Alternative Loans

Alternative loans are private education loans that help bridge the gap between the actual cost of your education and the amount the government allows you to borrow in its programs. Private loans are offered by private lenders and there are no federal forms to complete. Eligibility for private student loans often depends on your credit score.

What is the the best loan for me?

  • Federal loans, including Direct Loans and PLUS Loans, generally have lower interest rates and should be your first consideration
  • The maximum interest rates and fees on federal loans are set by federal law, so the terms and conditions for these loans are clearly defined and may not change over time
  • Alternative loans are considered a “last resort” for students who have exhausted all other financial aid options
  • Alternative loans cannot exceed the cost of attendance for a student
  • Most alternative loans have interest that start to build as soon as the loan pays out
  • Most alternative loans go into repayment after the student graduates

How do I apply for an alternative loan?

  • Anyone can borrow a loan on behalf of the student. Borrowers will need to apply directly with the lender of their choice
  • Most student borrowers will be required to have someone co-sign the loan application
  • Interest rates for loans are determined by the lender and are based on the borrower and/or co-signer’s credit worthiness
  • You may choose any lender of your choice. For your convenience, we offer this handy ELM Select alternative loan tool that walks you through important information about types of funding and money management. It also presents your new responsibilities if you decide to borrow money
  • After you review this information, you will see a list of lenders offering loan products in a way that makes it easy to compare them

Deadline to Apply

  • The deadline to submit an alternative loan application and ensure processing before the fall payment due date is July 28
  • The deadline to submit an alternative loan application and ensure processing before the spring payment due date is November 22
  • The deadline to submit an alternative loan application and ensure processing before summer payment due date is May 1
  • If your alternative loan application arrives after the priority deadline, we will continue to process them in the order they are received, but we can’t guarantee that you will receive the funds by the payment due date

Next Steps


  • It will take us up to 10 days to review and process your application for the lender

Watch your email

  • If we need more information from you regarding your application, we will send you an email asking you to review a message in Banner Self Service indicating any additional information needed. Your loan processing will be on hold until you complete/submit the missing information.
  • If you don’t receive an email from us regarding your loan application within 10 days after you apply, no action is required from you.

Updates to your financial aid award package

  • When your financial aid award package is updated, you will receive an email notifying you that your award balance has been updated. This means the alternative loan processing has been completed and no further action is required from you regarding your loan application.

Loan disbursement

  • Watch for an email from your alternative/private loan lender. They will provide you with your loan disbursement date, which is the date when the loan amount will be applied to your UNC Charlotte student account.