Your Student Loan Application Checklist
By Rachel Seitz
Preparing to head off to school can be an exciting time that’s full of potential — and it can also be a stressful time with lots of steps to take as you get ready. If you’re like millions of people in the US, one of these steps may be applying for a student loan. At Climb, we want to provide resources to help make sure financing is the least of your worries. So, we’ve created a student loan application checklist to look at before you apply! Jump to each of the sections below to read more.
1) Check Your Credit Report
2) Make Sure You’re Going to the Right School
3) Figure Out What You Need
4) Talk to Your School About Options
5) Research Lenders and Ask Questions
6) Gather the Necessary Personal Information
7) Read Loan Documents Carefully
Check out Your Credit Report
If you’re applying for a private student loan, your credit is going to play a large role in your approval. Many lenders use credit history as a main factor in determining whether or not someone qualifies for a loan. Before beginning an application, you might want to take a look at your credit report (click the following link to view a guide for how to read a credit report) to see where you stand, while also reviewing it to make sure there are no inaccuracies. You may also consider finding a student loan co-borrower to apply with you, as most private lenders allow for this option!
Make Sure You’re Going to the Right School
No one wants to pay tuition, fees, and interest (not to mention time and effort) on a program which in the end doesn’t actually benefit them. Before you commit to a school and take out a loan to pay for it, research things like cost, faculty, and reviews to see if it’s really worth it. Make sure the school you’ve chosen isn’t just good quality, but is the right fit for you.
Figure Out What You Need
While you may not want to take out a loan for less than you need, you also definitely don’t want to over-borrow. Know what your budget is, what you’ll need to pay in tuition, and how much cost-of-living you’ll have beyond what you can afford on your own. If you’re thinking about borrowing above the cost of tuition, but aren’t sure how much, if any, you should request, take a look at our blog post on living expense financing!
Talk to Your School About Options
There are plenty of different financial aid options out there, and your school is a great resource when it comes to finding them. Many schools offer scholarships, are eligible for federal student loans, partner with private lenders, or offer their own in-house loans. Beyond helping you learn about potential scholarships and the different types of student loans that are available to you, they are also often available to help students along the application process!
Research Lenders and Ask Questions
But it’s not enough just to be told what your options are. Before agreeing to a loan, research these options and decide which would be the best for you. Just like with schools, you’ll want to read what others have written about them and reach out to ask any questions you may have. You’ll also want to read their FAQ page, note their loan term lengths and rates (both interest rate and APR), and get a feel for what their application processes are like. Finding a lending institution that fits is almost as important as finding a school that fits!
Gather the Necessary Personal Information
Upon your initial application, you’ll be asked to provide some information about you and your school, so you’ll want to have everything you need handy. This can vary by lender, but most will ask for info like name, address, social security number, and more. For a Climb Credit application, you’ll want to have on-hand:
First and last name
Date of birth
Social security number
Program information (school name, campus, course name, start date)
How much you want to take out in a loan
If you’re adding a co-borrower to your application, you’ll also be asked to enter their personal information as well. So make sure you have their contact info and social security number available when you apply!
Read Loan Documents Carefully
OK, so you’ve done your research and applied for a student loan. The next step in your loan application checklist is to go through all the documents in order to fully understand the agreement you’re entering into. Just as with any transaction, it’s important to understand every aspect the terms you’re consenting to follow; this way, you’ll be better able to avoid any surprises or pitfalls later on down the road. It may seem tedious, but it’s worth the extra time reading (or rereading, if need be) in order to really know what you’re assenting to.
Figuring out financing for you school can be hard enough. But the right preparation will not only make the process easier, but will ensure you’re getting the most benefit out of your investment. Best of luck with your applications, and remember: your school and your lender are here to help, whether you’re looking for definitions of loan terms or student loan repayment tips!