If you’re considering borrowing student loans, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get a student loan without a credit history.
It is. You can borrow a student loan with no credit history, and it’s possible to get student loans with no credit check. Federal student loans (except PLUS Loans) don’t require a credit check.
Private lenders do, however, review an applicant’s credit history during the application process. Potential borrowers who don’t have a strong credit history may be able to add a cosigner to strengthen their application, but there are no guarantees.
Federal vs Private Student Loans
Student loans fall into two general categories: federal (offered by the government) and private (offered by banks and other lenders). There are options under each category that range from different eligibility requirements to fixed vs. variable interest rates. You can learn more about private vs. federal student loans in this student loans guide.
Types of Federal Student Loans
If you’re searching for “student loans, no credit check,” federal student loans (aside from PLUS loans) fit that description. Federal student loans are funded by the U.S. Department of Education and are based on education costs and your current financial situation, not your credit history.
The most desirable type of federal loan, the Direct Subsidized Loan, has relatively low fixed interest rates that are set each year by the government.
Subsidization means that the government will pay for any interest that accrues on the loan while you’re in school at least half-time, as well as during your grace period and some deferral periods. Direct Subsidized Loans are awarded based on financial need and are only available to undergraduate students.
The other type of no-credit-required federal loan is the Direct Unsubsidized Loan. It also typically has low interest rates, but no subsidy means the interest starts to accrue as soon as the money is loaned, and borrowers are required to pay the interest that accrues. Unsubsidized loans are available to students at all levels of higher education and are therefore one of the most accessible types of student loans.
One advantage with both these types of federal student loans is repayment flexibility, including deferment, income-driven repayment plans, and forgiveness programs like Public Service Loan Forgiveness. If you’re trying to build or improve your credit score, repayment options that could help keep you out of default are key.
Private Student Loans
Students also have the option of applying for private student loans, including graduate loans, which are available through some banks, credit unions, or private lenders. The terms can be very different depending on the type of loan, whether you choose a fixed or variable interest rate, and your financial history — which includes things like your credit score.
If you have less-than-stellar credit, or not much of a credit history and income, you’ll likely need to apply with a cosigner, typically a family member or a close friend who guarantees to repay the loan in the event that you can’t. It’s important to choose a cosigner wisely. It should be someone with a solid financial history that you trust.
💡 Quick Tip: Fund your education with a low-rate, no-fee SoFi private student loan that covers all school-certified costs.
Applying for Student Loans With FAFSA®
To start the federal student loan application process, fill out the FAFSA® (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Filling out the FAFSA is free, and it doesn’t commit you to any particular type of loan. The FAFSA is also the tool used by many schools to determine a student’s full financial aid award, including scholarships, grants, work-study, and federal student loans.
You can explore student loan and scholarship information for more ways to help cover the costs of college.
Applying for Private Student Loans
To get a private student loan, potential borrowers will apply directly with the private lender of their choosing. Each loan application may vary slightly by lender as will the terms and interest rates. Private student loans don’t have the same borrower protections that federal student loans offer, such as income-driven repayment plans or deferment or forbearance options. Therefore, they’re generally considered as a last resort, after all other sources of aid have been exhausted.
Parent PLUS Loans
Students aren’t the only ones who can apply for federal financial aid. Parents of undergrad students that are enrolled at least half-time can apply to receive aid on their behalf via the Parent PLUS Loan.
This is another type of unsubsidized federal loan, but it’s more restrictive in that both parents and children need to meet the minimum eligibility requirements. This type of federal student loan requires a credit check.
Like private loans, borrowers who don’t have optimal credit history may apply with a cosigner to guarantee a PLUS loan. And students are still typically able to seek additional unsubsidized loans for themselves to cover any gaps.
💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.
Tips for Building Credit
Entering college can be a smart time to start establishing credit. A borrower’s credit score could mean the difference between getting a good deal on a loan, or not getting a loan at all. Even a few points higher or lower might impact the interest rates a borrower may qualify for.
There are a number of sites that let you see your credit score for free and offer notifications if there are changes, so it’s easy to keep track of where you are.
The number that signifies “good” credit is between 670-739 for FICO Scores®. These scores are determined by factors such as the number of credit accounts a person has and how they are managed. One way to start building credit is to open some kind of credit account, and then make regular payments.
Paying bills on time, the credit mix you have, and your credit utilization ratio may all play a role in determining a credit score. While everyone’s circumstances are unique, try to make bill payments on time. Another general rule of thumb to aim for is to keep the credit utilization ratio under 30%.
Most federal student loans do not require a credit check and may be considered no credit check student loans. They are available to borrowers with no credit history. Parent PLUS loans are one exception as they are federal student loans that do require a credit check.
Private student loans also require a credit check. Students with a limited credit history may have the option to apply with a cosigner if they are interested in borrowing a private student loan. As noted earlier, however, adding a cosigner does not necessarily guarantee approval for a loan.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.