The Stafford Loan is a federally backed loan provided by the U.S. government, and requires personal information on the application to determine eligibility and loan limits. Anyone interested in qualifying for a Stafford loan must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.
There are a number of ways in which an applicant can fill out a FAFSA. The application is available online completion via the FAFSA website, by printing and filling out a paper application and mailing it in, or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center and asking for a paper application to be sent. Most colleges, technical schools, and universities will have FAFSA applications on hand, or provide access to a computer for students to apply for aid.
Information needed to complete the FAFSA, which will also be carried over to the Stafford loan application, includes: personal identity information such as full, legal name; address; date of birth; Social Security number; information about parents or dependents; educational background and degrees earned; the educational program and school desired; assets; bank balances; and salary and tax information from the most recent tax year.
Once the application has been processed, the applicant will learn about which options are available for aid. If the student qualifies for loans, this will be outlined in an award letter. To process a Stafford loan application, the student will need to complete loan counseling and sign a promissory note, which is a promise to repay the loan some time after graduation or six months after course work is finished.
Students are able to choose which bank they want the Stafford loan to be financed by, allowing for great flexibility and options for applicants. They will need to submit any required paperwork as requested by the bank or school of attendance. It is helpful to keep copies of tax returns on hand in case these must be submitted.
Stafford loans are available for both graduate and undergraduate students, and they offer low interest rates and easy repayment options. After the Stafford loan application has been awarded, students should frequently check the balance owed. This information is accessible via the FAFSA website or by calling the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
Students should check with the financial aid department at the school of attendance to stay up to date on application deadlines and award dates. Some students will need to reapply from time to time, and this information should be provided by a financial aid counselor, as application dates as well as requirements for reapplying for a Stafford loan can vary by program of study.