From start to finish, getting a student loan takes a few weeks to a few months depending on the type of loan you’re applying for — federal or private — and the lender and its requirements.
Read on to learn about long it takes to get each type of student loan and how long each step of the process takes, on average.
How Long To Get Federal Student Loan Money?
Overall, you should expect to get your federal student loan funds before classes start or about up to 30 days after classes start.
Step 1: Filing Your FAFSA®
Time: Depends on how quickly you gather the student loan paperwork and file
The first step in securing a federal student loan is to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). If you apply online and have a valid email address on file, you can complete your application in only a few minutes, if you file with Frank.
Step 2: Waiting For Your FAFSA® To Be Processed
Time: 3 to 5 days, depending on who you file your student loan with and if you file online
Your application will take about 3-5 days to process. When processing is done, you will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR). This report summarizes your FAFSA® application as well as your expected family contribution (EFC).
Colleges noted on your FAFSA® will receive an Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR), which is similar to the SAR.
Step 3: Getting Your Financial Aid Award Package
Time: March or April of the aid year
Your college’s financial aid office will receive the FAFSA® information and, based on what is provided, determine your financial aid eligibility.
If the college deems you eligible for student aid, it will prepare and issue a financial aid award letter in the latter part of March or at the beginning of April. The financial aid office is solely responsible for administering federal student loans.
The letter contains information about need-based federal student loans and might also include information about non-need-based loans. Some of these loans include the Parent PLUS Loan, Direct Subsidized Loan, and the Direct Unsubsidized Loan.
Step 4: Signing Your MPN
Time: Before classes start but you may not get funds until about 30 days after classes start
Next, you will be required to sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN). The note covers continuous enrollment for up to 10 years. Once signed, the federal student loan funds are disbursed. You might receive these within a 10-day window prior to classes starting.
A first-time or first-year borrower might not have the funds until 30 days later. In this case, any credit balance left over after the fees paid to the college prior to the start of class will be refunded to the student within about two weeks. Overall, the time frame for fund disbursement can take more than a few weeks.
How Long To Get Private Student Loan Money?
Although this truly depends on which lender you choose, you should expect to get your private student loan funds a few months to two months from the time you applied.
Step 1: Applying & Loan Provider Determining If You’re Eligible
Time: A few minutes
Starting your application online or on the phone takes just a few minutes, and you’ll know right away if you’re eligible for funding. If you are, you’ll need to take a few more steps to complete the application process.
Step 2: “Disbursing” or releasing the money to your school or directly to you
Time: 2 weeks – 2 months after you applied for the loan
It takes between two weeks and two months for the lender to release the funds.
Other Questions You May Have Around When You Will Get Your Student Loan Money
What about “school-certified” or “direct-to-consumer” loans?
School-certified and direct-to-consumer private student loan disbursements take about the same amount of time.
Private student loans are available as school-certified or direct-to-consumer loans. The college determines eligibility for a school-certified loan and the loan amount and disburses the funds. Direct-to-consumer loans are not involved with school certification. With this type of loan, the funds get disbursed to the borrower or the college.
With both loan types, it can take up to two months for funds to be disbursed.
How long does it take to get a student loan refund from your college?
Getting a student loan refund from your college can take up to two weeks.
The school takes the money it needs to cover the student’s fees and refunds any remaining money directly to the student. It usually takes between one and two weeks to process the refund.
If you are considering a student loan, start the application process as soon as possible to make sure you have the funds when needed.
Federal Student Aid. U.S. Department of Education. Web. 27 Feb. 2018.
Get help paying for college. Federal Student Aid. U. S. Department of Education. Web. 27 Feb. 2018.
“What are the different ways to pay for college or graduate school?” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 4 Aug. 2017. Web. 27 Feb. 2018.
FAFSA – Free Application For Federal Student Aid. Web. 27 Feb. 2018.