Snagging a Student Loan Without a Co-Signer

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 1, 2020

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April 24, 2018

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Paying for college gets more difficult every year. On average, students at public institutions spent about $5,000 per semester in 2000. By 2015, one semester’s tuition at a public university was nearly $10,000.

Since college costs so much, few students can afford to pay for tuition, books, fees and living expenses without relying on loans. Unfortunately, some students don’t have reliable adults who can co-sign for their loans. When that happens, college applicants need to find ways to pay for college without co-signers.

Unless you already have a steady source of income, it’s unlikely that private lenders will let you borrow money without a co-signer. You should have better luck with federal student loans from the United States Department of Education.

The Department of Education offers several college loans that don’t require co-signers. Some of your best student loan options include:

  • Direct subsidized loans (Subsidized Stafford Loans).
  • Direct unsubsidized loans.
  • Direct PLUS loans, which are only available to graduate students.
  • Perkins loans, which require you to show exceptional financial need.

Before you can apply for federal loans, you’ll need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Most college students enroll immediately after graduating from high school. Over the last couple of decades, though, more people have delayed college for a few years. Taking a break from school gives you an opportunity to get a job and establish a credit history.

Establishing a credit history will make it easier for you to get college loans from private lenders. Some lenders will still deny your application because they think you’re too young or they worry that you won’t have enough money to make monthly payments once you enter college. Others, however, may take a chance on you. It’s worth a try if you really need a loan without a co-signer. Check the 4 best online loan sites for a few options worth checking out.

Loans are the most popular way to pay for college, but they aren’t your only option. Some students make college more affordable by:

  • Taking night classes while working full-time jobs.
  • Working at companies that will help you pay for school.
  • Using work-study programs to earn money while you learn.
  • Applying for every scholarship and grant you can find.

College isn’t going to get cheaper anytime soon, so you’ll need to find a way to pay tuition if you want to earn a degree. Explore as many options as possible so you can find an option that works for you without requiring a co-signer.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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