Education can be the key to a better life, and you don’t want your bad credit to keep you from working for your future. Start with our list of the best private student loans if you have a bad credit report to pursue the degree you’ve always dreamed of. From undergraduate student loan options to a graduate student loan and borrowing plans for parents, you need to find a way to pay for school that suits your financial situation.
Best Lenders for Private Student Loans with Bad Credit
Many lenders have responded to the needs of non-traditional students. These lenders and loan comparison services will connect you with lending solutions for your bad credit problems. Keep in mind — you may need a cosigner or a loan with special provisions that make lending to someone with bad credit less risky because your FICO score is still low. You can remove this requirement over time by paying off debt and working on your overall creditworthiness. As a result, you might also get a better interest rate.
Slow and steady wins the race here. Making small, deliberate changes to your financial habits will raise your score as you repair your credit.
Best for Loan Comparison: Credible
- 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 4.41% – 16.99% APR and Variable interest rates from 5.36% – 16.99% 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.
A trusted player in the loan game since 2012, Credible offers risk-free loan comparison to prospective borrowers. Credible is a free service that lets you compare private student loans and more — you’ll find personal loans, mortgages and refinancing. Remember, requesting prequalified rates on Credible is free, but closing a loan will result in costs to you.
With over 2,200 educational institutions that work with lenders on Credible on an undergraduate loan or graduate student loan for their students, you’ll have options. And connecting with lenders takes less than 3 minutes and a short survey.
You’ll be able to review personalized prequalified rates and terms side-by-side. Checking your rates doesn’t affect your score, so you can shop around safely and make the most informed decision possible.
Lenders with Credible do prefer borrowers with good credit, so a cosigner will improve your chances of getting good loan offers. Every lender with Credible offers fee-free loans.
Choosing and signing on for a loan can be daunting. Credible’s knowledgeable Client Success Team will help you from the beginning to the end of this process. Engage with them via Credible’s chat feature to get started today.
***Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS# 1681276, “Credible.” Not available in all states. www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org.
- Fee-free loans for all borrowers
- Get started with a short survey and about 3 minutes of your time
- You can work with a cosigner if needed
- There’s no guarantee that the lenders you are paired with will work for you
Best for Member Benefits: SoFi
SoFi is both a lender and an all-in-1 financial hub with a student loan option for everyone. It empowers members to reach financial independence and security. Its range of products are innovative and include loans, investments, insurance and financing, along with a suite of financial tools.
SoFi members enjoy major benefits. Not only do you get career coaching, financial planning, referral bonuses, estate planning and merchant discounts, you’ll also get discounts on SAT and ACT prep courses and more. Your membership also sets you up for a complimentary subscription to Edmit Plus, a platform to help you with all facets of planning for college.
Checking your rates doesn’t affect your credit score. There are a few types of private student loans from SoFi to choose from. Undergraduate and parent loans along with MBA and law school loans are among the choices.
It’s super easy to apply for a loan once you’ve selected from your offers. SoFi’s private student loans are fee-free. SoFi offers multiple repayment options. SoFi’s loans are known for their competitive rates and flexible terms.
- Fee-free loans make the process much cheaper for everyone
- You can take advantage of prep course discounts
- There are parent, undergrad and graduate loan available
- You cannot be guaranteed that you will be approved for a loan just because of your grades or your status with SoFi
Best for Future-Income Based Loans: Ascent
Ascent is private student loan services specializing in accessible private student loans. You can choose from both credit-based loans and future-income based loans.
Rather than black-and-white borrower standards, Ascent considers applications for its credit-based loan on a case-by-case basis. You may also be eligible for a future-income based loan from Ascent if your projected potential income shows you’ll be able to repay the loan. It also offers cosigner release loans.
The future-income based loan is restricted to students in their junior or senior year of college with at least a 2.9 GPA. Even if you don’t quite meet minimum income or DTI standards, you can qualify if you meet the mark in other areas.
Financial literacy education is integral to the Ascent application process. Ascent believes that your education is a financial investment in your future. You want to make sure that your potential income is worth the money you’re putting into your education.
- You can learn a lot about your finances through the platform
- The platform works on a case-by-case basis
- The GPA requirement could be problematic for some borrowers
Best for No Collateral Required: Axos
When you want to borrow money, you can turn to a range of financial platforms or banks. Axos Bank is known for offering consumers a wide range of products from checking accounts to investing accounts and more—including student loans. With an all-online application, you can choose from a wide range of loan amounts, flexible terms and get your money direct deposited into your account.
If you’re looking for a student loan from Axos, you can reach out and seek a personal loan in the range of $7,000 to $50,000.
Plus, Axos offers:
- Flexible application criteria
- Loans to cover any of your expenses as a student
- Information that helps you make financial decisions
Because you can cover your tuition with these loans, you can also bolster your bank account, pay the rent, purchase extra products or services for school and more. As an education loan, Axos is pretty flexible, and their student loan options ensure that you or your parents can get started today.
Also, because you can use these loans for practically anything, you can obtain graduate student loans the came way.
- You can take out any number of loans from this platform
- You can learn how to make financial decisions using this platform without necessarily taking out a loan
- Students can come back to the platform for future student loans if they need them
- While the application criteria can be flexible, that cannot guarantee that you will be approved
Best for Emergency Loans: Avant
Avant is another lender known for fast funding and low fees, which are helpful when you want to save money and only access a little cash. When you apply with Avant, you can complete the entire process online, pay a low origination fee, never worry about a prepayment fee and manage your loan online.
This setup makes it easier for you to obtain personal student loans, pay them off quickly and pivot based on the trajectory of your education. You can also seek out emergency loans for life’s ups and downs that would otherwise derail your education.
- No collateral, unsecured financing
- An online loan eligibility calculator
- Loans that could be as high as $35,000
- A range of loan terms that suit your situation
With a great customer service team and available funding for any number of situations, you can turn to Avant when it’s time to make some critical financial decisions for the family or yourself. So, by educating you and helping you get a loan for school, you can continue to leverage Avant for many years to come.
- You can check your eligibility on the platform at any time
- You can customize your loan terms to make it easier for you to get the results you need
- While loans could reach as high as $35,000, that might not be enough for your schooling
How to Repair Credit
You need good credit to get credit, and you need access to credit to make moves toward more financial security in the future. What do you do? These steps can help you repair your credit:
- Never miss a bill payment again. Payment history (even of your existing student loan payments) is a huge part of your credit score. Anything less than a perfect record hurts your credit, so make this a priority. Creating a better payment history is a good place to start, and by improving debt payments, you will have more money in your checking account, which is especially helpful for undergraduate students.
- Apply for a secured credit card. These are secured by your own deposits so you can build credit without taking on too much risk. Try to avoid cards with a down payment requirement.
- Apply for a credit card. These are sometimes easier to get approved for as they have lower credit limits. There’s less of a chance of abusing credit that you can only use at certain retailers. Pay it down every month and on time to build credit.
- Look for credit-builder loans from your bank or credit union. These are small installment loans. Credit builder loans will establish solid payment history and financial responsibility to creditors.
Qualifying for a Private Student Loan
You can expect to have to meet following requirements with most lenders:
- Be 18 or older
- Have a high school diploma or equivalent degree
- Have at least a 670 credit score
- Proof of income
- Establish that you are financially able to repay the loan within the given terms
- Enrollment at an eligible institution or in an eligible program
While these are the gold standard, different lenders may have additional or different requirements. You can firm up on the details by visiting a lender’s website or use a free loan comparison service like Credible or Student Loan Hero to compare different standards.
Student Loans Without a Credit Check
You can’t get around a credit check when applying for private student loans. But you won’t get one when you apply for federal student loans. You’ll fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This determines your eligibility as opposed to your credit score or a cosigner’s credit score.
Because there’s a cap on how much federal aid (government loan) you can receive, you may have to look to a private loan to make up the difference. If you aren’t eligible for federal aid or have maxed out your borrowing power, try finding a cosigner for your loan if you’re unsure that your credit report will pass the sniff test.
Many lenders do offer loan prequalification. This means you can see your eligibility, offers and terms and rates without risk or hurting your credit.
Find Better Student Loans With Bad Credit
If you’re ready to kickstart the rest of your life but have bad credit, don’t worry. There are ways to get to where you need with federal and private student loans. While you do usually need good credit to qualify for a private student loan, a cosigner can increase your eligibility. Or look for bad-credit specific loans from the lenders and loan comparison services on our list.
Don’t let imperfect credit hold you back. Take the leap today to bring yourself one step closer to making your education a priority.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who needs to take out a private student loan?
A private student loan is a good option for those who do not qualify for government loans or those who must supplement the government-backed loans for which they have been approved. These loans can also help those attending vocational school, seeking certifications or professionals taking extra courses in their chosen fields.
How do I get the lowest rate on a private student loan?
You need to shop around to get the best rate on a private student loan, especially because rates can change based on your location, income and other factors.
Are private student loans difficult to pay off?
Depending on the amount of the loan, the rate and the terms, it might take some time to repay a student loan. Review the payment schedule from the lender to learn how payoffs will work.
Lend-Grow offers 5-, 10-, 15-, 20- and 25-year student loan refinance terms with fixed rates as low as 2.80% APR and variable rates as low as 1.89% APR.
Lend-Grow pays down your loan, too — 0.10% APR every month for 3 years! Here’s what this means: Lend-Grow deposits 0.10% APR of your loan amount funded each month for up to 3 years (as long as your account is active) with payback rewards.
Lend-Grow deposits the payback reward directly to the loan account you specify at the time of Payback Reward enrollment. Payback reward is not a rate discount and you must continue to meet your full payment obligations with the lender each month.