Alternative or private loans are nonfederal loans offered by some banks and credit unions.

The purpose of an alternative loan is to supplement a student's financial aid package. Alternative loans are not federally endorsed or guaranteed, but they generally must be certified by the office of financial aid at Notre Dame. An alternative loan cannot exceed your cost of attendance (financial aid budget) minus all other financial aid.

If you have not done so already, we advise you to consider other financial aid and/or federal loans first. For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education.

Financial Aid Options

Alternative loans should be a last resort, used only when all other resources have been explored.

You may wish to consider an alternative or private student loan if:

Unusual Circumstances

Students may be looking for a private student loan in the following situations. It is the student's responsibility to inform the lender of the special circumstances and confirm if eligible:

  • The loan is for a balance from a prior semester.
  • The student is not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements.
  • The student is enrolled less than half-time.
  • The student is not enrolled in a degree-seeking program.

Research Loan Lenders & Products

You are encouraged to research the loan product that is best for you by visiting lender websites and contacting the lender's customer service department with questions. Since private loans are not federally endorsed, each lender's loan program varies on interest rates, fees, the amount you may borrow (minimum and maximum) and repayment terms.

When considering private student loans, we recommend using an unbiased source to compare products, such as ELMSelect.

Questions to Ask Your Alternative Student Loan Lender

As with all borrowing, students and parents must carefully consider the terms of an alternative student loan before borrowing. Questions to ask an alternative student loan lender might include:

  • What are the fees associated with the loan?
  • If the interest rate is variable on the loan, how high can it go, and how often will it be adjusted?
  • How is the interest rate calculated?
  • What rate can I get on a fixed-rate loan?
  • What are the terms of repayment?
  • How much will my payments be if I borrow $x?
  • Do I need a co-signer?
  • Are there any enrollment requirements to receive the loan?

Note: Notre Dame of Maryland does not endorse any specific lender or group of lenders. The application for an alternative student loan is made directly through the lending institution. As a part of this process, the office of financial aid will certify enrollment and other information for the borrower.

How to Apply

Unlike Direct loans, alternative loans are based on creditworthiness. The first step in applying is a credit check through the lender. Students are encouraged to apply with a co-signer to improve their chances of being approved.

Follow These Steps to Apply for a Private Student Loan

  1. Select the lender of your choice and contact them either online or by phone to begin the pre-approval process. We require that you initiate the process by seeking pre-approval.
  2. Your lender will perform a credit review. If approved, your lender will require you to complete a promissory note and other necessary forms, including the Self-Certification Form.
  3. Your lender will send us an electronic request for a certification.
  4. Once we receive the request for certification from your lender, we will certify your loan within 3-4 weeks. You may check WebAdvisor for the status of your loan.
  5. Once the certification is completed, your lender will prepare funds for disbursement.
  6. The loan will be in hold status until half-time enrollment has begun. Once the student has begun 6 credits for the semester (or 5 credits for PHR students), the loan funds will be released.
  7. The funds will then be applied to your Notre Dame account to cover all expenses. If applicable, a refund check will be issued if there is a credit balance.