The Stafford Loan program offers federally guaranteed student loans. It lends students money for expenses relating to education; they can defer repayment until after they have graduated. Repayment of the loan is structured to allow for principal reduction over time as well. The following steps guide you through the application process.

You must first apply to accredited two- or four-year colleges or graduate schools that are eligible to receive federal student aid. Make note of the institutional code of each school.

Complete the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) that is available online (see Resources below). Include parental tax information for the previous year or meet the eligibility criteria for independent students. Provide the school codes of the institutions to send the financial information.

Determine the level of aid offered by each school once the institution receives the FAFSA information.

Choose one of the school's associated loan grantors. The school may be able to electronically transfer the data, or your can apply for a loan with another loan grantor, which could take several days to process via snail mail. Complete the online application and submit it electronically to the loan grantor.

Sign the online promissory note using the FAFSA pin number. Receive a hard copy of the promissory note in the mail. Sign as required and return the appropriate documents to the lender.

Expect disbursement of funds in equal parts based on the loan period. Anticipate the issue of excess funds to the student after the first day of classes when tuition and fees are paid in full.