If you’re interested in possibly refinancing your student loans, but you don’t think your credit history is strong enough, there are options that might help. One is to refinance student loans with a cosigner.
A cosigner could potentially help you qualify for a refinanced loan. But is taking out a new loan with a cosigner the right choice for you? There are pros and cons to carefully consider in order to decide if student loan refinance with a cosigner makes sense for your personal situation.
What Is a Cosigner on a Loan?
A cosigner is someone who legally agrees to pay your debt, such as your student loan debt, in the event that you can’t make payments yourself. The exact terms will vary based on the loan type and lender, but in general, this person signs your loan with you and accepts responsibility for your loan if you don’t make payments.
A cosigner can potentially be used for several different types of loans, from taking out a mortgage to borrowing for a car.
💡 Quick Tip: Some student loan refinance lenders offer no fees, saving borrowers money.
Can a Cosigner Refinance a Student Loan?
If you have private student loans, you might have needed a cosigner to qualify if your credit history was too new or not robust enough to qualify on your own.
Creditors review a variety of factors to determine whether or not they will give someone a loan. Things like a lot of existing debt or a low credit score can sometimes serve as an indicator to lenders that an individual could be a credit risk. Adding a cosigner could make a potential borrower appear less risky, since there’s another person (ideally one with a strong financial background) to help guarantee repayment of the loan.
Recommended: Applying for a Student Loan Without a Cosigner
Finding a Cosigner
If you can’t qualify for a loan based on your own credit history or current income, sometimes student loan refinancing with a cosigner who has a strong credit history could help improve your prospects.
You could ask a friend or relative to be a cosigner for refinancing student loans. Being a cosigner can be a hefty responsibility, so treat the request with respect, and perhaps plan to be open and honest about why you need to refinance student loans with a cosigner.
Pros and Cons of Having a Cosigner
Taking out a loan with a cosigner is a significant commitment, so it’s worth considering some pros and cons. What’s right for you will depend on your personal and financial situation.
One of the most notable benefits of refinancing with a cosigner is the potential to qualify for a loan that may not have been an option otherwise. A cosigner could also possibly help you qualify for a lower student loan interest rate than you otherwise may have received. If you have little to no credit history or bad credit, it could help to refinance student loans with a cosigner by giving you an opportunity to begin strengthening your credit.
On the flip side, there can be some cons to refinancing with a cosigner. If you fail to make payments on your loan, your cosigner will be responsible for repaying your debt. As a result, missed payments will likely reflect on both of your credit histories. This could also negatively impact your personal relationship with your cosigner.
In addition, there are pros and cons to the process of student loan refinancing. For instance, if you have federal student loans, refinancing makes them ineligible for federal benefits and protections such as income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness for public service, and deferment options. If you want or need access to these programs and benefits, refinancing won’t make sense for you.
Using a Cosigner when Refinancing Your Student Loans
When you’re refinancing your student loans, enlisting a friend or family member to cosign your refinanced loan could help strengthen your loan application.
If you’re trying to find a cosigner, you can start with the people you trust the most. Keep in mind that acting as a cosigner has risks — if you don’t pay back your loans, your cosigner is on the hook. It’s a big request, so take some time to think about how you’ll make it. Here are some tips that may help inform your conversation:
1. Asking respectfully. You’ll want to broach the subject thoughtfully and respectfully. You’re asking the person for a serious commitment, so asking with tact to show you understand the gravity of your request is crucial.
2. Showing your dedication. It’s also important to make it clear to your cosigner that you’re going to be making timely payments on the loan. One simple way to do so is by providing them with regular updates.
3. Illustrating to your cosigner that you understand the intricacies of your loan. They’ll be responsible for the loan if you fail to make payments, so they’ll likely want to make sure you understand the responsibility you’re taking on — and asking them to take on.
💡 Quick Tip: It might be beneficial to look for a refinancing lender that offers extras. SoFi members, for instance, can qualify for rate discounts and have access to career services, financial advisors, networking events, and more — at no extra cost.
Things to Consider if You’re Asked to Cosign a Loan
If you’ve been asked to cosign a loan, be aware that serving as a cosigner can come with consequences for your finances if the primary borrower fails to make payments. If you’re a family member or friend with excellent credit and a well-paying job, you could be a candidate as a cosigner. If you have some hesitation, here are a few steps you can take:
1. Talking it out with the borrower. The borrower is going to use your name and credit history to take out a loan. It can be helpful to understand why they feel they need a cosigner while making sure they have the means to repay the loan.
2. Following up often. Keeping the lines of communication open so you are aware of any issues can be helpful for both parties. If need be, you could discuss making payments on their behalf to avoid the effect of a late or missed payment on your own credit score.
3. Accepting negative outcomes. Even if you’ve done everything you can to ensure the borrower is trustworthy, something might come up where they let you down. Your credit score might take a hit and you might be responsible for making payments yourself. Remember that this could happen, so accepting it as a possibility may be helpful.
Cosigning a loan is a big responsibility that can have implications on your financial future, so take some time to consider if there’s anything you’re not comfortable with.
If you decide not to cosign, you can let the requester down gently by trying to help them think of some alternative options to secure the loan or money they need.
Refinancing Student Loans With SoFi
If you’re interested in refinancing student loans but your credit isn’t strong enough, enlisting a trusted person with a strong financial background as a cosigner may help you qualify for a loan.
But remember: Refinancing federal student loans makes them ineligible for federal programs or borrower protections. If you think you may need these federal benefits, refinancing may not be right for you.
Looking to lower your monthly student loan payment? Refinancing may be one way to do it — by extending your loan term, getting a lower interest rate than what you currently have, or both. (Please note that refinancing federal loans makes them ineligible for federal forgiveness and protections. Also, lengthening your loan term may mean paying more in interest over the life of the loan.) SoFi student loan refinancing offers flexible terms that fit your budget.
Do I need a cosigner for student loan refinance?
The specific requirements for refinancing a loan with a cosigner will depend on your credit history and income (among other factors) and the eligibility requirements of the lender. Borrowers who have a less than stellar credit history may find adding a cosigner to their application allows them to qualify for a more competitive interest rate.
Can I consolidate my student loans with a cosigner?
If you are consolidating federal loans through the Direct Consolidation Loan program, you don’t need a cosigner.
Can a cosigner become the primary borrower?
In order for the cosigner to become a primary borrower, the loan would generally need to be refinanced.
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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.