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Student Loans

Student Loans for a Laptop or Desktop

If you’ve been approved for federal or private student loans, you might want to use some of the money to purchase necessary equipment and supplies. That’s excellent news if you’re in the market for a new laptop for school.

A new loan for a laptop is an option if you haven’t yet applied for student loans. However, consider the pros and cons before using student loans to buy a computer.

In this guide:

Can I take out student loans for a computer?

Whether you can get a student loan just to pay for a computer depends on the type of loan you apply for. Federal student loans cover your costs of attendance, including tuition, fees, room and board, and other eligible expenses. 

Your loan servicer will disburse funds to the school first, and the school will refund the leftover money to you. You may use the refunded amount to buy a laptop, but you can’t get a federal student loan just for that purpose. 

Other important facts about federal student loans include:

  • They have low fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and built-in protections such as grace periods, deferment, and forbearance options. 
  • You must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply. 
  • Funding is designed to cover you for the entire school year.
  • You must renew the FAFSA yearly to maintain your eligibility for new student loans. 
  • Some federal aid is first come, first served, so we recommend applying early if you think you’ll need loans for school. 

Private student loan lenders can decide whether to disburse to the school or the borrower. You might be able to get a small private student loan just to buy a laptop. You can apply for private student loans at any time, though you may want to plan in advance if you need money for a laptop. 

You can still apply for a private student loan if the new term has already begun. It’s wise to price out the laptop’s total cost to know how much you need to borrow. If you’re unsure which laptop to buy, you might choose the maximum amount you’re willing to spend instead. 

>>Read more: What can student loans be used for?

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. 

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. You must submit the FAFSA if you’re applying 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.

Applying for private student loans for a laptop or other school expenses works 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. 

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

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Cover up to 100% of your cost of attendance
  • Get an instant credit decision in just three minutes
  • Choose from 16 different repayment schedules

College Ave offers student loans with low rates and flexible repayment terms. Choose between a fixed and variable interest rate.

Key features:

  • Rates (APR): 3.99% – 14.96%%
  • Loan limits: Starting at $1,000
  • Credit score requirements: Not disclosed
  • Repayment options: Full, fixed, interest-only, or deferred
  • Fees: No application or origination fees

Sallie Mae

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Cosigner release after 12 consecutive, on-time payments
  • Up to 100% of costs are covered
  • No fees

Sallie Mae began as a government-sponsored organization in 1972. In 2004, the lender went private.

Sallie Mae is a popular option for private student loans with competitive rates and terms.

Key features:

  • Rates (APR): 4.50% – 15.70
  • Loan limits: Starting at $1,000
  • Credit score requirements: Not disclosed
  • Repayment options: Interest-only, fixed, or deferred
  • Fees: No origination or application fees

Ascent Funding

Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Cover up to 100% of costs
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit
  • No fees 

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned loans for undergraduate, graduate, professional, and career program students.

You could use any of these to purchase a laptop or desktop computer.

Key features:

  • Rates (APR): 4.62%15.18% (cosigned)
  • Loan limits: Starting at $2,001*
  • Credit score requirements: Vary
  • Repayment options: Interest-only, fixed, or deferred
  • Fees: No application, origination, or prepayment fees

* Minimum of $6,001 for borrowers with a Massachusetts permanent address.


Undergraduate Student Loans

  • No fees
  • Check your loan eligibility without a hard credit check
  • Quick application process looks beyond your credit score

Earnest offers private student loans at competitive rates.

The company stands out in the private student loan space because it offers a variety of loan repayment options, it uses a broader method of evaluating a borrower’s eligibility beyond just credit scores, and borrowers can manage their account via its mobile app.

Key features:

  • Rates (APR): 4.79%13.70%
  • Loan limits: Starting at $1,000
  • Credit score requirements: 650
  • Repayment options: Full, fixed, interest-only, or deferred
  • Fees: No origination, application, prepayment, or late payment fees


Undergraduate Student Loans

  • Apply online in minutes
  • Excellent customer service and a user-friendly interface, according to Trustpilot reviews
  • Check your rate without affecting your credit score

SoFi brands its offerings as unique from other online lenders because it looks beyond credit scores and debt-to-income ratios, considering factors such as cash flow, education, and career prospects.

Key features:

  • Rates (APR): 4.49%14.75%
  • Loan limits: $1,000 to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance
  • Credit score requirements: Not disclosed
  • Repayment options: Full, interest-only, fixed, or deferred
  • Fees: None

When comparing private student loans for laptops, consider the interest rates, repayment options, and loan amounts. 

If you’re applying with a cosigner, it’s also helpful to understand whether and when they might be released from the loan obligation. 

How do I use my student loan for a laptop?

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. 

Once you get the federal loan refund, 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 federal loan balance. 

What if you’re not getting a refund from federal loans? You can apply for private student loans to buy a laptop. 

Once you’re approved, 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.
  • Once received, you can use the money to buy a laptop. 

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.