Federal and Private Loans

Private Alternative Loans

Private alternative (otherwise known as commercial) loans are offered by many private banks or lenders and are borrowed for education expenses not covered by other sources of financial aid. Students are strongly encouraged to utilize all of their federal student loan eligibility before seeking an alternative student loan:

  • Annual alternative loan amounts are limited to a student's total cost of attendance less other financial aid received.
  • Student must be enrolled at least half-time and be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or provide a U.S. cosigner.
  • Alternative loans are unsubsidized and carry a variable interest rate. Interest rates are determined by the lending institution and may change as often as every 30 days and may have no interest rate cap.
  • Alternative loan approval is based upon the student's credit history. Credit history may also affect the interest rate.
  • Each alternative loan lender has their own credit criteria, application process, and maximum lifetime borrowing limits.

We will certify any private alternative loan application submitted to the MD Program Office of Financial Aid after we have confirmed your interest in the loan. It is wise to compare loan terms among the different lenders and products to find the loan option that best suits your needs. An internet search for “Private Alternative Student Loans” provides a valuable starting point for both learning about the terms of the loans and reviewing the products available from various lending institutions.

The Application Process for Alternative Loans and the Process for Hold Lifts

The federal regulations for the processing of Alternative Loans that went into effect on February 14, 2010, added several steps to the processing of alternative loans and you must be aware of the following that will slow down the process considerably.

Those students who intend to apply for an alternative loan or to have a Student Accounts Hold lifted for advance registration must start the application process at least four weeks prior to the date on which they are scheduled to register for the upcoming semester. Several steps must be completed before the lender will provide the Office of Financial Aid with the loan certification form. No action will be taken to release a ‘hold" until we have received the funds from your lender.

Each student receiving a private loan must complete the a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form and submit the form to your private lender. The information necessary to complete the form is available on our website at https://banweb.gwu.edu/. Since this is your personal award information, you will need to log in using your USER ID and PIN. You will be able to access both your award and Cost of Education information. If you prefer, you can visit Colonial Central (located on the ground floor of the University Student Center) for assistance.

When you apply for an alternative loan, please be sure to follow the instructions from your lender carefully. These instructions will guide you step-by-step through the process. Please note that due to recent changes in federal regulations, the MD Program Office of Financial Aid is not allowed to offer recommendations on any lending program. Please see our Code of Conduct. However, we recognize that some students need private loans, especially students who are not eligible for Federal Direct Loans. If you have a question about the terms of a private loan or you do not understand what your lender is asking on an application, please contact the MD Program Office of Financial Aid. We are happy to assist you in understanding this information.

In addition to the extra steps outlined above, there will be a delay of up to at least 10 business days before the loan funds will be disbursed to the university to be credited to your account.