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How to apply for a student loan

Student Loan Application
Knowing what to expect when applying for a student loan will help the process go smoother. Getty Images

As the 2022-2023 school year begins for college students around the U.S., many are wondering how they can obtain a student loan to help offset their educational expenses.

Applying for a student loan and successfully obtaining one is a process that requires time, accuracy and diligence — but it's relatively easy to complete. Knowing what to expect and how to go about applying will help ensure success.

If you're in the market for a student loan, now is the time to act. Apply for a student loan today to help reduce the costs of the upcoming school year. 

Applying for a student loan is a process that will require documentation and paperwork, so make sure you have it accessible. Here's how to get started.

How to apply for a federal student loan

Do you want to go to school, need some financial help and have all of your documentation ready? Then you're ready to complete and submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application

Here's what you'll need to complete the form:

  • Submit your personal information (full name, Social Security number, etc.)
  • Provide a list of schools that you want to receive your FAFSA form (you can list up to 10)
  • Choose if you're an independent or dependent student (if you're the latter, you'll need to report the income of who you're dependent on, like your parents)
  • Enter your personal financial information
  • Sign the form before submitting it

You should get a financial aid award letter detailing what you're eligible for approximately 10 days after the form submission. But there's a deadline for applying: June 30, 2023, for the 2022-2023 academic year.

How to apply for a private student loan

While FAFSA support comes via the federal route, some borrowers may elect for private student loan assistance (often to supplement the federal support provided). Private lenders have different applications and offer varying forms of assistance. 

That's why it's important to shop around to find the best offer for your personal financial situation. Get started today and see what kind of student loan support you're eligible for. 

While the process for applying for a private student loan may vary slightly from lender to lender, the general framework is similar. 

Here's what you'll need to do:

  • Apply directly through the lender (you should still have all of your documentation ready when applying)
  • Let the lender know if you need a cosigner or if you're planning on taking it out on your own
  • Enter your personal financial information
  • Submit the form to the lender
  • Compare rates and offers (some lenders will offer you better terms than others so don't feel like you need to take your first offer)

The review process for your application could be minutes or weeks. It depends on your lender and if additional review is needed. Take this into account when applying and don't leave it to the last minute. If the funds are essential to your education you'll want to apply with plenty of time remaining for approval. This will allow you to answer any outstanding questions or obtain any missing information or documentation.

Deadlines for private student loan applications also vary, so take that into consideration in advance.

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