If you're just shy of 18 years of age, your loan options may seem limited. Not only do you have to clear the age of majority in your state to obtain a car or personal loan, you have to be at least 18 even to have a cosigner with some lenders. However, you may nonetheless be able to find loans -- it'll just take some additional legwork.
Auto and Personal Loans
Several lenders offer loans to borrowers who are just 17. The catch is that each requires a parent or co-signer to apply with you.
Check With a Local Credit Union
Certain lending institutions offer 17-year-olds different options for personal and auto loans. Fiscal Credit Union, for example, has an"Elements of Money" loan that gives young borrowers the option to take out an auto loan or build credit through a line of credit. To apply for a "My First Wheels" auto loan at Fiscal, you must have a driver's license in your state of residence, no previous auto loan history and a co-borrower who is a parent, legal guardian or grandparent. For this particular loan, you would not need to have employment history, but your co-borrower must furnish hers and the resulting credit decision would be based on that borrower's credit history and income.
At SELCO Community Credit Union, you may qualify for an auto loan if you are at least 16 and have a steady part-time job. You'll also need a qualified adult joint borrower, and both of you have to go to the nearest SELCO branch to complete the loan application in person.
If you need a personal loan, certain lenders such as Signal Financial Federal Credit Union allow teen members who open a teen savings account the additional benefit of obtaining personal loans. Loan amounts differ based on age. If you're 17, you would be allowed to take out a maximum of $500 as of 2015, provided a parent applies as co-applicant.
As a 17-year-old, you have wider berth for obtaining loans as a student. Federal student loans are among the rare situations where a 17-year-old can sign a promissory note.
Federal Student Loans
- U.S. citizenship
- enrollment or acceptance for enrollment in a qualified degree program
- minimum of half-time enrollment
- satisfactory academic performance
- qualification to receive a college or career school degree, usually a high school diploma or a high school education via homeschooling
These criteria do not specify minimum age to apply, though males must register with the Selective Service between the ages of 18 and 25. Provided you meet the above criteria, you do not need a cosigner to apply for a federal student loan,
These loans tend to offer students lower interest rates than private student loans do, as well as flexible repayment terms. Under the U.S. Department of Education Direct Loan programs, eligible undergraduates can choose from Direct Subsidized Loans, which are based on demonstrated financial need, or Direct Unsubsidized Loans, which are not based on financial need, or for students with exceptional financial need, the Federal Perkins Loan Program.
Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which serves as the basis for determining the amount of financial aid offered.
Private Student Loans
At 17, private student loans through banks, credit unions or schools may not be available to you. Unlike federal student loans, student loans through nongovernmental private lending institutions may require a cosigner. You may have to demonstrate an established credit history and your interest rate -- potentially higher than 18 percent, as of 2015 -- depends on your credit score.