Whether you’re considering borrowing or refinancing education debt, applying for a loan may be your best financial move.
However, the application process can take longer than you think. That’s why having all the documents required for student loan applications can save you and your lender both time and effort, ultimately getting your loan approved much more quickly.
You and your cosigner, if you have one, will need to have personal, financial and employment information handy even when applying for federal student loans.
If you’re unsure where to begin on your student loan documents, here are seven pieces of information or paperwork your lender may request, as well as how to find them.
1. Credit score and history
2. Valid identification
3. Social Security number
4. Employment and income verification
5. Recent tax documents
6. Bank account and asset information
7. Payment obligations
Most lenders will pull both your credit score and history for you. However, it’s always a good idea to do your own credit check to make sure everything on your credit history is correct before you begin your loan paperwork.
A good credit score signals to the lender you’re able to manage your money and debt. It can also reward you with substantially lower interest payments each month.
|What credit-related documents are required for federal student loans?|
|The majority of federal loans don’t require a credit check, and even those that do only limit borrowing if you have an adverse credit history. So if you’re borrowing federal loans and not private, you can skip ahead. You’ll still need to show Uncle Sam other student loan documents on this list, including your ID, Social Security number and tax paperwork.|
On the other hand, a low credit score, a history of not paying your bills on time or a limited credit history, can significantly lower your chances of being approved for a student loan. (With that said, you could find a cosigner with a better credit score or longer credit history who will agree to repay your debt if you fall on hard times.)
If you have a credit card, you may be able to check your credit score for free online through that lender’s system. You can also employ free credit monitoring tools like MyLendingTree.
You should also sign up to get your free credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. You can see what a potential lender will see when they review your loan paperwork. (Throughout the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and 2021, credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion allowed consumers to check their credit reports weekly and free of charge.)
Anything that doesn’t seem correct on your credit report should be reported to all three of the credit bureaus as soon as possible so you can continue to apply for your student loan.
|Minimum credit score requirement of top-rated private student loan lenders|
|Private student loan||Student loan refinance|
|Ascent||540||Education Loan Finance||680|
While some documents for loan applications are trickier to get, others are right in your back pocket.
If you have a valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card, then you have valid identification. Most lenders want to see an ID that was recently issued, lists your current address and has a clear picture of you.
And if you don’t have a valid photo ID, you can bring or upload a birth certificate, Social Security card or proof of citizenship along with proof of your current address, like a utility bill in your name.
You can also apply for an ID card at your state or county’s DMV if you don’t have a valid ID before approaching a lender for a loan.
If you don’t have typical forms of ID, keep in mind that some lenders work with international and DACA students who are seeking funding for school. In some cases, however, you might need to recruit a cosigner who does have citizenship or permanent residency.
Although you don’t need to bring your Social Security card, you’ll just need to know your nine-digit number.
This is the first question you’ll fill out on your student loan documents. Your lenders will pull the right credit and background information on you with your Social Security number (SSN).
Not having your SSN or submitting the wrong number will delay the process altogether. So if you’ve misplaced it, forgotten it or can’t find it, apply for a duplicate card and number as soon as possible to expedite the loan application process.
After submitting your information on student loan documents, you’ll be required to fill in your income and employer information.
Most banks, credit unions and online lenders require employment and income verification via contact information and pay stubs.
Pay stubs, or pay records, show how much you have made, the taxes that were taken out and the hours you have worked during that pay period.
|Minimum income requirements of top-rated student loan refinance companies|
|PenFed Credit Union||$42,000 (or $25,000 with cosigner)|
|Splash Financial||$36,000 (or $25,000 with cosigner)|
If you receive a paper check each payday, it may be attached to your physical paycheck. Or, if you receive your paychecks via direct deposit, you may need to go online to find your pay stub. Many companies have now set up online portals or websites where you sign in to print or download your copy.
If you’re still unsure about how to get income verification, contact your employer’s human resources representative. They may be able to get you a copy quickly, or verify your employment with the lender.
And if you’re self-employed or own your own business, bring along your 1099 forms, proof of contracts from long-term clients or signed balance sheets from your accountant for income verification. Your lender may require additional information as well, so ask exactly what they’ll need before applying for a loan.
|How Self-Employed Student Loan Borrowers Can Ditch Their Debt|
Not all documents required for student loan borrowing will ask you to show recent tax forms. However, it’s still a good, proactive measure to have them accessible. Tax paperwork from two to three years ago should be sufficient.
Have on hand your W-2 forms from your past and current employers, or 1099 profit and loss statements if you’re self-employed or own your own business. Bring along your complete federal tax returns as well.
If you need additional copies of your W-2s, contact your employers if it’s been a year or less with your SSN. And if it’s been more than a year or the company is no longer in business, you can also request a copy from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for a fee using Form 4506. Both processes for requesting W-2s can take up to 75 days, so be sure to ask as soon as possible.
You can also get copies of previous tax returns from your accountant or online filing system like TurboTax for free, or for a small fee.
And if you’re still not able to get copies, the IRS can help. You can fill out a request form at IRS.gov (or via mail) to receive your federal return transcripts from a selected year.
You may need to have your bank account information handy when you are completing your student loan documents. Earnest is among lenders with an innovative student loan solution: It may reward you a lower APR on a loan if your bank account history shows you to be a responsible saver.
As for what information you’ll need, your checkbook or online banking account can help you fill in the blanks for your routing and checking numbers. You should also be aware of the balances in each of your accounts, such as savings, retirement or investment accounts. These financial assets may help you look more attractive to a lender who wants to see that you have the means to pay your debt.
Most lenders will ask for an accurate ballpark estimate of money in your accounts, and the name of your bank. However, having a copy of your most recent bank statements to show the lender can only help your chances of getting loan approval.
On the flip side of your assets are your financial obligations. These may include how much of your income goes toward your mortgage or rent each month, or how much you pay for child or spousal support.
Lenders may also ask in their loan paperwork about secured debt, such as auto loans or existing student loans. They’re interested in getting a holistic view of your budget each month.
|Tips for student loan refinancing applications|
|If you’re looking to refinance, your past student loan records will come in handy. Be prepared to hand over loan payoff statements for each of your balances or loan servicers. And of course, keep making payments on those loans until your refinance is complete. Otherwise, your refinancing application could hit a major snag at the last minute.|
Like assets, you may not be required to bring in actual proof. But it’s good to have them on hand just in case, so you can be as accurate as possible. Even a print out of a monthly statement can save you some time when you’re filling out your information.
Andrew Pentis contributed to this report.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2021!
|Lender||APR Range||Loan Amount|
|5.99% – 18.85%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|6.46% – 35.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.94% – 35.97%*||$1,000 - $50,000|
|99.00% – 199.00%2||$500 - $4,000|
|5.99% – 24.99%3||$5,000 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 29.99%4||$7,500 - $40,000|
|7.99% – 20.88%5||$5,000 - $50,000|
|9.99% – 35.99%6||$2,000 - $36,500|
|10.68% – 35.89%7||$1,000 - $40,000|
|9.95% – 35.99%8||$2,000 - $35,000|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.
Direct Deposit required for payroll.
Opploans currently operates in these states: . *Approval may take longer if additional verification documents are requested. Not all loan requests are approved. Approval and loan terms vary based on credit determination and state law. Applications processed and approved before 7:30 p.m. ET Monday-Friday are typically funded the next business day.
3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.
4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.
5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.
7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.
8 Important Disclosures for Avant.
*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.
Based on the responses from 7,302 customers in a survey of 140,258 newly funded customers, conducted from August 1, 2018 – August 1, 2019, 95.11% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.
Upgrade Bank Disclosures
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade’s lending partners. Information on Upgrade’s lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.