Cosigner responsibilities

Being a cosigner is a great way to help someone achieve goals like going to college, building good credit, or becoming financially independent.

But it’s more than just a signature on a student loan or credit card application—it’s a commitment. Learn about your responsibilities as a cosigner, and how cosigning for a Sallie Mae student loan works.

Who can cosign a student loan

Cosigners are often parents, but a relative or other creditworthy individual may also cosign. In fact, 28% of our Smart Option Student Loan® cosigners are someone other than the borrower’s parent.footnote 1 

Being a cosigner means that you and the borrower share the legal responsibility for repaying the student loan or credit card balance, and making sure payments are made on time. Agreeing to be a cosigner may make it easier for the borrower to be approved. As they begin to make on-time payments, it’s also a great way to help them build their own credit history.

What happens after a student loan I cosigned gets approved?
You’ll be able access the loan information and stay up to date on the account using the same login credentials you created when you applied. If you don’t have an online account, it’s easy to register.

Your account lets you:

  • View billing statements and payment history.
  • Enroll in auto debit or make a one-time payment online.
  • Make edits to your personal information (address, phone number, email).
  • Review the student loans you cosigned.
  • Get your FICO® Score for free.footnote 2

How can late student loan payments or delinquency impact my credit?
As a student loan cosigner, you’re equally responsible for making sure that student loan payments are made on time. A missed payment or a late payment may also result in late fees, which will increase the total loan cost. Late payments may be reported to consumer reporting agencies, which could have an impact on your credit.

Can I make payments on a student loan I cosigned?
Yes. You can make payments by logging in to your account or using any other accepted payment method.

What happens if the borrower can’t make payments?
As a student loan cosigner you share the responsibility with the borrower for on-tme payments. If the borrower can’t—or doesn’t—make payments, then you’ll need to make the payments for them.

Do international students need a U.S. cosigner?
For most of our student loans, Non-U.S. citizen students (including DACA students), enrolled in an institution located in the U.S., are eligible to apply with a creditworthy cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and with required U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) documentation.

What if the student dies or becomes disabled?
If a student dies or becomes permanently and totally disabled and is no longer able to work, their Sallie Mae student loan may be eligible to have all remaining payments waived. Call us at 800-472-5543.

Is being a cosigner a long-term commitment?
Yes. A cosigner is responsible for a student loan until it’s paid in full. However, with some Sallie Mae loans, like the Smart Option Student Loan®, the borrower can apply to have their cosigner releasedfootnote 3 after meeting certain requirements.

Have questions about cosigning a student loan?
Call us at 855-756-5626.

footnote 1. Based on a rolling 12-month period from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023.

footnote 2. Borrowers and cosigners with an available FICO® Score and a Sallie Mae-serviced loan with a current balance greater than $0, may receive their score monthly after the first loan disbursement. The FICO® Score provided to you is the FICO® Score 8 based on TransUnion data. FICO® Scores and associated educational content are provided solely for your own non-commercial personal review, use and benefit. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO® is a registered trademark of the Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries. 

footnote 3. Only the borrower may apply for cosigner release. To do so, they must first meet the age of majority in their state and provide proof of graduation (or completion of certification program), income, and U.S. citizenship or permanent residency (if their status has changed since they applied). In the last 12 months, the borrower can’t have been past due on any loans serviced by Sallie Mae for 30 or more days or enrolled in any hardship forbearances or modified repayment programs. In addition, the borrower must have paid ahead or made 12 on-time principal and interest payments on each loan requested for release. The loan can’t be past due when the cosigner release application is processed. The borrower must also demonstrate the ability to assume full responsibility of the loan(s) individually and pass a credit review when the cosigner release application is processed that demonstrates a satisfactory credit history including but not limited to no: bankruptcy, foreclosure, student loan(s) in default or 90-day delinquencies in the last 24 months. Requirements are subject to change.