Best Private Student Loans Without a Cosigner

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 14, 2023

College is an expense most of us can’t tackle without some help. Many people take out loans to help cover the costs of a college education.

Federal student loans are easier to obtain, but private student loans are a solid option if you’re not eligible for federal funds. Some private lenders can also offer better rates to save you money as you pay off your student loans. Yes, this even includes a graduate student loan where the repayment options are not quite as forgiving.

Start with Benzinga’s list of private student loans without a cosigner to find your match today. Remember, when you look into your student loan options, you are investing in the interest rate, perhaps a consolidation with your undergraduate debt, varying loan terms, old forbearance options and much more.

Do All Private Student Loans Require a Cosigner? 

Not all private student loans require a cosigner. But there are certain obstacles to getting approved for a college loan depending on the student loan servicer, loan type, repayment terms, your plans for grad school, etc. If you’re just graduating high school and don’t have much credit history, it will be difficult to get approved for a private loan on your own. 

It’s true that some education finance companies are more forgiving, but they still need you to make a loan payment when you graduate. You might also see your prospects complicated by your parents’ student loans, which have their own loan agreement and costs.

Your creditworthiness demonstrates that you are financially responsible enough to repay the loan and stick to the agreed upon terms. Lending to an applicant with less-than-perfect or no credit feels risky for a lender.

At the same time, other lenders will allow you to accumulate student debt based on your major or the fact that you will, eventually, have a job.

If you’re an older student with a long credit history, reliable income and low debt-to-income ratio (DTI), a private loan is likely a good choice for you. You could even ask for an interest rate discount, set up autopay to save money or refinance with a new loan servicer to save money.

Best Lenders for Private Student Loans

Once you decide a private student loan is the right option for you, the next step is finding the right lender. Loan comparison services make it especially convenient to see all your loan offers side-by-side. And some companies specialize in private student loans and offer attractive perks like income-based loans. 

Take a look at our recommendations for the best lenders for private student loans.

Best for Loan Comparison: Credible

  • Credible Private Student Loans
    Best For:
    Comparing Rates

    *Student Loan Rate and Terms Disclosure: Rates displayed include Automatic Payment and Loyalty Discounts, where applicable. Note that such discounts do not apply while loans are in deferment. The lenders on the Credible.com platform offer fixed rates ranging from 4.17% APR – 16.69% APR and Variable interest rates from 5.37% – 16.85% APR. Variable rates will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Your actual rate may be different from the rates advertised and/or shown above and will be based on factors such as the term of your loan, your financial history (including your cosigner’s (if any) financial history) and the degree you are in the process of achieving or have achieved. While not always the case, lower rates typically require creditworthy applicants with creditworthy co-signers, graduate degrees, and shorter repayment terms (terms vary by lender and can range from 5-20 years) and include Automatic Payment and Loyalty discounts, where applicable. Loyalty and Automatic Payment discount requirements as well as Lender terms and conditions will vary by lender and therefore, reading each lender’s disclosures is important. Additionally, lenders may have loan minimum and maximum requirements, degree requirements, educational institution requirements, citizenship and residency requirements as well as other lender-specific requirements.

    Prequalified rates are based on the information you provide and a soft credit inquiry. Receiving prequalified rates does not guarantee that the Lender will extend you an offer of credit. You are not yet approved for a loan or a specific rate. All credit decisions, including loan approval, if any, are determined by Lenders, in their sole discretion. Rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Rates from Lenders may differ from prequalified rates due to factors which may include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in your personal credit circumstances; (ii) additional information in your hard credit pull and/or additional information you provide (or are unable to provide) to the Lender during the underwriting process; and/or (iii) changes in APRs (e.g., an increase in the rate index between the time of prequalification and the time of application or loan closing. (Or, if the loan option is a variable rate loan, then the interest rate index used to set the APR is subject to increases or decreases at any time). Lenders reserve the right to change or withdraw the prequalified rates at any time.

A leader in loan comparison, Credible provides you with prequalified rates without any commitment or risk. 

Fill out a few questions, and Credible links you with numerous lenders in under 3 minutes. Credible carefully vets its partners, so you know you’re in good hands. Comparing your rates doesn’t hurt your credit score, so you can safely browse and make the most informed choice. 

Credible gets bonus points for its helpful customer service. You’ll have access to its Client Success team during the entire loan application and acceptance process. You can initiate a chat with a customer service specialist, and they can connect with you and the lender via a 3-way call.

It’s completely fee-free to use Credible, but remember that requesting prequalified rates is free while closing a loan will result in costs to you. And Credible only partners with lenders who don’t charge origination or prepayment fees, so you’ll get the full amount you’re approved for and can pay off the loan faster if you choose. 

Best for Loan Comparison: Lend-Grow

Lend-Grow lets you compare hundreds of rates and lenders designed to give you a student loan refinance. But you don't have to worry that Lend-Grow will just feed you lenders that fork out the most in advertising. You'll see a variety of lenders, both large and small.

Lend-Grow can help you:

  • Research the more than 300 lenders listed on Lend-Grow
  • Determine each lender's most competitive rates
  • Gather general information like lender size, locations, experience and more
  • Use personalized tools to compare lender reviews, eligibility information and more

Take a look now to compare hundreds of lenders and see prequalified offers from Lend-Grow.

Best for Multi-Year Funding: Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers private students loan with or without cosigners along with parent loans and student loan refinancing. 

Apply for loans between $1,000 up to $150,000. A draw of choosing Citizens Bank as your lender is a feature called Multi-Year Approval. This is built into the application process. If approved, Citizens Bank will provide you with the total sum you are eligible to borrow throughout your entire degree process.

If you receive Multi-Year Approval, you won’t have to reapply for a loan each year you are in school. Just request the funds from the bank at the start of the school year and save yourself the damage of a hard credit pull or denial if your financial situation fluctuates throughout college. 

If you aren’t eligible for this feature, you may still be approved for a single-year private loan. Applying online takes less than 15 minutes.

Qualifying for a Private Student Loan 

Most lenders require that borrowers meet the following standards to qualify for a private loan without a cosigner:

  • At least 18 years old with a high school diploma or equivalent certificate 
  • Have at least a 670 credit score
  • Proof of income that shows you are financially able to repay the loan
  • Proof of enrollment in an eligible higher education program

Other lenders may have further requirements. Check out a lender’s website or use a loan comparison service like Credible to find out details.

Private vs. Federal Student Loans

The primary difference between private and federal student loans is in the institutions providing them. Federal student loans are lent by the government, while private student loans come from financial institutions like banks and credit unions. 

Interest on each type of loan is usually tax deductible. But there are several other things that differ slightly between each type of loan, some of which listed below.

Federal student loans have the following qualities:

  • Rules, regulations and terms set by law
  • You don’t have to repay your loans until after you graduate, leave school or reduce your enrollment to half time
  • Fixed, often low interest rates
  • No credit check for most federal student loans
  • Loan approval is simpler
  • Deferment is simpler to achieve
  • Multiple repayment options with flexibility for varying circumstances
  • No prepayment fees
  • Some loan forgiveness options
  • Potential for certain amounts of student loan forgiveness in the future
  • Student loan interest rates tend to be low
  • Government loans work well for you graduate students
  • You can earn multiple degrees with government loans

Private loans often include the following:

  • Terms and repayment stipulations set by lender
  • Less likely to offer deferment periods
  • Variable and fixed interest rates; rate depends on applicant’s credit
  • Credit check required
  • Repayment structure depends on lender
  • Repayment terms can be difficult to adjust
  • Few loan types available
  • Loan forgiveness options not standard
  • Student loan debt can be consolidated
  • Eligibility requirements can shift for graduate students

Find a Private Student Loan without a Cosigner

While federal student loans are more accessible, a private student loan is a solid choice if you’re not eligible or have impressive credit that can net you better rates and terms. 

You won’t need a cosigner if you meet the minimum standards. Use Benzinga’s list of vetted lenders to take some of the hassle out of paying for your education.

Q

Do private student loans require a cosigner?

A

Private student loan lenders do require a cosigner if your credit is not sufficient to get a loan on your own. If you have no or poor credit, you will likely need a cosigner to get a student loan.

Q

How can I pay for college if my parents won't help?

A

If your parents won’t help you pay for college and you don’t have good enough credit to get a private student loan, you may have to apply for a federal loan.

Q

What credit score is needed for a private student loan?

A

A private student loan lender will likely require a credit score of 670 to consider you for a loan.

  • SoFi Personal Loans
    Best For:
    No origination fees
    securely through SoFi Personal Loans's website

    Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Loan amounts range from $5,000– $100,000. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0%-7%, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive.

    Autopay: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi.

    Direct Deposit Discount: To be eligible to potentially receive an additional (0.25%) interest rate reduction for setting up direct deposit with a SoFi Checking and Savings account offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. or eligible cash management account offered by SoFi Securities, LLC (“Direct Deposit Account”), you must have an open Direct Deposit Account within 30 days of the funding of your Loan. Once eligible, you will receive this discount during periods in which you have enabled payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/month to a Direct Deposit Account in accordance with SoFi’s reasonable procedures and requirements to be determined at SoFi’s sole discretion. This discount will be lost during periods in which SoFi determines you have turned off direct deposits to your Direct Deposit Account. You are not required to enroll in direct deposits to receive a Loan.

  • Axos Bank Personal Loan
    Best For:
    No collateral required
    securely through Axos Bank Personal Loan's website