How to Apply for Government Student Loans


Student loans are one of many ways that students obtain funding for college or university. Though the amount of government student loans vary, applying for government student loans is a similar process in every state. There are requirements, such as attending college or university, but applying for the loan takes only a few hours.

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Any government aid, especially federal aid, requires the FAFSA be filled out before aid can be awarded. The FAFSA requests information about the school, personal tax information, parental tax information and other similar information. Each state will have similar forms, though there are some variations based on state taxes.

  • Select the option for student loans. There are options to receive grants, work study programs, scholarships and loans on the FAFSA. In most cases, the grants, scholarships and work study programs are need-based only, but loans are usually available to most students. For federal loans, select the option to receive loans.

  • Fill out information about the type of student loan requested. Since the federal government offers both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans, the information for each loan needs to be filled out. In general, these will be within the FAFSA application or at the end of the application.

  • Sign papers sent in the mail. The government loans allow for the application to be filled out and sent over the internet, but the final paper is sent through the mail requesting a signature and the amount of the loan.

  • Apply for state loans. Some states have student loan options on a state government basis. These often require a FAFSA before they can be filled out. Many of the state loans are designed for graduate students, such as PLUS loans through the state. Parents can also apply on behalf of their children.

  • Fill out state tax forms for state loans. The state loans require information about state tax information. Some states have loans for lower income families but do not have options for higher income families.

  • Send all of the application forms through the online sites. Though signatures will be required in many cases, the application forms for both state and federal student loans are submitted directly online.

Tips & Warnings

  • Applications can be printed and sent through the mail, but this method is more of a hassle than submitting the application through the Internet.


  • Photo Credit student image by Vasiliy Koval from
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