If you have a low credit score, understanding how to get a student loan with bad credit may require some research. Most lenders use your financial history to determine your loan eligibility and rates. While federal loans don’t consider your credit history — federal loans may not be enough to cover your educational costs, which may make getting a private student loan necessary to bridge the gap. Fortunately, there are bad credit student loan lenders that have more relaxed requirements.

MoneyGeek’s ranking of the best student loans for bad credit is based on our analysis of more than 30 lenders using more than 35 data points. Discover the best private student loan for bad credit for your needs.

Ascent Review

  • Ascent

    Best for students with bad credit who have no cosigner or need a small loan amount.

    • 4.36%–14.08%Fixed APR Range
    • 1.47%–11.31%Variable APR Range
    • $2,001–$200,000Loan Amount Range
    • Non-U.S. citizens and temporary residentsCo-signer


Earnest Review

  • Earnest

    Best for those with a co-signer with good credit.

    • 4.43% - 14.90%Fixed APR Range
    • 5.32% - 16.20%Variable APR Range
    • $1,000 upLoan Amount Range
    • Allowed Co-signer


Funding U Review

  • Funding U

    Best for those with no co-signer.

    • 6.99% – 12.49%Fixed APR Range
    • 7.49% – 12.99%Variable APR Range
    • $3,001 up to $20,000Loan Amount Range
    • Not requiredCo-signer

    Funding U

Federal Student Loans for Those With Bad Credit

Federal student loans are the best options for any student — especially those with bad credit. This is because federal options often come with lower rates than private lenders.

Direct Subsidized Loans

A Direct Subsidized Loan is a type of federal student loan available to those with demonstrated financial need. Interested borrowers must be enrolled at least half time to get a degree or certificate at a participating school and must be an undergraduate student. There is no need to demonstrate financial need. Further, with a Direct Subsidized Loan, the interest is paid for by the U.S. Department of Education while a borrower in school, for the first six months after graduation and during a period of deferment.

Other details of Direct Subsidized Loans are as follows:

  • Loan Amount: Determined by the school the borrower is enrolled in. This may not exceed the borrower’s financial need.
  • Fixed APR: 4.99% for undergraduate borrowers
  • Repayment Terms: 10 to 25 years
  • Grace Period: Six months

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

Direct Unsubsidized Loans are a type of federal student loan similar to its subsidized counterpart, except that it is meant for those with no financial need. In this case, the borrower is fully responsible for their loan. Similar to a Subsidized Loan, however, the loan amount is determined by the school in which the borrower is enrolled.

  • Loan Amount: Determined by the school the borrower is enrolled in based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid.
  • Fixed APR: 4.99% for undergraduates; 6.54% for graduates
  • Repayment Terms: 10 to 25 years
  • Grace Period: Six months

Direct PLUS Loans

A Direct PLUS loan, also known as a Grad PLUS Loan, is a type of federal loan specifically for parents, graduate students and professional student borrowers. To qualify, borrowers must not have an adverse financial history, as a credit check will be conducted, and only students at schools participating in the Direct Loan program are eligible.

  • Loan Amount: Determined by the school the borrower is enrolled in based on the cost of attendance and other financial aid.
  • Fixed APR: 7.54%
  • Repayment Terms: 10 to 25 years
  • Grace Period: Six months for graduate or professional students; none for parents
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We reviewed more than 30 private student loan lenders using 35+ individual data points across six key categories: loan affordability, accessibility, consumer friendliness, customer service, flexibility and lender transparency.

Within each ranking criteria category, we considered several individual data points that carry the most weight when choosing a private student loan lender. These factors include APR ranges, available loan amount, minimum credit score, minimum income amount, application fees and disbursement time.

With the consumer in mind, we also factor in each lender’s customer support, business ratings and additional features that could make your experience easier and more accessible — like pre-qualification, payment options and mobile apps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Loans

While there may be additional requirements for getting a student loans with a low credit score, there are several options available. MoneyGeek answered a few commonly asked questions about student loans to help borrowers with less-than-ideal credit know where to start.

*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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