How long does it take to get a student loan?

Whether you have federal student loans, private loans, or a combination of the two, you may wonder when the funds will be available.

The time to get your student loan money depends on when you apply to school, the type of loan you accept, and how quickly your school or private lender processes the necessary information. Be aware that disbursement times can differ somewhat between private and federal student loans.

If you’re considering a private student loan, it’s a good idea to compare rates from multiple lenders. Credible makes this easy, and can show you prequalified rates in minutes.

  • Where student loan money goes
  • How long does it take to get your federal student loan?
  • How long does it take to get your private student loan?
  • How to check your loan status

Where student loan money goes

When your student loan gets funded, the money doesn’t land in your bank account — at least not right away. For most federal and private student loans, lenders disburse funds directly to your school. Your school will then apply the money to pay your tuition, fees, and room and board (if you live on campus).

The school may send any leftover loan funds to you to pay for other education expenses not directly payable to your school, like transportation.

How long does it take to get your federal student loan?

Once you complete and submit your FAFSA application for student loans from the federal government, it can take three to 10 days to process your application and send your Student Aid Report, depending on whether you applied online or sent a paper application.

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The school will send an offer of admission and prepare your award letter, so you know how much aid you’ll receive. Generally, the Department of Education disburses federal student loan funds to schools at the beginning of each term in the academic school year. The school applies the funds to direct costs, like tuition and room and board. The school will then issue any remaining balance to you after a few weeks, unless you’re a first-time borrower. In that case, the school may delay funds by 30 days. You may also be required to complete entrance counseling during this time.

Your school will distribute scholarship, grant, and loan money to cover the cost of tuition, on-campus room and board, and fees before any excess loan money is returned to you to cover other expenses.


How long does it take to get your private student loan?

In some cases, your federal student loans may not cover the total cost of attending college, and you may need to apply for private student loans to fill in the gaps. If that’s your plan, it can take a few minutes to a few weeks to get approved for a private student loan. The timing will depend on your lender, your credit, the amount you need to borrow, and other factors.

Once your loan is approved, the amount of time it takes for the lender to send the funds to your school can vary — each lender has its own process. Generally, though, it can take anywhere from two to 10 weeks for your school to receive the loan money.

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A direct-to-consumer loan is another option. The lender will send the money directly to you, rather than your school, to use toward your education expenses. If you opt for a direct-to-consumer loan, the lender will deposit the funds directly into your bank account. Getting one of these loans doesn’t involve your school’s financial aid office. But you’ll likely pay higher interest rates and fees for a DTC loan.

Borrowers with poor credit may need a cosigner to qualify for a private student loan. On the other hand, if you have good credit or a cosigner with good credit, you may qualify for a better interest rate and repayment terms on your private loan.

Credible makes it easy to see your prequalified private student loan rates in minutes.

How to check your loan status

After submitting your FAFSA online, you can check the status of your loan disbursement right away. If you submit a paper FAFSA, it can take about seven to 10 days to receive a response via mail. To view the status of your loan(s) online, take these steps:

  1. Log on to using your FSA ID. Under “My FAFSA,” you’ll see your financial aid package application status.
  2. You can find the balance of your student loans and other loan information through the website.
  3. To check the loan status on your private student loans, you’ll need to contact your private lender.
  4. It’s possible to see what loans you have by visiting and requesting free copies of your credit report from the three main credit bureaus.
  5. If all else fails, you can contact your school’s financial aid office because it’ll have up-to-date information on your loan status.
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With Credible, you can easily compare private student loan rates from multiple lenders without affecting your credit.