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If you’re attending college, there might be times when unexpected expenses come up — such as if your financial aid is delayed or you lost your job.
In these types of situations, you might be able to apply for emergency student loans. These are short-term, small-dollar loans that could cover immediate needs.
Here are four ways to get emergency student loans or financial aid:
- Speak to your school’s financial aid administrator
- Claim federal student loans
- Take out small loans through your school
- Consider private student loans
1. Speak to your school’s financial aid administrator
Your financial aid office is the first stop you should make when exploring emergency aid.
Your school’s financial aid administrator can help you explore what resources are available to you, such as emergency grants or short-term student loans provided by your school. They might even be able to adjust your financial aid if you’re dealing with unusual circumstances.
Be sure to contact your school’s financial aid administrator to see what options you might qualify for.
Learn More: 4 Ideas for Building Credit as a College Student
2. Claim federal student loans
If you submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), your award letter will detail what financial aid and federal student loans you’re eligible for based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and school’s cost of attendance.
If your circumstances have changed — such as if you’ve become an independent student or your parent lost their job — you can update your FAFSA and potentially get more aid.
You can also check your student account (or contact the financial aid office) to see if you have more federal funds available that you haven’t claimed, such as federal student loans.
If there’s any aid you didn’t originally accept from your financial aid award, you’ll just need to claim it — you won’t need to reapply for it as you’ve already been approved.
If you decide to get a student loan, be sure to consider how it will cost you over time. This way, you can prepare for any added expenses.
Find out how much you’ll owe over the life of federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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3. Take out small loans through your school
Some schools offer emergency student loans to students who are facing unexpected financial circumstances. These loans are typically no- or low-interest student loans with short repayment terms.
Keep in mind that each school will have its own eligibility requirements for emergency student loans (if the school offers them at all).
Since emergency student loans are different from private and federal student loans, you’ll need to contact your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify.
Here’s how emergency loans compare to other types of student loans:
|Interest rates||Loan amounts||How are loans disbursed?||Repayment terms|
|Emergency student loans||Generally less than $1,000|
(some might be larger to cover housing expenses)
|Might be issued through:||Terms typically range from 30 to 90 days
(depending on the school)
|Federal student loans||Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans (for undergrad students): 2.75%|
Direct Unsubsidized Loans (for grad and professional students): 4.30%
Direct PLUS Loans: 5.30%
(for loans disbursed on or after July 1, 2020, and before July 1, 2021)
|Direct Subsidized Loans: $3,500 to $5,500 per year|
Direct Unsubsidized Loans: $5,500 to $20,500 per year (depending on dependency status and year in school)
Direct PLUS Loans: Up to school’s cost of attendance
(minus any other financial aid received)
|Directly to your school each term|
(leftover funds are typically released to the student)
|Payments typically start 6 months after you graduate or drop below half-time enrollment
(PLUS Loans have no grace period but might be eligible for deferment while you’re in school)
|Private student loans||Vary||Up to your school’s cost of attendance|
(depending on the lender)
|Typically issued directly to your school|
(leftover money might be refunded to the student)
|Depends on the lender
(many private loans offer 6-month grace periods)
4. Consider private student loans
If you’ve exhausted your federal financial aid and federal student loan options, private student loans could also help cover emergency expenses.
Depending on the lender, you might be able to borrow up to your school’s cost of attendance with a private student loan.
Some private student loan lenders — such as College Ave and MEFA — offer approval decisions within minutes. However, the entire application process might take up to two weeks if it requires further review.
Also keep in mind that it could take anywhere from a few weeks up to a couple of months from the time you’re approved until the funds are disbursed.
If you decide to take out a private student loan, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan amounts||Min. credit score|
|3.61%+||2.14%+||$1,000 to $200,000||600|
|4.24%+1||1.68%+1||$1,000 to $350,000|
(depending on degree)
|3.34%+2,3||1.04%+2,3||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance||Does not disclose|
|4.09%+7||1.99%+7||$1,000 to $200,000||750|
|3.83%+8||1.61%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance||670|
|3.75%+||N/A||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school’s certified cost of attendance|
(depending on school type and minus other aid received)
|4.25% - 12.59%9||1.13% - 11.23%9||Up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance||Does not disclose|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures
Learn More: How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan
CARES Act and financial aid
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities have received additional funding from the CARES Act, which has allowed them to provide Emergency Cash Grants to students who need financial support during this time.
This type of grant can be used to cover:
- Other education-related expenses
You’ll need to contact your school’s financial aid office to see if you qualify for an Emergency Cash Grant, as each school has its own eligibility requirements.
Other ways to handle a funding emergency as a student
If you can’t get emergency student loans, here are a few other options to consider:
Professional judgment review of federal aid
Your school’s financial aid administrator make adjustments to financial aid packages on a case-by-case basis for students experiencing unusual situations. This is called professional judgment.
If your financial aid eligibility has been impacted by unexpected circumstances, consider submitting an appeal to the financial aid office to see if you can get any more financial aid through professional judgment.
Each school has it’s own appeal deadline, so be sure to check with your school’s financial aid office to make sure you submit your appeal in time.
Ask your financial aid office for an extension
If you don’t qualify for emergency financial help, whether through grants or loans, see if your financial aid office will offer an extension or a payment plan.
Your school likely doesn’t want to lose you as a student and so might be willing to work with you.
Seek out scholarships or grants
Scholarships and grants could be another way to cover expenses — and unlike student loans, they don’t have to be repaid.
A good place to start your search is filling out the FAFSA, as you might qualify for federal grants or school-based scholarships.
There are also scholarships and grants available from a wide variety of local and national businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Learn More: How to Get Student Loans for Past Due Tuition
Your school’s financial aid office can help you find solutions
Be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office first if you’re facing an emergency situation.
They can help you explore what resources are available to you, such as emergency student loans, federal loans you haven’t claimed, or school-based assistance.
If you decide to take out a private student loan to cover emergency expenses, remember to consider as many lenders as you can to find the right loan for you. Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.