Emergency Student Loans
Emergency student loans are intended for students faced with an urgent need for money to continue their education. There are a variety of circumstances that can lead to this situation, but it’s common enough that according to a study by student affairs organization, NASPA, 70% of two and four year schools have emergency aid programs in place to help with students experiencing financial hardship and prevent any interruptions to your education.
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There’s no such thing as an “instant student loan,” but there are actions you can take to get money fast. The first place you should start is your school’s financial aid office. Many colleges have their own funds to draw from for students in this situation and can disburse that money quickly. The financial aid office staff is well-versed in these situations and can present you will a list of options.
Sources for emergency student aid often include:
- The college or university
- The state you attend college in
- Educational organizations and non-profits
- Federal aid programs
- Private student loans
Emergency student loans are not your only option. Your school may also offer assistance in form of vouchers. According to NASPA, many colleges offer aid through food pantries, textbook vouchers, restricted or unrestricted grants, and emergency scholarship funds in an effort to prevent students from leaving school due to unexpected financial hardship.
How Do I Get an Emergency Student Loan?
Once the financial aid officer has presented you with your options, you will need to explore the eligibility requirements of each program and determine which best fits your circumstances. Remember, you may be able to apply to more than one assistance program.
Not all schools offer the same programs, and some may not have an internal solution for helping to secure emergency funds. Therefore, it is also worth exploring your federal aid options to ensure you aren’t eligible for more aid from the federal government.
Set up some time with your financial aid office. They can let you know if you are eligible for any additional federal aid funds, like student loans, or your eligibility for a Direct PLUS loans.
Unlike the Direct Stafford Loan program, the Direct PLUS loan program will allow you to borrow funds up to your school’s determined cost of attendance (COA), minus other financial aid received. Now, if you’re an undergraduate student you’re not eligible to borrow a PLUS loan, but your parents may be. If you’re a graduate student, this could be an option for additional funding.
Also, if you take some time to meet with your school, they may be able to explain different campus resources (like housing, food, healthcare, career counseling) available to you.
What Can I Expect From an Emergency Student Loan?
Emergency student loans really are reserved for emergencies, and typically have a shorter repayment period than traditional student loans. It’s important to understand the rules and expectations that accompany the loan. For example, some emergency student loans may need to be repaid within 90 days or six months. This is very different from federal student loans which do not enter repayment until six months after you leave school.
Other things to consider:
- Loan amounts are typically lower
- Loan are typically low or no interest
- Emergency student loans aren’t meant to cover large expenses. They are there to fill funding gaps. Most emergency student loans are for smaller amounts such as $500 to $1,000 dollars.
Emergency Parent PLUS Loans or Grad PLUS Loans
Direct PLUS Loans are offered by the federal government to parents (of dependent undergraduate students as determined by the FAFSA), or graduate students. These loans don’t have the same annual or aggregate limits of Direct Stafford Loans. Parents and graduate students can borrow up to the school’s cost of attendance minus any other financial aid received.
Once the student completes the FAFSA, the PLUS Loan borrower (parent or graduate student) will need to complete an additional application go to StudentAid.gov. The borrower will need to log in with their FSA ID—parents that means you will need to log in with your own credentials.
If you’re eligible, these funds can be dispersed rather quickly but will still be dispersed directly to the student’s account at their school. You will need to check with the school to determine how they will refund those funds to you, it could take up to 14 days.
Private Emergency Student Loans
You may also look into a private student loan to help cover expenses. Private student loan minimums are typically more than most students need in an emergency situation, but can be an excellent option if you are not able to secure an emergency student loan from your school, federal aid, or other organization.
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Private student loans offer competitive interest rates, but often require a cosigner. The funds are typically disbursed within 30-days directly to the student’s school account. Your school will also need to certify the amount being borrowed. You will only be able to borrow up to your cost of attendance (as determined by your school) minus any other financial aid received.
Always explore non-loan options first. Scholarships, grants, and vouchers do not need to be repaid, and are the best place to start. If you find yourself in a position where you need emergency money for school make an appointment with your financial aid office immediately to learn about the programs available to you.