Student loans 22 February 2023

How to Get Emergency Student Loans

This blog explains how to get an emergency student loan for when you experience unforeseen financial need in college.

How to Get an Emergency Student Loan

Students can sometimes face unexpectedly high costs while studying and enrolled in college – and when this happens, emergency student loans may often turn out to be the perfect solution. This type of loan can prove to be a valuable resource that can help cover a number of costs during your academic career, regardless of when unforeseen situations show up. 

What is an Emergency Student Loan?

An emergency student loan is a loan that provides students with an affordable and accessible way to cover costs such as travel expenses or medical bills, that can otherwise be difficult to handle – especially due to their spontaneous nature. With this type of loan, you are able to take control of your finances and stay on track toward reaching your educational goals. Emergency student loans are designed to provide quick access to funds without having to deal with the red tape that comes with a traditional loan, such as extensive credit checks and lengthy application processes.

Who is Eligible for Emergency Student Loans?

To be eligible for an emergency student loan, the student must be enrolled at least half-time in a degree or certificate program, have accumulated enough credits to qualify for continued enrollment in their chosen program, as well as demonstrate financial hardship.

A number of lenders also require proof of income or good credit scores. Documentation and evidence of the emergency situation (such as pay stubs or bank statements to help demonstrate your need for the loan) may also be requested. Simply put, qualifications for eligibility often vary from institution to institution. 

Pros & Cons of Emergency Student Loans

Here are the main pros and cons to consider regarding emergency student loans.


  • Provides immediate access to funds when a traditional loan may not be available
  • Interest rates are typically lower than those of other short-term loans
  • No collateral is required and application requirements are less stringent than with other loans


  • Emergency student loans have shorter repayment periods than traditional loans, making them more difficult to pay off
  • The amount borrowed may be limited and the funds may need to be repaid quickly

Steps to Getting an Emergency Student Loan

Here are the steps to follow to get an emergency student loan.

Step 1: Contact your school’s financial aid

The process of requesting a loan is fairly simple but can vary across institutions. Generally, you’ll need to provide the Financial Aid Office with your personal information, including contact information, social security number, and academic records. You may also be asked to submit details about the expenses that you’re trying to pay or show evidence that other forms of funding are not available in your situation.

The Financial Aid Office will review your request and may ask for additional information or clarification about the loan amount needed. Once approved, you will be advised of the terms of repayment and can expect to pay back the loan over a specified period of time. Keep in mind that emergency student loans may come with higher interest rates than other forms of student loans, so it’s important to consider all your options before deciding to take out a loan.

If your school’s Financial Aid Office does not offer emergency student loans, then there are other options available. You could see if your school offers any grants or scholarships that can help you in your situation.

Step 2: Claim Federal Student Loans

Students looking into federal loans to cover educational costs can apply through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website. The application will request information such as income and tax returns, bank statements, investments, and other financial documents that will be used to determine the loans that the student qualifies for. To ensure eligibility for federal student loans, familiarise yourself with the necessary requirements and make sure you’re aware of when FAFSA closes

After submitting the FAFSA, you’ll receive a Student Aid Report (SAR) with information about your individual eligibility for federal loans. Once the SAR has been reviewed and approved, students can access any funds they are eligible for through their school’s financial aid office.

If a student has already completed the FAFSA and received their SAR, then they’ll be able to access any federal loan funds they are eligible for. Depending on the type of loan chosen, these funds may come directly from the school or an external lender. Students should contact their school’s financial aid office to determine what types of loans they are eligible for and what the terms of those loans are. Students should also contact their lenders directly to inquire about any additional requirements or eligibility criteria that may be applicable.

If a student hasn’t filed the FAFSA yet, then they will need to complete it first before they can access any federal loan funds. Do note that loan terms vary between schools and lenders, so it pays to shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.

Step 3: Apply for Small Loans or Private Student Loans

As with any loan, approval is not guaranteed and the interest rate may vary depending on your credit score. Make sure you read all of the terms and conditions associated with the loan carefully before signing anything.

How to apply for small loans

When applying for a small loan, you’ll need to provide proof of your income and employment status as well as valid government-issued identification. The funding time for a small loan can be as quick as the same day or within 24 hours, and the maximum loan amount is typically lower than other forms of loans – ranging from $50 to $1,000. The interest rate for small loans is typically higher than both private student loans and federal student loan interest rates, ranging from 10% to 30%, and most lenders offer a repayment period of up to 6 months.

How to apply for private student loans

You will need to provide proof of enrollment in an accredited college or university and provide documentation of your financial status. The funding time for a private student loan is usually two to four weeks, and the maximum loan amount is typically higher than other forms of loans and can range from $1,000 to $50,000. The borrowing limit is based on your credit score and other factors, while the interest rate for private student loans is typically higher than federal student loans – ranging from 5.99% to 15.99%. Most private lenders offer a repayment period of up to fifteen years.

Private student loan lenders available

Consider the following lenders to determine which one is best for you.

LenderScholarooratingLoan amountFixed ratesstarting (APR)Variable ratesstarting (APR)Learn more

Citizens Bank

Visit website
4/5$1,000 – $150,000

4.51%4.14%Visit website

College Ave

Visit website
5/5$1,000 – $250,000

3.13%2.03%Visit website


Visit website
4.5/5$1,000 – $175,000

5.99%4.14%Visit website

Sallie Mae

Visit website
4.2/5$1,000 – $175,000

5.74%4.25%Visit website

Emergency Student Loan Alternatives

Each of the following alternatives to emergency student loans offer different benefits and come with their own set of risks. Evaluating your personal situation and resources can help you decide which is the best option for you.  

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a great alternative to emergency student loans because they provide access to funds in the short-term, and may even offer rewards programs. However, credit cards come with considerable risk; users often end up paying hefty interest rates on their balances if they fail to pay the credit off quickly enough. For this reason, credit cards can be an expensive option for emergency funds.

Pros: Access to funds in the short-term, potential rewards programs.

Cons: High-interest rates, high risk of debt if not managed carefully.

Personal Loans

Personal loans are also an option for emergency financing and can be obtained through banks, credit unions, or online lenders. These loans may have higher interest rates than other solutions but tend to offer faster access to funds.

Pros: Quick access to funds, potential for lower interest rates depending on the lender.

Cons: Higher interest rates than other solutions, may require a hard credit check.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are independent financial institutions that provide savings accounts, checking accounts, and loan options. In the case of an emergency, they can be a good choice as they offer more personalized services and often have lower interest rates than banks or other financial institutions.

Pros: Lower interest rates, better customer service.

Cons: Limited branch locations, need to meet credit union eligibility requirements.


Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

What types of financial emergencies qualify for an emergency student loan?

Emergency student loans can be used to cover a variety of unexpected costs, including medical bills, car repairs, rent payments, and other expenses. In some cases, the loan may also be used to purchase textbooks or other school-related materials.

How long do I have to repay an emergency student loan?

Repayment periods can also vary depending on the institution and your credit score, but most emergency student loans have a repayment period of one to two years from the date that you receive the funds.

Do I need a co-signer for an emergency student loan?

In most cases, no co-signer is needed to qualify for an emergency student loan. However, having a co-signer with good credit can help you get approved more quickly and may result in lower interest rates. 

Final Thoughts

Emergency student loans are a valuable resource for college students facing financial hardship. They provide quick access to funds that can be used to pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses. While it’s important to consider the loan’s interest rate, repayment terms, and other factors before taking out an emergency student loan, they can provide much-needed relief when times are tough. With a little bit of research and responsible planning, emergency student loans can be used to your advantage and can help you get through tough times during your college career.