Edmit logo

How Can I Pay for College with Bad Credit?

Featured Stories

Filter By Categories

If you are a parent of a soon-to-be college aged student, and you have bad credit, you might be worried that it will affect your ability to pay for your child’s college education.

With a low credit score, the rate at which you receive a loan, how much money you can borrow, or even receiving a loan at all may be limited.

But even with bad credit there are a few ways you can set your child up for success and pay for college.

Yes, You Can Still Take Out a Loan

While your options may be limited, yes you can take out a loan when you have bad credit.

You can consider taking out federal or private student loans, and you can take out two if you and your child file as separate borrowers. As a parent, your credit score will only be taken into account on the loan under your name.

There are organizations that are willing to work with borrowers with bad credit, but be sure to read the fine print before signing on the dotted line.

Private loans do check your credit before granting a loan, but some will allow a co-signer on the loan, who would be held responsible if you defaulted on the loan. A grandparent or other trusted relative or friend could be a good option as a co-signer, if they’re willing.

Another good option is federal loans. When applying for a federal loan, your credit score is not actually taken into account. You will have to fill out your FAFSA, though, which takes into account your income and assets.

Look Into Tuition Discounts and Scholarships

Depending on the school your child plans to attend, your child  may qualify for tuition discounts, grants, or work-study programs. There are also scholarships from either the school or that they can apply to receive from local organizations.

Start by checking with the school your child plans to attend. The school will often offer need-based financial aid, and they’ll use your FAFSA form to determine this. Then, look into scholarships based on merit that your child may be eligible for.

Merit based scholarships are purely based on your child’s achievement, not income. Schools will often require you to submit a one-page application to be considered.

Private merit-based scholarships may require more, such as essays and a questionnaire. While it does take more work, if your child is a high-achiever, these extra scholarships can be key to helping your family afford college.

Also ask your local high school if there are any scholarships your student may qualify for.

Don’t Borrow More than You Can Pay Back

While you may want to help your child attend his or her dream school, spending more than you can afford on college will likely only hurt your credit score further.

By borrowing more than you can afford to pay back, you may default or go further into debt, therefore decreasing your credit score.

It’s important to have a conversation at the beginning of the college application process about what colleges you and your family can actually afford and the plan to pay for them.

Paying for College Yourself with Bad Credit

If you’re the student and the one shouldering the cost of paying for college, you too can still pay for your education.

Look mostly into federal loans, where your credit is not taken into account, and take the time to apply to merit-based scholarships that can help supplement the cost.

Sign up for updates

Popular Tags

Financial Aid and Scholarships* paying for college financial aid Cost of College* grants and scholarships FAFSA Student Loans* Saving for College* federal student loans college tuition cost of attendance 529 plan college financial planning financial aid award expected family contribution private student loans taxes room and board college savings plan on-campus housing college applications application fees merit-based financial aid private universities public universities student loan assistance college expenses federal financial aid merit scholarships Salary and Career* budgeting for college edmit hidden gems tuition discount financial need parent PLUS loan southern colleges CSS profile college costs edmit team education expenses living expenses western colleges financial aid appeal income midwestern colleges off-campus housing affordable college college majors loan forgiveness northeast colleges application fee waivers degree programs edmit scholarship institutional aid loan repayment new england colleges choosing a major net price prepaid tuition plans work-study SAT career choosing a college in-state tuition international students need-based financial aid need-blind colleges private scholarships qualified higher education expenses repayment plans tuition guarantee 401k ACT UGMA UTMA budget college ranking systems discretionary income education savings accounts fees free tuition full ride scholarship grants great lakes region colleges health insurance options investment ivy league schools meal plans mid-east region colleges need-aware colleges plains region colleges rocky mountain schools southeastern colleges southwestern colleges student loan debt tuition payment plans 568 presidents group Inversant MEFA applying to college asset protection allowance best price campus life college advisor college deposit college search college spending concurrent enrollment cost by region cost by state crowdfunding educational expenses esports fee waivers financial literacy fraternities and sororities full tuition gap year home equity loan income share agreements internships liberal arts degree line of credit medical expenses military benefits out-of-state students out-of-state tuition percent need met private college consultant retirement savings saving school-based scholarships small business standardized testing state aid state schools student bank accounts student organizations title IV schools travel expenses tuition decreases tuition increases tuition reciprocity undocumented students