How to get federal student loans for bad credit or no credit

personal finance



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Whether you’ve had past credit problems, or have little to no credit history, it’s still possible to get student loans. You may even be able to get a student loan without a cosigner, as most federal student loans don’t require a credit check.

If you’re considering private student loans, having a cosigner with good credit could improve your chances of getting approved and qualifying for a lower interest rate. Comparing rates from multiple lenders through Credible could help you find the best private student loan available to you.

  • How to get federal student loans for bad credit or no credit
  • 8 best private student loans for bad credit or no credit
  • How to get a private student loan with bad credit
  • Income Share Agreements: An alternative to student loans
  • Bad credit student loan FAQs 

How to get federal student loans for bad credit or no credit

Before searching for private student loans, ensure you’ve exhausted your federal student loan options first. Federal loans — other than PLUS loans — don’t require a credit check, so past credit problems won’t prevent you from qualifying for Direct Unsubsidized or Subsidized Loans.

Federal student loans also offer several other advantages over private student loans. Here are a few federal options to consider and the benefits of each:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans — The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on Direct Subsidized Loans while you’re enrolled in school at least half-time and during a six-month grace period after you leave school. Since your loans don’t accrue unpaid interest during this period, you wind up with less student loan debt when you graduate than you would if interest was being added to your loan balance the whole time.
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans — You’re responsible for paying interest on Direct Unsubsidized Loans while you’re in school. Unless you choose to pay interest during your school years and the grace period, the unpaid interest will be added to your loan balance. However, these loans usually come with lower interest rates than private student loans and have more flexible repayment options.
  • Direct PLUS Loans — Direct PLUS Loans are available to parents of college students and graduate or professional students. These loans require a credit check. But borrowers with poor credit may qualify for a loan as long as they don’t have any defaults, foreclosures, or bankruptcies within the past five years.

If federal student loans don’t cover all your education costs, private lenders will consider your credit score

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