BEST OF

8 Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer of November 2020

Always opt for federal student loans before choosing a private student loan.

Anna HelhoskiNovember 16, 2020
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8 student loans without a co-signer:

  1. Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

  2. Ascent Private Student Loan

  3. Funding U Private Student Loan

  4. A.M. Private Student Loan

  5. MPOWER Private Student Loan

  6. Prodigy Private Student Loan

  7. Stride Funding Income Share Agreement

  8. Avenify Income Share Agreement

Federal student loans don’t require credit history or a co-signer. They’re also the most flexible when it’s time to repay, so use them first.

But to afford college, some students may need private student loans, which are credit-based. A small number of private lenders offer student loans without a co-signer. You’ll pay higher interest rates as a result.

Review our picks and instructions for how to shop for a student loan without a co-signer.

Summary of Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer of November 2020

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

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Federal Subsidized/Unsubsidized Loan

Fixed APR

2.75 - 4.30%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


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 compared with 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 4.53%, while grad students get higher 6.08% rate.

Available Term Lengths

10 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

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

Ascent Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Ascent's website

Ascent Private Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Ascent Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

3.58 - 14.50%

Variable APR

2.69 - 12.98%

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rate

on Ascent's website


Variable APR

2.69 - 12.98%

Key facts

Best for student who don't have a co-signer.

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 future-income based option, no co-signer or credit history is required.

Cons

  • Non-co-signed future income-based option is available only to college juniors and seniors.

Qualifications

  • Typical credit score of approved borrowers or co-signers: Did not disclose for co-signed option. For non-co-signed future income-based option, Ascent emphasizes future earnings over income or credit score.

  • Minimum income: $24,000 for the co-signed and non-co-signed credit-based option. Income is not considered for the non-co-signed future income-based option.

  • Loan amounts: For co-signed option, $1,000 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, $1,000 to $20,000.

  • Non-co-signed future income-based borrowers must also meet satisfactory academic performance requirements with a 2.9 GPA or higher.

Available Term Lengths

5, 7, 10, 12 or 15 years for cosigned option or 10 or 15 for non-co-signed option

Disclaimer

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 11/01/2020 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 2.00% (for undergraduate future income-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: AscentStudentLoans.com/Rates . 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Click here for details. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student borrowers must have a minimum credit score. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Students with a strong GPA

Approval is primarily determined by your GPA.

A.M. Money Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
A.M. Money Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.08 - 8.06%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


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. It is affiliated with Illinois, but lends to schools all over the country.

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, benchmarked to the federal PLUS loan rates.

Cons

  • Works with a limited list of schools.

  • Charges an origination fee.

  • You can’t pay more than the minimum via autopay.

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 Lengths

10 years
Read Full Review

Our pick for

International students

You must be from one of the 180 countries MPOWER works with. DACA students do not need a Social Security number.

MPOWER Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
MPOWER Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.52 - 13.63%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

N/A


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.

  • Forbearance of 24 months is longer than many lenders offer, and borrowers can access national disaster forbearance as well.

Cons

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

  • 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 $50,000, limited to $25,000 per academic period.

Available Term Lengths

10 years
Read Full Review

Our pick for

International graduate students

Considers future income, rather than current income or credit score, to make lending decisions.

Prodigy Private Student Loan

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Prodigy Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

7.52 - 12.00%

Min. Credit Score

N/A


Variable APR

7.52 - 12.00%

Key facts

Best for international students in the U.S. without co-signers.

Pros

  • Offers a hard-to-find option: non-co-signed student loans for international students.

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

Cons

  • No fixed interest rates.

  • Not available to borrowers in all 50 states including: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

Qualifications

  • Prodigy Finance considers future income, rather than current income or credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $15,000 to $220,000.

Available Term Lengths

7, 10, 15 or 20 years
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Income share agreements

Stride Funding Income Share Agreement
Check Rate

on Stride's website

Stride Funding Income Share Agreement

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Stride Funding Income Share Agreement

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None

Check Rate

on Stride's website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Stride Funding offers income share agreements to students who are at least college juniors and typically major in health care and STEM fields.

Pros

  • Payments aren’t due if you’re unemployed.

  • Lending decisions are not based on your credit score.

  • You receive free career services, including job placement support.

Cons

  • There’s no discount for paying off your agreement early like some lenders offer.

  • Funding may not be available based on your school or major.

  • Not available in South Carolina.

Qualifications

  • Eligibility is based on factors like academic program and projected salary, not credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $3,000 to $25,000 annually; $50,000 lifetime maximum.

  • Payment cap: Two times the amount borrowed.

  • Income share percentages: Typically 6% to 9%; lifetime max is 20%.

Available Term Lengths

5 years, but can extend to up to 10 years.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Income Share Agreement for Nursing Students

Avenify Income Share Agreement

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Avenify Income Share Agreement

Fixed APR

N/A

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Avenify offers income share agreements to students pursuing nursing degrees who are within 12 months of graduation.

Pros

  • Periods of unemployment count toward your payment total.

  • Lending decisions are not based on your credit score.

  • You receive a discount for paying off your ISA early.

Cons

  • Funding is available only to nursing students.

  • Nursing certificate programs currently aren’t eligible.

  • You must be within 12 months of graduation to qualify.

Qualifications

  • Eligibility is based on factors like your GPA and potential cost of living, not credit score.

  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $15,000.

  • Income share percentages: Typically range from 1.5% to 7.5%; average is 3.99%.

Available Term Lengths

5 years, but can extend to up to 10 years.
Read Full Review

Our pick for

Students with a strong GPA

Funding U Private Student Loan
Check Rate

on Funding U's website

Funding U Private Student Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Funding U Private Student Loan

Fixed APR

7.99 - 14.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Min. Credit Score

None

Check Rate

on Funding U's website


Variable APR

N/A

Key facts

Best 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 history to get a loan.

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

  • DACA students with a work-eligible Social Security number can qualify.

Cons

  • Loans aren't available in 22 states.

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

  • Maximum funding amount is less than most lenders.

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 Lengths

10 years
Read Full Review

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, 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.

  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 all 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. It won’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 face after borrowing for multiple years.

  6. 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.

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

All student loan borrowers as their first option

Ascent

Based on future income

Juniors and seniors

Ascent

Based on credit history

Borrowers with 680 or higher credit scores and adequate income

Funding U

Based on academic record and future potential

Undergraduates at eligible schools

A.M. Money

Based on GPA

Undergraduates at a limited list of schools

MPOWER

Based on earnings potential and positive payment history

International students

Prodigy Finance

Based on earnings potential

International grad students

Stride

Income share agreement

Primarily health care and STEM grad students; juniors and seniors may also qualify

Avenify

Income share agreement

Nursing students nearing graduation

Last updated on November 16, 2020

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer of November 2020

Frequently asked questions