Frequently Asked Questions: Private Student Loans

Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If you need to look up a term or acronym, use our glossary.

We recommend you first obtain as much money as you can from scholarships and grants since you do not have to pay back these types of financial aid. Once you have maximized these options, you will know exactly how much money you still need for school. If you need to borrow money, apply for only what you need.

Federal student loans are available through the US Department of Education, feature fixed interest rates, and offer several repayment options. Private student loans are education loans offered by banks or other lenders, are credit-based and have fixed or variable interest rates.

A certified private loan is one in which your school verifies the amount you should borrow and tells the lender when to disburse funds. This helps ensure you borrow only what you need and do not accrue interest months before tuition is due. And, the interest paid on a certified private loan is usually tax deductible. Non-certified loans, which are not verified with your school, typically have higher interest rates and may not be tax deductible.

While you may apply on your own, most undergraduate students will need to apply with a creditworthy cosigner to meet our eligibility requirements, which include but are not limited to an established and satisfactory credit history. Even if you meet our requirements, you may still want to consider applying with a cosigner who has a stronger credit history and income to help you qualify for a lower interest rate.

Cosigners are responsible for the life of the loan.

Interest is calculated as simple daily interest. This means that each day the outstanding principal balance is multiplied by the interest rate and divided by 365 days to calculate that day's interest amount. For example, if you have a $10,000 loan and the interest rate is 7%, one day's interest will be ($10,000 x 0.07) / 365 = $1.92. For more information, read our article on interest rates.