What to Expect as a Student Loan Cosigner

Private student loans are similar to mortgages or auto loans in the sense that the lending institution must be sure you have steady income and a reasonably good credit record before they'll lend you money. Since most undergraduate students don’t have established credit scores or steady incomes, many won’t qualify for a loan on their own. If they do, they likely won’t qualify for the best rates.


Students will likely need to apply for student loans with a cosigner to be approved and receive the lowest possible rates. Though parents are the most common cosigners, a cosigner can be any trusted adult who is willing and financially qualified. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins are just a few examples.

Student loan cosigner considerations

Before you decide whether or not to become a cosigner, you might want to take the following aspects of cosigning a student loan into account:

  • Cosigning a loan could lead to lower interest rates: Your established credit history will likely result in the student receiving lower interest rates on the loan. Lower interest rates mean less money must be repaid over the life of the loan.

  • Cosigners may be released from the loan early: When you cosign a private student loan, your status as a cosigner need not be for the life of the loan. With the Citizens Bank Student Loan™, borrowers that are no longer enrolled in school can apply to release the cosigner from their legal responsibilities after making 36 consecutive, on-time payments of principal and interest. (Subject to certain terms and conditions.)

  • Cosigning can help a student establish credit: Cosigning a student loan can help a student with a limited credit history get approved for a loan. With a loan in his or her own name, the student can begin establishing credit by investing in an education. This is an often-overlooked but important benefit of cosigning.

  • Cosigning a loan will impact the cosigner's credit: While you are not the primary borrower, as a student loan cosigner, you do assume equal responsibility for repayment of the loan. This means that late payments will affect both the student's and cosigner's credit ratings. However, many lenders have policies in place to help borrowers manage payments. When applying, ask your lender how they can help in the case of financial hardship. Additionally, it might be a good idea to check in occasionally with the primary borrower to ensure he or she is comfortable making payments on time. That way, you can help address any potential concerns before payments are missed.

Alternatives to taking out a student loan with you as a cosigner

Rather than cosigning a student loan, some parents, guardians or other trusted adults choose to take out a parent loan on a student’s behalf. With parent loans, the responsibility for repayment does not fall on the student, only the borrower. The Citizens Bank Student Loan™ for Parents is a private parent student loan that offers competitive rates along with flexible terms and repayment options. For more information about cosigning a student loan vs. taking out a parent student loan call 1-888-411-0266 and speak to one of our Student Lending Specialists.

Helpful Tools & Information
Student Loan Glossary An easy-to-use guide for the terms you’ll encounter in the student loan process.
FAQs Answers to frequently asked questions about the Education Refinance Loan.
Student Loan Calculator Use our loan calculator to estimate payments and total costs of borrowing.