Documents You Need to Apply for Student Loans

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Student loans are often necessary when paying for college. This lesson will explain what documents are needed when applying for student loans and will end with a short quiz to test what you have learned.

Student Loans

The cost of college continues to skyrocket. Most students require some financial aid to pay for college. Student loans can be a good way to bridge the gap between any other types of need-based or merit aid. Unlike grants or scholarships, student loans must be repaid.

Before we get into the documents you need before applying for a student loan, let's briefly discuss the different types of loans available. Federal student loans are offered by the government and are available to most students. These loans may be subsidized, which means that the government covers the interest on the loan for you for a certain period of time, or they may be unsubsidized, which means that you are responsible for all of the interest.

Private student loans are offered by banks, are usually a bit tougher to get, and may require a co-signer, someone who assumes responsibility for repaying the loan if the student is unable to. Private student loans usually have higher interest rates than federal student loans. International student loans are available to non-resident students from outside the United States, but they have specific and unique requirements that exceed the scope of this lesson.

Whether you decide to use a federal or private loan, you will have to gather some necessary documents together before applying for the loan. Let's take a look at what is required.

Required Documents

Lenders want to make sure that you are borrowing the money for a valid reason and that you will be able to repay what you have borrowed. In other words, they need to know a bit more about you before just handing over thousands of dollars. The way that lenders and banks get to know you is through personal and financial documents.

Social security card

If you have ever had a job, then you probably have a social security card. This card lists your full name along with a unique number assigned to you by the government. Your social security number is usually tied to every bit of your financial and employment history, so potential lenders use this information on your credit history when determining if they can loan you money.

Driver's license or other official identification

In addition to allowing you to operate a motor vehicle, a driver's license shows important information about you. It has a photograph along with date of birth, address, height, and weight. Like a social security card, your driver's license also has a unique number assigned to you. Lenders use this information to verify that you are who you claim to be.

An official government-issued identification card can substitute for a driver's license in many cases. A passport is another option for official documentation. Again, these documents help lenders decide if they should lend money to you.

Proof of enrollment or other school documentation

Most student loans have limits on how much they will allow you to borrow. Banks usually need to see official documents from your school showing that you are officially enrolled. These documents should also indicate the amount of tuition you will be charged by the school. This helps potential lenders determine the amount of your loan.

Completed tax return documents

Most adults file income tax returns every April 15th in the United States. These tax returns show how much money the individual earned and how much he or she paid in taxes. Banks will request to see your tax returns, if you filed, and may ask for the tax returns of your parents if you are a dependent student. In other words, if your parents are helping you pay for school, then potential lenders will want to see their tax returns as well.

Paycheck stubs

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