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 SOFR (Secured Overnight Financing Rate) 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)
This lender list was created simply as a starting point for students 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.
Considerations before applying
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. Students are encouraged to review the 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. More information regarding the Pell Grant program is available on the Undergraduate Financial Aid website.
The loan programs and lenders listed here are provided to help you start your research. You are not required to only borrow from these options. The lenders included in this lender information were selected via a Request for Information (RFI) process. Any lender providing student loan programs was eligible to submit an RFI.
We chose to list the lenders below based on a review of competitive interest rates and fees, quality of servicing, and borrower benefits. Please contact the lender directly for more information. The links below include lender contact information and the lenders’ application and solicitation disclosures.
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.
- College Ave
- Custom Choice Loan
- ISL Education Lending
- Northwestern Loan
- Sallie Mae Student Loans
- Union Federal
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 > 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.
Please note that most lenders require students to be residing in the United States at the time of disbursement. Lenders may also require an I-20 to apply, so these loans may not be a viable option for new students. Be sure to check with individual lenders for their specific policy.
- College Ave
- Earnest (co-signer may not be required)
- Northwestern Loan*
- Sallie Mae Student Loans
- SoFi (co-signer may not be required)
- Union Federal
* 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. For the NU International Loan, both Option A and Option B, please note that this is a financial need-based loan; therefore, for consideration to apply for this loan, the applicant must first complete the Kellogg Financial Aid application process. Once completed, the Kellogg Financial Aid Office will review the completed application, and notify the student of the loan amount that they are eligible to borrow. Further details are listed on the Northwestern Loan webpage.