How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan?
For an estimated 34% of students, taking out student loans will be part of their payment plan for college. And like other types of financial aid, timing matters with student loans. Students want to make sure that the process allows them to access the student loan funding to pay for college. The student loan process will also depend on whether students are taking out private or federal student loans.
Jump ahead to:
- How long does it take to get a federal student loan?
- How long does it take to get a private student loan?
- What if I miss my student loan deadlines?
Keep on reading to learn about how long it takes to get student loans!
How long does it take to get a federal student loan?
The federal student loan process can range from a few weeks to a few months from your initial application to your college actually receiving the funds. This goes for both types of federal student loans: Direct Stafford Loans, as well as Direct PLUS Loans.
Financial aid from the federal government is also available according to a specific schedule, so it is important for students to meet the FAFSA deadlines. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that you will be able to access federal financial aid.
Let’s break down these steps:
Complete the FAFSA
As with other types of federal student aid, federal loans will require students to complete the FAFSA.
DOE processes FAFSA
If you completed your FAFSA online, the Department of Education will process your application within 3-5 days. However, if you submit a paper FAFSA application, the processing time will be more like 7-10 days. This is one of the reasons we recommend that students complete their FAFSA online.
Double-check your SAR
Once your FAFSA is processed, you will be sent a copy of your Student Aid Report or SAR. The SAR will essentially summarize all of the info that you submitted through your FAFSA. You should take some time to review the Student Aid Report to make sure that everything looks accurate. If there is anything that’s missing or wrong, you should correct your FAFSA ASAP.
SAR is submitted to your FAFSA colleges
Assuming your SAR is good to go, your SAR will be sent off to all of the colleges you listed on your FAFSA. Remember, this does not guarantee that you will receive financial aid at these colleges. You will still need to complete your admissions application and be accepted to the college.
Receive your financial aid award letter
If you are accepted to the college by the admissions office, you will receive a financial aid award letter from the financial aid office. You’ll receive your award letter along with your admissions acceptance (or shortly afterwards).
Accept your student loans
If you were offered federal student loans in your financial aid package, you will need to accept them and sign a Master Promissory Note or MPS. By signing the MPS, you are agreeing to pay back your student loans.
Student Loan Disbursement
Finally, your loans will be disbursed a the start of your semester, trimester, or quarter. Remember, at this point the college and not the federal government will be actually sending the funds, so you will want to get in touch with your school’s financial aid office.
How long does it take to get a private student loan?
Unlike student loans through the FAFSA, private student loans do not have any specific deadlines. Students can access private student loans throughout the year.
The overall timeline for accessing private loans will range from a few weeks to a few months from application to disbursement. Every private loan lender has their own application and process for handling student loan applications. Once you apply for private student loans, you can reach out to the lender with any questions about your individual timeline.
Private student loan interest rates and terms can vary, so we always recommend that students shop around to find the best student loan options.
Read more: How much student loan debt is too much?
What if I miss my student loan deadlines?
If you have missed your college’s FAFSA deadline, you should immediately get in touch with your college’s financial aid office.
However, if you have missed the deadlines for federal student loans, you will still be able to access private student loans, which do not have a specific deadline.