BEST OF

9 Student Loans With Fastest Co-Signer Release

To get a co-signer release you must have at least one year of on-time payments and meet the lender's requirements on your own.

By Cecilia Clark 

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A co-signer release lets your parent, relative or friend off the hook for your student loan once you prove you’re capable of making payments on your own.

Most college students have limited credit history, so private student loans typically require that a co-signer share legal liability for the debt. About 87% of new undergraduate private student loans in 2020-21 were co-signed, according to the higher education data firm MeasureOne.

If you have the opportunity to release your co-signer or be removed from a student loan you co-signed, seize it. There are two ways to remove a student loan co-signer:

  • Co-signer release.

  • Student loan refinancing.

If you qualify for a lower interest rate, student loan refinancing is generally the better option — it’ll remove your co-signer and save you money. You can refinance student loans in your own name if you have good credit, sufficient income and a track record of on-time payments.

If you can’t get a better interest rate through student loan refinancing, or you want to avoid the hassle of comparing interest rates and switching lenders, pursue a co-signer release.

Student Loans With Fastest Co-Signer Release

Our pick for

Release after 12 months of payments

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan
Check rate

on Sallie Mae's website

Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Sallie Mae Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600's

Fixed APR

4.50-14.83%

Variable APR

5.00-15.33%
Check rate

on Sallie Mae's website


Variable APR

5.00-15.33%

Key facts

Best for part-time students and those who want flexibility with repayment.

Pros

  • One of the few lenders to provide loans to part-time students.

  • Non-U.S. citizens, including DACA students, can apply with a U.S. co-signer.

Cons

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Did not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified expenses.

Available Term Lengths

10 to 15 years

Disclaimer

Lowest rates shown include the auto debit. Advertised APRs for undergraduate students assume a $10,000 loan to a student who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae-serviced loans. Interest rates for variable rate loans may increase or decrease over the life of the loan based on changes to the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent. Advertised variable rates are the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. To receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate discount, the borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae. The discount applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment. Advertised APRs are valid as of 12/27/2022. Loan amounts: Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received, as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount. Examples of typical costs for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan with the most common fixed rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.28% fixed APR, 51 payments of $25.00, 119 payments of $182.67 and one payment of $121.71, for a Total Loan Cost of $23,134.44. For a borrower with $20,000 in prior loans and a 2-year in-school period, it works out to a 10.78% fixed APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $132.53 and one payment of $40.35 for a total loan cost of $24,438.22. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 years.

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Ascent Credit-based Student Loan
Check rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Ascent Credit-based Student Loan

Min. credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

4.62-15.18%

Variable APR

5.31-14.07%
Check rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

5.31-14.07%

Key facts

Best for students with a creditworthy co-signer.

Pros

  • Among the best for payment flexibility.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Stands out for features that enable faster loan repayment.

Cons

  • Students enrolled less than half-time are not eligible.

  • Co-signer release not available to international students.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $0 for primary borrower. $24,000 for current and previous year for co-signer.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $200,000 per year with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Ascent Student Loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, 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.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 1/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.

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Our pick for

Release after 24 months of payments

SoFi Private Student Loan
Check rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

4.49-14.75%

Variable APR

4.62-13.82%
Check rate

on SoFi's website


Variable APR

4.62-13.82%

Key facts

Best for flexible repayment options and no fees.

Pros

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Multiple in-school repayment options available, including interest-only and flat-fee, and deferred for undergrad and grad students.

  • Additional perks like career planning, job search assistance and entrepreneurship support available.

Cons

  • Does not offer bi-weekly payments via autopay.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 700+.

  • Minimum income: No minimum.

  • Loan amounts: $5,000 minimum.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.49% to 14.75% annual percentage rate ("APR") (with autopay), variable rates from 4.63% to 13.82% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 5.25% to 14.48% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.12% to 13.82% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.50% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.74% to 13.88% APR (with autopay). 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. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. 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. Information current as of 12/16/2022.

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LendKey Private Student Loan
Check rate

on LendKey's website

LendKey Private Student Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
LendKey Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

660

Fixed APR

4.89-10.39%

Variable APR

5.21-10.37%
Check rate

on LendKey's website


Variable APR

5.21-10.37%

Key facts

Best for students who value working with a community bank or credit union.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 18 months is longer than many lenders offer.

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.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 748.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 up to cost of attendance, minus other aid received.

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years.

Read Full Review

Navy Federal Private Student Loan

3.0

NerdWallet rating 
Navy Federal Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

4.63-13.74%

Variable APR

7.15-15.63%

Variable APR

7.15-15.63%

Key facts

An option for members of Navy Federal Credit Union who can make small payments while in school.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 18 months is longer than many lenders offer.

Cons

  • Available only to existing Navy Federal Credit Union customers.

  • Only one repayment term: 10 years.

  • Payment required while in school and during the grace period.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: A co-signer must earn $15,000 or more.

  • Loan amounts: $2,000 minimum to $120,000 for undergraduates, or $160,000 for graduate students.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Read Full Review

RISLA Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RISLA Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

4.99-6.86%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for students who may need wiggle room on payments in the future.

Pros

  • Income-based repayment plan available, with forgiveness after 25 years.

  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

  • Partial loan forgiveness for eligible internships; interest forgiveness for qualifying nurses.

Cons

  • Fewer repayment terms available than other lenders.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 768.

  • Minimum income: $40,000.

  • Loan amounts: $1,500 to $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

10 or 15 years

Read Full Review

Nelnet Bank Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Nelnet Bank Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

680

Fixed APR

4.49-14.32%

Variable APR

4.52-14.55%

Variable APR

4.52-14.55%

Key facts

Best for borrowers who value flexibility in repayment.

Pros

  • Offers 13 options for flexible post-graduation repayment, which is more than most lenders.

  • Provides rate offer with soft credit check.

  • Borrowers enrolled less than half-time can qualify.

Cons

  • Does not disclose full underwriting requirements.

  • Borrowers may not know what to expect with hardship forbearance as it is granted case-by-case.

  • Does not allow bi-weekly payments via autopay.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.

  • Minimum income: $36,000

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 with an aggregate loan limit of $125,000

Available Term Lengths

5, 10 or 15 years

Disclaimer

Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% APR (with auto debit discount) to 14.32% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan. Variable interest rates range from 4.52% APR (with auto debit discount) to 14.55% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates may increase after consummation. Variable rates for Nelnet Bank Student Loans are calculated as the One-Month SOFR plus the applicable Margin percentage. Variable rates will be based on the highest One-Month SOFR as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on the twenty-fifth day (or the next business day) of the immediately preceding calendar month. The variable rate may change on the first day of each month if the SOFR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month SOFR index is 4.32% as of January 1, 2023. The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments. The lowest rate is available only to the most creditworthy applicants. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate., The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, and (3) the loan type selected. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range. Checking your rate results in a soft credit pull, which will not affect your credit score. If you continue with your application, Nelnet Bank will request your permission to obtain your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies. This is a hard credit pull and may affect your credit score. Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is cancelled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan. Subject to Credit approval.

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ISL Private Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
ISL Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

670

Fixed APR

3.85-7.91%

Variable APR

4.44-8.89%

Variable APR

4.44-8.89%

Key facts

Best for low-interest loans with consumer-friendly features, like a generous forbearance policy.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer.

  • No late fees.

Cons

  • Only offers 2 loan terms.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: 670.

  • Minimum income: No minimum income.

  • Loan amounts: $1,001 or $2,001, based on residency and school location, up to cost of attendance minus other aid received.

Available Term Lengths

10 or 15

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Release after 12 month of payments

Advantage Education Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Advantage Education Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

Does not disclose

Fixed APR

2.84-6.23%

Variable APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for nontraditional or part-time students.

Pros

  • Forbearance of 24 months is twice as long as most lenders.

  • Loans are available if you’re enrolled less than half time.

Cons

  • Loans may not be available depending on where you live or go to school.

  • Fewer repayment terms than other lenders offer.

  • You can't see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Does not disclose.

  • Minimum income: Does not disclose.

  • Loan amounts: Minimum $1,000. Maximum depends on creditworthiness and debt-to-income ratio.

Available Term Lengths

10 years

Read Full Review

What you need for a student loan co-signer release

Almost all private student loans have a co-signer release option. Each lender has slightly different requirements; check with yours to make sure you know all the fine print. Generally, you must:

1. Make at least 12 on-time payments

Depending on the lender, you must make 12, 24, 36 or 48 on-time payments before applying for a co-signer release. Often, those payments must be consecutive and without periods of forbearance. If you made fixed or interest-only payments during school, those may not count.

2. Meet the income and credit requirements

When you take out a student loan with a co-signer, you qualify based on their credit history and financial profile. To remove the co-signer, you must meet those requirements on your own.

You'll need good credit — a FICO score in the high 600s, at least — and enough income to afford your debt payments and other expenses. Most lenders also require that you graduate first and have U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.

3. Submit a co-signer release application

Some lenders and servicers, including Sallie Mae, have co-signer release applications available online. Otherwise, contact your lender or servicer to request one.

You may need to disclose financial information including your income, housing payment and other debt payments. Your lender may also check your credit report and ask for income verification.

Co-signer release for refinanced student loans

It’s possible to apply for student loan refinancing with a co-signer.

Some student loan refinance lenders — including Laurel Road and PenFed — offer co-signer release. But other refinance lenders, such as SoFi and Earnest, don’t.

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 29 banks, credit unions and online lenders offering student loans and student loan refinancing includes the top 10 lenders by market share and top 10 lenders by online search volume, as well as lenders that serve specialty or nontraditional markets.

We consider 40 features and data points for each financial institution. Depending on the category, these include the availability of biweekly payments through autopay, minimum credit score and income requirement disclosures, availability to borrowers in all states, extended grace periods and in-house customer service.

The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

Last updated on December 21, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Student Loans With Fastest Co-Signer Release

Further reading