There is no doubt that applying for students loans is a tedious and time-consuming process. Even with the advent of the Internet this can be a formidable undertaking, filled with legalese, financial jargon and complicated interest rate figures. Still, it is a necessary step on the pathway to a college education.
One of the first steps when it comes to applying for a student loan is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA. This basic requirement is a necessity for any student loan that is obtained, even if no federal aid is being requested. Additionally, the FAFSA is required for many scholarship programs as well. This will provide creditors with a baseline of information for the lending process and will expedite all of your filings. The FAFSA needs to be completed each calendar year for the following school year. For example, the form should be completed in January 2012 for the August 2012 semester. Although tax information is required on this form, it can still be completed prior to the tax filing deadline and updates to the form can occur after federal taxes have been filed.
Next, when applying for student loans the college student will generally require a cosigner for the loan. The permission of a cosigner is always required and applicants cannot list someone as a cosigner without their express consent. The cosigner can complete their portion of the form separate from the applicant so that the borrower does not have access to privileged information such as income and social security numbers. While the cosigner is most commonly the parents of the student, it can also be a grandparent, aunt, uncle or older sibling.
When completing the application process, be sure to request as a loan amount only what you will need to complete your education and no additional funds. Also, you should maintain a spreadsheet of your applications so that you can properly follow up with any lenders who have not responded to your request. The spreadsheet should have as its headings:
- Lender Name
- Lender Phone Number
- Lender Email Address
- Date Completed
- Requested Loan Amount
- Application Confirmation Number
You should also watch your email and snail mail on a regular basis for feedback concerning your loan. If you have been denied for some reason that is related to your credit history, the lender is required by law to send you a letter indicating this and letting you know which credit bureau provided such information. You can then contact the credit bureau directly in order to get a copy of your credit report and you can investigate any negative indicators that are listed.
Finally, be sure to be thorough as you complete the student loan application process. Even though these forms can be long and time consuming, it is well worth the effort. If you fail to provide sufficient information, you loan may be denied or delayed.