You probably have no idea where to start when applying for a loan to pay college tuition. Browsing the federal and private loan options might seem overwhelming at first. But don’t let that get you down. Instead, follow this step-by-step guide to help you get started applying for loans so you can go to college. 

Start by Applying for Other Financial Aid

Before applying for student loans, use any other type of financial aid you might be eligible for. Some of the forms of alternative financial aid include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work-study programs

Know Your Loan Options

As far as loans go, you can apply for government or private ones. Both of them offer temporary funding so you can pay to go to school. However, federal loans come from the Department of Education, while private ones come from banks and lenders. Federal loans tend to have lower interest rates, but private lenders can offer you more money. 

Gather Your Personal Information

Whether or not you will apply for loans, you need to gather some basic information before beginning. This includes:

  • Tax returns
  • Gross income
  • Asset information
  • Social security information
  • Potential schools

Complete a FAFSA Form

You must complete a Free Federal Student Aid application to get financial aid. That is the form colleges and the government uses to calculate your financial aid eligibility and amount. It’s free to fill out a FAFSA form; you should do it before anything else. The sooner you do it, the better your chances are of receiving financial aid, grants, and scholarships. 

Apply for Your School’s Financial Aid

Aside from receiving federal aid, you can also receive institutional support from the college you will attend. To qualify for that, you need to apply through your school. Often, you will need to create an account with the institution. Then, you’ll need to submit all relevant information, such as details about yourself, your family’s financial status, and your asset information. You may have to pay a fee to submit this form, depending on the school you plan to attend. 

Review Your Award Letter

Upon acceptance to a school, they will send you an award letter that details the amount of financial aid they have awarded you. In addition, the package will describe the yearly tuition cost, how much money you received in scholarships, grants, and financial aid, and how much you will need to take out in loans. Finally, when you are ready to pick a school, you must sign it and submit a copy to the financial aid office. 

Decide If You Need A Loan

Sometimes, you might need more money to cover your tuition than the government and school will provide. In that case, you need to take out a loan. First, seek out several lenders and provide them with your credit information, allowing them to give you your interest rates and eligibility. Your credit score, income, and the degree you will be pursuing will help determine your eligibility and loan amounts because it indicates your ability to repay your loan. 

Apply for a Loan

Applying for a loan is the most challenging step of the process. It is confusing and stressful to decide which lender to use, how much you need, and what is best. That said, you will need to shop around and try to find the best option that will allow you to pay for your college education. You might want to ask your family or a mentor for help. They likely have been through the loan process before and can help you. 

Now, you know what you need to do to get loans. Remember to exhaust all other options to minimize the amount of money you must borrow. Reducing your loan burden will make it easier for you after you graduate college. That said, loans are a great option if you cannot get other funding. It will allow you to go to college to pursue your desired future.