University of Wisconsin–Madison

Private loans

Private student loans are meant to provide additional funds after you have applied for and exhausted your federal financial aid options. These loans are offered through commercial banks and most offer fixed or variable interest rates. All private loans require credit checks and most loans will require a cosigner if the borrower has little or no credit history. Be aware that disbursement of all private loans is delayed by 2-3 weeks to comply with federal regulations (Truth in Lending Act).

To review a list of private lenders click on FASTChoice, an online comparison tool. You can link to loan applications directly from this site.

Your lender:

  • Sends your application to our office after your loan has been credit-approved and you have signed the necessary documents on their end
  • Provides you with interest rate, cosigner requirements, and loan disclosures
  • Requires the school to limit private loan amounts to the cost of attendance minus other aid you are receiving so you may not receive the exact loan amount you requested
  1. If you have completed a FAFSA, we will process your private loan AFTER you have accepted your regular financial aid offer. This assures you’ll receive the best aid package possible.
  2. Find a private loan of your choice, or compare private loans by using the FASTChoice online comparison tool. After choosing a private loan, fill out and submit the application online. Be careful about the loan period you choose on your application as it dictates when your loan will be disbursed and the amount we can offer you.
    • For example, if you choose a loan period of September – May your loan will be split evenly between fall and spring semesters. If you only want a loan for your fall expenses, choose a loan period of September – December. A loan for summer school should be May – August.
  3. Your loan application will be forwarded to our office after your loan has been credit-approved and you have signed the promissory note. We will email you with the status of your aid file and/or any necessary questions or clarifications about your private loan application.
  4. Your private loan will be added to your financial aid award in ‘accepted’ status. You will be notified when your loan can be reviewed in your MyUW. We cannot make loan increases or change disbursement dates after we have certified the loan with your lender.
  5. We will certify your application with your lender, and they will notify us of the disbursement date. All first disbursements of private loans are delayed for 2-3 weeks due to the federal Truth in Lending Act (TILA). The disbursement dates assigned by your lender are not negotiable so plan ahead if you need the private loan for beginning of semester costs.
  6. When the private loan funds are sent to the school it will be applied to any tuition balance and the remainder will be sent to you as a refund for paying other expenses.
  • You may not receive the exact loan amount in which you applied as it is typically limited to the cost of attendance minus other aid.
  • Interest accrues on private loans from the date of disbursement, although actual repayment does not begin until 6 months after the you graduate or drops below halftime status.
  • All private student loans are based on credit history and most will require a co-signer if the student has little or no credit history. Co-signers are encouraged for all borrowers because it may help reduce interest rates and processing fees, and it improves the chances the loan will be approved.
  • Each loan program offers various repayment incentives to consider. Ask your lender about repayment options and cosigner release.
  • Private loans are not based on financial need and although it is encouraged, the completion of a FAFSA is not required.
  • International students can borrow from most private loan lenders if they have a credit-worthy cosigner who is a US citizen.
  • Study Abroad Programs:
    • Some private lenders will not process a loan for a study abroad program shorter than 30 days.
    • Make sure your loan is processed and ready to disburse before you leave on your study abroad trip.