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Best Student Loans with Cosigner Release

A cosigner can help you get a private student loan with no credit history, but that friend or family member may not want to be responsible for repayment indefinitely. Some lenders offer cosigner release programs, which may even improve your cosigner’s credit score.

Student Loans with Cosigner Release
Lindsay Frankel
Personal Finance Expert

Without the weight of your student loan debt on your cosigner’s credit report, their debt utilization ratio will decrease, which can provide them more access to credit of their own. At the same time, you’ll be entirely responsible for repayment, which will give you increased independence and remove unnecessary stressors from the relationship with your cosigner. To provide these benefits, several lenders offer cosigner release programs that allow you to remove your cosigner from your student loan after a certain number of on-time payments. Our team of financial experts reviewed and ranked more than 30 online lenders to help you find the right private student loan with cosigner release.

Our Top Picks for Best Student Loans with Cosigner Release

 sofi_logo_sl
  • No maximum loan limit
  • Prequalify without a credit check
  • Unemployment protection
  • Flexible repayment terms
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score 650
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $5K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years
 salliemae_logo_sl
  • Loans for a wide variety of educational programs
  • Fund supplemental educational costs, such as books, housing, meals
  • Fewer fees than some of its competitors
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 10-15 years
college_ave_logo_sl
  • Auto-pay discount available
  • Flexible repayment terms (up to 15 years)
  • Prequalify without a credit check
Min. Credit Score
Min. Credit Score Not disclosed
Loan Amounts
Loan Amount $1K up to the cost of attendance
Fixed APR
Loan Repayment 5-15 years

How to Choose the Best Student Loans for Cosigner Release

When evaluating student loan lenders, we considered the following factors. It may be helpful for you to keep these points of comparison in mind on your search for the best student loans with a cosigner release option.

  • Loan Features: Make sure that the lender offers the amount you need for your school and program of choice, and ensure there is a repayment term available that is feasible for you.
  • Interest Rates and Fees: Consider the range of APRs available and any additional fees the lender charges. You should always avoid lenders that charge prepayment penalties.
  • Application Process: Look for lenders that allow you to check your rate with a soft credit pull and offer a convenient online process.
  • Qualification Process: Narrow down your options by eliminating lenders you can’t qualify for based on your credit score, income, or your cosigner’s financial information.
  • Customer Support: Make sure the customer support team is available to assist at a time that is convenient for you. Prioritize lenders with a live chat and other online tools.
  • Online User Reviews: Ready what customers are saying about the lender on third-party websites like Trustpilot, ConsumerAffairs, and Credit Karma, paying attention to any red flags.
  • Perks and Bonuses: Some lenders offer extras like a longer grace period, forbearance programs, and payment flexibility. Some lenders may also offer free education or guidance. Look for perks that set each lender apart from the pack.

Best Student Loans with Cosigner Release for 2022 — Full Overview

1. SoFi — Best for No Fees

SoFi offers cosigner release after 24 months of full principal and interest payments if the student was the age of majority at the time the loan was issued. SoFi doesn’t charge fees of any kind, not even late fees, and SoFi members get perks like career advice and financial planning. And with low rates and several different repayment options, SoFi is a good option for most creditworthy borrowers.
Pros
Free career guidance and financial planning included
No fees of any kind
No prepayment penalties
Unemployment protection
Rates start as low as 3.22% fixed
Eligible for cosigner release after 24 months of full payments
Fast rate check that doesn’t hurt your credit
Multiple repayment options and terms
Cons
Totally deferred plan comes with higher rates
Fair credit borrowers may not qualify

Features

You can borrow anywhere from $1,000 to the full cost of attendance from SoFi, with fixed APRs ranging from 3.22% to 12.30% with autopay and variable APRs ranging from 2.01% to 13.29% with autopay for undergraduate students. Checking your rate takes three minutes. There are no fees, even late fees, and you can repay the loan in 5, 7, 10, or 15 years. You can also choose to defer payments while you’re in school, make interest-only payments, make partial payments, or begin payment immediately. While SoFi doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score or income requirements, several third-party sources report that you’ll need a score in the mid 600’s to be accepted.

The Bottom Line

If you were 18 (or 19 in some states) and applying for a student loan with a cosigner, you’ll be able to apply to release your cosigner after 24 months of full payment. While that’s not the quickest release on our list, SoFi loans come with several other benefits and have low rates and no fees.

Try SoFi

2. Sallie Mae — Best for Quick Cosigner Release

With a loan from Sallie Mae, you can apply to release your cosigner once you’ve graduated and made 12 on-time principal and interest payments. That makes Sallie Mae the fastest cosigner release option of the lenders we reviewed. What’s more, Sallie Mae offers loans with low rates and few fees. You can even get a loan if you’re in school part time. And Sallie Mae offers a graduated repayment plan to make the transition from school to your career a little easier.
Pros
Low fixed or variable rates
No origination or application fees
No prepayment penalties
Cosigner release available after one year of full payment
Available to part-time students
Offers a graduated repayment plan
Includes four free months of study tools from Chegg
Cons
Only two repayment terms, and you can’t choose
Charges a late fee
Requires good credit or a creditworthy cosigner

Features

Sallie Mae offers loans between $1,000 and the full cost of attendance. Undergraduate students can enjoy APRs ranging from 3.75% to 12.85% fixed or 1.87% to 11.97% variable. Depending on your creditworthiness, you’ll have either 10 years or 15 years to repay the loan, and you can choose to start paying interest-only or partial payments during school or defer for six months. There’s even a graduated repayment plan that lets you make interest-only payments for a year after your grace period ends. While Sallie Mae doesn’t disclose minimum credit score or income requirements, you or your cosigner will likely need at least a credit score in the mid-600s.

The Bottom Line

Sallie Mae is another great option for creditworthy borrowers, as the company’s student loans come with few fees and low rates. While the lender doesn’t offer as many choices of repayment terms as SoFi, Sallie Mae is one of the few lenders to offer cosigner release after just 12 months.

Try Sallie Mae

3. PenFed — Best for Refinancing

With PenFed, you can refinance with a cosigner and release them after 12 months of consecutive on-time payments, as long as you meet the minimum credit and income requirements. That’s the fastest of the refinancing lenders we reviewed, and PenFed offers low rates and few fees for refinancing as well.
Pros
Low fixed rates capped at 7.68%
Easy online application
Cosigner release after 12 months
No origination or application fees
No prepayment penalties
Flexible repayment terms
Excellent customer service reviews
Parent PLUS refinancing available
Cons
Requires membership
Requires good credit
Charges a late payment fee

Features

You can refinance between $7,500 and $500,000 in student loans with PenFed, and fixed rates range from 5.49% to 7.68% APR. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties to worry about, but the credit union does charge a late payment fee. You can choose a 5, 8, 12, or 15-year repayment term. To qualify, you must have graduated with at least an Associate’s Degree and be employed. The minimum income is $42,000 ($50,000 for loans greater than $150,000) or $25,000 if you apply with a cosigner. The minimum credit score is 700 or 670 if you apply with a cosigner. You’ll need to apply for membership, which is open to anyone, at the time you submit your refinancing application.

The Bottom Line

If you have good credit and high-interest student loan debt, PenFed is one of the best student loan refinance options with cosigner release. PenFed has a great reputation for customer service and offers the quickest cosigner release of the student loan refinancing lenders we reviewed.

Try PenFed

4. College Ave — Best for Flexible Repayment

College Ave only offers cosigner release after half the loan term has elapsed, and you must prove income totaling twice the loan balance. However, College Ave offers low rates and plenty of repayment options. It’s worth comparing your rate with College Ave and other lenders, such as SoFi.
Pros
Low fixed and variable rates
Choice of four repayment terms
No origination or prepayment fees
Streamlined application
Cons
Cosigner release only available halfway through repayment
Fair credit borrowers may not qualify
Mixed customer service reviews
Charges a late payment fee

Features

You can borrow between $1,000 and the full cost of attendance from College Ave with your choice of a 5, 8, 10, or 15 year term. There are four repayment options to choose from, including deferring repayment for six months. Fixed rates range from 3.49% to 12.99% APR, while variable rates range from 1.19% to 11.98% APR. College Ave doesn’t charge any application, origination, or prepayment fees, but there is a late payment fee. The lender doesn’t disclose minimum credit and income requirements, but you’ll likely need good credit to qualify.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking to release your cosigner as quickly as possible, College Ave won’t be the best option. But the lender is worth comparing due to its low rates and flexible repayment terms.

Try College Ave

5. Ascent — Best for Fair Credit

Ascent has a reputation for being friendly to fair credit borrowers and offers cosigner release after 24 months of consecutive, on-time payments. Plus, Ascent offers five different repayment terms and a 1% back graduation reward. If you want to remove a cosigner from your student loan with fair credit, Ascent is our top pick.
Pros
Open to fair credit borrowers
0.25% autopay discount plus 1% graduation reward
Flexible repayment terms
No origination or prepayment fees
Up to a nine-month grace period
Offers bootcamp and career loans
Offers a progressive repayment option
Cons
Charges a late payment fee
Aggregate loan limit
International students not eligible for cosigner release

Features

You can borrow between $2,001 and the cost of attendance from Ascent, with an aggregate loan limit of $200,000. Ascent’s repayment terms are among the most flexible of student loan lenders. You can choose a 5, 7, 10, 12, or 15-year repayment term with three repayment options, including deferment for up to nine months after graduation. APRs range from 4.81% to 12.79% fixed and 1.78% to 9.37% variable. There are no fees besides a late payment fee. Cosigners must earn a minimum of $24,000 annually. Ascent doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score for students or cosigners, but is reportedly more lenient with fair credit student borrowers than other lenders.

The Bottom Line

If you want to be able to release your cosigner while you’re still building credit, Ascent is a great option. The lender has looser requirements for students than many of the other lenders we reviewed. What’s more, you’ll have your choice of five repayment terms.

Try Ascent

6. LendKey — Best for Loan Comparison

LendKey has options that allow you to remove a cosigner from a student loan, and you can use the platform to compare multiple lenders side-by-side. Borrowers have great things to say about LendKey’s service on third-party review websites. However, not all lenders on the LendKey marketplace offer cosigner release, and the qualification requirements will vary by lender.
Pros
Compare multiple lenders with one easy application
Loans provided by banks and credit unions
Cosigner release available with some lenders
No application fees
Excellent customer service reviews
Cons
May receive marketing materials from lenders
May need to research cosigner release availability

Features

You can borrow up to the full cost of attendance from LendKey at variable rates starting at 2.14% APR or fixed rates starting at 3.99% APR. Depending on the lender, you may have your choice of several repayment terms. You’ll need to be enrolled at least half time to be eligible. Though LendKey loans are credit-based, the company doesn’t disclose a minimum credit score or income requirements.

The Bottom Line

LendKey is an easy way to compare rates among lenders, but you may need to check with each lender that you’re matched with to see if they offer cosigner release. Before you accept a loan offer on the LendKey platform, make sure you understand the terms.

Try LendKey

Best Student Loans with a Cosigner Release — Feature Comparison


Company

Est. APR (Fixed)

Min. Credit Needed

Loan Amount

Loan Term

SoFi

3.22% to 12.30%

Good

$1,000 to full cost

5, 7, 10, or 15 years

Sallie Mae

3.75% to 12.85%

Good

$1,000 to full cost

10 or 15 years

PenFed

5.49% to 7.68%

Good

$7,500 to $500,000

5, 8, 12, or 15 years

College Ave

3.49% to 12.99%

Good

$1,000 to full cost

5, 8, 10, or 15 years

Ascent

4.81% to 12.79%

Fair

$2,001 to full cost (aggregate loan limit: $200,000)

5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years

LendKey

3.99% and up

Fair

Up to full cost

Varies by lender

What You Need for a Student Loan Cosigner Release

Eligibility requirements vary by lender, but you’ll typically have to meet the same credit and income requirements that your cosigner was held to. Lenders also require that you make a certain number of consecutive, on-time payments before you can release your cosigner, which typically ranges from 12 to 24 months. To keep your rate, you’ll need the same credit score as your cosigner or better. Also keep in mind that not all lenders offer cosigner release.

How to Apply for a Student Loan with Cosigner Release

  1. Compare lenders that offer cosigner release: Prequalify with a handful of lenders that offer cosigner release and choose the student loan with the lowest rate that still meets your needs.
  2. Formally apply: Upload any requested documents and submit your formal application to the lender of your choice, which will result in a hard credit check for you and/or your cosigner.
  3. Sign and accept the loan offer: Read the fine print, understand the terms, and sign your loan documents.
  4. Wait for disbursement: The lender will issue the funds for tuition and fees to your school, which typically takes a few weeks or longer. Extra money intended for books and supplies may be distributed to your bank account.
  5. Begin payments as planned: Depending on your loan choice, you might begin payment while you’re in school or wait until after you graduate. Make sure to make your payments on-time to be eligible for cosigner release.
  6. Work on building your credit: Start using a credit card responsibly to improve your credit score, and monitor your progress.
  7. Apply for cosigner release: Once you meet the credit and income requirements, you can request that the lender release your cosigner. This will result in another hard credit check and may require that you submit proof of income.
  8. Continue repayment: Since you will become fully responsible for your student loan, it’s very important that you keep up with on-time payments to maintain your credit health.

Should You Choose a Lender with Cosigner Release?

You should only choose a lender with cosigner release if the rates, terms, and other features meet your needs. Cosigner release can be difficult to achieve — 9 out of 10 borrowers have their cosigner release applications denied, according to research from the CFPB. You’ll need to establish good credit and prove sufficient income of your own if you want to maintain the same monthly payment available to you with a cosigner. Still, there are relationship and financial benefits to removing your cosigner from your student loan, so it’s nice to have the option. Just make sure you don’t choose your student loan solely on the basis of the lender’s cosigner release program.

What to Do if You Can’t Get Approved for Cosigner Release

If you don’t qualify for cosigner release, or if your lender doesn’t offer the process, another option for releasing your cosigner is refinancing with a different lender. You’ll still need a score in the mid-600s or above to qualify for a good rate, but the criteria for traditional cosigner release can be even more stringent. Student loan refinancing replaces your current student loan with a new one, so you can choose a new term and possibly even achieve a lower APR. If you’re not quite ready to refinance on your own, you can also choose a refinancing lender that offers cosigner release, such as PenFed or Laurel Road. Just be aware that if you refinance your federal student loans as well, you’ll no longer be eligible for the same federal programs.

Conclusion

One way to narrow down your options for student loans is to choose lenders that offer cosigner release. Removing your cosigner from your student loan is a big step in your financial independence, and it will also free up access to credit for your cosigner. But it shouldn’t be the most important factor to you when choosing a student loan. Instead, focus on making a list of lenders you can qualify for that offer low rates, few fees, great customer service, and flexible repayment terms. That way, you can find a lender that meets your needs but also gives you the option of releasing your cosigner.

FAQs

Does a Cosigner Release Hurt Your Credit Score?

Not permanently. Having a cosigner helps you access and build credit, but removing your cosigner won’t hurt your credit score as long as you continue to make on-time payments on your student loan. However, applying for cosigner release may require a hard credit check, which could cause a slight dip in your score.

Do Late Payments Affect the Cosigner?

Yes. A cosigned loan appears on your cosigner’s credit report. If you make a late payment, that’ll leave a negative mark on your credit report as well as your cosigner’s credit report, which will result in a decrease in their score.

How Long Is a Cosigner Responsible for a Loan?

A cosigner is typically responsible for a cosigned loan until the loan is fully paid, but some online lenders have cosigner release programs. You’ll need to request or apply for the release, however, and most applicants are denied.

Can You Remove Yourself from a Cosigned Loan?

To remove yourself from a cosigned loan, your lender will need to offer cosigner release, and the borrower will need to apply for cosigner release and meet certain credit and income requirements. Another way you can remove yourself from a cosigned loan is by asking the borrower to refinance independently.

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Lindsay Frankel

Lindsay Frankel

Personal Finance Expert

Personal finance expert with 3 years experience specializing in researching, writing, and editing insurance, loans, and credit cards content.

More about me