Financing a college education is a concern for many families. While most financial aid packages will include student loans, federal Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans may not cover the total cost of college expenses. Private student loans are an option to help students and parents bridge the gap between what federal aid and institutional aid may cover and what a student needs financially to attend Central Michigan University.
Before applying for a Private Student Loan, consider the following
FILE YOUR FAFSA. We strongly suggest that you file a FAFSA and take advantage of all federal aid offered before pursuing a private student loan. Interest rates on federal loans are typically much lower than what you will find in the private student loan market. Federal student loans are at 4.66% (fixed) for Undergraduate students and 6.21% (fixed) for Graduate students. The Parent PLUS Loan's interest rate is 7.21% (fixed) for 2014-2015. Private loan options can vary between 4.75-12.99%, depending on the credit score of the applicant(s).
- HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO BORROW?
- Borrowing to pay for housing costs and tuition or books is absolutely acceptable. Borrowing, however, to purchase a new iPod or phone or to go on a spring break vacation is not. Live like a student now so that you don't have to later!
- Is a Cosigner required?
- Private student loans are offered by private financial corporations to students based on their credit score. Unless you have been employed full time for at least two years and have established good credit history, it is unlikely that you will be approved for a private student loan without a credit-worthy cosigner.
- Does the lender require that you be a degree seeking student?
- Does the lender require that you be maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress?
- Does the lender require a minimum enrollment to borrow?
- INTEREST RATES
- Does the lender offer fixed or variable rates?
Fixed rates remain the same for the life of the loan.
Variable rates are subject to change periodically throughout the life of the loan. Variable rate loans usually have a 'ceiling' and a 'floor' which is the highest and lowest the variable rate can go. The ceiling on private loans right now can be as high as 25% with some lenders.
- If the rate is variable, how often does the rate change? Some lenders will vary the rate annually, some quarterly, and some monthly.
- Does the lender charge any origination or loan processing fees?
- REPAYMENT OPTIONS
- Do you have to make payments while in school?
- How long do you have to pay the loan back?
- Do you get a better interest rate if you choose to make payments now or if you choose a shorter repayment period?
- Is there a cosigner release option? If so, how does it work and how long does the borrower have to pay before the cosigner can be released?
- Are the rates lower or terms better with a cosigner?
- LOAN LIMITS
- Does the lender have a loan minimum that I must borrow?
- Most lenders have a minimum amount of $1000 that must be met before a private loan can be processed.
- Is there a maximum that I can borrow for the year?
- Private loan borrowing is limited to the Cost of Attendance set by CMU minus other aid.
- Is there a maximum that I can borrow throughout my time in school?
- Some, but not all, lenders do set aggregate limits for their loans. This would give you a limit as to how much you could borrow for your undergraduate or graduate degree.
Whom should I borrow from?
CMU will process a private student loan from any lending institution. We do not suggest any one lender over another. For help comparing different private student loan lenders, please go to
When should I apply?
Private student loans take between 4 and 6 weeks to process so applying early is very important. Please see below for suggested application dates.
Fall/Spring June 15
Fall Only June 15
Spring Only November 15
Summer April 1
Loan Period Dates
2014-2015 Academic Year:
Spring 2015 Only: 12/22/2014-05/09/2015
Summer 2015: 05/09/2015 - 08/24/2015
2015-2016 Academic Year:
Fall/Spring 2015-2016: 08/25/2015 - 05/10/2016
Fall 2015 Only: 08/25/2015-12/30/2015Spring 2015
Spring 2016 Only: 12/22/2015 - 05/10/2016
Although an alternative loan is a convenient source of additional funding for your education, it is important to budget and borrow carefully:
- Consider ways to keep your costs down in order to limit your total loan debt.
Once you decide to borrow, borrow only what you need, because you must repay loans, with interest.
- Before you borrow, it is wise to estimate both the amount of debt you may be able to afford and the potential monthly loan payment you can expect after you graduate.
- Also, take very seriously the responsibility of borrowing and repaying an educational loan:
Be sure to read and understand the terms and conditions on your promissory note. You are agreeing to repay the loan with all the accrued and capitalized interest and deducted fees.
- It is your responsibility to read and keep all your records and contact your lender regarding any changes in your status as a student.
You are obligated to repay your loan regardless of whether you complete your education, are satisfied with your education, or are able to find a job.
- Alternative loans can be consolidated but not in combination with Federal loans. The two loan types must be consolidated separately.
How conscientiously you make payments on your student loan will affect your ability to borrow for a car, a house, or other purchases in the future. If you are late with your student loan payments, it will have a negative effect on your credit history. On the other hand, repaying your student loan on time can help you establish and maintain an excellent credit history.