How Long Does It Take to Get a Student Loan?

Posted by in Loans | Updated on May 30, 2023
At a Glance: Federal student loans can take up to a month to get approved. Private student loans usually take a few days. The time until the loan is disbursed can vary from weeks to months depending on a lot of different factors.

Attending college or university requires a lot of planning. One of the things you need to juggle is the timing of student loans and tuition deadlines. To figure this out, you need to know how long does it take to get a student loan. The answer depends on the type of loan. Read on to learn more.

How Long Does it Take to Get Federal Student Loans?

You can access federal student loans by filing a Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing a FAFSA is also the only way to get several other types of financial aid, including merit-based scholarships, grants, work-study programs, and institutional financial aid. 

When it comes to how long it take to get a student loan from the federal government, no set length of time applies universally. The time between filing a FAFSA and approval can vary from a few weeks to several months.

You should apply for federal student loans at least four to six weeks before you will need the money. The financial aid office of your school may recommend that you apply as soon as FAFSA applications open in October, even if you haven’t yet received an acceptance letter. You will be able to amend the details of your application for several months after you submit it.

How Long Does it Take to get Private Student Loans?

You can apply for student loans from private lenders by submitting a loan application with a student loan lender. Private student loan lenders work differently than the federal government. 

There is no set application window to apply for a private student loan. You can apply at any time, as long as you have an acceptance letter. 

When it comes to how long it take to get a student loan from a private lender, the answer varies depending on the lender. Each private lender has specific requirements and conditions. This variety can be confusing, so compare different lenders’ offerings to figure out which best suits your needs. 

Unlike with federal loans, the time between submitting an application for a private student loan and getting it approved can be just a few days, or even the same day in some cases. Processing and disbursement can take between two and ten weeks, depending on whether the loan is school-certified or not.

Please note that although they are convenient and faster, private student loans should be your last resort. They have higher interest than federal student loans and generally fewer benefits (e.g. payment holidays, forbearance, subsidies, and loan forgiveness). 

How to Check the Status of Your Student Loan

After you submit a FAFSA, you can check the status of your application by logging in to your profile on The status of all your federal student aid applications will be listed on the My FAFSA page. 

Alternatively, you can call the Federal Student Aid Information Centre at 1-800-4-FED-AID (1-800-433-3243) and follow the prompts. Finally, you can contact your school’s financial aid office if you want to find out when your federal student loans will be disbursed.

Concerning private student loans, the exact process of checking the status of your application varies between lenders. However, in recent times, it has become standard for the lender to provide an online platform that allows you to check and manage your loan, even if the application was in-person. You can also call or email the lender to get information about the status of your loan. 

Finally, If your private student loan is school-certified, you can contact your school’s financial aid office to find out how long it takes to get a student loan disbursed once the certification process is complete.

Student Loan Times FAQ

The concerns addressed below often come up when discussing how long it take to get a student loan.

How far before the school year should I apply for a student loan?

The earlier you apply the better. This is especially true for submitting your FAFSA. Some financial aid packages are awarded on a first come first served basis, so the difference between getting, for example, a certain grant, or not could just be how early your application came in. 

Completing the FAFSA online only takes about an hour and you do not need to have an acceptance letter to submit. The process also takes less than an hour. You should submit your FAFSA as soon as applications open on October 1 the year before your enrollment. 

Note that you need to submit a separate FAFSA for every academic year.

Private student loan lenders accept applications throughout the year and offer a faster process overall. However, it is still important to give yourself a lot of time to explore alternatives and make comparisons between various lenders to find the best one for you. Thus you should begin this process at least a few months before you plan to attend. Then, you can submit your application as soon as you have an acceptance letter.  

Is there any way to speed up the student loan process?

No. The best way to speed up the process is to apply early. Submitting your FAFSA as early as possible means that you will receive a result early and have time to amend your application. 

Some private lenders offer accelerated approval, but there is no getting around the fact that some amount of time is necessary to process your application and handle the disbursement process. If your lender requests extra documentation or other information, respond quickly to minimize delays.

Is it easy to get private student loans?

Relatively. Private student loan lenders are financially incentivized to maximize the number of people taking out loans with them, so their processes are designed to be as easy and fast as possible to complete.

However, the FAFSA process is also streamlined and involves a single application for many different kinds of federal financial aid. The FAFSA system determines your eligibility for various kinds of available financial aid based on the information you submit.

Because of the advantages of federal financial aid (grants, scholarships, etc), it is highly recommended that you file a FAFSA as early as possible, and only apply for private student loans as a last resort.

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Final Thoughts

The answer to how long it takes to get a student loan depends on the type: federal or private. Generally, federal student loans can take up to a month to get approved, and private student loans a few days. The time until the loan is disbursed can vary from weeks to months depending on various factors. The best way to ensure a smooth FAFSA process is to apply as soon as possible after applications open on October 1.