How to Get A Student Loan Without Your ParentsSeptember 16, 2022
Millions of students need to borrow money to pay for college. But getting student loans becomes a little more complicated if your parents are unwilling or unable to help. That’s because those applying for federal loans will generally need to provide their parents’ information on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). And those applying for private loans may require a co-signer if they have limited credit.
While getting loans might be more complicated without your parents’ help, it’s still possible. If you’re wondering how to take out student loans without your parents, here’s what you need to know.
Why parental input matters
Most students are considered dependents of their parents, meaning they rely on them for financial support—whether it be housing, bills, or other expenses. That’s why there’s a section about family finances on the FAFSA.
When you’re a dependent student that includes your parents’ information on the FAFSA, you’ll receive an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which colleges often use to determine your eligibility for financial aid. Dependent students who don’t include their parents’ information on the FAFSA won’t get an EFC, meaning they won’t be eligible for certain types of financial aid.
And those applying for private loans may also need parental help. New high school graduates may not have an established credit history, so they might need a co-signer to get a private loan with an affordable interest rate. Otherwise, they could end up with an expensive, high-interest loan.
How to get student loans without your parents: 4 options
1. Apply as an independent student
In some instances, you may be able to apply for federal financial aid as an independent student. Independent students can get an EFC without providing their parents’ information. You might be considered independent if:
- You’re over 24
- You’re married or separated (not divorced)
- You’re working toward an advanced degree
- You have children who get over half their financial support from you
- You have other dependents who receive over half their financial support from you
- You’re active-duty or a veteran of the U.S. armed forces
- Your parents died, or you were in foster care or a ward of the court after age 13
- You’re an emancipated minor or have a legal guardian appointed by the court
- You’re homeless or self-supporting and in dire financial circumstances
Special circumstances could also lead to you being considered an independent student. For instance, if your parents are incarcerated, you’ve left an abusive home, or you have no contact with your parents, you may qualify as independent. Contact your student aid office if any of these situations apply.
2. Apply for an unsubsidized direct loan
If you’re considered a dependent student, but your parents won’t provide their information for the FAFSA, you may still be able to get an unsubsidized direct federal loan. However, your school’s financial aid office will decide if you’re eligible or not.
To apply, you’ll select the “I am unable to provide information about my parent(s)” option when you’re completing your FAFSA online. Once you’ve submitted your FAFSA, contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss unsubsidized federal loans. They might request additional documentation, such as a note from your parents indicating they refuse to offer assistance when considering your application.
If possible, try to get your parents to provide their information for your FAFSA. Remind them that doing so won’t mean they’re required to provide financial support; it will simply help ensure you qualify for as much aid as possible.
3. Consider private loans
Private student loans may also be an option if you have good credit. Private loans are issued by online lenders, banks, and credit unions, and they often consider your future income in lending decisions. So you could get a loan even if you’re not working at all or only working part-time. Just keep in mind that it’ll likely come with a higher interest rate than federal loans or co-signed private loans.
4. Find a trusted co-signer
It’s also possible to get private loans with a co-signer who isn’t your parent. If you have a trusted friend or family member with good credit, consider asking them if they’ll co-sign your loans. Applying for a private loan with a co-signer could help you get a better interest rate than you’d get on your own.
However, your co-signer will be responsible for your student loan debt if you cannot repay it. So you’ll want to be sure you can afford payments if you go this route, or it could damage your relationship.
If you’re wondering, “Can a college student get a loan without their parents,” the answer is that it’s possible. Depending on your situation, your loan options might be more limited. But in the case of independent students, you could get more federal aid than a dependent student. Start by submitting the FAFSA and then discuss your options for financial aid with your school.