Finding and getting approved for student loans without a co-signer isn’t always simple, especially if you don’t know where to look. Many lenders offer the ability to apply without a co-signer, but getting approved for the loan without a co-signer is a whole other story.
The best student loans without a co-signer come with flexible credit and lending requirements, as well as competitive rates, which make them more accessible than other lenders. Read on to see our top picks for student loans without a co-signer for a variety of students. We reviewed several student loan lenders, and the ones that made our list offer low rates, options for graduate and international students, and more.
Best Overall and Best for Graduate Students : Ascent
Ascent is a standout among lenders that offer loans without co-signers. Its clear eligibility guidelines help you figure out how likely it is it’ll approve your application.
Ascent calls its non-co-signed loans “independent student loans,” and offers two types for undergraduate borrowers: one based on credit and another based on projected future income.
- Non-co-signed student loan based on credit: This loan asks borrowers for a credit history of at least two years, a minimum credit score, a salary of at least $24,000 per year, and a monthly debt-to-income ratio that meets Ascent’s requirements.
- Non-co-signed student loan based on future income: This loan is available to applicants who do not meet Ascent’s credit history length, income, or repayment ability requirements. Instead, applicants who are at least juniors and seniors with a 2.9 GPA or higher can qualify based on their school, program, major, graduation date, and other factors. Students can borrow up to $20,000 per year.
Ascent also has non-co-signer student loans for graduate students, with specific loan options for MBA, medical, dental, and law programs. With several options tailored to specific programs and students’ needs, Ascent is also our top pick for graduate student loans without a co-signer.
Ascent’s best rates come with a 0.25% rate discount for automatic payments. A higher 2.00% discount applies to Ascent’s future income-based student loans. Ascent also provides a 1% cash-back reward to borrowers once they graduate with their degree. Note that if your loan is in deferment, you’ll need to make minimum payments of at least $1 to keep your autopay discount.
Prequalification with no hard credit check
Student loan for undergraduates based on future income
Several loan options for graduate and professional programs
1% cash-back reward upon graduating
Annual borrowing limit of $20,000 for future income-based student loans
Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status to apply without a co-signer
Ascent Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||3.34% to 13.91% with autopay|
|Undergraduate Variable||2.14% to 12.37% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||3.44% to 13.72% with autopay|
|Graduate Variable||2.47% to 12.39% with autopay|
Read the full review: Ascent Student Loans
Runner-Up and Best for Low Rates : Earnest
Earnest offers clear and flexible eligibility requirements. Requirements for borrowers without a co-signer include a minimum FICO score of 650, a credit history of three years or longer, and income of at least $35,000.
Both undergraduate (except freshmen) and graduate students can apply for a student loan with Earnest. These student loans also offer low costs and competitive student loan rates. Earnest also charges no fees for loan origination, prepayment, or late payments.
You might not be eligible for an Earnest loan if you have accounts currently in collections.
Earnest provides flexible options for student loan repayment. Choose between full in-school deferment, partial in-school payments of either interest-only or $25 per month, or immediate full repayment. Earnest also offers “precision pricing” that lets you set your monthly payment amount (which might alter the student loan term and rate).
Finally, Earnest may offer up to a nine-month grace period after graduating or ending enrollment in school before you have to make payments. You do not get a nine-month grace period if you choose to make regular payments while you’re enrolled. Also, you can skip a payment once a year.
Set monthly payments by what’s affordable to you
Nine-month grace period is longer than what some competitors offer
Ability to skip a payment once a year
Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents may apply without a co-signer
Loans not available in Nevada
Earnest Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||3.49% to 12.78% with autopay|
|Undergraduate Variable||1.05% to 11.69% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||3.49% to 12.78% with autopay|
|Graduate Variable||1.05% to 11.69% with autopay|
Read the full review: Earnest Student Loans
Best for International Students : MPower Financing
International students and those covered under the DACA immigration policy are not eligible for federal student loans. As a result, private student loans are their only option to borrow for college. Many lenders will consider private student loan applications from non-U.S. citizens—but only if they apply with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident co-signer.
MPower Financing is an exception, offering student loans without co-signers to international and DACA students. It also offers additional services, including visa support letters for I-20 forms and career services. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can also apply for these student loans.
To be eligible, you’ll need a one- or two-year degree, or be two years or less away from graduating. As part of its approval process, MPower considers your future earnings as a factor. An MPower Financing student loan can finance $2,001 up to $50,000 in total, and you make interest-only payments while in school, as well as for up to six months after graduation.
Student loan rates vary by loan type. MPower Financing offers lower rates to graduate students and DACA Dreamers, U.S. citizens, or permanent residents. Borrowers can get up to 1.50% off their rate with 0.50% discounts for:
- Enrolling in automatic payments
- Making six automatic payments
- Providing proof of graduation
MPower also offers scholarships of up to $5,000 to international students.
Student loans for international and DACA students with no co-signer
Student loan rate discounts of up to 1.50%
Visa and career services
Repay your loan in any currency you’d like
Higher interest rates
No full in-school deferments
Aggregate student loan limit of $50,000
MPower Financing Student Loan Details
|Undergraduate Fixed||10.56% to 14.63% with autopay|
|Graduate Fixed||8.52% to 12.59% with autopay|
|Lender||Why We Picked It||Fixed APR|
|Ascent||Best Overall and Best for Graduate Students||3.34% to 13.91% (undergrad) & 3.44% to 13.72% (graduate) with autopay|
|Earnest||Runner-Up and Best for Low Rates||3.74% to 12.78% (undergrad) & 3.49% to 12.78% (graduate) with autopay|
|MPower Financing||Best for International Students||10.56%-14.63% (undergrad) & 8.52%-12.59% (graduate) with autopay|
What is a Student Loan Without a Co-Signer?
Student loans without co-signers are loans given to students for educational expenses that don’t require a second party to co-sign the loan and agree to repay the debt in the event that the borrower is unable to do so. Most private student loans require co-signers, especially for younger borrowers. More experienced and financially strong students who go to school later in life may qualify for more loan options for their education.
What Types of Student Loans Can You Get Without a Co-Signer?
Federal student loans often approve you without a co-signer. Most private loans require a co-signer, but some companies offer student loans to borrowers based on their credit profile. You can receive these loans regardless of whether you’re borrowing for your undergraduate degree or graduate school, but you’ll need at least two years of strong credit history.
How Much Do Student Loans Without a Co-Signer Cost?
The costs of the loan vary based on the credit profile of the borrower. Some lenders will also charge fees that will be included in the total cost of your loan, like a loan origination fee.
Can I Get a Student Loan With Bad Credit?
You can get federal student loans with bad credit, but you likely won’t qualify for a private student loan for your education with bad credit unless you’re able to bring in a co-signer. Bad credit makes it difficult to get any type of personal loan, including private student loans.
Can You Refinance Student Loans Without a Co-Signer?
You may be able to refinance your student loans without a co-signer. You can only refinance federal student loans with a private student loan, so a co-signer may be required if you don't have good-to-excellent credit.
If you’re refinancing private student loans you can get approved with strong credit. Refinancing with average or bad credit, even if you’re approved, can cost you a lot of money if your interest rates go up in the process. Keep in mind that if you refinance a federal student loan with a private loan, you lose access to the federal protections associated with your student loans.
How We Chose the Best Student Loans Without a Co-Signer
We looked at more than a dozen lenders that offer student loans to individuals without a co-signer and narrowed the list down to the top three. We evaluated the costs of each option, how likely the lender is to approve a loan without a co-signer, the features of the loan including how many times you can skip a payment if needed, and the history of the company providing student loans in the open market.