You’re getting ready to start your classes but something unexpected comes up. Maybe you lost your job and are having trouble making rent. Or maybe a parent who was helping with college costs can’t help anymore. It can be hard to come up with extra cash to make ends meet.
But financial aid can help you out. There are individual colleges or non-profits that might offer assistance to students who have emergencies come up. While these loans might seem like a good idea, you have other options when you’re in a financial pinch.
The Basics of Emergency Student Loans
So, what are emergency student loans? Precisely what they sound like—loans available to students in extreme or dire circumstances, typically offered by colleges or universities. If you are the victim of an emergency situation, such as if you’ve been displaced because of a natural disaster, you might be eligible. An unexpected medical expense or job loss may also qualify.
Not every college and university offers emergency student loans, and those that do may have limited funds for emergency student loans and varying eligibility requirements. It’s best to contact your financial aid office to find out what (if anything) your school offers by way of emergency financial aid.
Alternatives to Emergency Student Loans
While emergency student loans can help in life-changing circumstances, they might not always be the best option. Consider these alternatives:
1. Private Student Loans
If you’re having trouble affording all your college costs, you might want to take a look at private student loans. If, after exhausting “free money” options like grants and scholarships and using federal student loans, you’re still coming up short, private student loans can help fill in any funding gaps.
Private student loans are a great asset, but they typically have stringent requirements for approval. Many have strict credit score requirements, and if you don’t meet them, you could be denied unless you have a student loan cosigner who does meet the requirements. And some lenders may not allow cosigners at all.
But if you do qualify, either with a cosigner or on your own, you could receive your funds quickly, depending on your lender. Some lenders send the money straight to the school while others send the funds to you to make the appropriate payments.
2. Grant Assistance
Since some colleges allow for emergency grants , you might qualify for “free money” that doesn’t require repayment.
Emergency grants work a lot like emergency student loans. You’ll need to get in touch with your financial aid office to see if you qualify under your circumstances. If you don’t qualify for emergency grants, you might still be able to get financial help through your school via tuition assistance or tuition waivers.
3. Extensions or Payment Plans for Bills in an Emergency
Help might just be a question away. If you’re struggling with rent, utilities, or other monthly bills, you can try asking for a payment extension.
You could contact your providers, lenders, or landlords and explain your situation. Even extending payments by a couple weeks or a month might help you get your funds together.
Late payments can be detrimental to your credit history. Being proactive about asking for help could prevent an impact to your credit score before anything drastic happens.
After You Graduate
Once you’re done with school, if you need help paying off all your student loans, refinancing might be a smart choice for you. With multiple student loans, refinancing will help you keep track by combining all of them into one monthly payment. Low fees and easy terms can save you when you’re in a bind.
Refinancing your student loans can lower your interest rate and streamline your payments. At SoFi, you can select the terms that are right for your financial situation. For example, if you’re struggling to pay your monthly bills after graduation, you might consider opting for a refinanced loan with a longer term to potentially secure lower monthly payments.
The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Notice: 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. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .
SoFi private student loans are subject to program terms and restrictions and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. View payment examples. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change. Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
This article is originally on SoFi.