Before applying for a private or alternative education loan, you may qualify for grants and/or other assistance under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. Loans under Title IV include the Federal Direct Stafford and the Federal Direct PLUS loan. These Title IV loans may have terms and conditions that are more favorable than the terms and conditions of private education loans. The more favorable terms of Federal Direct loans generally include the interest rate, fees, and repayment options such as deferments and forbearances. In addition, Federal Direct loans may be eligible for loan forgiveness or discharges due to total and permanent disability or to death.

All students are strongly encouraged to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year. By completing the FAFSA you are applying for federal and state aid including Federal Pell Grants, Federal Direct Stafford Loans, and other federally funded campus need merit based aid. Parents of dependent students may also apply for a Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan.

Comparing the Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loan to an Alternative Loan 

Students and their families can borrow additional loan funds to help meet their college costs using Alternative Loan programs. These loan programs are provided by commercial lenders and are not supported by state or federal financial aid funds.

A private alternative loan is typically issued in the student’s name and most often requires a credit worthy cosigner, who is a US citizen or permanent resident. Maximum loan amounts, loan terms, borrower qualification, repayment schedules, and interest rates vary among lenders. Be aware of the terms of the loan you are borrowing through.

Private Alternative Loan Considerations

  • Apply with a credit worthy cosigner - Applying with a cosigner may provide you with an increased chance of approval and more competitive interest rate.
  • Borrow only what you need to meet your educational costs
  • Do your research. Ask questions of your lender and find out which loan will benefit you the most.
  • Be aware of interest rates, fees, and repayment terms before completing the application and promissory note.
  • Monitor your total indebtedness being sure you will be able to repay with interest.
  • Cosigners are equally responsible for repayment of the loan and their credit is equally affected.

You Need to Ask Your Lender

You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice. Neither the University of Pittsburgh nor the Financial Aid Office intends any specific endorsement, recommendation, or promotion of these products by including lenders on this list. An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower, co-signer (if any) and the lender. The University of Pittsburgh cannot be held liable if the borrower is dissatisfied with interest rates, other terms and/or service provided by the lender.

Alternative loans are subject to additional regulations as a result of new Truth in Lending legislation. The Federal Reserve Board approved final amendments to Regulation Z (Truth in Lending) that revise the disclosure requirements for private education loans.

These rules apply to loans made expressly for postsecondary educational expenses and affect all educational loans except those made, insured, or guaranteed by the federal government, which are subject to disclosure rules issued by the Department of Education. Schools and private lenders making educational loans will be required to provide students with a series of disclosure statements about their loan and students will be required to complete a Self Certification process.

Disclosures will be provided directly to the student borrower by the school or private lender making the loan. Students will need to complete a Self Certification form provided to them by the school or private lender.

A private alternative loan is a non-federal education loan, through a private lender, typically in the student’s name and requiring a cosigner. Approval and interest rates are based on the creditworthiness of the borrower and cosigner. Each alternative lender has different eligibility requirements, loan rates, terms, and conditions.

Plan Ahead
Recent amendments to the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) require that you complete a self-certification form and submit it to your lender for each alternative loan you apply for after February 14, 2010. If your lender does not provide you with the form, visit Fast Choice and print it from the home page. Then access your Financial Aid Summary at your Student Center and obtain your cost of attendance and your estimated financial assistance for the period of enrollment covered by the loan. Return the self-certification form to your lender upon completion. Keep in mind that current students will not have access to 2016-17 cost and student aid information on the Financial Aid Summary until after awarding in mid-June.

 TILA also requires lenders to provide you with three disclosures: 1) upon your application, 2) when you are approved, and 3) at least 3 days prior to disbursement. Timing of the last disclosure may delay loan disbursements by an additional 1-2 weeks. Please plan accordingly.

Follow Important Guidelines:

  • Apply for your alternative loan within 90 days of the beginning of the semester so your lender’s credit does not expire.
  • Schedule ALL of the courses you plan to take BEFORE you apply for your loan so your loan is certified for the correct amount. Increases may not be possible after the loan is certified.
  • For summer session(s), you must complete a separate loan application, since it is a separate loan term.

An alternative loan is an agreement between the borrower and cosigner and the lender. The University of Pittsburgh at Titusville cannot in any way be held liable in the event the borrower is dissatisfied with the rates, terms, or service provided by any lender, nor is Pitt-Bradford responsible for any damages incurred by the student as a result of the student's choice of lender.

You have the right to select the alternative lender of your choice.

The following is a link to FAST CHOICE, a landing page that offers comparisons of loans, loan counseling, and borrowing options to fit your individual needs. 

Valid Loan Term Dates at Pitt-Titusville:
Fall 2017 only – August 2017 to December 2017, Spring 2018 only – January 2018 to May 2018, Fall 2017/Spring 2018 (Full Year) – August 2017 to May 2018

Note to International Students: Many alternative lenders will approve a loan for international students who have a creditworthy US Citizen or permanent resident as a cosigner. If you are an international student, contact the lender of your choice to determine if you are eligible.

If You Are Denied:
If you are denied, you and your cosigner can contact the lender and request an Adverse Action Credit Letter to determine why. You should also request a copy of your credit report to review your credit information.

Loan Consolidation