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Short-term loans for students: A guide to compare lenders and terms

Weigh the risks of this fast, but high-cost option.

Editor's choice: Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service

Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service logo
  • Wide range of loan amounts
  • Variety of loan terms
  • Quick process
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Name Product Filter Values Loan amount Turnaround time Requirements
OppLoans Installment Loans
$500 to $5,000
1 business day
Direct deposit, meet minimum income requirements, live in eligible state
Comes with the option to change your due date so you won’t fall behind on repayments.
CashNetUSA Loan
Varies by state
As fast as same business day
Regular source of income, bank account, US citizen or permanent resident, age of majority in your state
Sign up for its discount program to get access to coupons and deals on everything from dining out to tax services.
$1,000 to $25,000
2 to 3 business days
Be employed, have a US bank account, live in a state where Stilt operates, hold one of the following visas: F-1 and OPT, H-1B, H4, O-1, L-1, TN, J-1, DACA or be a US citizen.
No green card? You could still qualify for a personal loan.
Fast5kLoans Short-term Loans Connection Service
$100 to $35,000
As soon as the next business day
Regular source of income, verifiable bank account, US citizen, ages 18+
Get connected with multiple lenders you might qualify with — even if you have bad credit.
LendYou Short-term Loans
$100 to $2,500
Same business day to 1 business day
$1,000+ monthly income, direct deposit, US citizen or permanent resident, ages 18+
Get offers from potential lenders in minutes by filling out just one online form.

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Short-term loans for students are designed to loan cash to help you temporarily cover your financial commitments. This type of loan is typically in the $50 to $2,000 range. You could use the loan for things like paying for your class books or emergency costs like fixing a car you need to get to class. But it can be highly expensive and get you caught in a cycle of debt.

How do short-term loans for students work?

Short-term loans for students are designed to offer emergency funding. Most students don’t have steady income and may have a problem getting approved for standard loans. Short-term loans, on the other hand, offer financing with more lenient lending criteria and very short approval times. This allows students to access emergency funds they can repay when they get income from other sources.

Most lenders require students to provide their identification details and show they can repay their loans by providing 90 days worth of bank statements. The online application and approval process removes the need for any paperwork or face-to-face meetings, allowing you to possibly get your money faster. Remember that you may be required to pay for the loan in less than a month depending on the terms of your particular loan, and that the interest rates are a lot higher than what you’d normally find in a personal loan.

Interested in a student credit card instead?

How much will the loan cost?

It’s important to be informed before taking out a short-term loan. It may seem harmless, but there could be a lot of fees associated with your short-term loan if you don’t read all the details before applying. Some lenders charge establishment or administrative fees in order to initiate the loan. There could also be penalty fees for things like late payments or even early repayment. So make sure you review the terms of the loan before you click submit on your application.

Are students eligible for short-term loans?

To be eligible for a short-term loan, you need to be over the age of 18 and receive some sort of income.

  • If you’re a part-time employee. Lenders need to see evidence of a regular income, but some will accept casual employees. Be sure to have pay stubs to verify your income.
  • If you receive welfare. Some lenders will consider applicants who receive welfare for short-term loans. Be sure to check the eligibility criteria of the lender you’re interested in.
  • If you have bad or no credit. Short-term lenders tend to be flexible when it comes to your credit situation. There are lenders who’ll approve your application even if you have bad or no credit.

How students can compare their options

  • Loan term.
    Short-term loans will usually have a term of between two weeks and several months depending on how much you borrow. When choosing a short-term loan, consider when you’re likely to get your next paycheck so that you can match your repayments to that schedule and avoid late payment penalties.
  • Approval time.
    The whole point of applying for a short-term loan is to avoid waiting around for approval and to hopefully get your cash instantly. It’s important to compare your options and choose a lender with a fast and easy online application process. This gives you the chance to apply and get approved for a loan within a few minutes, with no paperwork or meetings required.
  • Interest charges.
    Compare the APR on different loans to ensure you avoid paying excessive fees, especially if you miss a repayment. Short-term loans usually have high interest charges, so be extra careful when choosing one and take time to shop around.
  • Late payment fees.
    While shopping around for a short-term loan, be sure to read the fine print to avoid being caught off guard by crippling late payment penalties. Borrow what you need and be sure that you can manage your repayments to avoid falling into the lender’s trap and having to pay outrageous amounts in penalties and interest fees.
  • The application process.
    You should consider a lender with a good reputation, a simplified online application process and a quick approval timeframe. Some lenders even offer same-day loans so that you can get your money the same day you apply.

Emergency student loans

Before taking out a short-term loan from an outside lender, you may want to contact your college’s Financial Aid Office if you’re experiencing a financial hardship that requires emergency cash. Many schools offer low- or no-interest short-term loans that have a maximum loan amount of $1,000 to students who’ve had unexpected expenses pop up. These loans will typically need to start being repaid within 30 to 90 days, but as always, terms and conditions will vary by school.

How to get an emergency student loan

What are the risks of getting a short-term loan?

  • Unable to make your repayments. It’s important to keep in mind that short-term loans come with high interest rates. This could mean that by the time you’ve paid off your loan, there won’t be enough funds in your account to last until your next payday. This cycle can be very unhealthy for your finances.
  • Overcharged with fees. Be sure to make your repayments on time since these loans usually carry heavy penalties for missed repayments. Paying excessive fees for late payments is already a big problem for people with regular income, let alone students. It can suck you into a cycle of debt and possibly hurt your credit, making it harder to access financing in the future.

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