How Long Does It Take for a Student Loan to be Approved?

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Disha Patel - June, 17 2024

6 min read

About the author

SEO Analyst at Prodigy Finance - helping international students gear up to study abroad

Student loans can help make your dream of doing a masters abroad into reality. However, unlike swiping your debit card, securing student loan funds requires planning and patience. The process involves applying, getting approved, and waiting for the disbursement – it's not an instant cash flow.

If you are planning on applying for an education loan for the upcoming season, it's better to know the loan approval timeline to avoid last-minute rushes or unexpected delays in your course enrollment.

In this article, we will discuss everything about the time it takes to process a student loan and the factors that affect the average processing time. We will also share some golden tips on expediting this process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lenders’ conditions and paperwork formalities may affect the loan approval process
  • It's wise to plan ahead of your intake for your application, as this could lead to timely approvals from the lender's side
  • Always cross-check your loan and education-related documents to avoid re-application and delay

Factors Affecting Student Loan Approval Timeline

Like any other type of loan, an education loan needs a lot of paperwork and a thorough verification process, so many delays could occur. Moreover, the loan provider will thoroughly assess the preferred educational institution's reputation, applicant's credit history, and loan repayment history. These can be some of the main issues affecting the loan process. However, let us take a look at some other crucial factors involved in loan approval:

Loan Type and Lender Policies

How fast the loan is approved depends upon whether you are applying for a state-funded education loan or reaching out to private lenders. Both types of providers may follow different guidelines and vary in terms of lender policies for a student. In addition to this, education loans can be secured or unsecured. Due to the difference in the paperwork required for each type of loan, the approval time may vary.

Availability of funds

According to the Forbes report on Student Loan Debt Statistics in the United States, there is nearly $1.75 trillion in total student loan debt (including federal and private loans). The increasing demand for loans may also limit the availability of funds in the market for both private and government lenders.

Completeness of Application

Lenders may have their own set of required documents for processing the loan application. They may ask for the applicant's academic records, admission letter, co-signer’s documents, credit history, income, employment status, and other financial proofs. Filing the valid documents with the loan provider will allow for smooth sailing through the process. On the other hand, any discrepancies in these important documents could account for delays.

Average Timelines for International Student Loans:

In order to get your loan approved before your course enrollment, you have to go through various stages, starting from application to disbursement. Understanding the timelines would help you plan your process accordingly. Here is an average timeline for an international education loan:

Application Stage

First, you have to simply fill out an application form with your basic information and educational details. It may take 15-20 minutes to answer application questions and complete your application. Once you’ve completed your application, the response times may vary from one provider to another.

Document Submission

In the next step, you have to submit your documents as listed by the lender. The general list of documents required for this are:

  • Identity Proof: Passport, photograph, full name and contact details
  • Residential information
  • School Admission
  • Financial Proof: Commonly required documents as proof of finance
  • Income Sources: Salary slips, tax returns, etc, to provide evidence of earnings
  • Credit report
  • Bank Statement
  • Sponsorship or scholarship

Quick tip: If your documents are in the local language, convert them into English to avoid any delays.

Processing Stage

Every lender would give you a certain number of days as standard processing time while they review your application and supporting documents. Depending on the lender's application processing procedures for verification of information and creditworthiness, timelines can range from a few days to a few weeks.

Approval Stage

Once you are done with the processing stage, final approval can take up to 2 weeks. Additionally, you may expedite the approval time by promptly responding to any requests or questions for additional information required. And then, you can sign the loan agreement to confirm.

Loan Disbursements

Now, the question is, when is the loan amount disbursed? The funds may be sent directly to your school, which will process them without you needing to do anything. In some cases, they can be sent to the student's account.

Strategies to Expedite Your Student Loan Approval

As mentioned above, your loan approval can take anywhere between a few days, to a few weeks. And this could be problematic when you are on a tight schedule. There are some tips you can follow to expedite the process of your loan approval. Let us discuss them one by one:

Apply early

The first tip is to apply early for your intake. For instance, Harvard University received around 57,000 applications for the fall intake; this means that the applicants who apply late may have to face delays in getting their acceptance letters. In most scenarios, you should apply on the same day the applications open.

Prepare a complete application

Ensure your loan application is complete. Start by gathering your documents and submitting them earlier than a specified time. In case any discrepancies are found in your documents, you still have time to fix them and re-apply.

Keep in touch with the lenders.

A number of issues, like submitting the wrong documentation, banking errors, and hiccups with amount disbursement, can arise while applying for a loan. Keep in touch with the lender so that you understand the application's status. It will also help you address any application issues or concerns in a timely manner.


So far, we have discussed stages of the student loan application process. We have talked about the factors that affect loan distribution and even the timeline of the entire process, from the application to the disbursement stage. You can speed up your loan process by following some tips, such as planning ahead and allowing enough time for the process. This will allow you to manage your expectations and plan accordingly. For international students seeking loans, Prodigy Finance offers a range of options tailored to their requirements. Consider exploring Prodigy Finance's offerings to find the right student loan for your educational journey.


How do I check on my loan status?

In general, you can easily track your loan status by calling your lender's loan helpline. When dealing with Prodigy Finance, you can log on to their portal or even get in touch with them using their contact number. On the company's portal, you may also track the status of your payments as well.

What should you do if your student loan application is rejected the first time?

If your application is rejected, you could ask the company for reasons why it was rejected. There are many reasons for a rejection - It could be related to your documentation, like incomplete information or even an educational institution's credibility. As per the reasons specified by the loan providers, you can fix those issues and re-apply for your student loan.

What is the maximum amount of money that can be borrowed through a student loan?

Limits for the loan amount vary by lender. But many will allow you to borrow up to the full cost of attendance and can cover tuition fees, travel expenses, accommodation, and other study-related miscellaneous expenses. Prodigy Finance offers education loans for international students starting from a minimum of $10,001.

How long does it take for the funds to reach the school if disbursed directly?

Prodigy Finance works to foster clear communication and collaboration with the schools. After you sign the loan agreement, they will release funds to your school's accounts, which may take 3-5 business days. If you are attending a school in the US, they will certify your loan. This means the school will check the loan amount to ensure it falls within its funding requirements. It may take any where between 3 weeks to three months for this process.

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