How to get a college loan with bad credit

Good news! Having bad credit does not automatically disqualify you from getting student loans for college!

For all students, whether they have good credit, bad credit, or no credit – the first step in applying for student loans (and other financial aid) is filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

The FAFSA® application will determine eligibility for grants, student loans, and even some school scholarships. There are no credit checks. The application analyzes your family’s financial situation, and that information is shared with your school. Your college will use your financial information, cost of attendance and merit achievements to create a financial aid award package.

What if you need a private loan and have bad credit?

Unfortunately, when applying for a private loan, they run a credit check. If you have bad credit or no credit, you could be denied or offered the loan with an extremely high-interest rate.

If private loans are the only way to fill your aid gap and you have bad credit, here are some things you should know:

  • If you have bad credit, the loan provider may require a cosigner.
  • Having bad credit could result in a very high-interest rate, making it difficult to make payments.

Before deciding to accept a private loan, it’s important to exhaust all federal aid. Federal student aid was created with students in mind – meaning lower interest rates and better repayment terms.

However, many students know that going to college often means taking out private and federal student loans. Especially if they plan to pursue additional higher education. Your best bet is to start working on your credit now so that if you have to take out a student loan, you can do so without any problems. 

Have questions? Need help filing your FAFSA®?

We’re always happy to help! Reach out to the FRANK support team with all your financial aid questions. You can email us at or text us at (347) 690-7886.