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Alternative Loan Guide

Alternative loans are private loans through a lending institution and not part of federal government programs. These types of loan are in the student's name and a cosigner is often required. It may be possible to apply online or by phone and know within a matter of minutes if you are approved. Alternative education loans are based on credit. Application is made directly through the lender, and a co-signer may be required. Typically, applicants can know within a few minutes if they qualify for an alternative loan.

While these loans may be an option for you, we strongly encourage you to look at all financial aid alternatives such as grants, scholarships, and federal loans before applying for an alternative education loan. There are typically differences in the interest rates and repayment terms as well as other factors compared to federal loan options.

Alternative Loan Comparison Tool:

If you would like to research your alternative loan options, Fast Choice offers a free online resource that can help you compare student loan rates for private student loans. This link is offered as a suggestion to help you make a more informed decision as you have a right to the lender of your choice.

Fast Choice

Alternative Education Loans for Parents and Family Members


Alternative Loan Terms Defined:

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The APR is the annual cost of your loan including the effect of any fees and charges in addition to interest. The APR is determined based on the terms of the loan. APRs will differ based on the terms and loan amount. Make sure you are comparing like loan amounts when comparing APRs to receive a true comparison. Note, if the rate is variable, the APR may be increased after consummation of the loan. Take these terms and APRs into consideration when borrowing an alternative loan. 

Repayment Incentives

Does the alternative loan reward borrowers who make payments on-time? For example, after 48 consecutive on-time payments will you receive an interest rate reduction? 

Loan Limits

Does the loan have an annual or aggregate limit? Can you afford to borrow within these limits? It is a good idea to borrow from the same lender each year, so make sure the loan can cover your costs throughout your entire education. 


Do you need to know quickly if you qualify? Does the lender offer loan pre-approval over the phone or internet? 

Cosigner Requirement

Does the alternative loan require you to have a cosigner? Sometimes adding a cosigner can help reduce the interest rate of the loan. If you cannot find a cosigner, you will need to find an alternative loan you may borrow on your own. 

Interest Capitalization

If you choose not to pay the interest on your loan while you are in school, the interest may be capitalized (added to your principal balance). When is the interest capitalized? Annually? At repayment? If the interest is capitalized annually, the loan is more expensive than if it is capitalized only once at repayment. 


Does repayment begin immediately or after you graduate or leave school? Make payments whenever you can afford to, but if you cannot make regular payments while you are in school, you will need to find a loan that does not require immediate repayment. 

Repayment Period

How long is the repayment period in which you repay the loan? If your educational costs require you to borrow large amounts, you may need a longer time to repay the loan.

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