Best of

Student Loans for Bad or No Credit: Compare Options for 2019

Anna HelhoskiJune 6, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Federal student loans should be your first choice for borrowing with no or bad credit. But if there’s still a cost gap to fill, consider private student loan options without credit score requirements.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

Fixed APR

4.53-4.53%

Pros

  • More flexible repayment options for struggling borrowers than other lenders.
  • Subsidized loans do not collect interest while in school or during deferment.
  • Lower interest rates compared with other lenders.

Cons

  • You pay an origination fee.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.
  • Loan amounts: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.
MPOWER Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Fixed APR

7.52-13.63%

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.
  • Above-average customer support compared with other lenders.
  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.
  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

  • 10 years
Ascent Private Student Loans
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Fixed APR

4.55-13.77%

Variable APR

4.14-13.13%

Min. Credit Score

600

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders.
  • You can make biweekly payments via autopay.
  • For co-signed option, multiple in-school repayment options are available, including interest-only, flat-fee and deferred.
  • For non-co-signed option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment term lengths than other lenders for fixed-rate loans.
  • You can’t see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
  • Non-co-signed option is only available to college juniors, seniors and graduate students.
Read full review

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 for co-signed option.
  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $2,000 minimum to $200,000 over the lifetime of a borrower. The amount for each loan period cannot exceed the total cost of attendance. For non-co-signed option, $2,000 to total cost of attendance.
  • Non-co-signed borrowers must maintain 2.5 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

  • 5, 10 or 15 for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer: 6 Ascent Student Loans are funded by Richland State Bank (RSB), Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 07/01/2019 and include a 0.25% discount applied when a borrower in repayment elects automatic debit payments via their personal checking account. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: www.AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details.

Summary of Student Loans for Bad or No Credit: Compare Options for 2019

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-4.53%

N/AN/A
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

7.52-13.63%

N/AN/A
Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Ascent Private Student Loans

Ascent Private Student Loans

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

4.55-13.77%

4.14-13.13%

600

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

LenderFixed APRVariable APRMin. Credit ScoreLearn More
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

4.53-4.53%

N/AN/A
Check Rate

on Department of Education's website

MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

7.52-13.63%

N/AN/A
Check Rate

on MPOWER's website

Ascent Private Student Loans

Ascent Private Student Loans

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

4.55-13.77%

4.14-13.13%

600

Check Rate

on Ascent's website

How to shop for a student loan when you have bad or no credit

  1. Start with federal student loans. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA to apply for federal student loans as well as qualify for free aid such as grants, scholarships and work-study. They offer lower interest rates and come with income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.
  2. Find a co-signer with good credit. To borrow private loans with a co-signer and get the most competitive interest rates, they’ll need to have a good credit score and steady income. If you opt for a co-signer, they’ll be responsible for your debt if you can’t repay it.
  3. If you can’t find a co-signer, consider loans you can get independently. Some lenders offer private student loans without factoring in credit scores. Future income potential is usually considered instead. The higher your earning potential, the more likely you are to get competitive rates.
  4. Compare loan features. When shopping for a private loan, compare offers to get the lowest interest rate you qualify for. Note whether the lender will postpone payments in case you have difficulty affording them, and for how long. That’s important. Find out if there are origination, prepayment or late fees, and how easily you can reach the lender by phone, email or live chat if you encounter a billing or customer service issue.
  5. Opt for a fixed interest rate. Given the choice, a fixed interest rate is a safer bet than a variable interest rate. It won’t increase over time.
  6. Keep an eye on the bottom line. Use a student loan calculator to see what kind of payment you’ll face after borrowing for multiple years.
  7. Consider refinancing in the future. Once you’re out of school and have built a credit profile, you may be able to refinance private student loans to a lower interest rate. You’ll generally need solid income, a credit score of 690 or higher and a history of on-time debt payments.

» COMPARE: Private student loans you can get with a co-signer

Last updated on June 6, 2019

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Student Loans for Bad or No Credit: Compare Options for 2019