Private/Alternative Loans

Private/Alternative loans are not subsidized by the government and are not guaranteed as they are subject to lender approval including a credit check. Many lending institutions offer a variety of private/alternative loan programs. Not sure if a private loan is for you? Compare PLUS and Private Loans side by side.

Details and Eligibility

  • Require enrollment at an eligible post-secondary institution.
  • Filing a FAFSA is strongly suggested as most students will qualify for a Federal Direct Loan which generally offers better loan terms. Please review the Comparison of Federal and Private Loans Chart for additional information.
  • Consider only after all other financing options have been exhausted.
  • Borrowing for less than half-time enrollment will be limited to tuition/fees, books, and transportation.
  • Borrowing for a past term will be limited to the exact amount of the balance due for that term.
  • Students may use these loans to cover educational expenses up to the cost of attendance minus all other financial assistance.
  • For more information on private loan search tips, please view the Private Preferred Lender Arrangement.
  • Your lender will require you to complete a Private Loan Self-Certification Form as part of your application. This form will be provided to you through your lender, but you can also print a copy and obtain additional information here: Loan Self-Certification Information.
  • It will take approximately two weeks to receive funds after school certification.
  • You should start applying no sooner than 90 days before the start of your requested semester.  Applying earlier may put you at risk of your credit check expiring before the loan can be processed.
  • UWM adheres to the UW System Student Loan Code of Conduct.
  • You may borrow from any lender you choose and are not restricted to this list. To apply for a private loan not listed, you will need to apply directly with that lender.

Your lender will provide you with a Loan Self-Certification Form that you will have to complete as part of the application.

Picking a Lender

Trying to pick the lender that is best for you can seem overwhelming. Below is a link to a tool that will help you learn what to look for when shopping for a private loan. At the end of the short tutorial, it will provide a comparison shopping tool allowing you to sort, filter, and compare up to 5 lenders at one time.


Minnesota Residents (SELF Loan)

The SELF loan program, unique to Minnesota, is an educational alternative/private loan provided by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. You are strongly encouraged to exhaust all eligibility for federal aid programs before you consider this program.

  • Minnesota residents attending UWM are eligible to apply.
  • Loan amounts depend on your grade level.
  • For details visit SELF Loan.
  • All SELF applications are certified by the school and require a completed application by a credit-worthy co-signer.
  • IMPORTANT!!! The SELF loan does not offer a grace period or deferment options to borrowers.