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Best student loans without a co-signer in June 2024

Jun 12, 2024
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Bankrate's ranking of the best student loans without a co-signer rounds up lenders with minimal credit requirements but reasonable rates. Start your student loan search with federal student loans, which don’t set a minimum credit score and don't require co-signers — even for undergraduate students. If you want a private student loan and you don't have family members willing to sign onto a loan, there are a few online lenders that may be able to help.

Taking out a student loan without a co-signer could mean higher interest rates, especially if you have a spotty financial history. Borrowers with great credit could see rates as low as 4.5 percent, while those with poor credit or other credit issues could be offered rates of 16 percent or more. Some lenders look at more than just your credit when approving you for a loan, factoring in things like your education and work history.

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Filters
Fixed APR from

4.17- 16.69%

Loan amount

$1k- No Max

Fixed APR from

4.29- 15.96%

Loan amount

$2k- No Max

Fixed APR from

4.39- 15.45%

Loan amount

$1k- $350K

Fixed APR from

4.43- 14.04%

Loan amount

$1k- $100K

Fixed APR from

4.50- 15.49%

Loan amount

$1k- No Max

Fixed APR from

4.50- 14.22%

Loan amount

$1k- No Max

Fixed APR from

4.56- 8.34%

Loan amount

$1k- No Max

Fixed APR from

5.75- 8.95%

Loan amount

$2k- No Max

Lender conversion and compensation impacts how, where and in what order products appear in the above table

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 the publication date. Check the lenders’ websites to see if there is 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 about how we select and evaluate lenders, read our methodology section.

Compare student loans that don't require a co-signer in June 2024

LENDER BEST FOR VARIABLE APR WITHOUT CO-SIGNER FIXED APR WITHOUT CO-SIGNER* LOAN TERM LOAN AMOUNT LIMITATIONS
Federal Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans Undergraduate students N/A 5.50% or 7.05% 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 N/A 8.05% Standard repayment is 10 years Up to 100% total cost of attendance Requires a credit check
Funding U Borrowers with bad or no credit N/A 8.49%-13.99% (with autopay) 10 years $3,001 to $20,000 Available in only 38 states
Ascent Students pursuing competitive careers 9.46%-15.44% (with autopay) 9.28%-15.31% (with autopay) 5 to 20 years $2,001 to $400,000 High rate caps
Earnest Borrowers with minimal borrowing needs 5.62%-16.85% (with autopay) 4.29%-16.49% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 to 100% total cost of attendance Minimum credit score of 650
Education Loan Finance Borrowers with a solid financial history 6.00%-14.22% (with autopay) 4.50%-14.22% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years From $1,000 Minimum credit history of 36 months
SoFi Returning borrowers 5.74%-14.83% (with autopay) 4.19%-14.83% (with autopay) 5 to 15 years $1,000 to 100% total cost of attendance Vague eligibility requirements

*The rates shown in this table are for loans without a co-signer. The rates listed below show the overall rate range for the lender. 

**The minimum amount is $2,001 except for the state of Massachusetts. Minimum loan amount for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address is $6,001.

Best student loans without a co-signer in June 2024

Best student loan without a co-signer for undergraduate students

Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans

Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
7.05% –8.05%
Loan amount:
$1– $57,500
Term lengths:
10 to 25 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed

Overview: Federal Direct Unsubsidized and Direct Subsidized Loans are offered to all students attending qualifying institutions. These loans don't require a credit check and carry fixed interest rates that are the same for all borrowers. For the 2023-24 school year, these rates are 5.50 percent for undergraduates and 7.05 percent for graduates. With Direct Subsidized Loans, the government even covers your loan interest while you're in school and during the grace period. Federal loans also come with multiple repayment and forgiveness options that private lenders don't offer.

Why federal Direct Unsubsidized and Subsidized Loans loans are best for undergraduate students without a co-signer: Federal Direct Loans come with extensive benefits and borrower protections, and they don't require a credit check.

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

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
8.49% –13.99%
Loan amount:
$2,001– $400,000
Term lengths:
10 to 10 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed

Overview: Funding U is a nontraditional lender that lends directly to students and doesn't consider credit scores. Its loan amounts are relatively low, and its starting APRs are high – but for borrowers who have bad credit, it could end up being one of the cheapest loan options.

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.

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

Min. credit score:
Not disclosed
Fixed APR From:
4.29% –15.96%
Loan amount:
$2,001– $400,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed

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 and income 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.

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 undergraduate borrowers to qualify without a co-signer.

Best student loan without a co-signer for minimal borrowing needs

Min. credit score:
650
Fixed APR From:
4.29% –16.49%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
$35,000

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.

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.

Best student loan without a co-signer for borrowers with a solid financial history

Min. credit score:
680
Fixed APR From:
4.50% –14.22%
Loan amount:
$1,000
Term lengths:
5 to 15 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed

Overview: Education Loan Finance's student 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.

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 or as high as your total cost of attendance. And while co-signers are recommended for undergraduate students, they're not required.

Best student loan without a co-signer for returning borrowers

Min. credit score:
640
Fixed APR From:
4.19% –14.83%
Loan amount:
$1,000– $500,000
Term lengths:
5 to 20 years
Min. annual income:
Not disclosed

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 access to professional financial planning.

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.

What is a 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. Co-signers can often help borrowers with little credit history or poor credit save money on a loan.

When you enlist 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.

Do you need a co-signer for student loans?

If you're taking out federal student loans, you most likely won't need a co-signer. The exception is Direct PLUS Loans, which require an endorser if you have any signs of an adverse credit history.

You may need a co-signer for private student loans if you haven't had time to build up a credit history, which is why most lenders require co-signers for undergraduate students. You may also need a co-signer if you have a lower credit score — typically anything below 650 — or a low income.

How do student loans with a co-signer work?

When you apply for a private student loan with a co-signer, you'll need to include the co-signer's information on your loan application. The lender may ask your co-signer to provide bank statements, W-2s or pay stubs. Once you're approved, both you and your co-signer will sign the loan documents.

Your co-signer won't receive any of the loan funds, but they will have to make payments on the loan if you don't. They are tied to the loan, so their credit score may be affected by your loan — rising if you make consistent timely payments, dropping if you default.

How do student loans without a co-signer work?

When you apply for a private student loan without a co-signer, you'll need to demonstrate you meet the lender's eligibility requirements on your own. The lender may ask you to provide information about your grades and intended degree, bank statements, W-2s, pay stubs and more. Once you're approved, you'll sign your own loan documents and be fully responsible for making payments.

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.
  • Be enrolled at least half time in a qualifying degree or certification program.
  • Have a valid Social Security number.
  • Fill out the 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.

Alternatives to student loans without a co-signer

Many students, especially undergraduates, cannot qualify for a student loan without a co-signer. However, there are other options to pay for school:

  • Scholarships and grants: Before turning to student loans at all, it's best to do a broad search for scholarships and grants. Filling out the FAFSA can give you access to some federal, state and institutional grants, but scholarship search engines are also a good tool to stack scholarships that are relevant to your interests and experiences.

  • Work-study: Work-study is federal aid awarded to students with financial need. The program matches students with part-time jobs while they're in school, and you can find out if you qualify once you fill out the FAFSA.

  • Income-share agreements: Income-share agreements are a type of funding that gives students a lump sum for their education in exchange for a percentage of their income after graduation — for instance, 2 percent of their income every month for five years. ISAs typically do not have strict credit requirements, and borrowers do not need a co-signer.

FAQs about student loans without a co-signer

Methodology

To find the best student loans without a co-signer, we compared both federal and private loans based on advertised interest rates, fees and features.

First, we compiled a list of reputable lenders that give undergraduates the option to take out a student loan independently. While we didn't disqualify lenders that set credit score and income requirements, we favored those with alternative requirements — such as future earning potential, GPA and academic achievement — to ensure that borrowers without a co-signer had the chance to qualify for competitive rates. Lenders that don't require a co-signer tend to have higher interest rates, but we chose lenders with starting rates close to what the federal government offers.

To narrow down our list of the best lenders, we evaluated loan terms, loan amounts and fees. In general, we eliminated lenders with a limited range of loan amounts or loan terms, although we retained lenders like Funding U that compensated for limited options with hard-to-find features and flexible eligibility requirements. We also ensured that our lenders had minimal to no fees and a fast application process.

From there, we selected our top picks based on unique perks, such as the ability to skip payments or access career coaching. The lenders in our final rankings cater to borrowers with a variety of backgrounds, financial histories and borrowing needs; to find the best loan for you, we recommend getting prequalified with a few of them that match your needs.