Generally, loans include a credit check to ensure the student or cosigner has a reasonable history of paying off debt. Having bad credit makes you less trustworthy as a borrower and can complicate the process considerably. However, students with damaged credit scores have a couple of options in terms of types of loans that discount credit entirely. Federal student loans operate on financial need and do not utilize a credit-check. They are also a good option for students that don't have the option of co-signers. Likewise, there are some private lenders who cater to students with bad credit. Students should be especially conscientious when reading contracts for said lenders, as they usually have clauses to include unexplained raises in interest rates.
Students should consider federal loans first before turning to private lenders. Such need-based loans that don't require a credit check include Perkins Loans, Stafford Loans, and Pell Grants, which typically have low interest rates and are government-subsidized throughout the duration of the student's college education. To be eligible, students must fill out and turn in a FAFSA form for consideration. Qualified candidates demonstrate a financial need and are unable to pay their own way through college. Alternatively, private lenders extend loans to students with sullied credit if they can apply with a cosigner of demonstrative credit. The cosigner does not have to be related to the student, but must have exemplary credit history to offset the student's bad credit. The interest rate on such loans is usually much higher because the private lender will perceive bad credit as a financial risk.
Repaying a Bad Credit Loan
Some federal loans must be repaid in monthly installments starting at disbursement, while others have a specified grace period before payments begin to accrue. Once the student is able to begin repaying their loan, they should pay as much as they feasibly can per month as to quickly pay it off before accumulating too much interest. Income-based repayment plans may help financially burdened students lower their monthly payment. Likewise, students with multiple loans may consolidate them into a single, monthly bill.
Students who take the route of a private lender for poor credit are at the mercy of their lender when it comes to repayment plans. A cosigner is advantageous to the student when dealing with private lenders because they help build the student's credit. The cosigner is released from responsibility after a certain amount of payments have been made. At such a time, the loan is assumed by the student entirely. This act reflects favorably on the student's personal credit and will continue to raise it as they make necessary payments.
Types of Bad Credit Loans
- Stafford Loans: A loan granted to students who demonstrate financial need to the tune of up to $20,500 per year. Interest rates are as low as 3.4%.
- Perkins Loans: undergraduate, graduate, and professional students with considerable financial need may apply for this loan at a 5% interest rate. The awarded amount depends on how much money your college may supply, but undergraduate students may borrow up to $27,500 while graduate students are eligible for up to $60,000 including undergraduate funding.
- Pell Grants: Pell Grants are not loans, per se, as they don't need to be repaid. The maximum amount that can be awarded changes each year. For the 2011-2012 award years, the maximum amount was $5,550. They are distributed to those in financial need who have not yet earned their degree.
- Private Loans: A student with poor negative credit history may enlist in a private lender loan if they can get a credit-worthy cosigner to shoulder the burden. Private lenders charge variable interest rates, often exceeding 18%. In many cases, these loans have no borrowing caps.