Private alternatives (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.
- Students 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 may carry a variable interest rate or a fixed 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.
- Alternative loans may not be consolidated with any federal loans and must be repaid separately.
Private alternative loans are available to those law students who feel they will need more than the $20,500 maximum available from the Federal Direct Stafford Loan program, and who are either ineligible or do not want a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loan. Most private alternative loans will allow a student to borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any other aid. Private alternative loans generally require school certification of enrollment and eligibility information. In most cases the lender forwards this request to the school after your completion of the initial application, the disclosures, and the self-certification form. Please be sure that the loan program for which you applied has received all required information, and has GW’s contact information on record. Each private alternative loan product has specific enrollment level requirements and prior balance coverage standards. When applying, make sure the products enrollment requirements and other standards meet your specific needs. Also be aware the final approval and disbursement decision rests with the lender. School certification of the eligible amount is not a guarantee of fund delivery.
We will certify any private alternative loan application submitted to the Law Office of Student Financial Assistance accompanied by the required Law Financial Aid Request Form. It is wise to shop around 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 to have a Student Accounts Hold lifted for advance registration must now 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 will have to be completed before the lender will provide the Office of Student Financial Assistance with a certification form. Until we have received the funds from the lender, there will be no action that the aid office can take requesting that the ‘hold’ be lifted.
One of the requirements is the ‘Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form’ which is completed by the student and submitted to the lender. Your lender will make this form available to you. It is also available on the Forms page of our website. 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 Marvin 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 Law Financial Aid Office is not allowed to offer recommendations on any lending program. Please see our Code of Conduct. However, we recognize that students need resources for 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 Law 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 ten business days before the loan funds will be disbursed to the University to be credited to your account.