How to Understand How Long it Takes to Receive a Student Loan Once the Application is Received. How long does it take to get student loan money? It may seems like an eternity. Student aid takes a lot of paper pushing through a lot of bureaucracy before the check gets in the mail. Here's what goes on while you're sweating by the mailbox.

File the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) after January 1. This application takes at least a month to process.

Get your SAR (Student Aid Report). Check this over for mistakes and send to your school.

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Your school uses the EFC (Estimated Family Contribution) on your SAR to determine how much aid, including student loans, you will need to attend classes. This step can take a month or more.

Receive notice from your school about your aid package.

Fill out paperwork for student loans.

Get money. Usually, student loan funds are disbursed during the first week of classes.

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Example: If you file your FAFSA in January, you'll get your SAR by the end of February. Send your SAR to your school the beginning of March, and you'll get information about your aid package by the end of May. Assuming you start classes the last week in August, you'll get your student loan money before Labor Day. You can file your FAFSA electronically and shave 10 to 15 days off the time to process. Electronically filing your FAFSA lets you spot mistakes and correct them immediately, instead of waiting three weeks and then having to resubmit a corrected FAFSA. Check with your school about financial aid deadlines. Some schools have specific deadlines for certain types of student aid.

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