Alternative Loan Programs

Before applying for a private or alternative education loan, you may qualify for grants and/or other assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Loans under Title IV include the Federal Direct Stafford and the Federal Direct PLUS loan. These Title IV loans may have terms and conditions that are more favorable than the terms and conditions of private education loans. The more favorable terms of Federal Direct loans generally include the interest rate, fees, and repayment options such as deferments and forbearances. In addition, Federal Direct loans may be eligible for loan forgiveness or discharges due to total and permanent disability or to death.

All students are strongly encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. By completing the FAFSA you are applying for federal and state aid including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Stafford Loans, and other federally funded campus need merit based aid. Parents of dependent students may also apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan.

Comparing the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan to an Alternative Loan

Students and their families can borrow additional loan funds to help meet their college costs using Alternative Loan programs. These loan programs are provided by commercial lenders and are not supported by state or federal financial aid funds.

A private alternative loan is typically issued in the student’s name and most often requires a credit worthy cosigner, who is a US citizen or permanent resident. Maximum loan amounts, loan terms, borrower qualification, repayment schedules, and interest rates vary among lenders. Be aware of the terms of the loan you are borrowing through.

Private Alternative Loan Considerations

  • Borrower must be 18 years of age
  • Apply with a credit worthy cosigner - Applying with a cosigner may provide you with an increased chance of approval and more competitive interest rate.
  • Borrow only what you need to meet your educational costs
  • Do your research.
  • Be aware of interest rates, fees, and repayment terms before completing the application and promissory note.
  • Monitor your total indebtedness being sure you will be able to repay with interest.
  • Cosigners are equally responsible for repayment of the loan and their credit is equally affected.

You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice. Neither the University of Pittsburgh nor the Financial Aid Office intends any specific endorsement, recommendation, or promotion of these products by including lenders on this list. An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower, co-signer (if any) and the lender. The University of Pittsburgh cannot be held liable if the borrower is dissatisfied with interest rates, other terms and/or service provided by the lender.

Private lenders making educational loans will be required to provide students with a series of disclosure statements about their loan and students will be required to complete a Self Certification process.

A private alternative loan is a non-federal education loan, through a private lender, typically in the student’s name and requiring a cosigner. Approval and interest rates are based on the creditworthiness of the borrower and cosigner. Each alternative lender has different eligibility requirements, loan rates, terms, and conditions.

Plan Ahead
Recent amendments to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) require that you complete a self-certification form and submit it to your lender for each alternative loan you apply for after February 14, 2010. If your lender does not provide you with the form, visit FASTCHOICE and print it from the home page. Then access your Financial Aid Summary at your Student Center and obtain your cost of attendance and your estimated financial assistance for the period of enrollment covered by the loan. Return the self-certification form to your lender upon completion.

 TILA also requires lenders to provide you with three disclosures: 1) upon your application, 2) when you are approved, and 3) at least 3 days prior to disbursement. Timing of the last disclosure may delay loan disbursements by an additional 1-2 weeks. Please plan accordingly.

Follow Important Guidelines:

  • Apply for your alternative loan within 90 days of the beginning of the semester so your lender’s credit does not expire.
  • Schedule ALL of the courses you plan to take BEFORE you apply for your loan so your loan is certified for the correct amount. Increases may not be possible after the loan is certified.
  • For summer session(s), you must complete a separate loan application, since it is a separate loan term.

An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower and cosigner and the lender. The University of Pittsburgh at Titusville cannot in any way be held liable in the event the borrower is dissatisfied with the rates, terms, or service provided by any lender, nor is Pitt-Bradford responsible for any damages incurred by the student as a result of the student's choice of lender.

You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice.

The following is a link to FASTCHOICE, a landing page that offers comparisons of loans, loan counseling, and borrowing options to fit your individual needs.

Note to International Students: Many alternative lenders will approve a loan for international students who have a creditworthy US Citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner. If you are an international student, contact the lender of your choice to determine if you are eligible.

If You Are Denied:
If you are denied, you and your cosigner can contact the lender and request an Adverse Action Credit Letter to determine why. You should also request a copy of your credit report to review your credit information.

Loan Consolidation