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Emergency Student Loans

Emergency student loans exist to help students avoid interruptions to their education. Though the circumstances for seeking emergency student loans vary by individual, it's a frequent enough need that according to a study by NASPA, a national student affairs organization, 70% of two and four year schools have emergency aid programs in place. These programs are intended for urgent and short-term help to prevent students from leaving school due to unforeseen financial hardship.

Emergency Student Loan Programs

When you're in need of an emergency student loan, you need money fast. If you find yourself in a situation where you do not have enough money to pay your college related expenses, the first thing you should do is contact your school's financial aid office. It's not uncommon for schools to have funds designated for students' financial emergencies, and if you qualify these funds can be disbursed quickly.

Your school's financial aid office is well-versed in handling these situations and can provide you with a list of potential emergency aid options.

Sources for emergency student aid may include:

  • Your college or university
  • Non-profit and educational organizations
  • The state in which you attend college
  • Federal aid program, including emergency funds made available due to national emergencies
  • Private student loans

Not all financial emergencies will require an emergency student loan. Based on your circumstances, your school may also offer assistance in other ways. Many colleges offer aid through textbook vouchers, food pantries, emergency scholarships as well as restricted and unrestricted grants. Your financial aid office will have a list of options available at your school.

Once you have reviewed your options and determined which programs you may qualify for, it's time to apply. You may qualify for more than one assistance program based on your circumstances, so be sure to review all of your options with the financial aid office.

However, not all schools have an internal program to help students with financial hardships and emergencies. If this is your situation, you still have options.

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Emergency Federal Student Loans

First, start with federal aid options. You may be eligible for more aid from the federal government, such as additional Direct Stafford student loans. Again, you will want to visit your financial aid office to explore this possibility.

If you do not qualify for more loans from the Direct Stafford Student Loan Program, you may also look into the Direct PLUS Loan Program.

Emergency Parent PLUS or Grad PLUS Loans

In contrast to 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. Graduate students are eligible to apply for PLUS loans on their own, however, if you are a dependent undergraduate student your parent must apply—independent undergraduate students are not eligible to borrow PLUS loans. PLUS loans do require a credit check (though not as strict as a private student loan credit check).

If you do receive additional federal loans, this money will be subject to the repayment terms of the federal student loan program, just like any other federal student loans you may have.

Read Federal Parent PLUS Loan Introduction to learn more about Parent PLUS Loans and Grad PLUS Loans for Graduate Students to learn more about Grad PLUS Loans.

Emergency Private Student Loans

If you have explored all of your other options and you are still coming up short on cash, you may consider looking into private student loans. Private student loans typically have a minimum amount of around $1,000, but this may vary by lender. Here’s what to consider if you’re looking at a private student loan to help in an emergency.

Did you exhaust your federal, state, and institutional emergency student loan options?

What is the most competitive interest rate available?

Do you have a creditworthy cosigner to help you qualify?

Private student loans must be certified by your financial aid office. If approved, loan funds are disbursed to your school.

Apply for Emergency Student Loans

Applying for emergency student loans will differ depending on what kind of funds you are applying for. If you’re applying for a private student loan, you can easily review our lender partners here and apply online.

If you’re applying for federal aid, or one of your college’s institutional programs, you will want to contact your school’s financial aid office for more information.

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