Last Minute Student Loans: Are You Really Out Of Time?

Learn more about how you can get a student loan at the last minute. Includes details on how fast you can get one, how you can get one, if it is a good idea and if a cosigner is required. Compare a few private student loans and learn about alternative options to emergency loans.

Updated by B Harshitha on 9th September 2020

Not filling your financial aid form at the right time can lead to a considerable amount of worry and panic. You may be wondering if it is possible for you to find a good student loan at the last minute. Well, worry not for there are a few things you could do to secure a student loan to take care of your educational funds even at the last minute.

Your options may be limited but there are certainly a lot of things you could do to pay for college.

You would also be pleased to know that emergency student loans are available if you are facing a shortage of cash or a hard time due to loss of job or a death or any other unfortunate event.


What is an emergency student loan?

Plenty of emergency personal expenses are likely to come up over the course of your education. Emergency student loans can also sub for last minute essential student loans to cover your tuition fee expenses. A few schools offer student loans with no interest applied on it up to $500 a semester to kids who face an emergency situation.

You can look into both Private Student Loans and federal student loan options if the emergency funding that you receive is not sufficient to cover your needs.

How fast can you get an emergency student loan?

The time that it could take for your funds to reach you varies. This also depends on a number of factors. Some of these factors are your school, your student loan lender and even what you are planning to devote the funds toward. For example, Perdue will give your loan the same day whereas UC Berkeley takes about two or three days to process your applications.

You might want to have a conversation with your financial aid office or student loan lender about the urgency of the situation that you are facing. If you think that you may not get your money on time, you can even look into other options like taking out a personal loan with a cosigner’s assistance. There are even some student loan lenders who consider your grades and not your credit score. For example, Boro. 

How to get a student loan at the last minute?

You are usually required to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Always be sure to accept any and all grants, scholarships and work-studies that you qualify for. You are not required to repay any of the mentioned loans.

Financial aid is not sufficient and you need student loans because you have more expenses, you can contact your school to enquire about the process for appealing your offer of aid. In that case, rectify or update your FAFSA. You may even submit a financial aid appeal letter.

But even if you haven’t done any of this on time, you would be glad to know that there are means by which you can get your hands on a good student loan.

You might want to do the following to secure a student loan at the last minute: 

Contact Your School’s Financial Aid Office

Make sure the financial aid office is informed that you are enrolled in the school but lack the funds to pay them. Most schools will take it upon themselves to help you out with financial aids and such since you are enrolled and have a slot for yourself in the school’s roster. The first step is to inform your financial aid office that you don’t have funds to pay for school but you are enrolled. You may even get grants and scholarships. Keeping in touch with the financial aid office can also help you keep up with all the necessary steps required to be taken and avoid any confusion.

Fill Out The FAFSA As Soon As You Can

The FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is a form that every student has to fill out in order to receive financial aid from the government in the form of grants, scholarships, student loans and work studies. Most financial counselors ask that you fill this out if you already haven’t. If you failed to do this on time this year, do it early next year since this can maximize your award potential. 

Exploit your federal direct loan limits

It is always a good idea to fully explore and exhaust your federal student loans before moving on to other means. Borrow as much as you can in federal direct student loans. They always offer lower interest rates than private student loans. They also do not require the interference of a cosigner. The emphasis placed on your credit is also almost negligible. Their repayment plans are incredibly flexible. They have plans like income-driven repayment plans which are beneficial to the borrower. What’s more? You can even qualify for student loan forgiveness in the future.

Your maximum borrowing limits for federal student loans will depend on the type of loan that you have taken out, your status as an independent or dependent student. This changes every year.

The limit for a typical dependent student are as follows:

  • For the first year: $5,500 totally; $3,500 subsidized.

  • For the second year: $6,600 totally; $4,500 subsidized.

  • For the third year and up: $7,500 totally; $5,500 subsidized.

Always borrow as much in subsidized student loans as you can because it doesn’t accrue interest while you are in college. Then move on to unsubsidized student loans.

Explore emergency aid

As already mentioned, emergency financial aids are available from colleges for students who are experiencing any unexpected event. This could be a parent’s loss of job or a health crisis. Emergency aid programs include grants, scholarships, vouchers and of course, student loans.

Emergency student loans are very common and a lot of colleges offer this option. This can be used just like regular financial aid, for most education-related expenses. This covers tuition, fees, books, etc. Enquire about the type of repayment plan that you’d like to opt for to pay the emergency student loan back.

A few Scholarships May Still Be Available

Before giving up on scholarships, remember that there are plenty of organizations out there that you may not have explored. You never know what you may qualify for. It is possible that a few applicants may not have claimed quite a few scholarships. 

You may also want to look for scholarships that do not ask for an essay since you are in an emergency. Apply for scholarships throughout the college year. This way you maximize your chances of landing at least one or a few.

Explore private student loan options

Private student loans are always available for borrowers to explore. You can apply for one from a bank or a credit union or an online lender. But often, a good credit score is an important requirement. You must either have a steady income or have a cosigner who does. There are also options for borrowers with poor credit or no cosigner.

Different schools have different due dates for payments. You may face a delay between the time of applying, approval and disbursement if you have passed the due date for payment and are getting a private student loan. Talk to your lender about the time that it will take for your loan to get disbursed. Also be sure to inform your financial aid office about your plans for payment. Compare different private student loans to see what rates and features they have to offer.

Private student loans will require you to present the following details. Keep them ready since time is of the essence when under an emergency.

  • Details of your name, phone, email and residential address

  • Your date of birth

  • Your Social Security number

  • A pay stub that is no more than 60 days old. Other proofs of income and monthly housing payment proofs can also be presented

  • Details of your employer such as their name, phone number, and length of employment

  • Name of the school that you plan on attending

  • The cost of attendance and any financial aid that you received

  • Your graduation date(anticipated), the period of your loan and the amount of loan required

  • If you are a student borrower, you will have to provide a reference

  • Cosigner’s details (if applicable)

Work Study Programs

These are not loans, but work-study programs can be a great way to get your hands on some much needed money. These programs work around your schedule of study, thereby causing little to no hassle. They may not pay much, but it is definitely worth your consideration since you are in college and can not think of a full time job for money. Most programs allow you to study while on the clock.

Also remember not to discount a regular part-time job, especially if the employer is willing to adapt your schedule. This could pay more than a work-study. 

Put Off School For A Little Bit

This might sound a little disappointing, but sometimes no matter how hard you try, once the time is past, things may not work out. This is nothing to be discouraged about. If all of the above mentioned options lead to dead ends, you might want to put off school for a little bit. 

You can file a FAFSA next year and have plenty of time for scholarships and even work for a little bit to save up some money.

Most colleges do permit deferment of enrolment for a little bit.

Is a last minute student loan a good idea?

Think about the following factors before applying for an emergency student loan:

  • Eligibility: Schools that offer emergency aids have certain eligibility criteria that students are expected to meet. Also bear in mind that an emergency aid may not cover all your expenses.

  • Repayment issues: Carefully think about whether or not you will be able to repay the debt back on time. Inability to oblige deadlines and other terms can jeopardize your education. You could incur late fees and since you are dealing with your college, they could deny registrations to a few classes.

  • Costs involved: You would be pleased to learn that most emergency student loans refrain from charging any interest, unlike other types of personal and student loans. But some service or organization fee may have to be paid by you.

Can you apply for an emergency student loan without a cosigner?

It comes down to where you are getting your emergency funds from. If you are planning to take an emergency student loan from your school, you will not need a cosigner. The same applies for federal student loans.

But quite a few private student loans expect the involvement of cosigner, especially if you do not have a full-time job or a strong personal credit score or are an international student.

So enquire accordingly and gather required details and documents of yourself and your cosigner if required.

Compare a few top private student loans

The following table gives you details of a few leading private student loans. Refer to the table and see which one fits your needs best.






Good to excellent

Depends on the lender

Starts at 2.84%(with autopay)


Depends on the lender

Depends on the lender

Depends on the lender




4.51% to 9.26%




3.31% to 9.74%

Lending Tree

Good to excellent

Depends on the lender

Starts at 3%

Some alternatives to last minute student loans

At the end of the day, emergency student loans are still debt. And remember that letting your debt grow is not the only way to take care of your expenses while in school. The following are some options to help you get funds that do not require you to pile on debt:

  • Grants and scholarships: Students who are struggling with unexpected costs can avail grants or scholarships up to $500, mostly from private schools. For specific needs, you can even get larger funds.

  • Food pantries: For students who can not afford a meal plan, many schools offer free food.

  • Nonprofits: Students who are facing sudden hardships can even approach nonprofits. They cater to specific situations.

  • Ask for an extension or payment plan: If you are finding it difficult to meet your school’s tuition deadline but think you will have the money required soon, schools may be willing to offer you an extension or set up a payment plan suited for you.


Securing a student loan at the last minute to pay for expenses in college can be quite a nerve wracking affair, not to mention the anxiety and worry that you as a student may undergo. But worry not, there are options aplenty out there to take care of your concerns. There are options like college-offered emergency loans and numerous private student loans.

Some other options include scholarships, grants, working a job, and even putting off your education for a bit so you can buy yourself some time to get all your finances lined up ahead of time.