How can I get a loan to pay an outstanding tuition balance at my undergraduate college?

Make sure the FAFSA is filled out and even ask the finacial aid officer at your school for some advice. But don't get a loan from outside sources. Stafford loans and College foundation loans have low interest rates and give you awhile to pay them off. CItibank, mastercard, bank loans, etc have high interest rates and will want their money ASAP. So try to get a school loan but whatever you do, don't use outside loans. Also they are credit based so without a very solid credit file you may not get approved for the whole amount and will need more than 1 loan which makes no sense. Just get a regular stafford loan or other school loan and you can get the amount covered. Also Sallie Mae loans are expensive (at least they were for me) and had high interest rates. I wouldn't recommend them or any other outside loan companies.
First, make sure you have exhausted all your options for Federal Aid. Complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) online at Do everything you can to secure a Stafford or Perkins Loan...

That said, it is very often the case that a student's Federal aid package (Federal loans and all) cannot cover his or her cost of attendance. This is unfortunate, but you do have options.

If you are not eligible for any more Federal loan funds (for example, if you are not a U.S. citizen/permanent resident or if you have reached the pre-set aggregate or annual loan limits) or if you still owe money after these loans have been applied, you may need to seek out alternative or private educational loans to cover your balance due (emphasis here on *educational* -- don't simply walk into a bank and ask for "a loan").

There are hundreds of companies out there that deal in private educational loans (Sallie Mae, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Bank of America, Nellie Mae, AMS... just to name a few). If you are still enrolled in school, check with your Financial Aid Office to see if there is a company that they recommend. In some cases, that office will have worked with a lender to obtain a special deal for their students... At the very least, the Financial Aid Office will be able to point you toward loans that fit your eligibility criteria (for example, they may know if a loan requires particularly good credit, a co-signer, etc.).

If you have left school and are looking to cover a past-due balance, there are loans for that, too. Check out the companies listed above and look (on their Web sites) at the loan descriptions for the phrase "Can be used for past-due balances" or something to that effect. Off the top of my head, Sallie Mae, Citibank, Citizens Bank, and Bank of America (TERI loan) can all be applied to past-due balances.

Once you've settled on a loan, complete the application online (or over the phone... or request a paper app) and wait to see if you've been approved. A credit decision shouldn't take very long at all. If you don't hear back, you should call THEM to check on the status of your application. Generally, if there is a delay, it is because the applicant has failed to supply an important piece of information.

If you're not approved, find out why (you can ask them, or you can check your credit report yourself to see if there is an issue that can be easily resolved). If you can't be approved on your own, apply with a co-signer/co-borrower who has good credit. In the worst cases when a student isn't credit approved and has no co-signer, there are still loans out there. But that's another answer for another question :-) (Because the rates on these high-risk loans can be awful, I never share the names of these companies unless I HAVE to).
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