Financing College With Bad Credit (4 Loan & Grant Options)

Financing College Bad Credit
Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Updated: June 23, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

Whether you’re an adult looking to go back to school or a parent funding your children’s education, it’s important to know that you have options, even if your credit is bad. And while it may present a slightly more challenging path when financing college — bad credit does not spell the end for hopes of earning that degree.

You can finance large expenses like tuition and housing with student or personal loans, as well as with money from scholarships and grants. Smaller expenses, like books and uniforms, can be handled by a credit card designed for consumers with poor credit. Let’s take a closer look at the resources at your disposal.

1. Student Loans Lessen the Financial Burden of Education

FAFSA LogoThere are two main types of federal student loans, and both can be accessed by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

Stafford Federal Loans

These college loans are intended for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at least half-time in an eligible institution. Subsidized Stafford Loans are based on financial need, and the government pays for accrued interest during school attendance.

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not based on financial need and the government doesn’t pay the accrued interest. Both are to be repaid in 10 to 25 years and provide a six-month grace period after completing your studies before repayment begins.

Perkins Loans

These college loans serve the same student base as Stafford Loans, but the lender is the college or university rather than the federal government (which nevertheless guarantees these loans). These loans have specified maximum awards, provide a nine-month grace period and must generally be repaid within 10 years. Perkins Loans are rarer and harder to get than are Stafford Loans.

You can also apply for a private student loan from a bank, credit union, employer, or another source.

2. Has Multiple Loan Offers

Another way to pay college costs is through a personal loan, available from well-regarded websites like The benefits of this website include:

Think of as your one-stop-shopping website for any kind of personal loan you need.

3. Credit Cards Give You a Chance to Raise Your Credit Score

Credit cards are a great way to finance the books, equipment, supplies, and other incidental costs that occur when attending college. Credit cards for college students that are particularly well-suited for folks with a poor credit history are available from Credit One.

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes 24.99% - 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.5/10
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Online servicing available 24/7 at no additional cost
  • Unsecured credit card, no security deposit required
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 24.9% Yes 8.0/10
  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 9.5/10

+See More Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Even if you have bad credit, you can establish a Credit One credit line of $300 to $500 dollars. Credit One cards offer several other benefits, including cashback rewards, the ability to personalize the card’s design, automatic reviews to increase your credit line, and free credit score tracking. These are a few of the best credit cards for college students with poor credit.

You can use a credit card to raise your credit score, because these issuers report your card activity to the three credit bureaus.

4. Grants & Scholarships Based on Merit or Financial Need

Scholarships and grants are available to many students based on merit or financial need. However, one of the biggest problems in getting a scholarship or grant is to find out what is available and appropriate for your circumstances.

Screenshot of homepage

These are the resources available to you on

Websites such as Fastweb,, and cut through all the confusion by providing valuable information about scholarship and grant opportunities, college comparisons, and other forms of financial aid, all based on a short profile you submit to the website. These websites are unusually robust in offering a wealth of information and search facilities – if the financial aid is out there, these two websites will find it.

Final Thoughts

There are a variety of solutions to paying for college despite bad credit. You can apply for federal or private student loans. Lenders like provide access to loans even when your credit is bad. So do some credit cards, such as Credit One. You can also use websites like and to secure grants and scholarships. Even if you have bad credit, you have choices to fund your education.

Advertiser Disclosure is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free for users, we receive advertising compensation from the financial products listed on this page. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear on the page (including, for example, the order in which they appear). does not include listings for all financial products.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.