How to find a co-signer for your student loans
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If federal grants, scholarships, and loans do not cover the full cost of your tuition, you may consider applying for private student loans. Although you don’t need good credit to get a federal student loan, your credit is important when applying for a private student loan.
Applying to a co-signer with good credit can improve your chances of approval and help you get the best rates and the terms of your loan.
Some private lenders may require you to apply with a co-signer if your credit history is limited. If you’re wondering how to find a co-signer for your student loans, it helps to understand how the process works.
Comparing loan offers from multiple lenders can help you find the right one. best private student loan rates available for you. Credible makes it easy to compare rates in minutes.
What is a co-signer?
A co-signer is someone with good credit who signs the loan with you, the primary borrower, and agrees to take responsibility for paying off the debt if you can’t. When you apply with a co-signer, your lender knows that one of you is more likely to repay the loan.
If you stop making your loan payments, your co-signer is responsible for repaying the full amount. And if you miss monthly payments, they’ll show up on your co-signer’s credit report and their credit score will suffer along with yours.
Some lenders will release the co-signer from the loan once you improve your credit score or make a specific number of payments on time. Your lender is unlikely to tell you when you are eligible for a co-signer release, so you will need to contact them directly for more information.
It’s a good idea to seek out a financially secure co-signer with good credit. Your lender will likely want to see a co-signer with a steady job who has the income and ability to repay the loan. And because of the risks involved with co-signing a loan, you may want to seek out someone who is investing in your future.
Who can you ask to be a co-signer?
Technically, anyone can be a co-signer as long as they have good credit and are committed to repaying the loan. But due to the added responsibility, some people may be more willing to help you with your student loans that others. Here are a few people you might consider as potential co-signers.
Your parents will likely be your first choice for potential co-signers, as they are usually the most invested in your college education. And if they’re already helping you with your tuition, they might be more likely to agree.
If your parents can’t or won’t co-sign for you, you might consider asking extended family members. You may have a grandparent, aunt, or uncle who is willing to co-sign your student loans. And if that person is in a good financial position, they may be more willing to help.
Close friends are also potential co-signers. Ideally, a friend co-signing for you would be someone you’ve known for most of your life and have a good relationship with.
Potential co-signers may feel more secure about co-signing your student loan if you can give them an idea of the loan’s interest rate and terms. Before approaching your co-signer, consider compare private student loan rates with Credible — it’s 100% free and won’t affect your credit.
Why is it beneficial to have a co-signer?
Although not a requirement, applying with a co-signer can be helpful for most borrowers. By using a co-signer, you benefit from that person’s strong credit history. This can help you establish your own credit score. And applying with a co-signer can help you qualify for the lowest interest rate on your loan.
What are the risks of having a co-signer?
Despite the benefits, there are many risks that come with co-signing a loan. If you stop making your loan payments, your co-signer is responsible for repaying the full balance. And if you miss a few monthly payments, their credit score could be damaged.
Moreover, while some loan officers will release co-signers after a specific period of time, this is not a guarantee. It’s not impossible, but most people have a hard time getting out of loans they co-signed for. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that private student lenders rejected 90% of borrowers who requested cosigner release.
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What to do if you can’t find a co-signer
If you unable to find a co-signer for your private student loans, you’ll want to make sure you’ve truly exhausted your federal loan options. Federal student loans don’t require a co-signer, so it’s a good idea to maximize any federal aid you qualify for first.
You will also be able to find private student lenders that will allow you to borrow without a co-signer. But you’ll generally need good to excellent credit (a credit score of at least 670) and a stable income to qualify. And you could face higher interest rates. If you are able to improve a low credit score and show a stable income, you may have a better chance of getting a private student loan without a co-signer.
You can also look for scholarships and grants to help cover your tuition. You don’t have to pay back any grants or scholarships, making it a better option than student loans.
If you are still unable to cover the full cost of your tuition, contact your school’s financial aid office. They may have additional resources available or may be able to help reduce some of your tuition.
How to qualify for a student loan
If you need to take out student loans, most borrowers start with federal loans. To begin this process, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a requirement if you hope to qualify for federal loans, grants, or work-study programs.
Two types of federal loans are available: subsidized direct loans and unsubsidized direct loans. Subsidized loans are need-based, and if you qualify, the government will pay the interest accrued while you are still in school full-time. Unsubsidized loans are available to everyone and you will be responsible for paying interest accrued during your studies.
Since private lenders offer private student loans, you do not have to complete the FAFSA to qualify. For private loans, you will complete the lender’s application. It’s a good idea to shop around and compare the rates and terms you receive from different lenders. Credible makes this easy, allowing you to compare student loan rates from multiple lenders in minutes.
If you cannot apply with a co-signer due to bad creditIt’s a good idea to establish your credit history before applying for a private student loan. Here are some ways to get started:
- Pay your bills on time – your payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO score.
- Get a secured credit card to start building your credit history.
- If you don’t want to purchase a credit card, you can become an authorized user on someone else’s card.
- Consider accepting a part-time job. Having a stable source of income will make you a more attractive candidate for a lender.