Private student loans, also known as alternative student loans, offer another financing option that can help cover college costs when your financial aid package fails to meet your needs.

A private student loan can be used to pay for:

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Most private student loan lenders offer:

  • Choice of fixed or variable interest rates
  • Interest rate discounts for having payments automatically deducted from a bank account
  • Easy online application and account management
  • Funding to cover the full cost of attendance, less other financial aid received
  • Year-round application acceptance and processing

Common eligibility requirements:

  • Student borrower and cosigner must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Student borrower and cosigner must have valid Social Security Numbers
  • Student borrower and cosigner must pass a credit check
  • Student must be enrolled at least half-time
  • Lender must offer loans at the student's school

How the process typically works:

Step 1: Choose a lender that works with your school. See your private student loan options.

Step 2: Apply online with the lender you chose. In most cases, once your application is submitted, you'll be notified of your pre-qualification within minutes.

Step 3: Review and sign supplemental documents. This step can usually be completed online or on paper.

Step 4: Get approved and sign. Once your application is approved, you'll need to sign a Self-Certification form and Promissory Note/Loan Contract.

Step 5: Your school certifies the loan. In this step, which is handled by your lender and the school you are attending, your enrollment and eligibility are verified.

Step 6: Lender sends the loan funds to your school, and your school applies the funds to your account.