Best student loans without a co-signer in December 2021

As of December 02, 2021
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INCOME SHARE AGREEMENT

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
Term5-15yr

4.4

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

2.94%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

0.94%

with AutoPay
Term5-15yr

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

Term5-15yr

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.20%

Variable APR From

1.20%

Term5-15yr
Fixed APR From

2.91%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

0.99%

with AutoPay
Term5-20yr

4.1

Bankrate Score
Fixed APR From

3.50%

with AutoPay
Variable APR From

1.13%

with AutoPay
Term5-20yr

Income Share Agreement

Income shares range start as low as 1% of income over a 5 year period.

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

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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 December 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

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

Federal grad PLUS loans: Best student loan without a co-signer for graduate students

Why federal grad PLUS loans are best for graduate students without a co-signer: While grad PLUS loans check your credit, there is no minimum credit score threshold, and these loans let you borrow up to the full cost of your education.

Overview: Grad PLUS loans are designed for graduate and professional students. Grad PLUS loans have higher interest rates than Direct Unsubsidized Loans, but they also have higher loan limits — up to the full cost of your education. A co-signer is not required, although you may need an endorser if you have an adverse credit history. Like Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans, these loans give you access to income-driven repayment plans, extensive forbearance programs and more.

Perks:

  • Borrow up to the full cost of attendance, minus other financial assistance you receive.
  • Access to federal protections and benefits.
  • No minimum credit score requirement.

What to watch out for:

  • Requires a credit check.
  • Higher interest rates than those of other federal loans.
  • Steep origination fees.
LENDER:
Federal grad PLUS loans
APR:
Fixed: 6.28%
LOAN AMOUNT:
Up to the total cost of attendance
LOAN TERMS:
Standard repayment is 10 years
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
None
FEES:
Origination fee: 4.228%

Funding U: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with bad or no credit

Why Funding U student loans are best for borrowers with bad or no credit without a co-signer: Instead of credit history, Funding U looks at academic merit and factors like projected salary after graduation to approve borrowers.

Overview: Funding U is a nontraditional lender that lends directly to students and doesn't consider credit scores. In order to get approved, students must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or DACA recipient enrolled full time in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university. Borrowers must also be over the age of 18 and meet a minimum GPA requirement. Currently, Funding U lends to borrowers in only 30 states, but that list could grow over time.

Perks:

  • Eligibility based on academics, college statistics and other merit-based factors.
  • No origination fees.
  • Interest rate discount for borrowers who choose to make interest payments during school.

What to watch out for:

  • Available in only 30 states.
  • Not available to graduate students.
  • Limited loan amounts and repayment options.
LENDER:
Funding U
APR:
Fixed: 6.99% to 12.49% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$3,001 to $15,000
LOAN TERMS:
10 years
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
None
FEES:
None

Ascent: Best student loan without a co-signer for students pursuing competitive careers

Why Ascent student loans are best for students pursuing competitive careers without a co-signer: Ascent's "outcomes-based" loans consider borrowers' future income and career potential, making it easier for borrowers to qualify without a co-signer.

Overview: Ascent offers student loans for undergraduate, graduate, international and DACA students, but it stands out for its non-co-signed options for undergraduates. There are two options: credit-based and outcomes-based. To qualify for the credit-based loan without a co-signer, borrowers must have more than two years of credit history and meet minimum credit score requirements. For the outcomes-based loan, borrowers are evaluated based on school, program, GPA and more. Both loans have multiple repayment options and large loan amounts.

Perks:

  • One percent cash back graduation reward and $525 referral reward for each person referred.
  • Multiple types of loans for undergraduates without co-signers.
  • Hardship forbearance option for up to 24 months.

What to watch out for:

  • Outcomes-based loans not available to freshmen or sophomores.
  • High rate caps.
  • Annual income of $24,000 required for borrowers with more than two years of credit history.
LENDER:
Ascent
APR:
Fixed: 5.63% to 12.46% (with autopay)Variable: 4.07% to 11.32% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,001–$200,000
LOAN TERMS:
5 to 15 years
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
FEES:
None

A.M. Money: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with a high GPA

Why A.M. Money student loans are best for borrowers with a high GPA without a co-signer: A.M. Money considers borrows' GPA and academic achievement above all else. Credit scores, incomes and debt-to-income ratios aren't eligibility factors.

Overview: Chicago Student Loans by A.M. Money aims to "shift the current financial landscape by enabling students from all backgrounds to graduate from college and build wealth." To do so, it focuses on academic achievements when approving student loans. These loans are available only to students attending select schools in the Midwest, but eligible students can benefit from perks like an income-driven repayment plan and free financial coaching.

Perks:

  • Partnership with organizations offering financial coaching, employment assistance and academic counseling.
  • Income-based repayment plan option.
  • Merit-based loans.

What to watch out for:

  • Borrowers must attend one of 22 eligible schools in the Midwest.
  • Origination fee.
  • Interest accrues immediately.
LENDER:
A.M. Money
APR:
Fixed: 7.53% to 8.85%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,001 to $50,000
LOAN TERMS:
Not specified
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
None
FEES:
Origination fee: 4.5%

Earnest: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with minimal borrowing needs

Why Earnest student loans are best for borrowers with minimal borrowing needs without a co-signer: Earnest caters to borrowers who don't need to borrow much for college, with loan amounts as low as $1,000. And while co-signers are recommended for undergraduate students, they're not required.

Overview: Earnest doesn't require co-signers for its undergraduate student loans, a rarity among private student loan lenders. Earnest does require a minimum credit score of 650 to qualify, so it's best for borrowers who already have an established credit history. Earnest also offers a range of repayment options, including the option to skip a payment every 12 months, and a nine-month grace period.

Perks:

  • Exceptionally low interest rates for borrowers with good credit.
  • Ability to pay monthly or every two weeks.
  • Skip one payment every 12 months if loans are in good standing.

What to watch out for:

  • Loans aren't available in Nevada.
  • Minimum credit score of 650 and minimum annual income of $35,000 required.
  • Freshmen, sophomores and juniors must be enrolled full time.
LENDER:
Earnest
APR:
Fixed: Starting at 3.34% (with autopay); Variable: starting at 1.04% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
LOAN TERMS:
Not specified
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
650
FEES:
Returned payment fee: $8; Florida stamp tax: 0.35%

Education Loan Finance: Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with a solid financial history

Why Education Loan Finance student loans are best for borrowers with a solid financial history without a co-signer: Education Loan Finance has a relatively high minimum annual income requirement of $35,000, but borrowers who meet this and other eligibility requirements can qualify for inexpensive loans without a co-signer.

Overview: Education Loan Finance's undergraduate loans come with low interest rates and a wide range of loan amounts, making it the ideal fit for borrowers who qualify. Education Loan Finance does have stricter eligibility requirements than other lenders, with a minimum credit score of 680 and a minimum income of $35,000, but it doesn't require undergraduates to add a co-signer if they meet these requirements on their own.

Perks:

  • Personal loan advisor assigned to all applicants.
  • Low minimum loan amount.
  • Several repayment options while in school.

What to watch out for:

  • No discounts.
  • High minimum credit score requirement.
  • Minimum credit history of 36 months.
LENDER:
Education Loan Finance
APR:
Fixed: Starting at 3.31%; Variable: Starting at 1.2%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
LOAN TERMS:
5 to 15 years
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
680
FEES:
Late fee: 5% or $50; Returned payment fee: $30

SoFi: Best student loan without a co-signer for returning borrowers

Why SoFi student loans are best for returning borrowers without a co-signer: Borrowers who have taken out a loan with SoFi in the past can benefit in several ways by returning to SoFi. Previous private student loan borrowers can "fast track" applications for future funds, and borrowers who have a different type of loan with the company may be eligible for a 0.125 percent discount on their new student loan.

Overview: SoFi is well known for its tools, resources and personalized financial help. It offers private student loans for creditworthy undergraduate and graduate students who are in satisfactory academic and financial standing. Among its perks is a unique unemployment protection option, which suspends your monthly loan payments while you're searching for a job — for a total period of up to 12 months.

Perks:

  • No fees.
  • Member benefits and discounts.
  • Four payment options while enrolled in school.

What to watch out for:

  • Borrowers must demonstrate "sufficient income."
  • High rate caps.
  • Vague eligibility requirements.
LENDER:
SoFi
APR:
Fixed: 4.23% to 10.66% (with autopay); Variable: 1.2% to 11.23% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$5,000 to 100% total cost of attendance
LOAN TERMS:
5 to 15 years
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
FEES:
None