Student loans can help you pay for college. But getting approved for one isn’t a given. Whether you apply for federal or private loans, there are several student loan requirements you’ll need to meet.
But depending on the type of loan you want, those requirements can vary. Read on to learn about both important requirements and avoiding common mistakes.
Federal Student Loans
There are four different types of federal student loans available to college students and their parents. In general, the requirements for you or your student may include:
• You’re a U.S. citizen or an eligible non-citizen
• You have a valid Social Security number
• If you’re a male, you’re registered with Selective Service
• You’re enrolled or accepted for enrollment in an eligible degree or certificate program
• You’re attending or planning to attend school at least half-time
• You maintain satisfactory academic progress
• You complete and sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form
• You agree to use the loan for educational purposes only
• You’re not in default on a federal student loan and don’t owe money on a federal grant
• You have a high school diploma or General Educational Development (GED) certificate, you completed a high school education in a homeschool setting approved by your state, or you’re enrolling in an eligible career pathway program and meeting an “ability-to-benefit” alternative
Depending on the type of loan, though, there may be additional requirements you or your student needs to meet. Here’s a quick breakdown of some additional requirements by loan type:
Direct Subsidized Loans
With Direct Subsidized Loans , the federal government covers your interest costs while you’re still in school. You need to be an undergraduate student to qualify, and you need to show financial need through the FAFSA form.
Direct Unsubsidized Loans
To qualify for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan , you need to be an undergraduate, graduate, or professional student and do not need to demonstrate financial need.
Direct PLUS Loans
You can apply for a Direct PLUS Loan if you’re a graduate or professional student, or a parent of an undergraduate student. You also can’t have an adverse credit history , which means, as stated by the office of the Department of Education, that you may not qualify if you have any of the following on your credit report:
• Bankruptcy discharge within the past five years
• Voluntary surrender of personal property to avoid repossession within the last five years
• Repossession of collateral within the last five years
• Foreclosure proceedings started
• Foreclosure within the last five years
• Conveying your real property that is subject to a mortgage (by deed) to your lender to avoid foreclosure (deed in lieu of foreclosure)
• Accounts currently 90 days or more delinquent
• Unpaid collection accounts
• Charge-offs/write-offs of federal student loans
• Wage garnishment within the last five years
• Defaulting on a loan, even if the claim has been paid
• Lease or contract terminated by default
• County/state/federal tax lien within the past five years (according to the Office of the U.S. Department of Education .)
Direct Consolidation Loans
• The loans must be in repayment or in the six-month grace period after you leave school.
• In general, you must have at least one loan that isn’t already a consolidated loan.
• If one or more loans are in default, you must make at least three consecutive monthly payments or agree to repay the Direct Consolidation Loan under one of the available income-driven repayment plans.
• If your wages are being garnished to make payments on a defaulted federal loan, you can’t consolidate it until the wage garnishment order has been lifted.
Private Student Loans
With federal student loans, most of the requirements are the same across the board because the Department of Education is the lender on all of them.
With private loans, however, the student loan requirements can vary by lender . This means that you may qualify for a loan from one private student loan company and not with another.
The requirements can also depend on what type of student loan you’re applying for, such as undergraduate loans, graduate loans, or specialized loans.
In general, all private student lenders require a credit check and a minimum annual income. This means that if you don’t have a credit history, you may need to get a cosigner with an established credit history and solid income to apply for the loan with you.
Each lender has different requirements when it comes to lending student loans. Common requirements among major private student loan companies include:
• You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or international student.
• You must have a Social Security number (some don’t require this for international students).
• If you’re an international student, you must have a co-signer.
• You must attend an eligible school.
• You must be enrolled in a degree program and attending at least half-time (some allow you to be less than half-time).
Depending on the lender, there may be other student loan qualification requirements and limitations, so it’s important to shop around and read the terms to make sure you qualify.
Also, look for private student lenders that allow you to get prequalified with just a soft credit check. This can give you an idea of your approval chances plus show you possible loan terms you might qualify for.
What to Do with Your Student Loans After You Graduate
Knowing how to get approved for student loans can make it easier to pay for your education. But soon after you graduate, you’ll need to start making payments on those loans.
To simplify your repayment strategy and potentially save time and reduce the amount of money you spend, consider refinancing your student loans. Depending on your financial and credit profile and other factors, you may qualify for a lower interest rate or monthly payment. However, when refinancing with a private lender, you will lose access to federal loan benefits like income-driven repayment plans, deferment, or federal loan forgiveness programs.
What’s more, refinancing your loans can simplify your monthly payments by replacing multiple payments with just one. If you qualify for a lower interest rate, you could significantly reduce the amount of money you spend over the life of your new loan.
SoFi is a leader is the student loan space—offering both private student loans to help pay your way through school, or refinancing options to help you pay off your loans faster.
External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE
FOR MORE INFORMATION. Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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 SoFi.com/eligibility 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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