or two.

Remember, there’s no cost or obligation to use a quote engine like Purefy and all lenders are fully vetted with no application or origination costs.

If You Still Have Questions

Scheduling a consultation with one of Purefy’s student loan experts is a great way to get your questions answered. You can also find support when filling out applications or learn about interest rates and benefits offered by each lender.

Student loans can be daunting, especially if it’s your first time, but help is available if you need it. Call 204-524-1115 or schedule an appointment today.

Talk to a student loan expert

Purefy’s Student Loan Advisors are ready to guide you through the student loan process.

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Student Loan Refinancing

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Earnest Rate Disclosure

Rates displayed include the 0.25% Auto Pay discount. You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment from a checking or savings account. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 3.47% APR to 13.03% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 1.59% APR to 11.69% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan refinance loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred.

Nine-month grace period is not available for borrowers who choose our Principal and Interest Repayment plan while in school.

Earnest clients may skip one payment every 12 months. Your first request to skip a payment can be made once you’ve made at least 6 months of consecutive on-time payments, and your loan is in good standing. The interest accrued during the skipped month will result in an increase in your remaining minimum payment. The final payoff date on your loan will be extended by the length of the skipped payment periods. Please be aware that a skipped payment does count toward the forbearance limits. Please note that skipping a payment is not guaranteed and is at Earnest’s discretion. Your monthly payment and total loan cost may increase as a result of postponing your payment and extending your term.

Loan Eligibility criteria: Eligible students must: 1) For college Freshmen, Sophomores and Juniors, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school full-time. For college Seniors and Graduate students, attend, or be enrolled to attend, a Title IV school at least half-time; and 2) be pursuing a Bachelor’s or Graduate degree. Earnest private student loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information, self-certification of loan amount, and school certification.

Responsible borrowing tip: Explore all scholarship, grant and federal options before applying for a private loan.

Earnest Private Student Loans are made by One American Bank, Member FDIC. One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104.

Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC, 535 Mission St., Suite 1663 San Francisco, CA 94105, NMLS #1204917, with support From Navient Solutions, LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by agencies of the United States of America.

ELFI Rate Disclosure

Education Loan Finance is a nationwide student loan provider offered by Tennessee based SouthEast Bank. ELFI is designed to assist students financially with receiving their education. Subject to credit approval. See Terms & Conditions. Interest rates current as of 07-01-2022. Variable interest rates may increase after closing but will never exceed 18.00%. Interest rates may also differ from the rates shown above. The term of your loan, financial history, and other factors, including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history can affect the interest rate. For example, a 10-year loan with a fixed rate of 7% would have 120 payments of $11.61 per $1,000 borrowed. Rates are subject to change.

College Ave Rate Disclosure

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC.. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
Minimum loan amount $1,000, as certified by your school and less any other financial aid you might receive.
This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 08/01/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

Ascent Rate Disclosure

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.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs.

Rates are effective as of 6/15/2022 and include a 0.25% on the lowest rate offered and a 2.00% discount on the highest offered rate. 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 back account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates.

1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

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