Best of

6 Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer

There are private lenders that don't require a co-signer — but explore them only after you've exhausted federal financial aid.

NerdWallet
By
Last updated on May 29, 2024

Many, or all, of the products featured on this page are from our advertising partners who compensate us when you take certain actions on our website or click to take an action on their website. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

NerdWallet's student loans content, including articles, reviews and recommendations, is produced by a team of writers and editors who specialize in consumer lending. Their work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Nasdaq, MSN, ABC News, MarketWatch and many other national and regional media outlets. They also have appeared on NerdWallet's “Smart Money” podcast, as well as local TV and radio.

NerdWallet’s

Best of Award Winner
Best Student Loan For Independent Students
Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan
Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan
Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan
4.5
NerdWallet rating
Min. credit score
Low-Mid 600s
Fixed APR
13.32-15.28%
Variable APR
13.45-15.35%
on Credible’s website
More details

Why our nerds love it

Ascent scores highest among the few lenders offering private student loans that don’t require credit history or a co-signer, and it serves the most schools. Read our methodology

Read our methodology
See all winners

Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Min. credit score
Fixed APR
Variable APR
Learn more
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Read review
Best for All student loan borrowers as their first option

None

5.50-7.05%

N/A

Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan

Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan

Check rate
on Ascent's website
on Ascent's website
2024 Best Student Loan For Independent Students
4.5
/5
Best for Upperclassmen with no credit, income or co-signer

Low-Mid 600s

13.32-15.28%

13.45-15.35%

Check rate
on Ascent's website
on Ascent's website
MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Check rate
on MPOWER's website
on MPOWER's website
4.0
/5
Best for International students

None

12.99-15.99%

N/A

Check rate
on MPOWER's website
on MPOWER's website

Our pick for

All student loan borrowers as their first option

Federal loans are preferable to private ones because they're eligible for income-driven repayment and loan forgiveness.

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
Read review
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

5.0
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

5.50-7.05%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Federal direct loans offer generous repayment flexibility and among the lowest fixed interest rates you’ll find.

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 than many private lenders.
Cons
  • You pay an origination fee.
Qualifications
  • No credit check or minimum income is needed to borrow.
  • Loan amounts for undergraduates: $5,500 year one, $6,500 year two, $7,500 year three and thereafter, up to a total of $31,000
  • Independent students and graduate students have higher loan limits.
  • Undergraduate interest rate fixed at 3.73%, while grad students get higher 5.28% rate
Available Term Lengths10 to 25 years once repayment begins, depending on the repayment plan.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Upperclassmen with no credit, income or co-signer

Outcomes-based: You'll be evaluated based on your future earning potential, rather than your current income or credit.

Key factsBest for independent students with strong credit or upperclassmen with good grades.
Pros
  • Among the best for payment flexibility.
  • Grace period of 9 months is longer than most lenders.
Cons
  • International students are not eligible.
  • Freshmen, sophomores and those enrolled less than half-time are not eligible for the Outcomes-based loan.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Did not disclose.
  • Minimum income: $24,000 per year for credit-based loan. No minimum for future-income based loan.
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 to $200,000 per year with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000 for credit-based loan. $2,001 to $20,000 per year for future-income based loan.
Available Term Lengths5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years
DisclaimerAscent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills or DR Bank, each 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: AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 6/3/2024 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 rates require full principal and interest payments, the shortest loan term, a cosigner, and are only available for our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores. Actual APR offered may be higher or lower than the repayment examples above, based on the amount of time you spend in school and any grace period you have before repayment begins.

Our pick for

International students

You must be from one of the 190 countries MPOWER works with. DACA students do not need a Social Security number.

MPOWER Private Student Loan
Check rate
on MPOWER's website
on MPOWER's website
MPOWER Private Student Loan

MPOWER Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

12.99-15.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for international students without co-signers and DACA students. You’ll be evaluated based on earning potential and positive payment history on your credit report, though not on your score.

Pros
  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international and DACA students.
  • Borrowers are assigned a dedicated student loan advisor.
  • Borrowers can request forbearance of up to 24 months, which is longer than many lenders offer.
Cons
  • Payment required while in school.
  • Offers only one repayment term: 10 years.
Qualifications
  • MPOWER considers future income potential but does not factor in credit scores.
  • Loan amounts: Minimum $2,001. Maximum loan is $100,000, limited to $50,000 per academic period.
Available Term Lengths10 years
DisclaimerNote: Our loan does not support Canadian citizens studying in Canada. Canadian Permanent Residents and U.S. citizens are considered “international” when studying in Canada. International students, U.S. citizens, U.S. permanent residents, and DACA recipients in the U.S. or Canada. ‘International’ means you are a non-U.S. citizen or U.S. non-permanent resident studying at a university in the U.S., or you are a non-Canadian citizen or Canadian non-permanent resident studying at a university in Canada. ‘DACA’ means the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program initiated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2012. In order to qualify as a DACA Student, you must have applied for, and been granted, DACA status by USCIS. As a graduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 12.99% (13.98% APR¹). This is the maximum rate and will not increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 12.74% (13.72% APR²). ¹[International graduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation, plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 13.98%, the monthly payment amount is US$113.66 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is about $156.71. ²[International graduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. At an APR of 13.72%, the monthly payment is US$111.47 for the first 30 months. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$155.17. Undergraduate Students in the U.S. or Canada As an undergraduate student, you can borrow with a fixed interest rate of 13.99% (15.01% APR³). This is the maximum rate and will never increase. However, MPOWER offers borrowers a way to qualify for a discount; a 0.25% rate discount is possible by making your loan payments through automatic withdrawal from your bank account. If you qualify for this discount, your rate will be 13.74% (14.75% APR⁴). ³[International undergraduate student with regular interest rate] The APR is calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of $10,000 with a 5% origination fee of $500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. Payments will be interest only until graduation plus an additional 6-month grace period. The remaining months of repayment are calculated using a 120-month amortization schedule. All payments are made on-time, a forbearance is never utilized, and there is no pre-payment of any principal. At an APR of 15.01%, the monthly payment amount is $122.41 for the first 30 months. For the next 120 months, the monthly payment amount is $162.97. ⁴[International undergraduate student with discounted interest rate] The APRs with discounts are calculated using the following assumptions: A loan is approved in the amount of US$10,000 with a 5% origination fee of US$500. The student will start making payments 45 days after loan disbursement. The borrower signs up for automatic debit immediately after the loan is disbursed and remains on it for the life of the loan, which reduces the rate by 0.25%. A forbearance is never utilized and there is no prepayment of any principal. At an APR of 14.75%, the monthly payment is US$120.22 for the first 30 payments. For the last 120 payments, the monthly amount is US$161.39.

Our pick for

Students with a strong GPA

These loans require borrowers to have and maintain a certain GPA to qualify.

Funding U Private Student Loan
Check rate
on Funding U's website
on Funding U's website
Funding U Private Student Loan

Funding U Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

7.95-12.49%

Variable APR

N/A

Key factsBest for high-achieving independent students enrolled in four-year programs who have small funding gaps.
Pros
  • You don't need a co-signer or credit to get a loan.
  • You can see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get without a hard credit check.
Cons
  • Loans aren't available in 12 states.
  • Payment required while in school.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: 650.
  • Minimum income: No minimum, but borrowers must demonstrate they can pay $20 per month toward their loan.
  • Loan amounts: $3,001 up to $10,000.
Available Term Lengths10 years
A.M. Money Private Student Loan

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

7.95-8.87%

Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best for students who have a strong GPA and attend one of the schools A.M. Money works with. They primarily work with students in Illinois that attend schools in the state.

Pros
  • GPA is used to determine eligibility instead of credit or a co-signer.
  • Offers a hard-to-find, temporary income-based repayment option for up to 36 months.
  • All borrowers get the same fixed rate.
Cons
  • Works with a limited list of schools.
  • Charges an origination fee.
Qualifications
  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers: Credit and a co-signer are not required. Approval is based on GPA.
  • Minimum income: No minimum. Approval is based on GPA.
  • Loan amounts: $2,001 up to the full cost of attendance, maximum $50,000
Available Term Lengths10 years

Our pick for

Income share agreements

Edly Non-Cosigner Student Loan

Edly Non-Cosigner Student Loan

Min. credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

9.40-23.00%

Key facts

Edly offers income share agreements to students who are at least college juniors enrolled at specific schools and majoring in certain fields of study.

Pros
  • No credit history required.
  • Available to students without a co-signer.
Cons
  • Borrowers have to repay 2.25X the borrowed amount if they want to pay off the loan early.
  • Low income forbearance is not automatic and interest accrues.
  • Not available to borrowers in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, Vermont and West Virginia.
Available Term Lengths5 years of payments and up to 10 years with deferment periods.

How to shop for a student loan without a co-signer

  1. Take out federal student loans first. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, to get access grants and federal loans. Federal loans offer lower interest rates and come with income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.

  2. Build credit before you apply for a private student loan. While undergrads generally don’t have the credit history required to get a loan in their own names, graduate students over age 21 might. You’ll have the best shot at a private loan with competitive interest rates if your credit score is 690 or above. Strengthen it before applying for a loan by fixing errors on your credit report, paying your bills on time and using as little of your credit limit as possible.

  3. Compare loan features. When shopping for a private loan without a co-signer, 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. 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.

  4. Opt for a fixed interest rate. Given the choice, a fixed interest rate is a safer bet than a variable interest rate. Fixed rates don't increase over time.

  5. Keep an eye on the bottom line. Use a student loan calculator to see what kind of payment you’ll have once repayment begins.

  6. Consider refinancing in the future. Once you’ve graduated and had time to build your credit profile, you may be able to refinance private student loans to an even lower interest rate. But again, you'll generally need a solid income, a credit score of 690 or higher and a history of on-time debt payments.

Student loans that don't require a co-signer

Lender

Type of loan

Available to

Federal direct student loan

Requires no cosigner or credit history

Undergraduate and graduate students at eligible schools

Ascent

Based on academic outcomes (like GPA)

Juniors and seniors at eligible schools

Funding U

Based on academic outcomes (like GPA)

Undergraduates at eligible schools

A.M. Money

Based on academic outcomes (like GPA)

Undergraduate or graduate students at a limited list of schools

MPOWER

Based on future earnings

Undergraduate or graduate international students at eligible schools

Edly

Based on credit, school and major/field of study eligibility

Undergraduate or graduate students at eligible schools who are majoring in certain fields of study

STUDENT LOAN RATINGS METHODOLOGY

Our survey of more than 26 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 May 29, 2024

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer

  • Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan: Best for All student loan borrowers as their first option
  • Ascent Non-Cosigned Student Loan: Best for Upperclassmen with no credit, income or co-signer
  • MPOWER Private Student Loan: Best for International students
  • Funding U Private Student Loan: Best for Students with a strong GPA
  • Edly Non-Cosigner Student Loan: Best for Income share agreements
  • A.M. Money Private Student Loan: Best for Students with a strong GPA

Frequently asked questions

  • You can receive federal student loans without a co-signer. If you’ve exhausted your federal aid and need to turn to a private loan, a few lenders do offer funding to students without co-signers.

  • Complete the FAFSA to receive federal student loans, which don’t require a co-signer. Private lenders that don’t need a co-signer may evaluate you based on your credit and future earning potential.

  • Most undergraduate students will need a co-signer to qualify for a private student loan from Sallie Mae. The lender reports that 61% of its borrowers use a co-signer.

  • You’ll likely need a credit score of at least 690 to get a private loan. But you’ll also need to meet a lender’s other financial requirements, such as having steady income, to qualify.

Further reading

NerdWallet Pixel