Best student loans without a co-signer in September 2021

As of

At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict editorial integrity, this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for how we make money.

|
Filters

4.3

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.50%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

1.13%

with AutoPay
Term10-15yr

4.6

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

2.99%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

0.99%

with AutoPay
Term5-20yr

4.5

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.23%

Variable APR From

1.03%

Term5-15yr

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.20%

Variable APR From

1.20%

Term5-15yr

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

4.25%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

1.25%

with AutoPay
Term5-20yr

Secure a great loan in 3 easy steps

  1. 1

    Enter your details

    Provide basic details about yourself and what you're looking for in a student loan to get matched with customized rates in two minutes or less.

  2. 2

    Compare offers

    Shop with top student loan lenders and choose the APR, repayment term and loan amount that best fit your budget.

  3. 3

    Apply for your loan

    Finalize your loan details with the lender of your choosing and lock in your rate and terms. Once you’re approved, your lender will reach out with details about how your loan will be disbursed.

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best student loan without a co-signer

Why trust Bankrate?

Bankrate wants to empower readers to make smart financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for a student loan, look for a competitive interest rate, flexible repayment terms that meet your needs, generous hardship options and minimal fees. Loan details presented here are current as of July 9, 2021. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and broad availability. To learn more, read our methodology section.

Best student loans that don't require a co-signer in September 2021

Lender
Best for
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Loan term
Loan amount
Limitations
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans
Undergraduate students
3.73%
N/A
Standard repayment is 10 years
$5,500 to $12,500 per year (up to $57,500 aggregate)
Relatively low loan limits
Federal grad PLUS loans
Graduate students
6.28%
N/A
Standard repayment is 10 years
Up to 100% total cost of attendance
Requires a credit check
Funding U
Borrowers with bad or no credit
6.99% to 12.49% (with autopay)
N/A
10 years
$3,001 to $15,000
Available in only 30 states
Ascent
Students pursuing competitive careers
5.63% to 12.46% (with autopay)
4.07% to 11.32% (with autopay)
5 to 15 years
$2,001 to $200,000
High rate caps
A.M. Money
Borrowers with a high GPA
7.53% to 8.85%
N/A
Not specified
$2,001 to $50,000
Only 22 schools are eligible
Earnest
Borrowers with minimal borrowing needs
Starting at 3.34% (with autopay)
Starting at 1.04%
Not specified
$1,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
Minimum credit score of 650
Education Loan Finance
Borrowers with a solid financial history
Starting at 3.31%
Starting at 1.2%
5 to 15 years
$10,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
Minimum credit history of 36 months
SoFi
Returning borrowers
4.23% to 10.66% (with autopay)
1.2% to 11.23% (with autopay)
5 to 15 years
$5,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
Vague eligibility requirements

Summary: What you need to know about student loans without co-signers

What is a student loan co-signer?

A student loan co-signer is a creditworthy family member or close friend who assumes joint legal responsibility with you on your student loans. If you add a co-signer, the lender will take that person's financial health into account when approving you and setting your interest rates, which is why co-signers are usually a good idea for borrowers with little credit history or poor credit.

When it comes to enlisting the help of a co-signer, choose someone you're close with. A co-signer will be required to make monthly payments on the loan in full and on time if you fail to make them, and their credit score could suffer if the loan becomes delinquent — so it's essential that you and your co-signer share a level of trust.

Eligibility requirements for student loans without a co-signer

Eligibility requirements for student loans vary by lender. However, there are some general requirements that borrowers need to meet in order to get approved.

Federal student loan eligibility requirements

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • Have financial need (for some loans).
  • Be enrolled at least half time in a qualifying degree or certification program.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress in college.

General eligibility requirements for private student loans without a co-signer

  • Be a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen.
  • Be in good financial standing.
  • Have a steady income.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Have a good credit score.
  • Be enrolled in a qualifying degree or certification program.

What are income-based student loans?

While most student loans base approval on borrowers' credit scores, there are some lenders that base approval off of projected annual income or an expected income increase. Ascent, for example, has the option to apply for an outcomes-based student loan that looks at your school, program, graduation date, major and GPA instead of your current financial situation.

This option can be extremely useful for borrowers with a thin credit history but potentially high-earning careers. With that said, income-based student loans often have higher interest rates than credit-based loans, so they typically aren't the best option for people who already have a few years of credit history.

How to find the best student loan without a co-signer

The best student loans that don't require a co-signer are federal student loans, since they often don't require a credit check and they come with options like income-driven repayment plans and loan forgiveness programs. However, most federal loans don't cover the full cost of tuition, so private student loans may be necessary as well.

Every lender has its own eligibility requirements, rates and fees, so the best lender is different for every borrower. There are a few factors to keep in mind when it comes to finding the best student loan without a co-signer for you:

  1. Consider your financial situation: If you're in good financial standing, your chances of getting approved for a loan without a co-signer will be higher. If you're not in the best financial position, look for lenders that consider more than creditworthiness.
  2. Compare fees and rates: Student loans without a co-signer may have higher interest rates than other loans, especially if you have subpar credit. Getting prequalified is the best way to compare the rates you would be offered with multiple lenders.
  3. Evaluate the repayment terms: Find a lender that meets your repayment preferences. While a longer repayment timeline lowers your monthly payments, you'll pay more interest overall.

Details: Best student loans without a co-signer in 2021

  • Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans: Best student loan without a co-signer for undergraduate students
  • Federal grad PLUS loans: Best student loan without a co-signer for graduate students
  • Funding U: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with bad or no credit
  • Ascent: Best student loan without a co-signer for students pursuing competitive careers
  • A.M. Money: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with a high GPA
  • Earnest: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with minimal borrowing needs
  • Education Loan Finance: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with a solid financial history
  • SoFi: Best student loan without a co-signer for returning borrowers