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Student Loans

Student Loans for a Laptop or Desktop

Both federal and private student loans can be used to purchase a laptop or desktop as they are considered necessary equipment for your education. Here are the best student loans for laptops or desktops.

LenderBest forOur rating
Dept. of EducationFederal student loansNot rated
College AvePrivate student loans5/5
Sallie MaeCosigners4.8/5
EarnestLarge loans4.7/5
SoFiMember benefits4.7/5
ELFIPersonalized support4.5/5

Can you take out a student loan for just a computer?

Whether you can get a student loan just to pay for a computer depends on the type of loan you apply for.

  • If you have federal student loans, your loan servicer will disburse funds to the school first to cover tuition and eligible expenses. The school will refund the leftover money to you, which you can use to buy a laptop. However, you can’t take out a federal student loan just to buy a laptop.
  • You might be able to get a small private student loan just to buy a laptop, or you could use leftover funds from existing private student loans if you have them. You can apply for private student loans at any time, even if the term has begun, though you may want to plan in advance and price out the laptop’s cost so you know how much to borrow. 

Best student loans for a laptop or desktop

We’ve looked into several private student loan lenders. Check out our article on the top private student loan lenders for more details.

College Ave

Best Overall

5.0 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why we picked it

College Ave stands out as an excellent option for students who need to use a private student loan to cover the cost of essential educational tools, such as a laptop. The ability to cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance means that expenses beyond tuition, such as laptops, books, and other supplies, can be financed.

  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance
  • Get an instant credit decision in just three minutes
  • Choose from 16 different repayment schedules
  • Cosigner release isn’t available until you are at least halfway through your repayment term
Loan details
Rates (APR)3.99%14.96%
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of certified costs
Repayment terms5, 8, 10, or 15 years
Repayment plansFull, interest-only, $25 flat, or deferred
Min. credit scoreMid-600s and above

Sallie Mae

Best for Cosigners

4.8 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why we picked it

Sallie Mae offers a wide range of student loans with competitive interest rates and a variety of repayment options. It’s particularly beneficial for students who need to finance the purchase of a laptop and other educational expenses because it covers up to 100% of school-certified costs.

The flexible repayment options, including interest-only and deferred payment plans, make it easier to manage the loan while attending school.

  • Covers up to 100% of school-certified costs
  • Flexible repayment options, including interest-only and deferred payment
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • Cosigner release only available after making 12 on-time principal and interest payments
Loan details
Rates (APR)4.50% – 15.70%
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of certified costs
Repayment terms10 – 15 years
Repayment plansInterest-only, fixed, or deferred
Min. credit scoreNot disclosed

Earnest

Best for No Fees

4.7 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why we picked it

Earnest is known for its customizable loan options and borrower-friendly features, making it a good choice for students looking to finance educational expenses like a laptop.

With no fees for origination, prepayment, or late payments, students can take full advantage of their funds without worrying about additional costs. The flexible repayment terms allow for better financial management, ensuring that essential purchases like laptops can be easily financed.

  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or late payments
  • Flexible repayment terms and ability to skip one payment per year
  • Covers up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance
  • Cosigner release not available
  • Must have a strong credit history or a creditworthy cosigner
Loan details
Rates (APR)4.79%13.70%
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of school-certified cost of attendance
Repayment terms5, 7, 10, 12, or 15 years
Repayment plansFull, fixed, interest-only, or deferred
Min. credit score650

SoFi

Best for Member Benefits

4.7 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why we picked it

SoFi offers student loans with competitive rates and unique member benefits, such as career coaching and financial planning, which can be advantageous for students needing to finance a laptop and other essentials.

The no-fee structure, flexible repayment plans, and access to SoFi member benefits make it a great option for managing educational expenses efficiently.

  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or late payments
  • Flexible repayment plans and unemployment protection
  • Access to SoFi member benefits
  • Requires strong credit or a creditworthy cosigner
  • Cosigner release not available until half the repayment term is completed
Loan details
Rates (APR) 4.49%14.75%
Loan amounts$5,000 – 100% of certified costs
Repayment terms5, 7, 10, or 15 years
Repayment plansFull, interest-only, fixed, or deferred
Min. credit scoreNot disclosed

ELFI

Best Personalized Support

4.5 /5
LendEDU Rating

Why we picked it

ELFI provides competitive rates and personalized customer service, making it a solid choice for students who need to cover educational costs like a laptop.

The no-fee structure and flexible repayment terms help students manage their finances more effectively, ensuring they can make essential purchases without additional financial burden.

  • No fees for origination, prepayment, or late payments
  • Competitive interest rates
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Cosigner release not available
Loan details
Rates (APR)4.62%15.18%
Loan amounts$1,000 – 100% of certified costs
Repayment terms5 – 15 years
Repayment plansFull, interest-only, fixed, or deferred
Min. credit score680+

How to get student loans for a laptop or desktop

If you think you’ll need a laptop for school, it’s important to know when and how to apply for student loans. Here is the general process:

1. Apply for federal student loans

You must submit the FAFSA to apply for federal student loans. The deadline is June 30 each year.  The Department of Education will determine how much financial aid you qualify for.

Once the school term begins, your lender disburses your eligible funds to the school, and the school sends the remaining money to you. If you’re a first-time undergrad and first-time borrower, you may have to wait until 30 days after the term starts to get a refund.

2. Apply for private student loans

This process works a little differently. You’ll need to fill out the lender’s application and submit required documentation, which can include:

  • Pay stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Bank account statements
  • Information about your school
  • Your reason for applying and use for the loan funds

Private student loans often require a credit check for approval. If you have limited or poor credit, you may need a cosigner to apply with you. About one-third of private student loan applications have a cosigner. 

There’s no deadline for applying for private student loans. Depending on the lender, you may be able to get approved and funded in just a few business days. If you’re taking out a loan for a laptop, we recommend researching direct-to-consumer lenders, which distribute funds to the borrower rather than the school. 

How much should I borrow for a laptop?

Helpful questions to consider when estimating how much to borrow include:

  • Do you need a basic laptop, or does your field of study require something more advanced or high-end?
  • How long will you need this laptop to last, and how often do you anticipate replacing it?
  • Will you need to buy additional software specific to your field of study or general education?
  • Will you need to pay for one-time add-ons, such as an antivirus protection subscription or an extended warranty?
  • How much will you pay in total when you factor in sales tax and shipping costs or other fees?

Private loans are often one-time loans, and you’ll need to reapply for new funding each academic year. You could end up with multiple loans if you need to buy a new computer for school every couple of years. 

It’s also important to consider what the laptop will cost with loan interest and fees. Compared to federal student loans, private student loans can charge higher interest rates, and lenders may charge origination fees. Your choice of loan could determine your overall cost in the long run. 

When not to take out a student loan for a laptop

Taking out student loans for a laptop or desktop computer might not make sense if:

  • The loan has a high interest rate or a longer repayment term.
  • You don’t need student loans to pay for other school-related expenses. 
  • You could get a lower rate with a personal loan or 0% APR credit card. 

Remember, you must pay back anything you borrow—whether federal or private student loans—with interest. So it’s often best to keep your student loan debt burden as low as possible. 

Consider alternatives for paying for a laptop or desktop before taking out a loan.

How do I use my student loan for a laptop?

Once you decide to use your student loan funds for a laptop, there are two main steps to take:

1. Wait for your refund

If you’re already approved for federal student loans, you’ll need to wait for them to be disbursed and for your school to issue your refund. Your financial aid office might issue refunds via a paper check you can pick up at the bursar’s office or direct deposit. A waiting period might apply if you’re a first-time borrower and undergraduate. 

If you have private student loans, the process might be the same:

  • Your lender disburses funds to the school first.
  • Your school sends the remaining funds to you via direct deposit, ACH transfer, or paper check.

2. Use refunded money to buy the laptop

Once you get the remaining funds from your loans, you can use the money to buy your laptop. If you have funds left after the purchase, you could use it to pay other expenses for school, including living expenses, or make a payment toward your loan balance. 

You should know beforehand how much you can expect to get back from federal loans. The details of your aid package and your cost of attendance should be in your financial aid award letter. The Department of Education will send this to you once you’re approved for aid.

With private loans, you may get an initial prequalification, but you won’t know exactly how much funding you’re eligible for until you submit the full application. Giving yourself time to apply for loans before the semester’s start can help you gauge how much money you’ll have to cover a laptop. 

Alternatives to a student loan for a laptop

If you’ve missed the FAFSA deadline or can’t get a private student loan on short notice, you may have other options to pay for a laptop or desktop for school. 

Possibilities include:

  •  If you are a beneficiary of a 529 Education Savings Plan, you can withdraw funds to pay for your computer and related expenses.
  • Apply for a credit card, preferably one with a low interest rate.
  • Get a store credit card at the retailer where you plan to buy the laptop. (Check out our article on the best store credit cards.)
  • Take out a small personal loan. (Read our research on the best personal loans.)
  • Research microloans for students.
  • Borrow from friends and family.
  • Get a part-time job or side hustle to raise the money you need.
  • Create a GoFundMe or other crowdfunding venture.
  • Sell items you don’t need for extra cash.

You can also talk to your school about getting help with a computer. 

Many schools offer programs for students who need access to a laptop but can’t afford one. You may be able to borrow a computer for the school year or get a low-interest loan to buy a laptop. 

Your school’s financial aid office should be able to discuss available options and tell you how to apply.

Recap of student loans for a laptop or desktop

LenderBest forOur rating
Dept. of EducationFederal student loansNot rated
College AvePrivate student loans5/5
Sallie MaeCosigners4.8/5
EarnestLarge loans4.7/5
SoFiMember benefits4.7/5
ELFIPersonalized support4.5/5