How to Qualify for a Student Hardship Loan

A student hardship loan is issued in addition to your other student loans when they are not large enough to cover the cost of tuition. There is some confusion over the difference between declaring hardship in student loan repayment and getting a student hardship loan. Hardship in terms of repayment may give you a chance to suspend payments on existing loans or have loans discharged. A student hardship loan, on the other hand, is extended to an individual in poor financial shape who will have to quit school without the financing. 

Apply for Other Loans First

Since a hardship loan is an option of last resort, all eligible students will have exhausted other financing options. Typically, the entire financial assistance a student gains is a combination of scholarships, grants, federal loans and private loans. You will have to apply for these loans first to determine if you can find any other financing options to cover the cost of your tuition and living expenses. Only if you cannot make ends meet with these options will you be able to begin considering hardship.

Need-Based Assistance

You can look for need-based assistance through the federal loan programs and your personal university or college. Federal programs for needy students include subsidized loans, deferment and forbearance. Subsidized loans are more affordable than unsubsidized loans; they also do not need to be repaid at all until after graduation. Deferment allows you to forgo payment for a period of time if you are experiencing a rough financial situation. Forbearance allows you to stop the default process on your loan for a period of time while you work to bring the loans current. All of these options should be pursued in order to cover the costs of your ongoing expenses prior to seeking hardship loans. 

Work-Study Programs

Most universities and colleges offer work-study options. These provide campus based jobs for students who already have a lot of obligations. These jobs are student friendly because they have flexible schedules and typically give the student a chance to study and complete coursework while on the job. Even if you cannot get one of these jobs, seeking a part-time job can help you meet the financial obligations of student life and avoid taking additional loans. Many restaurants and retailers offer part-time opportunities, and some students even find internships in a field of interest that pay a modest salary.

Apply for a Hardship Loan

If the funds you gain through loans, need-based assistance and part time work are still not enough to cover your tuition cost, then a hardship loan may be your only option. This loan is issued in addition to your other forms of financing, and it can typically only be applied to direct tuition and education expenses. In fact, most hardship loans go straight to the college instead of coming to you first. These loans often require cosigners, and they are typically only a one-time option. You need to maintain minimum credit hours in order to be eligible. You will have to reapply for new loans at the beginning of the next semester. 

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