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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

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 private student loan and refinance lenders

Private Student Loan LenderCredit Score
Ascent540
Earnest 650
CommonBond660
College Ave660

Student Loan Refinance LenderCredit Score
Laurel Road660
Education Loan Finance 680
LendKey680
EDvestinU700

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 student loan refinance companies

LenderMinimum Income Requirement
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.

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.

 

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