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Many students need help paying for a college education, but taking out a loan usually means you need a good credit score. The problem? Students just graduating high school often have no established credit history, making borrowing money a little challenging.

Luckily, it’s possible to get student loans with no credit check through federal financial aid and private student loan companies. Even borrowers with established – but bad – credit can find student loan options for which they qualify.

Federal vs. private student loans

It’s usually best to prioritize federal student loans over private student loans. In most scenarios, if you can cover the cost of your education with a federal loan, you should – and just fill in the gaps with private student loans with no credit check as needed.

Why are federal loans the better option? Here are a few reasons:

No credit check

The Department of Education doesn’t factor in your credit score when reviewing your loan application. Even if you have no credit history, you can qualify for federal student aid as long as you meet the basic eligibility requirements.

Same rate for everyone

Everyone gets the same interest rate, no matter their credit history. The Department of Education sets the interest rate for federal student loans.¹

  • As of now, the fixed interest rate for Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans for undergraduate student borrowers is 5.50%.
  • The fixed rate for direct unsubsidized loans for graduate or professional students is 7.05%.
  • Direct PLUS Loans (for parents, guardians, graduate students, and professional students) are 8.05%.

Student loan forgiveness

Currently, borrowers who work in a public service position for 10 years can have their federal student loan debt erased through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Politicians are also actively working to eliminate other federal student loan debt, but this student loan forgiveness would not extend to private loans.

Income-driven repayment

Borrowers can qualify for income-driven repayment plans with the federal government.² This way, you won’t owe more than you can afford each month, based on what you make. Private lenders typically do not offer these repayment options (though some do!).

Comparing federal vs. private student loans

The table below shows some of the main differences between federal and private student loans:

Federal student loansPrivate student loans
Interest rateFixed APR, from 5.50% to 8.05%Varies by lender; could be fixed or variable rates; generally from 40% to 15%³
Max borrowing amount$5,500 to $7,500 a year for dependent undergraduates; $9,500 to $12,500 for independent students; $20,500 a year for graduate or professional students⁴Varies by lender, but typically allows higher loan limits
Credit score requirementsNoneVaries by lender; some offer student loans with bad credit
Origination fees1.057% for Direct Subsidized Loans and Direct Unsubsidized Loans; 4.228% for Direct PLUS Loans⁵Varies by lender, but many don’t charge origination fees
Eligible for forgivenessYesNo
Start building credit with the secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card – no credit check required.*

Student loans with bad credit

If you’re looking to go to college further out from your high school career, it’s more likely you have an established credit history. But, what are your options if you have poor credit?

The same guidance applies here: Start with federal loans to see what you’ll qualify for. Fill in the gap with private loans that don’t have credit score requirements or are willing to work with borrowers with bad credit.

Another way to improve your chances of getting approved for a private student loan – and at a lower interest rate – is to add a cosigner. The cosigner, such as a parent, guardian, or spouse, should have good credit, improving your approval odds.

How to take out student loans with no credit check

Ready to apply for student loans without the credit check? Here’s how to get started:

Fill out the FAFSA

As mentioned above, the best place to start is with federal loans. To qualify, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA.

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid can be overwhelming, but we’ve put together this helpful guide to filling out the FAFSA, which breaks the process into more manageable steps.

The Department of Education has really basic eligibility requirements to apply for need-based aid:⁶

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen.
  • You must enroll in an eligible degree or certificate program at an approved school.

Chime Tip: If you receive federal aid, you must meet basic requirements to keep that aid, like maintaining a minimum GPA set by the school and completing your classes successfully.⁷

Review your federal student loan eligibility

Roughly two weeks after completing the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) detailing what loans and grants you’re eligible for.⁸ (Bonus: You don’t have to repay grants, so qualifying for these is even better!)

Note: The Student Aid Report isn’t an official financial aid offer. Rather, it sets expectations of what aid you’ll get when you are accepted into specific schools. You’ll receive the official aid offer from the school upon admission.

There are three main types of federal loans you can receive:

  • Subsidized Direct Loans: Undergraduates with demonstrated financial need can qualify for Direct Subsidized Loans. These loans are particularly helpful, as interest is subsidized while the student is in school, during any repayment grace period, and when or if loans go into deferment beyond graduation.
  • Unsubsidized Direct Loans: These loans are available to undergrads, professional students, and graduate students. Like subsidized loans, these are not based on income or credit score, but unlike subsidized loans, these are not need-based. The biggest difference is that interest begins accruing right as you borrow the money. That means you’ll owe more back in the long run than you would with a subsidized loan.
  • Direct PLUS Loans: Parents can apply for the Parent PLUS loan to help their child get financial aid. This loan does technically require a credit check⁹, but it’s easier for parents with a spotty credit history to qualify for this kind of loan than a private loan.

Compare private student loans

Starting with federal loans is worthwhile because they have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment options. However, federal loans may not be enough to cover the total cost of attendance. In that case, you’ll want to start exploring private student loans.

However, most private lenders have strict credit score requirements. If you have no credit or bad credit, you’ll need to limit your search to private student loans with no credit check.

Private student loans with no credit check

Below are some options for student loans for borrowers with no credit (or bad credit). Again, check out federal loans first before looking at private lenders. They may be helpful when you need additional aid.

1. Funding U

Funding U is one option for undergraduate students. Instead of a credit score, Funding U looks at your academic achievement, progress toward graduation, course load, and projected income upon entering the workforce.

Private loan amounts with Funding U range from $3,001 to $20,000 per school year for undergrads. Fixed interest rates currently range from 7.49% to 12.99%, though you can save 0.50% with the autopay discount. Funding U does not charge an origination fee.

No cosigner is required, there are forbearance options if you face financial hardship, and you’ll get your own loan officer to work with as needed. However, Funding U is only available to full-time undergraduate students (no part-time students, graduate students, or parents), and the loan program is not available in every state.

2. Ascent

Ascent offers private student loans for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as international students. You can choose from fixed or variable rates for cosigned and non-cosigned loans. Variable loans range from 6.16% to 16.10%; fixed loans run from 3.98% to 15.31%.

You can choose from a wide range of repayment terms, and Ascent doesn’t charge any fees. Borrowers can also earn 1% cash back reward program upon graduation. To earn aid as an international student, you cannot be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident; you’ll need a creditworthy cosigner in the U.S., as well.

3. Mpower

Mpower is an option for international students who don’t have a cosigner. Loans range from $2,001 to $100,000, and fixed interest rates start as low as 12.99%, though you can get a 0.25% discount with autopay.

International students who plan to stay in the States should note that repaying Mpower loan helps to build credit in the U.S. Terms aren’t flexible (it’s always 10 years), and interest-only payments start while you’re in school.

4. Edly

Edly offers an income-based repayment plan. Rather than pay interest on your loan, your repayment is based on the salary you earn after graduation (and won’t kick in until you’re making at least $30,000 a year). Edly offers protections in case you lose your job, and cosigners aren’t required, even if you don’t have great credit.

The downside to Edly is that, if you get a high-paying job, you could end up paying a lot more than you would have if you’d gotten a traditional student loan with an interest rate. Edly might be a better choice if you know you’re going into a career field that doesn’t generally pay well.

Don’t let lack of credit stop your education

Student loans are available regardless of whether you have strong credit, bad credit, or no credit at all. If you’re hoping to further your education, start by filling out the FAFSA to see what federal aid you can get – and then rely on private student loans with no credit check to cover the rest.

Already have a student loan but need to refinance? We’ll walk you through how to refinance student loans in our comprehensive guide.

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Opinions, advice, services, or other information or content expressed or contributed here by customers, users, or others, are those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Bancorp Bank, N.A. and Stride Bank, N.A. (“Banks”). Banks are not responsible for the accuracy of any content provided by author(s) or contributor(s).

¹ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “Interest Rates for New Direct Loans” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/announcements-events/interest-rates-for-new-direct-loans

² Information from Federal Student Aid’s “Income-Driven Repayment Plans” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/manage-loans/repayment/plans/income-driven

³ Information from Education Data Initiative's "Average Student Loan Interest Rate," as of January 24, 2024: https://educationdata.org/average-student-loan-interest-rate

⁴ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “The U.S. Department of Education offers low-interest loans to eligible students to help cover the cost of college or career school” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/types/loans/subsidized-unsubsidized

⁵ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “(GENERAL-23-37) FY 24 Sequester-Required Changes to the Title IV Student Aid Programs” as of January 24, 2024: https://fsapartners.ed.gov/knowledge-center/library/electronic-announcements/2023-05-15/fy-24-sequester-required-changes-title-iv-student-aid-programs

⁶ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “Financial Aid Eligibility” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/eligibility

⁷ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “Staying Eligible” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/understand-aid/eligibility/staying-eligible

⁸ Information from Federal Student Aid’s “What is the Student Aid Report (SAR)?” as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/help/sar

⁹ Information from Federal Student Aid’s "Direct PLUS Loans and Adverse Credit?" as of January 24, 2024: https://studentaid.gov/sites/default/files/plus-adverse-credit.pdf

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