You are preparing to return to school. A quick scan of your financial picture makes it clear that you are seriously short of funds underwrite this project. You know that loans are in your future if your educational dream is to become reality. If you have never applied for a student loan or it has been many years, there are a few things to know before you begin the process.

The first step in obtaining a student loan should start at the school that you plan to attend. You need to make sure that students attending this school are eligible to receive student loans or any type of federal financial aid. Almost all colleges, universities, and trade schools qualify for this kind of financial assistance for their students.

You will need to get a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Financial Aid) from you chosen institution. If you are still in high school, your guidance counselor will probably have this form. This form must be filled out completely. If you are emancipated from your parents either by law or because you are old enough to qualify, you can omit their financial information from this form unless they are going to apply for a “Parent Plus” loan to give you additional monetary assistance.

Be as honest as possible on this form because if they see any suspicious data, you may be asked to send in documentation to verify your numbers. This will only slow the process to receive your student loans. If they discover that you have lied on the form, you will almost always be disqualified for a student loan. Make sure that you sign and date the form. Attach all requested support documentation before sending it off. Work hard to keep the application as legible as possible. This will help assure your figures are computed accurately.

About two weeks after filing your FAFSA, check with the school to make sure that they have received your SAR (Student Aid Report). The numbers on this report tell the school what type of aid that you qualify to receive and how much. If the institution has not received this information, they should be able to give you guidance about what to do next. Normally, this is not a problem.

You generally do not have to go to the bank to get your money. It is disbursed directly to the school a few weeks after classes begin. It is a good idea to check with the student accounts office about four to six weeks into the semester to verify that the money has been received and applied to your account. If there are surplus funds, you can withdraw this money to help with living expenses and can even get same day loans for bad credit. However, it is always a good idea to leave this money in the account to help pay for the next semester if you can afford to do so.

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