Let’s be honest: college is really expensive. To pay for it all, you sometimes need more financial aid than you are offered.
That leads to a bit of good news and bad news. The good news is that there are plenty of private student loans you can apply for beyond standard federal aid. The bad news is that factors like your age, credit and income may impact how much you get or even whether you qualify or not.
The obvious solution to this is to ask someone to cosign the loan. But this is a big responsibility: it puts someone else on the hook with you for many thousands of dollars.
Who, then, should you ask to cosign your loan?
Before you borrow any student loans, exhaust all other resources first. Apply for scholarships and grants, consider working for an employer that offers tuition assistance, consider attending a work college, and choose an affordable school and program.
Cautions for Cosigners
There are many questions cosigners should ask before signing. Cosigning a loan makes you a co-borrower, meaning you are legally responsible for repaying the loan, even if a borrower decides not to pay. Your credit is impacted and the loan is reported as debt on your credit.
Asking your parents to cosign your student loan is the obvious choice for most students. And if your parents are already helping you pay for school, they may be likelier to agree.
If you plan to ask your parents, though, make sure to explore the Parent PLUS loan before you seek out a private loan together. That loan may offer better interest and deferment options than you can get from a private lender.
If your parents are unable or unwilling to help, you should consider asking your grandparents to cosign your loan. In many cases, grandparents are more financially stable than their children and are in a better position to help.
However, it is vital that your grandparents understand how much they are responsible for and whether they can pay it back or not. Otherwise, they could join the list of seniors who collectively owe billions of dollars in student debt!
While this isn’t an option for many students (only 7% of undergraduate students are married), a married student should consider asking their spouse to cosign a loan.
Among married couples, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to work while another returns to school. The working spouse may be in a better financial position and able to help you get approved for the money you need.
There are pros and cons of cosigning for a spouse, including you are equally responsible, even if the marriage sadly does not work out.
The final option is to ask a family friend to cosign your loan. Ideally, this is someone that you have known for most of your life and someone whom you have a solid relationship.
As with the others, you and the family friend should have a long talk before they co-sign any loans. Money can often come between people and change a relationship, and you don’t want this loan to put a big wedge between you and a longtime friend of the family.