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Private Alternative Loans

A private, or alternative, education loan is a non-federal educational loan, through a private lending institution, typically issued in the student's name and requiring a co-signer. These loans vary in the terms, conditions, and eligibility requirements. Before submitting any loan applications, you are encouraged to exhaust your federal student loan eligibility, and evaluate the criteria for each loan program to determine which one best meets your and your co-signer’s needs.

Before you apply, know that:

  • It is in your best interest to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and borrow from federal student loan programs if you are eligible.
  • Some private loan programs will require you to apply for federal student loans first.
  • Private loans typically have variable and higher interest rates, may require you to make interest payments while you are in school, have more fees, and less flexible repayment options than federal loans.
  • Your ability to borrow and the interest rate you receive depend on your (and/or your cosigner's) credit score. Most students will need to apply with a credit-worthy cosigner to meet the lender's minimum loan application approval requirements.
  • Each lender has different terms, conditions, eligibility, and repayment requirements.

Students with any of the following circumstances should contact their lender of choice before completing an application because many private lenders do not lend to students who are in one or more of these unique situations:

  • Students that are not making Satisfactory Academic Progress
  • Attending via University Studies (UST) at non-degree status
  • Have less than half-time enrollment status
  • Are paying a previous term balance
  • Are currently awarded at or above the cost of attendance

If you're ready to look into private education loans, UMD has opted to use FASTChoice, a loan comparison service, offered free-of-charge to schools by the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation.

Once in FASTChoice, you will be able to compare various loan programs and link directly to the lender of your choice to begin your application. Lenders will automatically notify UMD when your application is fully approved. Then they will request school certification electronically.

The University of Minnesota Duluth neither receives nor accepts any incentives, financial or otherwise, for lenders listed in FASTChoice . You may borrow from any lender you choose, including lenders not currently found in FASTChoice.

Explore private education loan options using FASTChoice

Use this site to evaluate private lenders who meet the above criteria.

When requested, provide your lender with these identifiers:

Name of postsecondary institution:

University of Minnesota Duluth

Federal school code:


Always remember that your private loan is borrowed from a private loan company, not the University of Minnesota Duluth. Sign the promissory note and/or truth-in-lending disclosure forms only when you understand and agree with the rates and terms given in those documents. Keep copies of all your paperwork for as long as you have the loan. You must handle any concerns or problems you encounter with your private loan lender independently.