Eligibility for Federal and Private Student Loans

on May 22, 2017

Student loan eligibility depends on the type of student loan. Federal and private student loans have different eligibility criteria.

 

Eligibility for Federal Student Loans

 

Eligibility requirements for federal student loans include:

  • The student must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
     
  • The borrower must be enrolled on at least a half-time basis
     
  • The borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible noncitizen
     
  • For Federal Parent PLUS loans, the student also must satisfy the citizenship criteria
     
  • Eligibility for Federal Stafford loans does not depend on the borrower’s credit history
     
  • The borrower of a Federal PLUS loan must not have an adverse credit history
     
  • Eligibility for federal education loans does not depend on credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, minimum income thresholds or employment history, but the borrower must not be in default on a federal education loan
     
  • There is no minimum age for a borrower of a federal student loan, as federal student loans are not subject to the defense of infancy
     
  • Eligibility for subsidized loans depends on the student demonstrating financial need
     
  • The student must be enrolled as a regular student in eligible program at eligible college or university
     
  • The student must satisfy the general eligibility requirements for federal student aid, such as Selective Service registration for male students, having a high school diploma or GED (or a home-school equivalent that satisfies state requirements) and maintaining satisfactory academic progress (minimum 2.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale)
     
  • Federal student loans are not available to borrowers after graduation, such as during a medical school graduate’s residency and internship or while a law school graduate is studying for the bar

Eligibility for Private Student Loans

 

Eligibility requirements for private student loans include:

  • The borrower must be creditworthy or have a creditworthy cosigner. More than 90 percent of private student loans to undergraduate students and more than 75 percent of private student loans to graduate students are made with a creditworthy cosigner.
     
  • Creditworthiness can be measured using credit scores, annual income, debt-to-income ratios and employment history
     
  • The minimum legal age of a private student loan borrower may depend on the state of residence. The age of majority is 21 in Indiana, Mississippi and New York, 19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 18 in most other states.
     
  • The borrower and cosigner must satisfy citizenship requirements. All lenders require the cosigner to be a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Most lenders also require the student to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some lenders will allow an international student to qualify with a cosigner who is a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
     
  • Most lenders require the borrower to be enrolled on at least a half-time basis. Some have special loan programs for continuing education students
     
  • Eligibility also can depend on degree level, academic major and participating colleges, depending on the lender

Private student loans do not require the student to file the FAFSA.

 

Student Loan Eligibility Comparison Chart

 

This chart summarizes eligibility for Federal Stafford loans, Federal PLUS loans and private student loans.

 

Student Loan Eligibility Criteria

Federal

Stafford Loans

Federal

PLUS Loans

Private

Student Loans

Enrollment Status

Minimum half time

Minimum half time

Varies by lender

Minimum Age

No minimum

No minimum

Legal age for state of residence

FAFSA Required

Yes

Yes

No

Credit Criteria

None

Borrower must not have an adverse credit history

Credit Scores

Debt-to-Income Ratios

Minimum Income

Employment History

Cosigner

None

Not required, but can have an endorser if the borrower has an adverse credit history

Required for 90% of undergraduate borrowers and 75% of graduate borrowers

School Certification

Yes

Yes

Yes

Collateral (Secured)

None

None

None

Citizenship

U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen

U.S. citizen, permanent resident or eligible non-citizen

Most lenders require the student to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Some lenders allow international students. Cosigner must be a creditworthy U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Selective Service

Registration required if male

Registration required if male

Not required

Eligible Colleges

College must be eligible for Title IV federal student aid

College must be eligible for Title IV federal student aid

Varies by lender

Minimum GPA

2.0 on a 4.0 scale (C)

2.0 on a 4.0 scale (C)

Varies by lender

Financial Need

Financial need required for subsidized loans but not unsubsidized loans

Not required

Not required

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