You should only use alternative student loans as supplemental funding after you have exhausted all other sources of financial aid, including Federal Direct Stafford and PLUS Loans. As with any student loan, be conservative and borrow only what you need.
The following is a list of criteria that should be used when selecting a lender:
- Interest Rates: Interest rates charged during loan repayment
- Fees: The percent of fees, if any, charged to borrow an alternative loan
- Approval Rate: The relative approval rates of loan applicants
- Co-Signer Release: Whether or not a co-signer can be released from repayment responsibilities after a certain number of repayments
- Customer Service
Things to consider before borrowing an alternative loan:
- Alternative loans are designed to help students with educational expenses after all federal, state, and institutional aid has been received.
- Students are responsible for all interest charges.
- Most alternative loans will require a credit worthy co-signer.
- Alternative loans have higher interest rates than federal loans. For the current prime and LIBOR rates, click here.
- Interest rates change often and have no cap.
- Alternative loans cannot be included in a federal consolidation loan.
- Each time you apply your credit is reviewed.
- If you plan to attend graduate school, check with your lender to determine if your loan can be deferred.
Columbia College maintains a historical list of all private lenders who continue to participate in the Alternative Student Loan program and who have provided funds to Columbia College students since the fall semester of 2007. These alternative loans are governed by certain federal regulations but are funded through a private lending institution.
Choosing a lender is an important financial decision. We encourage you to extensively research your private loan lending options to identify the lender whose terms best meet your needs. This list is not inclusive of all lenders whom offer private loans nor does it infer any preferences to these lenders. Columbia College does not endorse any lender. You may choose any private loan lender you prefer whether or not they are on the historical list.