College  |  July 24, 2019  |  Rob Zodda

How to get a student loan with no credit

What you’ll learn
  • How to get a student loan with no credit
  • Why lenders require credit history
  • Ways you might get money for college without credit history
  • What it means to have a cosigner

Credit—the ability to borrow money and repay it with interest—is a fact of life. Credit history is required if you’re applying for a car loan, mortgage, or a student loan. But the tricky thing is that many students haven’t had enough time to develop a credit history of their own before they begin college.

Here are a few ways you might be able to get a loan without any credit.

Apply for federal student loans before private student loans

Many federal student loans are given out by the U.S. government and don’t require a credit check (though federal loans for parents do). In order to apply for federal student loans, you need to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA is your ticket to grants, work-study funds, and loans.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than $150 billion in federal student aid is given out to help students pay for college and career school each year.

Pro tip:
Some federal student aid is given out on a first-come-first-served basis. Make sure you submit your FAFSA as early as you can each year (usually October 1).

Make your go-to source for all things FAFSA and fill it out each year of college.

Apply for a private student loan with a creditworthy cosigner

Unlike federal student loans, private student loans come from banks and credit unions—and they do require a credit check.

If you’re a high school or college student with a limited credit history, a private student loan lender may not approve your application. Don’t take it personally! If you look at it from their point of view, there’s not much proof that you’ll be able to repay a loan on time—especially if you don’t have a regular salary or other financial assets.

Consider applying with a creditworthy cosigner, an individual with strong credit who can take responsibility for the student loan with you. Cosigners are usually parents, but they don’t have to be. Your cosigner doesn’t even need to be related to you.

When asking someone to cosign a loan for you, make sure you both understand what it means. A cosigner isn’t just adding their name to a piece of paper—they’re signing a legal agreement that makes them equally responsible for repaying the loan.

You and your cosigner need to be clear on who’s going to make the loan payments each month. If it’s you, and you fall behind on your payments, your cosigner’s credit score will be affected.

Being a cosigner is a serious commitment, but it doesn’t need to be a lifelong one. Many private student loan lenders let you release your cosigner after you’ve proved you can repay your loan responsibly with a certain number of on-time payments.

You can make it happen

If you don’t have strong credit yet, you’re not alone. A lot of college students don’t. Don’t panic. Just be sure to get the most of federal student aid you can by filling out the FAFSA, then explore other options if you need to.

footnote Sallie Mae does not provide, and these materials are not meant to convey financial, tax, or legal advice. Sallie Mae makes no claims about the accuracy or adequacy of this information. These materials may not reflect Sallie Mae’s view or endorsement. Consult your own financial advisor, tax advisor, or attorney about your specific circumstances. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.