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

Eric Bank 5/11/18

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.

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

There 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. PersonalLoans.com Has Multiple Loan Offers

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

4.7 /5.0 Stars
  • Loans from $500 to $35,000
  • Bad credit is no problem
  • Available in all 50 states
  • Use the loan for any purpose
  • Fastest approval and funding
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Loan Amount $500 to $35,000
Interest Rate 5.99% - 35.99%
Loan Term 3 to 72 Months
Loan Example
Representative example
Our Expert Review 4.7/5.0 (see review)

Think of PersonalLoans.com 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 and First PREMIER.

4.8 /5.0 Stars
  • Checking account required
  • We may approve those currently building their credit history
  • No security deposit required
  • Application response in 30 seconds
  • Know the score! Quarterly FICO score on your monthly billing statement
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Your First PREMIER Bank credit card activity is reported to the Consumer Reporting Agencies each month. Making your payment on time and keeping your balances low relative to the credit limit will result in positive marks on your credit report
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See issuer website
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 6 minutes
Reputation Score 9.5/10
4.8 /5.0 Stars
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See issuer website
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 5 Minutes
Reputation Score 9.0/10
4.7 /5.0 Stars
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $500.00! (subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere that Mastercard® is accepted
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See terms
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 9 Minutes
Reputation Score 8.5/10

+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 and First PREMIER 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.

These are the resources available to you on Fastweb.com.

Websites such as Fastweb, Finaid.org, and Scholarships.com 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 PersonalLoans.com 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 Fastweb.com and Scholarships.com to secure grants and scholarships. Even if you have bad credit, you have choices to fund your education.

About Eric Bank
Based in Chicago, Eric Bank has been writing business-related articles since 1985, and science articles since 2010. His articles have appeared in "PC Magazine" and on numerous websites. He holds a B.S. in biology and an M.B.A. from New York University. He also holds an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.
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