Can I get a personal loan if I have student loans?


When you have student loans, getting a personal loan can be tricky. Lenders may see you as a risk. But there are ways to improve your chances of qualifying. (iStock)

If you’re a student loan borrower, it likely that you have significant student debt — even with the forbearance options currently available.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, the average student loan at private for-profit colleges and universities was $7,614. The average student loan was $8,100 at private non-profit schools and $6,483 at public schools, according to Statista. Total student loan debt in the U.S. for the 2018-2019 school year totaled a whopping $106.2 billion. When you consider that it takes about 52 months to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, it’s easy to see how debt can really add up.

With all that student debt, you may not want to take on more — but you may have to, especially in these tough economic times. In this case, a personal loan may be your best bet. Here’s what you need to know about getting a personal loan if you’re still paying off student loans.

Can I get a personal loan if I have student loans?

Short answer: Yes, you can still get a personal loan when you have student loans. However, with student loan debt, it may be more difficult to qualify.

When you take out a personal loan for any reason — like debt consolidation or student loan refinancing — creditors usually look at your credit score and credit history. If you’ve finished your degree and prospects for a career look good, creditors may view you as less of a risk.

If you fit under this category, then you can enter your desired loan amount and estimated credit score into this interactive tool and find out which loan interest rate you qualify for.

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You can use an online student loan refinancing calculator to get a sense of what your new monthly payments could be if you were to refinance your student loans.

How to get a personal loan when you have student debt

When applying for the best personal loan, there’s nothing more disappointing than getting turned down. To make sure that doesn’t happen, it’s helpful to know what lenders consider when approving you for a loan. You can visit an online marketplace like Credible to view a rates table that compares rates from multiple lenders and see if you prequalify for a personal loan.

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Unlike a secured loan that requires collateral, most personal loans are unsecured, which means they are financed by your promise to repay the lender. That means a loan lender has to take on risk. For that reason, they look into your personal finances, including your:

  1. Credit score
  2. Credit history
  3. Creditworthiness
  4. Income
  5. Debt-to-income ratio (DTI)

1. Credit score: Your credit score is the first thing creditors look at when approving (or not approving) you for a loan. Credit scores range between 300-850. A credit score of 700 or above is considered good. Anything less than 580 is considered fair, and scores in the range of 300 to 579 are poor.

If you’re confident in your credit score and believe you’re a good candidate for personal loan approval, then get a jumpstart on the application process by comparing personal loan interest rates and lenders via Credible’s free online tools. Find your rate today.

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2. Credit history: Your track record of making payments on-time in the past is a key factor in approving you for a personal loan.

3. Creditworthiness: Basically, your creditworthiness shows the likelihood that you’ll default on a debt. It is based on how you’ve handled credit and debt commitments in the past.

4. Income: A loan lender wants to see that you can easily afford the payments on your personal loan. But if you have little or no history of steady income because you were attending college, lenders may consider your career prospects instead. Creditors prefer borrowers with a degree and professional experience (like a paid internship).

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5. Debt-to-income ratio (DTI): DTI ratio looks at your monthly debt payments compared to your monthly gross income, before taxes and other deductions are taken out. It is shown as a percentage. Almost every loan lender prefers a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 36% to approve you for a loan.

Not sure how much you’ll qualify for? Visit Credible to use their personal loan calculator and find the best personal loan rates for you.

How to get approved for a personal loan

If you have student loans, but you fall short in several key areas lenders look at, there are things you can do to better your chances to qualify.

  1. Build your credit: You can do this by paying down your debt, which will improve your DTI ratio. If your DTI is poor, you will want to lower your debt payments, don’t take on more, and improve your income. 
  2. Make payments on time: If you missed a few payments or defaulted on your student loans, you’ll likely have a blemish on your credit score. Doing your best to make all your payments on-time going forward will help repair the damage. But it may take time. It can be easier to get credit than to repair it. 

When it comes to qualifying for a personal loan, student loans can be a drawback. But they don’t have to be. Lenders look at how you’ve handled your student loan payments and also your prospects for a stable income from a new career. When you’re ready to apply for a personal loan, visit Credible to compare rates and lenders all in one place.

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