Emergency Student Loans: 4 Steps Everyone Should Know

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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:

  1. Speak to your school’s financial aid administrator
  2. Claim federal student loans
  3. Take out small loans through your school
  4. 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.

Tip: If you’re homeless or at risk of losing housing — whether it’s on or off campus — there are national resources available that could assist you, such as 211.

Your financial aid office might also be able to help you find emergency housing if you’re homeless or struggling to find a place to live.

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.

Keep in mind: Most federal student loans don’t require borrowers to undergo a credit check or to have a cosigner. This could make federal student loans much easier to qualify for compared to private student loans.

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

Total Payment
$

Total Interest
$

Monthly Payment
$

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
  • Typically interest-free
    (depending on the school)
  • Might come with a small fee charged by the financial aid office
Generally less than $1,000
(some might be larger to cover housing expenses)
Might be issued through:
  • Cash
  • Check
  • Electronic funds transfer
  • Debit card
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)

Find Out: Are Interest-Free Loans Really Interest-Free?

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.

Tip: You’ll generally need good to excellent credit to qualify for a private student loan. While some lenders offer student loans for bad credit, the interest rates on these loans are typically higher compared to the rates for borrowers with good credit.

If you can’t get approved for a private student loan on your own, another option is applying with a cosigner. This could be a parent, other relative, or trusted friend with good credit.

Even if you don’t need a cosigner to qualify, having one could get you a lower interest rate than you’d get on your own.

Just keep in mind that if you don’t keep up with your payments, your cosigner will be on the hook for the loan — which could hurt your credit score as well as theirs.

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


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.09%+

1.48%+
$2,001 to $200,000 540
  • Fixed APR:

    3.09%+
  • Variable APR:

    1.48%+
  • Min. credit score:
    540
  • Loan amount:
    $2,001 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 7, 10, 12, 15, 20
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    0.25% to 1.00% automatic payment discount, 1% cash back graduation reward
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or DACA student enrolled at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 months
  • Loan servicer:
    Launch Servicing, LLC


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.23%+1

1.03%+1
$1,000 to $350,000
(depending on degree)
720
  • Fixed APR:

    3.23%+1
  • Variable APR:

    1.03%+1
  • Min. credit score:
    720
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 to $350,000
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Loan types:
    Any private or federal student loan
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, loyalty
  • Eligibility:
    Available in all 50 states (international students can apply with a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident cosigner)
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 36 months
  • Loan servicer:
    Firstmark Services


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


2.94%+2,3


0.99%+2,3
$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance Does not disclose
  • Fixed APR:

    2.94%+2,3
  • Variable APR:

    0.99%+2,3
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 8, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 24 months
  • Loan servicer:
    College Ave Servicing LLC


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.

3.75%+ 1.08%+ $1,000 to $99,999 annually
($180,000 aggregate limit)
Does not disclose
  • Fixed APR:
    3.75%+
  • Variable APR:
    1.08%+
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 to $99,999 annually
    ($180,000 aggregate limit)
  • Loan terms (years):
    7, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, immediate repayment, interest-only repayment, flat/full repayment, academic deferment, military deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Not available to residents of AZ, IA, or WI
  • Customer service:
    Phone, email
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 36 months
  • Loan servicer:
    American Education Services
  • Min. income:
    Does not disclose


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.02%+7

2.2%+7
$1,000 to $200,000 750
  • Fixed APR:

    3.02%+7
  • Variable APR:

    2.2%+7
  • Min. credit score:
    750
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 to $200,000
  • Loan terms (years):
    7, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and have a minimum income of $30,000.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 36 months
  • Loan servicer:
    Granite State Management & Resources (GSM&R)


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.83%+8

1.69%+8
$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance 670
  • Fixed APR:

    3.83%+8
  • Variable APR:

    1.69%+8
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • Loan amount:
    $1,001 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    5, 10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, full monthly payment, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferment, forbearance
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay, reward for on-time graduation
  • Eligibility:
    Must be an Indiana resident or a U.S. citizen attending an eligible Indiana school
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 48 months
  • Loan servicer:
    American Education Services


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


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)
670
  • Fixed APR:

    3.75%+
  • Variable APR:
    N/A
  • Min. credit score:
    670
  • Loan amount:
    $1,500 up to cost of attendance less aid
  • Loan terms (years):
    10, 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, interest only, immediate repayment, academic deferral, forbearance
  • Fees:
    None
  • Discounts:
    None
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be making satisfactory academic progress.
  • Customer service:
    Email, phone
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 48 months
  • Loan servicer:
    American Education Services (AES)


Credible Rating


Credible lender ratings are evaluated by our editorial team with the help of our loan operations team. The rating criteria for lenders encompass 78 data points spanning interest rates, loan terms, eligibility requirement transparency, repayment options, fees, discounts, customer service, cosigner options, and more. Read our full methodology.


3.5% – 12.6% APR9

1.13% – 11.23% APR9
Up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance Does not disclose
  • Fixed APR:

    3.5% – 12.6% APR9
  • Variable APR:

    1.13% – 11.23% APR9
  • Min. credit score:
    Does not disclose
  • Loan amount:
    $1,000 up to cost of attendance
  • Loan terms (years):
    10 to 15
  • Repayment options:
    Full deferral, fixed/flat repayment, interest only, academic deferment, forbearance, loans discharged upon death or disability
  • Fees:
    Late fee
  • Discounts:
    Autopay
  • Eligibility:
    Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Also available to non-U.S. citizen students (including DACA students) attending a school located in the U.S. who apply with a qualifying cosigner.
  • Customer service:
    Phone, chat
  • Soft credit check:
    Yes
  • Cosigner release:
    After 12 consecutive on-time payments
  • Loan servicer:
    Sallie Mae
Compare rates without affecting
your credit score. 100% free!

Compare Now

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:

  • Tuition
  • Housing
  • Food
  • Childcare
  • Supplies
  • Computers
  • Transportation
  • 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.

Tip: If your school closed down or if your classes were canceled or moved online due to the pandemic, you might be eligible for a refund from your school.

If you qualify for a refund, you could use it to pay down existing student loan debt or save it for future education expenses.

Check Out: What to Do If You’re Denied a Student Loan With a Cosigner

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.

Tip: Just keep in mind that typical scholarships and grants might take longer to qualify for than emergency assistance grants.

If you explore these routes, make sure you know what you need to qualify and when you can expect to get your money.

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.

Compare student loan rates from top lenders
  • Multiple lenders compete to get you the best rate
  • Get actual rates, not estimated ones
  • Finance almost any degree

See Your Rates
Checking rates will not affect your credit

About the author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn is a student loan authority and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Bankate, Inc, Quartz, and more.

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