Private loans are offered through private agencies or lending institutions rather than the federal government. They are sometimes referred to as alternative loans. The student is the borrower and an application must be made independently through a lender.
Almost without exception, dependent, undergraduate students do not have sufficient credit to qualify for a private loan without a credit-worthy cosigner. Adding a cosigner will increase the chances of approval and may reduce the interest rate of the loan.
- If a parent has been denied for the Federal Direct PLUS Loan due to credit issues, that parent will not qualify as the cosigner for a private loan.
- Many private loan products now offer cosigner release options; upon consecutive, timely repayment, a student can later apply to have the cosigner removed or released from the loan application.
- Most private lenders allow students to defer payment while enrolled in school at least half-time, while others prefer if their borrowers pay toward the interest at minimum on a monthly basis. Students should research different loan products carefully before choosing a lender.
Private loans are not federally guaranteed and do not require that you file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The yearly amount borrowed cannot exceed the annual cost of attendance minus other financial aid and resources.
Who Can Borrow?
Students who are U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. residents, international students (with an eligible U.S. citizen or permanent-resident co-signer), and, in some cases, non-matriculated students may be eligible.
Before You Apply
- You may qualify for loans or other assistance under the Federal Title IV programs and the conditions under the Federal Title IV loan programs may be more favorable in long-term borrowing than those of private education loans.
- You should inquire about your Federal Direct Stafford Loan eligibility before considering these loans.
- Consider other payment options to keep your costs down and reduce your student loan debt.
- Remember to keep track of your loan debt and the amount you will have to repay when you graduate. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) can help you organize your Federal loans (Stafford, PLUS, Perkins), but will not keep track of any borrowed private loans.
- Determine the total amount of education debt you and your family are willing to accumulate during your entire college enrollment and only borrow what you need. Repayment calculators can help you project estimated payment amounts before you make a decision.
- Review Choosing a Lender above.
Choosing a Private Loan Lender
If you choose to apply for a private loan, you will still have to select a lender. Often times, borrowers look to their college to provide information or recommendations on the many lenders offering educational loan products. Manhattan College does not benefit from lender choice in any way. All college employees subscribe to a Student Loan Code of Conduct. You are also encouraged to read the Federal Trade Commission's recommendations on how to avoid deceptive loan offers.
Students and families should research the varying rates and benefits offered by each lender carefully before selecting a private loan. We compiled a Private Loan Lender List to assist you in learning more about private lenders and their loan application guidelines, interest rates, maximum borrowing limits, and repayment plans. However, you are not limited to our suggestions and may choose any lender you wish; Financial Aid Administration will work with any lender.
Our office collects lender information through proactive requests for information (RFI). Lenders listed are selected on the basis of the following:
- Customer Service
- Processing experience
- Competitive loan terms
- Application fees
- Ease of application process
Contact a Financial Aid Administration representative for help in understanding your rights and responsibilities in regard to financial aid and borrowing educational loans.
What are the Interest Rates?
Interest rates for private loans may be VARIABLE, which means rates will fluctuate for the life of the loan, or FIXED. Interest will begin to accrue on the loan from the date of disbursement to Manhattan College.
Variable rates: Most private lenders use Prime Rate (3.25% as of 5/29/13) or 1-month or 3-month LIBOR rate (London Interbank Offered Rate) as a base interest rate. The private lender then calculates an individualized loan interest rate range that includes an add-on percentage based on the creditworthiness of the student borrower and cosigner.
- For example, if a private lender states that their loan interest rates range from Prime (3.25%) +2.0 to 9.0, a borrower applying for that loan might see their interest rate fluctuating between 5.25% to 12.25% over the life of the loan. The lender will determine your range following loan approval, but knowing the range before applying can help you make a decision.
Fixed rates: The interest rate you are given will not change over the life of the loan.
Questions to Ask Lenders before Applying
- How many years has the lender been working with student loans?
- Which financial institution funds/backs the lender’s student loan program?
- Does the lender ever sell their loans to a secondary market?
- Does the lender use their own servicing center or a third party to service their loans?
- What customer service hours are available?
- What online methods for application and repayment are available?
- Are there any repayment benefits (ways that some lenders reduce or eliminate fees or offer rewards/incentives for responsible repayment)?
- Which academic levels (graduate vs. undergraduate) are eligible to apply?
- Does the student need to be enrolled in a certain number of course credit hours to qualify?
- Is satisfactory academic progress required to borrow the loan?
- What is the amount of any origination or repayment fee percentage?
- What is the annual borrowing limit permitted (aggregate)?
- Is the interest determined on Prime Rate or LIBOR rate?
- Is cosigner release available? After how many consecutive, timely payments?
- Is loan forgiveness available to the cosigner in the event of a student's untimely death or permanent disability?
- Is there a prepayment penalty?
- Are minimum payments expected while the student is enrolled?
- Will making scheduled minimum payments vs. deferring while in-school impact the loan's interest rate?
- What is the maximum repayment term?
- What is the loan's grace period?
- What are the repayment plan options?
- Other questions, as suggested by NYS HESC
All loan policies, procedures, and the lender list are reviewed regularly by administrators within the Financial Aid Administration office at Manhattan College.