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Private Non-Federal Loans

Financing a college education is a concern for many families. While most financial aid offers 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.

Steps to take before you apply

File your FAFSA

We strongly suggest that you file your 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 6.53% (fixed) for Undergraduate students and 8.08% (fixed) for Graduate students. The Parent and Graduate PLUS Loan's interest rate is 9.08% (fixed) for 2024-2025. Private loan options can vary between 2.99-12.99%, depending on the credit score of the applicant(s).

Determine how much 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!

Find more information on our Cost of Attendance page.

Find out eligibility requirements

  • 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?
  • 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.

Understand 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.

Ask about other fees

  • Does the lender charge any origination or loan processing fees?

Learn about 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.

Choosing a lender

Central Michigan University does not provide a preferred lender list. Having you select a lender without our guidance requires you to better research your possibilities - resulting in more informed decision making. Below is a link to a comprehensive list of lenders used by our students within the past three academic years. You are by no means limited to these lenders - it's just a helpful starting point. Visit the websites and thoroughly read all literature from the lenders to determine the loan programs that would best suit your needs.

List of Loan Providers from ELM

When to apply

Private student loans take between 4 and 6 weeks to process so applying early is very important. Please see below for the suggested application dates.

Semester/apply by dates

  • Fall/Spring July 15
  • Fall Only July 15
  • Spring Only November 15
  • Summer April 1

Loan period dates

2024-2025 Academic Year

  • Fall/Spring 2024-2025: 08/26/2024 to 05/05/2025
  • Fall 2024 Only: 08/26/2023 to 12/15/2023
  • Spring 2025 Only: 01/13/2025 to 05/09/2024
  • Summer 2025: 05/19/2024 to 08/07/2024

Borrowing sensibly

Although an alternative loan is a convenient source of additional funding for your education, it is important to budget and borrows carefully:

  • Consider ways to keep your costs down 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 can 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.