When it comes to planning your options for student financial aid, one of the most important steps is figuring out whether or not you will need a cosigner to get a student loan.
Federal loans, which are need-based and funded by the government, typically do not require a cosigner. Private student loans, which are provided by banks, institutions and other private lenders, oftentimes do. While in some cases it is possible to secure a private student loan without a cosigner, more than 90 percent of students require one because they cannot yet independently prove their creditworthiness.
Lenders need proof that the borrower is able to pay back the loan based on their financial history – or credit history. Credit is built through debt repayment, such as mortgages, credit card bills, and car loans. Undergraduate students entering college right out of high school usually don’t have enough credit history or a steady enough income to qualify for a loan on their own, and therefore need a cosigner.
The best way to find out if you will need a cosigner for a private student loan is to contact a lender directly.
So what is a cosigner and why is it so important to have one?
A cosigner – also known as a guarantor – is someone who is equally responsible for a loan, along with the primary borrower. If the primary borrower becomes unable to make payments, the cosigner is then accountable. Though it’s not required that a cosigner be a parent, guardian, or close relative, these individuals are most frequently asked. Regardless of who you approach, your cosigner must be a U.S. citizen and should have a solid credit score, regular income, and a history of paying off debt. A strong credit history might also help you qualify for a lower student loan interest rate.
It may feel a bit cumbersome to tie another person to your finances. Or perhaps, the extra steps in finding the right cosigner seem like too much extra work. You may even qualify for a loan without a cosigner and prefer financial independence. However, there are significant benefits to having a cosigner on your private student loan – especially a cosigner with a healthy financial history.
A cosigner with a healthy financial history can help you:
● Qualify for a loan if you do not have enough credit history
● Secure a lower interest rate
● Acquire more affordable loan terms and repayment options
Not all cosigners qualify for loans or lower rates, so it’s best to contact a lender and explore your options.
What are my options for loans without a cosigner?
As a high school or college student, getting a private student loan without a cosigner might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. If you have an established credit history – perhaps from making car or credit card payments and working full- or part-time – you may qualify for a loan on your own.
If federal loans don’t cover all your college costs and you intend to seek a private student loan without a cosigner, we encourage you to find one with a low interest rate, comparable to federal loans or private loans with a cosigner. Since a loan with no cosigner can be a higher risk for a lender, you may find in your research that interest rates are higher. Again, contacting the lender directly can help you determine your eligibility and what the total cost of your loan will look like with interest rates, with or without a cosigner.
How can I find out if I qualify for a loan?
The credit score needed to qualify for a private loan is proprietary for each lender. Before applying for a loan at College Ave, you can check out our free credit pre-qualification tool for you and your potential cosigner. It will tell you whether your credit score qualifies for a loan, and what interest rates you can personally expect from College Ave – all without impacting your credit score.
Pre-qualification isn’t a full review or guarantee, but it may help you decide if you want to submit a full application.