Graduate Students: Loans & Credit Score

Understand how your credit score affects your ability to obtain a graduate student loan

For many prospective grad students, credit scores aren't top of mind when you’re applying and planning to finance your graduate studies. If you're an aspiring graduate student intent on attending school with the help of a student loan, you should know that your personal credit history will come into play in ways it probably didn't as an undergraduate.

Most traditional-aged undergraduate students haven't yet had the chance to establish a track record in the area of credit, since they probably secured student loans through their parents or guardians or with the help of a co-signer. By the time you're ready to apply to graduate school, you probably do have a credit history. You're likely recognized as an adult, and thus financially independent. Before they extend you a graduate student loan for your studies, lenders will expect you to have a reasonably strong credit history, or to produce a co-signer who does.

Private student loans, often used as graduate student loans, come with a credit check. Your credit score is based on a number of factors, including:

  • Payment history
  • Length of credit history
  • Types of credit used
  • Total amount owed

From that mix of factors, credit-rating institutions have established a numeric range (or credit score) that helps lenders assess an individual's creditworthiness. In order to obtain a private loan, the lender will check your credit score (minimum scores required for loan approval vary by lender). Alternately, Graduate PLUS Loans do not require a credit check or proof of employment—the borrower must have a good credit standing only (no delinquencies, bankruptcy, etc.).

How you can raise your credit score to qualify for a private student loan?

The good news: you can raise your credit score all by yourself, by taking certain actions:

  • Pay your bills on time. If you're delinquent, get current.
  • If you're having trouble paying on time, contact your creditors or seek assistance from a qualified credit counselor.
  • Don't cancel your credit cards and other revolving charges. Just use them responsibly, by paying on time. And keep balances low.

Learn more about affordable Citizens Bank graduate student loans

You can find helpful information about Citizens Bank's Citizens Bank Student Loan™, our private student loan. If you still have questions, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.

Additional student loan and college planning resources

Guide to Paying for Graduate School
Types of Student Loans for Graduate Students
When to File as an Independent Student
Continuing Education Student Loans
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