Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner: Is It Possible?

By Melissa Brock · December 08, 2022 · 7 minute read

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Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner: Is It Possible?

As long as you meet lender requirements, it’s possible to refinance student loans without a cosigner. Refinancing means that a private lender bundles some or all of your loans, pays them off, and structures them into one new loan. A private lender can be a bank, school, credit union, or state agency. Federal student loans are funded by the federal government.

A cosigner is an individual with a good credit record who agrees to repay the loan if the primary borrower cannot. If you prefer to apply for a student loan without a cosigner, you may pay more for your loan over the long term through higher interest rates.

Keep reading for more information about student loan refinancing without a cosigner and what it involves.

What Is Student Loan Refinancing?

Student loan refinancing means that a private lender pays off your existing loans (which can be a mixture of private and federal student loans) and puts all of your loans under one roof. This means you don’t have to keep track of various loan payments.

Refinancing student loans allows you to lower your interest rates or extend your loan payoff. Your interest rate, which is a percentage of your principal amount borrowed, is the amount you pay to your lender in exchange for borrowing money. Extending your loan payoff means that you will increase the number of years you take to pay off your loan. It’s important to note that in this case, you will pay more over the life of your loan because you increase the number of years that you will pay for your loan.

You can refinance both federal and private student loans, but note that you must do so with a private lender. You cannot refinance any type of loan into a federal student loan. However, refinancing federal student loans means that you’ll lose access to federal protections such as federal loan forgiveness and income-driven repayment plans. Some lenders only refinance private student loans. Clearly, knowing if and when to refinance student loans is not a simple decision.

Benefits of Refinancing Student Loans Without a Cosigner

Take a look at the benefits of a student loan refinance with a cosigner and the drawbacks of refinancing student loans without a cosigner.

Pros of Refinancing With a Cosigner

Cons of Refinancing Without a Cosigner

Students may gain access to lower rates and terms. Students may not get approved for a loan without a cosigner.
Students may have a better chance of getting approved for refinancing student loan debt with a cosigner. Students may have to pay a higher interest rate without a cosigner on the loan.
Students may be able to build their credit in order to qualify for future loans and get a lower interest rate on other loans in the future.

Keep in mind that if the student stops making loan payments, cosigners may end up paying back the student loan. Not making payments can damage both the student’s and the cosigner’s credit score. Your credit score is a three-digit number that shows a lender how well you pay down debt.

If this happens, it can result in a strained relationship. A student loan refinance without a cosigner may be the best option for all parties involved.

Recommended: Guide to Student Loan Refinancing

How To Refinance Student Loans in 4 Steps

Refinancing student loans without a cosigner typically follows these four steps:

1. Prequalify

By submitting some personal information, you can compare the rates among lenders. Lenders will run a soft credit check which won’t hurt your credit. Lenders will ask for your name, address, school you attended, degree achieved, total student loan debt, income, credit score estimate, and more. The information you need to provide varies from lender to lender.

Recommended: What’s the Difference Between a Hard and Soft Credit Check?

2. Get Multiple Rate Estimates

Each lender will likely give you several offers with various term lengths as well as fixed interest rates (those that don’t change) and variable interest rates (those that change depending on market fluctuations).

3. Complete the Application

Once you’ve chosen a lender and a loan, you can submit documentation that supports the soft credit check and any other information the lender needs, such as personal identification, pay stubs, or other income verification. You’ll undergo a hard credit check at this point.

4. Sign the Final Documents

Learn your final costs, or take a look at a student loan refinance calculator, to get a sense of your all-in costs so you know what you’ll have to pay every month.

What Refinancing Without a Cosigner Involves

Refinancing student loans without a cosigner involves special considerations:

Qualifying With Your Own Credit

Qualifying for a refinance with your own credit means that you aim to get a refinance using your own credit score. The credit score you need to qualify for a refinance will depend on a wide variety of factors, including your income and other information.

It’s important to put forth as high a credit score as you possibly can. The FICO® score range from 300 to 850 — 300 is the lowest and 850 is the highest credit score possible.

In addition to your credit check, you may also need to meet some basic eligibility requirements:

•   The legal age, or “age of majority,” in your state (typically 18)

•   A U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or non-permanent resident alien

•   Employed or have sufficient income from other sources

•   Graduated with an associate’s degree or higher from a qualified institution

Recommended: What is a bad credit score?

Debt-to-Income Ratio

When you get a refinance, a lender will also look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. This is a percentage that tells lenders how much of your money per month goes toward monthly debts versus how much money you have coming into your household.

You can figure out your DTI by adding up your monthly debts and dividing that figure by your gross monthly income (your income before taxes). The result is a percentage, and the lower the percentage, the less risk you present to lenders. Learn more about why debt-to-income ratio matters in student loan refinancing with cosigner and without a cosigner.

Employment Status

In many cases, you must be currently employed, earn income from other sources, or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days in order to get a refinance. However, various lenders may have different employment stipulations. Check with your lender to learn more.

Credit History

In order to qualify for a refinance, a lender will look at your credit history, which includes your current and past credit accounts, the amount you owe, and your payment history. Your credit history reveals how responsibly you repay your debts. Credit scores come from information on your credit reports.

What If You Can’t Get Approved Without a Cosigner?

If you can’t get approved without a cosigner, you may want to look for a lender with an alternative credit check. Lenders may offer an alternative process, including simply taking a look at your grade point average, field of study, graduation prospects, and estimated future earnings to determine your eligibility for a refinance or loan. Keep in mind that these alternative requirements may require you to pay a higher interest rate for your refinance.

You may also consider going ahead with a cosigner and then later applying for a student loan cosigner release. A cosigner release means that cosigner is released from a loan as long as you meet certain requirements, such as a minimum payment requirement. Once released, the cosigner is no longer obligated to take care of your debt if you cannot repay your loan.

Alternatives to Refinancing Without a Cosigner

One of the best ways to circumvent the need for a cosigner is to work on improving your credit score. You can do that by paying off debt — paying down credit cards, paying off loans that have gone into arrears — and not taking out too many other types of loans. Your credit score will increase over time as you make positive moves.

SoFi Student Loan Refinancing

It’s possible to refinance student loans without a cosigner, but you may end up with less desirable rates than if you did opt for a cosigner. However, consider the pros and cons of applying with and without a cosigner, including the potential for a strained relationship if you fail to make timely loan repayments. Another important factor to weigh is how likely you are to benefit from the current federal student loan forgiveness plan, as well as the protections that come with federal student loans.

If you think refinancing might make sense for your situation, consider refinancing your student loans with SoFi. You can refinance online and pay zero fees, whether you choose to refinance student loans with a cosigner or not.

Check out student loan refinance rates offered by SoFi.

Photo credit: iStock/paulaphoto

SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are a federal student loan borrower, you should consider all of your repayment opportunities including the opportunity to refinance your student loan debt at a lower APR or to extend your term to achieve a lower monthly payment. Please note that once you refinance federal student loans you will no longer be eligible for current or future flexible payment options available to federal loan borrowers, including but not limited to income-based repayment plans or extended repayment plans.

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