Private School Loans: Application Process

Finding a private loan for school can seem daunting at first - that is, until you learn what's involved. Compared to filing the FAFSA, applying for a private loan is much less complicated and can even be faster! As long as you're prepared, there's no reason to struggle through the process. To keep you ahead of the game, we'll walk you through everything, from what documents you'll need to when to expect your funds.

Before you apply

If you're prepared and have the right documents in front of you, the application process will be easy as pie. Here's a list of items you should have in hand when you start your private loan application:

  • Your Social Security Number
  • A driver's license (if applicable)
  • College information including your cost of attendance and a specified amount you wish to borrow
  • Employment information (if applicable)
  • A cosigner (and their email address)
  • Reference contact information

You should also note that while a cosigner is not required, applying with one may greatly increase your chance of approval, and may even lower your interest rate. If you're having trouble finding someone to cosign, make sure to mention that some private school loans do come with a cosigner release option.

Applying for a loan

The application process for a private loan is painless. To keep it painless, we always recommend that students apply with a cosigner for the best chance of approval. While the exact application process may be different for each lender, it generally looks like this:

Step 1: Choose a lender who works with your school. Not all lenders provide loans for every institution, so find what is available to you and compare your options at

Step 2: Apply online with the lender of your choice. In most cases, once your application is submitted, you'll be notified of your pre-qualification within a few minutes.

Step 3: Sign supplemental documents. By law, lenders are required to provide a Truth in Lending Disclosure that you will need to review and sign before loans can be disbursed. Your lender may also require other documents such as a choice of repayment plan before your loan can be approved. This step can typically be completed on paper, or online.

Step 4: Get approved and sign. Once your application is approved, you will need to sign a Self Certification form and Master Promissory Note where you officially accept the terms of the loan. Like step 3, this can also be completed online.

Step 5: Your school certifies the loan. This step is handled by your lender and the school you are attending simply to verify your enrollment at the institution and your eligibility.

Receiving the funds

Once your school certifies the loan and all paperwork has been completed, the lender will send the funds directly to your school. It will take a couple of days for your school to receive these funds, and then another couple of weeks for the school to process the check.

This whole process can take anywhere from 14-60 days depending on when you apply, so make sure you plan ahead for each semester.

When to apply

If you do find yourself with unexpected expenses, you can apply for a private loan at any time during the year.