Private Student Loan Steps

Private student loans (also known as alternative loans) are student loans offered by private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other private organizations. Private student loans can usually be offered to U.S. citizens, nationals, permanent residents, and international students.

The Law Financial Aid Office suggests that students who plan to borrow private student loans carefully compare their options against federal student loans. Federal student loans provide fixed interest rates, multiple repayment options (including options based on income), cancellation provisions, deferments, and forbearances. Private student loans may not offer these same options. Students are encouraged to review more information about the differences between federal and private student loans on the Federal Student Aid website or to contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss further.

The University of Chicago does not have a preferred-lender listing for private student loans. We recognize that you have many choices when contemplating a private loan; therefore, we have provided information of those lenders that University of Chicago students have utilized in prior years on the the University's Alternative Loan Steps webpage. This list is not all-inclusive and you are not required to use one of these lenders; you may choose any lender that best meets your needs and requirements in financing your graduate education. The Law Financial Aid Office does not endorse or promote any private lender and will process a private loan application from any lender selected as long as the student is eligible for the loan.

In addition to the list on the University's Alternative Loan Steps webpage, you can use general internet search engines to research private loans.

Private student loans are NOT eligible for the Law School's Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP).  

The maximum a student may borrow from a private lender is the difference between the cost of attendance and the student's other financial assistance, including scholarships and any federal student loan funds. 

How to Apply

  • Review the lenders and terms
  • Complete a loan application directly with the lender of your choice
  • Complete a Private Education Loan Application Self-Certification and return it to your respective lender
  • Complete the Alternative Loan Request Form to alert the Law Financial Aid Office that you have been approved for a private student loan

The Law Financial Aid Office will process private student loan funding with the lender and apply the loan to the student's financial aid package. Most alternative loan funds are sent to the University via an electronic disbursement method and applied directly to your student account. If a private lender sends funds to the University via a paper check made out to the student, the Bursar will contact the student about next steps.