How to Ask Someone to Be a Cosigner on Your Student Loan
Categories: For Students, For College Students, For High School Students, Blog
Just thinking about paying for college can be intimidating. But talking about private student loans with a cosigner and setting expectations for repayment can be even more terrifying.
When it comes to discussing finances, emotions and fear can often get in the way. If you are seeking a cosigner for your student loan, however, the conversation needs to happen.
Below, we will explore several tips for getting someone to cosign for you, including what to do if a potential cosigner says no.
Who Should I Ask to be My Cosigner?
Your cosigner should be someone who wants to be there for you, no matter what. This can be a relative, friend, mentor, or anyone else you trust to fill this role –and who trusts you in return. A cosigner should also be someone you feel comfortable entering a financial agreement with, as they will be obligated to make your payments on your student loan if you are unable to for any reason in the future.
However you find a cosigner, your student loan cosigner must be an adult U.S. citizen or permanent resident who meets your lenders’ minimum credit and income requirements, in addition to other criteria.
How to Talk to a Cosigner: 7 Tips
Rather than building up this anxiety-ridden picture in your head, once you have decided who will be your student loan cosigner just talk it out!
It’s best to start the conversations about how you’re going to pay for college early, so you’re not surprised by last-minute disappointments. It’s also important to give your potential cosigner a little lead time to do their own research.
While it’s easy to say, “go for it”, it is completely normal to feel intimidated by this conversation. Here are 7 tips to help you approach asking someone to cosign a student loan.
1. Prepare Ahead of Time
One thing to remember is that it’s not a bad idea to be overprepared for this conversation. Prepare to address the financial and emotional issues involved with asking someone to cosign your loan, and practice some techniques for remaining calm if the conversation gets a little tense.
Consider drafting a list of potential questions your future cosigner might ask in advance. This will allow you to respond thoughtfully to any concerns that arise during the discussion and can help show your cosigner you are taking this decision seriously.
2. Schedule the Conversation
When you plan to ask someone to cosign your student loan, try to arrange the conversation ahead of time. It could be a long talk, and you want to ensure the person you’re speaking to has the time and focus to handle it.
3. Find An Appropriate Place to Talk
Consider having your conversation in a space that is neutral to both parties and appropriate to the seriousness of the conversation.
For instance, having this conversation at home on the couch may seem too lax, whereas sitting at your dining room table may feel like an interrogation. Instead, consider meeting at a coffee shop or taking a walk through the park. Home field advantage is a real thing and being in a space that neither party has domain over may level the mental playing field.
No matter what, make sure the talk with a cosigner involves only the people who need to be there. This decision should be between you, your cosigner, and their spouse, if relevant. While only one person can cosign, anything that may impact one spouse’s credit can affect the other too, so they may want to make this decision together.
4. Tell Them Why You Need a Cosigner
As the big conversation approaches, be prepared to discuss your finances. Paying for college is not as simple as writing a check to the school of your choice. Letting your cosigner know why you need a cosigner for your student loan will help them make an informed decision. Prior to this conversation, you should:
- Be ready to share what is in your bank account and what debts you currently owe.
- Know your credit score and the length of your credit history, if you have one.
- Research the total cost of tuition, including living expenses for the school(s) you’re interested in attending.
- Confirm whether financial aid is available and the amount that you can expect to receive depending on where you decide to go to school.
- Figure out what your potential future salary may be upon graduation.
- Check your rates with and without a cosigner so you can compare your options side-by-side.
By gathering these details, you can more confidently speak with your cosigner about why you need their assistance to achieve your financial and educational goals.
If you need some help organizing this information, check out our downloadable budget calculator.
5. Make Sure They Know What a Cosigner Does
Chances are that the person you’re asking to cosign your student loan would walk through fire for you. After all, you wouldn’t be asking them if they weren’t on your team. They want to jump to “yes, I’ll help!” It may sound counterintuitive, but don’t let them do that.
If they agree to go on this journey with you, you will both enter a legally binding contract, so it’s critical they understand what they are agreeing to and how it could impact them. Show them that you’ve done your research by asking them to let you explain the risks of cosigning a loan, let them know the steps you plan to take to reduce those risks, and then you can address any additional questions they may have.
6. Make a Plan (But Be Flexible)
Don’t just promise to make your loan payments on time—come with a specific plan prepared. After you have a chance to address any concerns together, you can discuss the role each of you will play in the agreement to make sure a payment is never missed.
If your plan doesn’t work for your cosigner, be flexible, listen to their ideas, and make sure you come to a compromise that makes both of you feel comfortable.
7. Give Them Time to Think
There are many pros and cons to cosigning a loan, and your potential cosigner should not feel pressured to decide right away. This is why it’s better to have these discussions as early as possible, not the week before your tuition is due.
Once this initial meeting is over, you might need to schedule a follow-up meeting to resolve any questions that were raised during your initial meeting. Scheduling some time to talk again a few days after your initial meeting also gives them time to think their decision through. This can help you show them that you respect the weight of this decision and make sure they don’t feel pressured to make a decision immediately.
Yes or no: what now?
After you ask someone to be a cosigner, you’ll be left with one of two answers.
If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to apply for the loan. Some lenders, like Ascent, allow you to pre-qualify for a student loan online, without impacting your credit score. Once you’ve confirmed you can qualify for the cosigned loan and have reviewed your proposed rates and terms, you can decide whether to proceed with the loan. This is a process we recommend reviewing with your cosigner together before accepting any terms.
What if you asked someone to be a cosigner and they declined?
Accept it and move on to the next person on your list. You should never try to force someone into a legal or financial agreement, and there are a million reasons why they may have landed on this decision.
When someone declines to be a cosigner for your student loan, it does not mean they don’t love or support you. As hard as it may be, try not to let it affect your relationship. You can even thank them for their consideration, knowing it was probably not easy to come to their decision and turn you down.
What if I never find a cosigner?
If you’re unable to find a cosigner for your student loan and have exhausted all your other options including scholarships, grants, and government aid, you may be able to qualify for a private student loan with no cosigner through Ascent. Take a look at our eligibility requirements or call us toll-free at 877-216-0876 for more assistance.
FAQs About How to Get Someone to Cosign for You
Who should I ask to be a cosigner?
Your cosigner should be someone you feel comfortable entering a financial agreement with. They need to be an adult U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a qualifying minimum credit score and history, in addition to meeting requirements set by the lender.
How do I get someone to cosign for me?
You can’t force anyone into a financial agreement, but you can improve your chances by having a well-researched and confident conversation with them. Don’t get emotional or put a lot of pressure on them, just discuss the details and potential risk of cosigning and why you would appreciate their support.
How do I prepare for asking someone to be a cosigner?
Before trying to get someone to cosign for you, you should prepare to share your financial information, details about your expected tuition, fees, and other school-related expenses, and specifics about the type of loan you’re asking them to sign.
What if someone says “no” when I ask them to be a cosigner?
Accept their answer, thank them for their time, and try to find a different cosigner. If you can’t find one, look into other options for paying for college, or see if you can qualify for a loan without a cosigner.
Why would someone say “no” to cosigning my student loan?
There are many reasons someone may refuse to sign a student loan. While it may feel like a sign of distrust, there could be many personal factors at play. These may include a lack of financial stability, preparing for an upcoming investment of their own, or having a poor credit history.
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Ascent is committed to providing resources for those looking to embark on their college journey, as well as those that are already enrolled. From budgeting tips to financial education, we help students with the tools they need to be successful in college and beyond. To get the latest in college tips and tricks, be sure to check out our blog or explore our financial wellness resources.