How to Get Student Loans for Your Advanced Degree Without a Cosigner

How to Get Student Loans for Your Advanced Degree Without a Cosigner

It’s not rocket science. The further you are in your academic career, the more financially independent you become.

That’s why just 63% of advanced-degree students have cosigners on their student loans. Compare that to 92% of undergraduate students who enjoy cosigner support, according to MeasureOne.

If you’re going to law school, seeking an MBA or considering other professional degrees, you might have already exhausted your financial aid opportunities. In the interest of independence, you could now be considering student loans without cosigner help. To give you some tips, let’s look at the following topics:

Federal student loans without cosigner requirements

Two federal loan options, which are accessible after completing the FAFSA, don’t require cosigners for graduate or professional students.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

You’re allotted $20,500 in Direct Unsubsidized Loans to put toward your graduate or professional degree. Your combined limit for your undergraduate and graduate education is $138,500. (At most, $65,500 of that amount can be in Direct Subsidized Loans from your undergraduate degree.)

Attending an MBA program could cost between $70,000 and $200,000, says private lender College Ave. So you can see why you might need help beyond unsubsidized loans.

If you maximize your unsubsidized loan allotment during graduate school, you could then resort to a Direct PLUS Loan.

Grad PLUS Loans

Like Direct Unsubsidized Loans, PLUS Loans don’t require a cosigner. But you would need to have better than an adverse credit history to qualify. That’s key among the facts to know before applying for PLUS Loans.

If your credit history fails to make the grade, you could find an endorser, which is the federal government’s equivalent of a cosigner.

But without a creditworthy cosigner, you might start considering your private student loan options.

Private student loans without a cosigner

If you took out a private loan for your undergraduate degree, you’re already familiar with applying for and securing a loan. You supply personal and financial information to lenders and shop for your best possible interest rate and loan terms.

The key difference is that when you were an undergrad, you likely rode the coattails of a cosigner. Lenders consider credit history, debt-to-income ratio and other factors when evaluating a borrower. Because you were likely a teenage or 20-something borrower without much of a credit history, your cosigner would have stood in for support.

Now that you have an undergraduate degree and possibly even some work experience, you might be able to secure a favorable loan from a private lender on your own. In fact, graduates are four times more likely than their younger peers to secure student loans without cosigner backing, according to Sallie Mae.

So if you were wondering how to get a student loan without a cosigner, now you know it’s possible.

Some lenders even offer student loans without cosigner backing specific to your degree type. For example, Sallie Mae offers loans for students seeking an MBA or pursuing a health profession, among other degrees.

Compare your federal and private student loan options

If you’re focused on student loans without cosigner requirements, you can receive one from the federal government or a private lender. Knowing which lender is best is the real challenge.

Your interest rate is a good place to start. Via the federal government, you’ll find fixed interest rates. If you’re borrowing for the 2020-2021 school year, Student Loan Hero has forecasted record-low federal loan interest rates, including:

  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans for graduate students: 4.30%
  • Direct Grad PLUS Loans: 5.30%

The federal government also applies a fee on these loans. For Direct Unsubsidized Loans disbursed before Oct. 1, 2019, that would be 1.062 percent. For Grad PLUS Loans lent before Oct. 1, 2020, 4.236% was the mark. The fee is taken out from your loan amount, making it important to apply for the right amount of funds.

Many private student loan companies listed on our site don’t charge loan origination fees. They also have competitive interest rates, though these could vary, depending on your creditworthiness.

Aside from offering variable interest rates — rates that can change over the life of your loan — private lenders might be more appealing for other reasons.

If you’re a dental school student, for example, you might have off-campus expenses. A private lender like Citizens Bank lends as much as $350,000 to students pursuing health professions. By comparison, a Direct PLUS Loan would only cover the cost of your school’s attendance.

A final word on student loans without cosigner support

Being a graduate or professional student makes you independent in the eyes of the federal government. That status allows you to borrow more for your education than a dependent undergraduate. It’s one of many differences between undergraduate and graduate school loans.

But just because you could borrow from the government without a cosigner doesn’t mean you should do the same with a private lender.

If you find yourself Googling the words “student loans without cosigner bad credit,” for example, you might be better off relying on your federal loan options or finding a good cosigner. For example, you can explore ways to find a cosigner when your parents aren’t options.

But you might still be prioritizing private student loans without a cosigner and no credit history required. In that case, ensure that you get your lowest possible interest rate by improving your credit first.

Need a student loan?

Here are our top student loan lenders of 2020!

Lender Variable APR Eligibility  
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit College Ave

1.25% – 9.44%*,2 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit SallieMae

Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents

Visit Earnest

Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Discover

2.71% – 12.99%5 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit Ascent

3.52% – 9.50%6 Undergraduate and Graduate

Visit CommonBond

* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

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2 Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.

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Lowest APRs shown for Discover Student Loans are available for the most creditworthy applicants for undergraduate loans, and include an interest-only repayment discount and a 0.25% interest rate reduction while enrolled in automatic payments.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.