Students who are not eligible for federal student loans, scholarships, or other aid programs, or those who wish to supplement their financial aid package may opt to apply for funding through a private lender. While private loans, sometimes referenced as “alternative loans,” may be a good option in some circumstances, students should be aware that these types of loans are not subject to the same oversight and regulations which cover federal loans, and they do not qualify for the same benefits as federal loans. The terms and conditions of loans made under Title IV may be more favorable than those of private education loans. In many cases, it is advisable for students to exhaust their federal eligibility before borrowing from a private lender. Please note that a student’s total financial aid package, including loans, may never exceed the Cost of Attendance (COA).
The Department of Education provides a free resource to assist students with identifying the differences between federal and private student loans. In addition, all students should review the Dept.’s publication, 2019–20 Do You Need Money for College or Career School? Apply for Federal Student Aid. Students are also encouraged to review Office of Financial Aid’s list of private loan guidelines before applying to a private lender.
Any student who wishes to borrow from a private student loan should complete the federal student aid application process and review their award notice before submitting a private loan application. This will ensure that the borrower is fully aware of their eligibility for federal student loans and is able to make fully informed borrowing decisions.
For students who conclude that private loans are the right option, we recommend that you review many lenders and compare costs and terms before borrowing. Our office will process a private loan application with the lender of your choice. However, we cannot recommend any particular private lender. All borrowing decisions are the responsibility of the student.