Can You Apply for a Student Loan Any Time of the Year?

These days, the vast majority of college students have to take out loans of varying amounts in order to pay for their education. In 2016 70% of graduates left school with outstanding loans with an average debt of $37,000 apiece. It’s pretty clear that if you’re concerned with paying your tuition, you’re not alone. Loan debt is a hot topic in political and social debate, with some concerned that students are not properly prepared to sign off on loans. Before signing on the dotted line, it’s important to understand every step of the process, especially a student loan deadline.

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When is a Student Loan Deadline?

One of the most commonly asked questions regarding student loans is pretty simple: can you apply for a student loan at any time of the year? The simple answer, which isn’t very helpful, is that it depends on what kind of loan you’re talking about. To be more specific, every type of loan has a hard deadline, and lenders are not often lenient with their timelines. Breaking it down further, you’re probably aware that there are two types of student loans: public loans, which come from the federal government, and private loans, which come from corporations and lending houses.

Like most government operations, the federal student aid program seems very complex at first. There are several different options, but all loans are disbursed through the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. If you intend to apply for any form of student loan, you need, need, NEED to fill out the FAFSA on time.

FAFSA Deadlines

What is “on time?” Each year, the FAFSA is typically open for applications for the following fall on October 1. FAFSA forms for the 2017-2018 school year were posted on October 1, 2016. For the 2017-2018 school year, the latest possible date you can file the form is June 30, 2018. After this date, you will no longer be able to enter a FAFSA application for the school year. The FAFSA recently shifted its opening date up by three months, from January to October, which has resulted in some confusion. However, the basic principle is still the same: the sooner you fill the form out, the better because your application will be closer to the top of the financial aid pile.

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Private Loan Deadlines

The answer to “when can I apply?” is relatively straightforward for public loans—any time before June 30. However, the web gets a little more tangled when talking about private loans. One of the good things about the FAFSA program is that it only requires one form, covering all loan types, while each different private lending house has its own form. Private sources like Sallie Mae offer loans all year round, but you should be careful when you go this route. Make sure you know when your funds will start going to your school because there’s a long period between the application and disbursement (hence the FAFSA’s October 1 post date).

So, there you have it: for federal FAFSA-based loans, you can apply any time before June 30 of the following year, though earlier is better, and for private loans, you can apply any time you deem it financially convenient. Just keep in mind that interest rates can change and, additionally, your school might offer private aid of their own in the form of scholarships and grants. When applying for student loans, the most important thing to consider is what will be easiest, both financially and practically, for you and your family.

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Lender Rates (APR) Eligibility
Citizens logo.
6.98%-15.04%* Variable
5.99%-14.00%* Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Sallie Mae logo.
6.37% - 16.70% Variable
4.50% - 15.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Credibe company logo.
4.98% - 16.85% Variable
4.07% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Lendkey company logo.
6.07% - 11.31% Variable
4.39% - 10.39% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Ascent company logo.
6.24% - 15.85% Variable
4.29% - 15.76% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
6.54% - 11.08% Variable
3.95% - 8.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
Earnest company logo.
5.62% - 16.85% Variable
4.39% - 16.49% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
4.98% - 12.79% Variable
8.42% - 13.01% Fixed
Undergraduate and Graduate
College Raptor is not a loan lender and does not assume responsibility for suggesting a loan to a user who may not be eligible for it. Rates, terms, conditions, eligibility, approval, and other considerations are the decisions of the lenders and may vary depending on which lender or marketplace the user selects. We urge users to carefully consider and review all loan options and terms before committing to taking out a loan.

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