Always opt for federal student loans, which don’t require a co-signer. If you’ve maxed those out and don't have a co-signer, consider these private student loan options.
Summary of Student Loans Without a Co-Signer for 2020
|Lender||Fixed APR||Variable APR||Min. Credit Score||Learn More|
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan
4.53 - 6.08%
Ascent Private Student Loan
4.21 - 13.16%
3.16 - 11.90%
MPOWER Private Student Loan
7.52 - 13.63%
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.
Our pick for
Upperclassmen and graduate students with no credit, income or co-signer
You'll be evaluated based on your future earning potential, rather than your current income or credit.
Our pick for
International students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status
You must be from one of the 180 countries MPOWER works with. DACA students do not need a Social Security number to qualify.
How to shop for a student loan without a co-signer
- Take out federal student loans first. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to get access to federal loans, grants and scholarships. Federal loans should be your first stop: They offer lower interest rates and come with income-driven repayment plans and forgiveness programs.
- 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 all bills on time and using as little of your credit limit as possible.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Last updated on January 2, 2020
To recap our selections...
NerdWallet's Student Loans Without a Co-Signer for 2020
- Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan: Best for All student loan borrowers as their first option
- Ascent Private Student Loan: Best for Upperclassmen and graduate students with no credit, income or co-signer
- MPOWER Private Student Loan: Best for International students and students with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, status