How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan?

By Pam O’Brien · July 19, 2023 · 5 minute read

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan?

If you’re planning to take out student loans to help pay for college, you’re probably wondering: How long does it take to get student loans? and when should I submit my application?

Understanding the time involved can be critical, especially if your tuition will soon be due.

Getting a Student Loan: How Long Does it Take?

The timing for student loans can vary, depending on whether you’re taking out private or federal student loans. Also, the process itself takes time because you need to apply for the loan, get approved, and then wait for your loan funds to be disbursed. In total, it can take weeks or sometimes even longer.

Federal student loans are generally disbursed once per term. The process for private student loans may depend on the lender.

💡 Quick Tip: When shopping for a private student loan lender, look for benefits that help lower your monthly payment.

Does the Length of Time Vary Between Loan Types?

The wait time on receiving student loans depends on the type of loans and the loan source. The federal government is the most common source for student loans since it usually offers the lowest fixed interest rates and the most flexible repayment plans.

Additionally, there are also private lenders that offer private student loans. This student loans guide can be helpful for understanding how private student loans work and how they differ from federal loans.

You can also look into student loan and scholarship information to help cover the costs of college.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Federal Student Loan?

Applying for federal student loans is generally a straightforward process. You start by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Even if you think you won’t qualify because of your household income or high school GPA, it doesn’t hurt to submit the FAFSA because it’s free. You may even discover that you’re eligible for federal aid like grants and work-study, and therefore you might not need as many loans as you thought. Along with your eligibility for federal aid, the FAFSA application will also let you know your federal student loan options.

But how long does it take to get a student loan? Depending on how the FAFSA is submitted, the wait time can range from about five days to over two weeks. Applications submitted online may be processed as soon as three to five days. Those submitted by mail may take up to 10 days.

Once the FAFSA is processed, students will receive a Student Aid Report (SAR), the expected family contribution and student eligibility for Pell Grants. Colleges listed on the FAFSA will receive a copy of the SAR and they’ll use this information to determine the exact type and amount of federal aid a student is eligible for.

Generally, the student’s college will disburse federal student loan funds at least once per term. Some colleges may be subject to a 30-day delay (past the first day of the payment period) when it comes time to disburse funds among first-time borrowers.

The FAFSA is available on October 1 for the next school year, and the deadline for submitting it is June 30th of the following year. However, colleges may have earlier deadlines for submission, so be sure to check.

💡 Quick Tip: Need a private student loan to cover your school bills? Because approval for a private student loan is based on creditworthiness, a cosigner may help a student get loan approval and a lower rate.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Private Student Loan?

Private loans, which can include graduate loans, come from private (aka non-government) lenders who don’t have the same set standards as federal loans. No private lender functions exactly the same as the next when it comes to interest rates and payment plans, which includes when you’re required to begin student loan repayment.

When applying for a private loan, it’s very important that you clearly read the contract and know when loan repayment is expected. Private loans may not have the six-month grace period that federal loans offer.

And they won’t necessarily offer fixed interest rates, which means your interest rates could increase over time if you opt for a variable-rate loan.

How long do student loans take to process? Because each lender will have different application requirements and payment processes, there is no specific timeline for receiving your funds. However, you can generally expect that your private lender will send your loan funds to your college or university anywhere from two to 10 weeks from the date your loan application is approved.

Private lenders may offer school-certified loans or direct-to-consumer loans. When borrowing a school-certified loan, the loan amount is disbursed directly to the school. Direct-to-consumer loans are disbursed directly to the borrower.

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The Takeaway

When applying for a federal loan using the FAFSA, it may take anywhere from a few days to two weeks to find out what types of loans you’re eligible for. The loans will then be disbursed directly to your school, at least once per term. If you have questions, contact the financial aid office at the school.

The application process for private student loans varies from lender to lender. It can take anywhere from two to 10 weeks for the loan to be disbursed once the loan application has been processed.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.

Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


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