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Private Loan Information

A number of private outside agencies offer students alternative sources for financing their education. Unlike federal loans, the terms of private loans are set by the individual lenders. The interest rate and fees are determined by your credit history, your debt-to-income ratio and that of your co-signer. The interest rates for private educational loans are variable and are most often based on a range using Prime or the London Interbank Offered Rates (LIBOR) as a base and add an additional percentage based on the borrower's credit. The current Prime and LIBOR rates are available at the Federal Reserve Statistical Release.

Before deciding on a lender, here are some questions you need to ask:

  • How soon will I enter repayment? Are interest-only payments required during enrollment?
  • How often is the interest capitalized? (The frequency of capitalization will increase the total loan amount that you have to repay because you will be charged interest on a higher principal loan.)
  • If I use a co-signer can I receive a better rate?
  • How will the rate formula (interest and fees charged) change in repayment?
  • What will my monthly payment be on this loan amount when I am in repayment?
  • What kind of borrower benefits does the lender offer? (interest rate reductions with automatic withdrawals, principle reduction with a certain number of on-time payments)

A number of private outside agencies offer students alternative sources for financing their education. This list was created simply as a tool for students as a starting point as they begin their research. It is ultimately the student's decision to select a private education lender. Students are encouraged to investigate these options very cautiously and thoroughly. The Office of Financial Aid will process a loan with any lender you have selected regardless of their inclusion on this list as long as you are eligible for the loan.  The maximum loan amount your financial aid office can certify is the cost of attendance minus any other aid received.

Lender Selection Method and Criteria
The lenders included in this lender information were selected via a Request for Information (RFI) process. Northwestern's RFI was sent to numerous lenders, as well as offered to lenders for reply through the Illinois Association of Financial Aid Administrators. Any lender providing student loan programs was eligible to submit an RFI. When reviewing the proposals, the Office of Financial Aid considered competitive interest rates and fees, quality of servicing, and borrower benefits.

Northwestern University's Office of Financial Aid adheres to the Code of Conduct as established by the Higher Education Opportunity Act as well as the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators' (NASFAA) Statement of Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct for Institutional Financial Aid Professionals. View Northwestern’s Financial Aid Code of Conduct Policy.

Before applying for these loans it is important for you to ensure that you have reviewed all of your federal loan options and eligibility. Prospective borrowers should note that they may qualify for loans or other assistance under the federal Title IV programs and the terms and conditions of loans under the federal Title IV programs may be more favorable than those of private education loans.  Federal loans generally have better benefits and lower, fixed interest rates. We encourage you to consider the Federal PLUS/Grad PLUS Loan (depending on your academic level) before applying for a private loan.  Eligible students are encouraged to review our Loan Comparison Chart as well as Department of Education's information on Federal Versus Private Loans and speak to their financial aid office to learn about the Federal Loan programs before you apply for a private educational loan. Undergraduate students applying for federal financial aid may also be eligible for a Federal Pell Grant. The award range for 2013-14 is $605-$5,645. More information regarding the Pell Grant program is available here.

Below you will find contact information for each lender as well as a link to each lender's Interest Rate Disclosure Information.

All Lenders
Charter One
Discover Student Loans
NU Loan
Sallie Mae
Wells Fargo

If you have any questions regarding these loans beyond the information provided on the Application and Disclosure links above, please contact the lender for more information.

Your private education lender will require you to complete a Private Education Loan Applicant Self-Certification Form.  You should use the version the lender provides as it may contain pre-populated information, but you may use this version if your lender does not provide you with one.  For applicants receiving other forms of aid: Information necessary for completing this form, such as cost of attendance and financial assistance received, is available to you via CAESAR (Financial Services> View Financial Aid).  Applicants can also contact our office to speak to a financial aid counselor to retrieve this information.

Because this list is large, we have provided a few smaller lists generated off the complete list based on specific borrowing needs. 

Loan Programs for International Students (U.S. co-signer required)

Charter One
Discover Student Loans
NU Loan*
Sallie Mae
Wells Fargo
*Please note that the NU Loan has an option for Kellogg Full-time and EMBA International Students to apply for an NU Loan with an International co-signer.  Further details are listed on the NU Loan website.

Loan Programs for Half-Time Students

Charter One
Discover Student Loans
Sallie Mae
Wells Fargo

Loan Programs for Less-than-Half-Time Students 

Sallie Mae
Wells Fargo

Loan Programs for Non-Degree/Certificate Seeking Students

PNC Bank
Sallie Mae

Loan Programs to Cover Recent Past Due Balances

Charter One (up to 180days)
Sallie Mae (up to 365 days)
SunTrust (up to 30 days)
Wells Fargo (up to 30 days)

Bar Loan Programs

Bar Loans -All
Discover Student Loans
PNC Solution Loan for Bar Exam
Sallie Mae Bar Study Loan
Wells Fargo Bar ExamSM Loan

Residency and Relocation Loan Programs

Discover Student Loans
PNC Residency and Relocation Loan
Sallie Mae Residency and Relocation Loan
Wells Fargo MedCAP-XTRA Loan