To submit the FAFSA for federal student loans (and for all types of federal financial aid), there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Remember that there’s no cost for submitting it. (If you’re asked to pay, you’re not at the right website.)
- Complete the FAFSA every year you need money for college.
- Get it in as soon after October 1 as possible. The earlier, the better, since some grant money is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
You’ll find out about how much you’re eligible for in federal student loans when you receive your financial aid offer.
How to apply for a private student loan
Since private student loans are offered by banks and financial institutions (as opposed to the federal government), you apply directly to the lender.
Follow these instructions to apply for a private student loan:
- Go to the lender’s website.
- Check the interest rate of the loan, along with the flexibility of repayment options and other benefits.
- Apply directly on the website. You’ll be asked to choose the type of repayment option and interest rate type you want.
- You may want to consider adding a cosigner which may improve your chances of getting the loan.
- The lender will check your credit (and your cosigner’s, if you have one), and will communicate the decision to you.
It doesn’t take long to fill out a private loan application online. If you apply for a loan with us, it only takes about 15 minutes to apply and get a credit decision.
How to accept your federal or private student loan
You accept your federal student loans by signing and returning your financial aid offer. You may be asked to take part in entrance counseling at your school to make sure that you understand your loan obligations. Plus, you’ll sign a Master Promissory Note (MPN) to agree to the loan’s terms.
You accept your private student loans after you’ve been approved. Here’s our process:
- You’ll choose the type of interest rate and repayment option for your loan.
- You or your cosigner will accept the terms of your loan and sign it electronically.
- Your school will be asked to certify your eligibility, including verifying your enrollment and the loan amount you’ve requested.
Both federal and private student loans are legal agreements. When you agree to a loan and sign or e-sign for it, you’re committed to paying it back, along with interest.
Repaying federal and private student loans
- Federal student loans: Following a six-month grace period, you generally begin to make principal and interest payments.
- Private student loans: You’ll generally have a six-month grace period. If you elected to make in-school fixed or interest payments with our Smart Option Student Loan, you’ll continue to make those payments during your grace period. After that, you’ll begin to make principal and interest payments.