Financial Aid

Private Alternative Loans

Private education loans, also called alternative loans, are offered by banks and lending institutions as an additional source of funding for higher education. These loans are not part of the federal loan program, but they are an additional option after all other financial aid resources have been exhausted. When reviewing all of your family's options to pay for school, it is in your best interest to complete the Free Application for Federal Student AID (FAFSA) so you may apply for any federal student loans prior to borrowing private alternative loans.  You may also want to compare the Federal Parent PLUS Loan vs. private loans using Sallie Mae's Understanding Gap Financing Options: PLUS Loan for Parents and Private Student Loans. (If you're a graduate student, see Sallie Mae's Understanding Gap Financing Options for Graduate Student Private Loans)

Please keep in mind that while a cosigner may not be initially required to apply for a private loan, some applicants may be required to provide a cosigner for final loan approval. 

If you or your parent are considering a private education loan, you are encouraged to review our Private Lender information and Private Lender List. The WIU Financial Aid Office will process alternative loans for ANY lender selected by a student, even if they are not listed on the Lender List. 

The Lender List was developed by evaluating private loan lenders on the following criteria: 

  • Quality of customer service to both students and the university. 
  • How quickly problems are resolved.
  • Provide products that meet the needs of WIU students.
  • Loans provided to WIU students in the past. 

If you decide to borrow a private alternative loan through a private loan lender, please note that the loan is not through Western Illinois University. You will only want to sign the promissory note and/or truth-in-lending disclosure forms with your chosen lender only when you understand and agree to the loan terms put in place. Any concerns or problems with your private loan lender must be handled directly with them. 

Remember - borrow only what you need! Student's may borrow up to their cost of attendance minus any other financial aid (e.g. loans, scholarships, waivers, etc.). 

Private student loans are not eligible for Federal Direct Loan Consolidation - however, lending institutions do offer private consolidation loans.

Do you have a special situation? 

If any of the following situations apply to you, please discuss with your private loan lender before completing the loan application to make sure you are eligible for the loan you have chosen. Some lenders will not offer a loan to students who have one or more of these situations: 

  • Non-degree seeking
  • Less than half-time enrollment
  • Paying a balance from a previous semester
  • Currently receiving more aid than the cost of attendance at WIU