What Documents Are Required for Student Loan Applications?

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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

1. Credit score and history

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
College Ave 660 EDvestinU 700
CommonBond 660 Laurel Road 660
Earnest 650 LendKey 680

2. Valid identification

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.

3. Social Security number

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.

And again, if you don’t have an SSN for whatever reason, be on the lookout for lenders that don’t require one. Prodigy Finance and MPower Financing could be among your options.

4. Employment and income verification

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
Citizens Bank $24,000
Nelnet Bank $36,000
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

5. Recent tax documents

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.

6. Bank account and asset information

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.

7. Payment obligations

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!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
5.99% – 18.85%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

6.46% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

5.94% – 35.97%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

99.00% – 199.00%2$500 - $4,000

Visit OppLoans

5.99% – 24.99%3$5,000 - $40,000

Visit Payoff

7.99% – 29.99%4$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

7.99% – 20.88%5$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%6$2,000 - $36,500

Visit LendingPoint

10.68% – 35.89%7$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.85% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 19, 2020 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your creditworthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Opploans.

Opploans Disclosures

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.

  1. To qualify, a borrower must (i) be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; (ii) reside in a state where OppLoans operates; (iii) have direct deposit; (iv) meet income requirements; (v) be 18 years of age (19 in Alabama); and, (vi) meet verification standards.
  2. NV Residents: The use of high-interest loans services should be used for short-term financial needs only and not as a long-term financial solution. Customers with credit difficulties should seek credit counseling before entering into any loan transaction.

  3. OppLoans performs no credit checks through the three major credit bureaus Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion. Applicants’ credit scores are provided by Clarity Services, Inc., a credit reporting agency.

  4. Based on customer service ratings on Google and Facebook. Testimonials reflect the individual’s opinion and may not be illustrative of all individual experiences with OppLoans. Check loan reviews.

  5.  

    Rates and terms vary by state.


3 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

4 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. The loan terms presented are not guaranteed and APRs presented are estimates only. To obtain a loan you must submit additional information and documentation and all loans are subject to credit review and our approval process. The range of APRs is 7.99% to 29.99% and your actual APR will depend upon factors including your credit score, usage and history, the requested loan amount, the stated loan purpose, and the term of the requested loan. To qualify for a 7.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available. All loans are made by Cross River Bank and MetaBank®, N.A., Members FDIC.

5 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Rates and offer subject to change. All accounts, loans and services subject to individual approval.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

7 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

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.

Avant Disclosures

*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/.

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