Finding and getting approved for student loans without a co-signer isn’t always simple, especially if you don’t know where to look. For those borrowers looking to fund their education independently, it can be difficult to find the best interest rates and lenders willing to work with your credit history. Many lenders do offer the ability to apply without a co-signer, but getting approved for the loan without a co-signer is a whole other story.
The best student loans without a co-signer come with flexible credit and lending requirements, as well as competitive rates, which make them more accessible than other lenders. Read on to see our top picks for student loans without a co-signer for a variety of students. We reviewed several student loan lenders, and the ones that made our list offer low rates, options for graduate and international students, and more.
|Lender||Why We Picked It||Fixed APR|
|Ascent||Best Overall and Best for Graduate Students||
3.53% to 14.50% (undergrad) & 3.93%-13.42% (graduate) with autopay
|Earnest||Runner-Up and Best for Low Rates||
3.55% to 12.78% (undergrad) & 3.55%-12.78% (graduate) with autopay
|MPower Financing||Best for International Students||
12.49% - 14.98% (undergrad) & 7.52%-11.59% (graduate) with autopay
Ascent: Best Overall and Best for Graduate Students
Ascent is a standout among lenders that offer loans without co-signers. Its clear eligibility guidelines help you figure out how likely it is it’ll approve your application.
Ascent calls its non-co-signed loans “independent student loans,” and offers two types of them for undergraduate borrowers: one based on credit and another based on projected future income.
- Non-co-signed student loan based on credit: This loan asks borrowers for a credit history of at least two years, a minimum credit score, a salary of at least $24,000 per year, and a monthly debt-to-income ratio that meets Ascent’s requirements.
- Non-cosigned student loan based on future income: This loan is available to applicants who do not meet Ascent’s credit, income, or repayment ability requirements. Instead, applicants who are at least juniors and seniors with a 2.9 GPA or higher can qualify based on their school, program, major, graduation date, and other factors. Students can borrow up to $20,000 per year.
Ascent also has non-co-signer student loans for graduate students, with specific loan options for MBA, medical, dental, and law programs. With several options tailored to specific programs and students’ needs, Ascent is also our top pick for graduate student loans without a co-signer.
Ascent’s best rates come with a 0.25% rate discount for automatic payments. A higher 2.00% discount applies to Ascent’s future income-based student loans. Ascent also provides a 1% cash-back reward to borrowers once they graduate with their degree. Note that if your loan is in deferment, you’ll need to make minimum payments of at least $1 to keep your autopay discount.
Prequalification with no hard credit check
Student loan for undergraduates based on future income
Several loan options for graduate and professional programs
1% cash-back reward upon graduating
Annual borrowing limit of $20,000 for future income-based student loans
Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to apply without a co-signer
Ascent Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||3.53% to 14.50% with autopay|
|Undergraduate Variable||2.72% to 13.00% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||4.92% to 13.42% with autopay|
|Graduate Variable||3.93% to 12.43% with autopay|
Earnest: Runner-Up and Best for Low Rates
Earnest offers clear and flexible eligibility requirements. Requirements for borrowers without a co-signer include a minimum FICO score of 650, a credit history of three years or longer, and income of at least $35,000.
Both undergraduate (except freshmen) and graduate students can apply for a student loan with Earnest. These student loans also offer low costs and competitive student loan rates. Earnest also charges no fees for loan origination, prepayment, or late payments.
You might not be eligible for an Earnest loan if you have accounts currently in collections.
Earnest provides flexible options for student loan repayment. Choose between full in-school deferment, partial in-school payments of either interest-only or $25 per month, or immediate full repayment. Earnest also offers “precision pricing” that lets you set your monthly payment amount (which might alter the student loan term and rate).
Finally, you get a nine-month grace period after graduating or stopping enrollment in school before you have to make payments. You do not get a nine-month grace period if you choose to make regular payments while you’re enrolled. Also, you can skip a payment once a year.
Set monthly payments by what’s affordable to you
Nine-month grace period is longer than what some competitors offer
Ability to skip a payment once a year
Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply without a co-signer
Loans not available in Nevada
Earnest Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||3.55% to 12.78% with autopay|
|Undergraduate Variable||1.24% to 11.45% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||3.55% to 12.78% with autopay|
|Graduate Variable||1.24% to 11.45% with autopay|
MPower Financing: Best for International Students
International students and those covered under the DACA immigration policy are not eligible for federal student loans. As a result, private student loans are their only option to borrow for college. Many lenders will consider private student loan applications from non-U.S. citizens—but only if you apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
MPower Financing is an exception, offering student loans without co-signers to international and DACA students. It also offers additional services, including visa support letters for I-20 forms and career services. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can also apply for these student loans.
To be eligible, you’ll need a one- or two-year degree, or be two years or less away from graduating. As part of its approval process, MPower considers your future earnings as a factor. An MPower Financing student loan can finance $2,001 up to $50,000 in total, and you can make interest-only payments while in school, as well as for up to six months after graduation.
Student loan rates vary by loan type. MPower Financing offers lower rates to graduate students and DACA Dreamers, U.S. citizens, or permanent residents. Borrowers can get up to 1.50% off their rate with 0.50% discounts for:
- Enrolling in automatic payments
- Making six automatic payments
- Providing proof of graduation
MPower also offers scholarships of up to $5,000 to international students.
Student loans for international and DACA students with no co-signer
Student loan rate discounts of up to 1.50%
Visa and career services
Repay your loan in any currency you’d like
Higher interest rates
No in-school deferments
Aggregate student loan limit of $50,000
MPower Financing Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||9.56% to 13.63% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||7.52% to 11.59% with autopay|
Other Private Student Loans Without a Co-signer
The lenders listed above are a good place to start if you need to get student loans without a co-signer. But it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare quotes from several lenders.
Many lenders offer prequalification for a student loan or even provide a rate quote through a soft credit check (it gives the lender enough info to offer a quote without hurting your credit score.) You can collect rate quotes to find out which lenders are more likely to approve you for a student loan without a co-signer—and can offer you a better rate.
Here are the additional lenders we found that allow you to apply for student loans without a co-signer:
- Citizens Bank
- College Ave
- CommonBond (loans without a co-signer are limited to certain graduate degrees)
- Laurel Road
- Sallie Mae
- Wells Fargo
If you want to simplify the process of comparing lenders, you can also use a student loan marketplace tool like Credible to collect rate offers. Credible uses a soft credit check to generate offers from up to eight lenders at once.
Pros & Cons of Student Loans Without a Co-Signer
You can access additional student financing
You don’t have to rely on a co-signer
You alone are responsible for this debt
You’ll need good credit to qualify
Your student loan costs could be higher
Non-co-signed student loans can give you more control over paying for your education, without relying on a co-signer. That’s a big pro for students without someone in their life willing and qualified to act as their co-signer.
Another benefit: There’s no shared responsibility for a private student loan without a co-signer. Co-signed loans affect a co-signer’s credit, and could strain your relationship with them if you have trouble making payments. A student loan without a co-signer will only affect your credit.
A big con, however, is that private lenders typically require established credit history, a good credit score, and an income to approve a student loan. Unfortunately, many students may not meet these requirements on their own.
This means that you could be more likely to get rejected when applying for a student loan without a co-signer. Lenders also use credit factors to set rates, so even if you do get approved, you could face higher student loan costs on your own than you’d pay with a qualified co-signer.
Having a co-signer is very common: 88% of private student loans funded in 2019-2020 had a co-signer.
Taking on student debt is a weighty decision with or without a co-signer. If you can use federal student loans, do that first. Then, decide whether to use private student loans without a co-signer to meet your college financing needs.
How Should You Choose the Best Student Loan Without a Co-Signer?
If you plan to apply for student loans without a co-signer, choosing the right lender is key. Not only will it boost your chances of getting approved for a loan, but it will also help you compare options and find a good deal for you. Here are some questions to ask when comparing student loans when you don’t have a co-signer:
- Have you exhausted federal student loans? Federal student loans don’t have credit or income requirements, making them a more accessible way to borrow compared to private student loans. Plus, federal student loan rates are often (but not always) lower than what you’d pay on a student loan with no co-signer. Speak with your school’s financial aid administrators to see if you can tap further federal student loans.
- Which loans can you qualify for? It’s helpful to know where your credit history and score stand compared to what lenders will accept. Request a free credit report and use a credit score tool to access your credit information. You can compare these against lenders’ borrowing requirements to find the best matches.
- What degree are you pursuing? Many lenders will offer loans specific to a type of degree, such as an MBA loan, law school loan, or medical school loan. Lenders’ borrowing requirements might be different for these graduate student loans. CommonBond, for example, requires a co-signer on all its student loans—except its MBA and medical loans.
- What will repaying these loans be like? Funding your education is an important financial need, but you must weigh it against the future burden of repaying this debt. Borrow as little as possible to keep your balances low and shop around for the best deal. Low student loan rates and fees are crucial for keeping monthly payments affordable. Check repayment options, too, such as in-school repayment options, loan terms, and borrower protections such as forbearance.
How We Chose the Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer
We compared student loan eligibility, credit requirements, rates, costs, and features 13 different lenders offer. Among these lenders, 12 provided both undergraduate and graduate student loans to borrowers without requiring a co-signer. While many lenders do offer the option to borrow without a co-signer, it may be very difficult to get approved. With that in mind, the ones that made our list provide unique features and benefits to make student loans accessible to borrowers without co-signers, with a focus on flexible eligibility and credit requirements.
Ascent Student Loans. "FAQ." Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.
Ascent Student Loans. "Ascent Cash Back Graduation Award." Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.
Ascent Student Loans. "Ascent Student Loans Terms & Conditions." Accessed Aug. 4, 2020
Earnest. "Eligibility Guide." Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.
MPower Financing. "Get a Loan." Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.
MeasureOne. "The MeasureOne Private Student Loan Report, June 1st, 2020." Page 39. Accessed Aug. 4, 2020.