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Financial Aid: Alternative Loans

When paying for college, sometimes, grants, scholarships, Work-Study, family contributions, and federal Direct loans are not enough to cover your expenses. If so, you may need to consider an alternative education loan. Alternative education loans should only be used as a last resort—after you have explored all your options and exhausted your eligibility for Federal Financial Aid including federal Direct loans.

What are Alternative Education Loans?

Alternative education loans are created and offered by private lenders, such as banks and credit unions. They are credit-based loans that help students "bridge the gap" between the financial aid they have been awarded and any additional amount they feel may be needed to help achieve their educational goals.  The lender sets the terms and conditions of the loan. Unlike federal Direct loans which are created and guaranteed by the federal government, alternative education loan terms vary from lender to lender.  All students are advised to utilize all federal financial aid, including federal Direct loans, before borrowing an Alternative Education Loan.

Lender Information

We have created an Alternative Education Loan lender list to help with the selection process.  Our research indicates that the lenders listed below have been utilized by students over the last two years.  If you choose to borrow with a lender from outside this lender list, we will be happy to process it for you.  Please note that Armstrong processes and certifies Alternative Education Loans that are governed by Federal Regulation Z.  Here is the lender list for your review in alphabetical order:

Lender Phone
Chase JPM* 1.800.487.4404
CitiBank* 1.800.967.2400
Citizens Bank 1.800.708.6684
Credit Union of Georgia 1.888.272.4665
cuStudentLoans** 1.888.549.9050
Discover 1.877.728.3030
Fifth Third Bank 1.800.222.7192
MEFA 1.800.266.0243
Pentagon Federal Credit Union** 1.800.247.5626
PNC Bank 1.800.762.1001
Regions Bank 1.800.858.7822
Sallie Mae 1.877.279.7172
Suntrust 1.866.232.3889
Union Federal 1.866.513.8445
Wells Fargo 1.800.658.3567

  * Lender is no longer offering Private Educational Loans
** Credit Union Membership required

What You Need to Do to Apply

  1. To begin the application process, you will need to submit an application for the loan with the lender of your choice. To submit an application, you may contact the lender at the number provided above or visit Elm Select to apply.  We will be happy to process a loan for you if you choose a lender not provided on Elm Select; if this occurs, please be sure to have your lender provide Armstrong's Office of Financial Aid with the School Certification Form.
  2. Before a lender may disburse loan funds to the school, the student must:
  3. Be sure to review and complete disclosures that your alternative loan lender will send you. You will receive 3 disclosures: Application and Solicitation Disclosure, Approval Disclosure, and Final Disclosure. You will have 30 days to accept your Approval Disclosure with your lender.

Please Note: Failure to complete all the necessary steps may cause your alternative education loan to be cancelled by your lender.

More Information about Alternative Education Loans

Alternative education loans are credit-based and are heavily advertised by lenders so they may seem like the easier option. However, students and parents should exercise caution and should compare carefully the terms from lenders before borrowing because loan amounts, rates, fees, and repayment periods vary by lender. Many alternative loans offer preferential terms when students apply with a co-borrower. Remember, the co-borrower shares responsibility for repayment.

Unlike fixed rate federal Direct loans, alternative, credit-based loans have variable interest rates based on the credit of the borrower and/or co-borrower. This variable rate can increase or decrease as often as monthly. Be sure to always read the fine print!