Private Student Loans with Bad Credit

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 14, 2023

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

  • Best for Loan Comparison: Credible
  • Best for Member Benefits: SoFi
  • Best for Future Income-Based Loans: Ascent
  • Best for No Collateral Required: Axos
  • Best for Emergency Loans: Avant

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

  • 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 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • There’s no guarantee that the lenders you are paired with will work for you

Best for Member Benefits: SoFi

  • SoFi Student Refi Loans
    Best For:
    Low fixed or variable rates
    securely through SoFi Student Refi Loans's website

    Fixed rates range from 5.24% APR to 9.99% APR with 0.25% autopay discount. Variable rates range from 6.24% APR to 9.99% APR with a 0.25% autopay
    discount. Unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law, Variable Interest rates on 5-, 7-, and 10-year terms are capped at 13.95% APR; 15- and 20-
    year terms are capped at 13.95% APR. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/24 and are subject to change at any time. Your actual rate will be within the
    range of rates listed above and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, presence of a co-signer and a variety of other
    factors. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived
    by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of
    one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. 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. This
    benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit lowers your interest
    rate but does not change the amount of your monthly payment. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance. Autopay is not required
    to receive a loan from SoFi. You may pay more interest over the life of the loan if you refinance with an extended term.

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. 

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

Pros

  • You can learn a lot about your finances through the platform
  • The platform works on a case-by-case basis

Cons

  • 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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.

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Q

Who needs to take out a private student loan?

A

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.

Q

How do I get the lowest rate on a private student loan?

A

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.

Q

Are private student loans difficult to pay off?

A

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.

  • 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