You get $40k loan approved on June 12. You owe the school 24k by September 1. Sallie Mae sends 40k to the school by September 1. After that money gets posted to your account, whatever extra there is gets disbursed in a check for 16k to you that you pick up in the financial aid office or they send to you or whatever. In my experience, you normally get the disbursement check sometime in October. Like 4-6 weeks after school starts for processing. Question: is your ability to get student loans in the United States limited by how much money your parents earn? That's how things work here, and I've had a few friends get screwed over because their parents aren't willing/able to support them, but at the same time, they don't qualify for student loans. It's kind of messed up in my opinion.